Riviera Maya & Playa Del Carmen Holidays

The perfect palm tree, the ultimate beach, coconut water straight from the source… holidays to the Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen are an aquamarine paradise.

A lone fishing boat anchors on sugar-white sands, a swim into azure waters is so crystal clear you can spot the markings on tropical fish, and back on shore romantic nooks are toes-in-the-sand luxury by day and twinkly light oceanfront dining by night. Yucatan holidays are all about plush hotels tucked behind grand entrances, boutiques stacked up with designer swimwear, ecological parks filled with natural lagoons and teppanyaki tables where smoking hot wagyu steak is just the start of an extravagant meal.

Super swish suites come with swim-up pools, jungle-style resorts put you in the heart of a unique nature reserve and cobalt waters are made for paddling out to tiny islets, searching for elusive whale sharks and watching sea turtles chomp on grass beds. That extraordinary barrier reef is a dream for seasoned snorkellers and if you’re new to the underwater world you’re in prime position for a warm welcome to marine life at the ecological parks of Xcaret and Xel-Há where protected areas of the ocean are accessed via stairs into the sea. It’s easy to get lost in a spectacular world of beaches and sea for your whole stay, but equally, holidays to the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen and stunning offshore islands take you off course to a land of ancient Mayan civilization.

Back among hibiscus-scented spas, rooftop bars and huge infinity pools, the only choice you need to make is whether it’s a long walk on the beach with a salt-rimmed margarita or a private cabana complete with Champagne and sweeping views of the coast.

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Riviera Maya & Playa Del Carmen Hotels

Our recommendations for the best places to stay in Riviera Maya & Playa Del Carmen

Paradisus La Perla – Adults Only – All Inclusive

Set in a private bay, this adults-only resort is a contemporary choice with many facilities.

Paradisus Playa del Carmen

Catering specifically for families, Paradisus Playa del Carmen offers an excellent range of facil...

Haven Riviera Cancún

A sleek and stylish all-suite hotel in a golden setting overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Hotel Xcaret Mexico

This rainforest-set Riviera Maya resort offers free access to some of the region’s best theme par...

Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun

Enviable white sands and a fantastic Unlimited-Luxury® All Inclusive package.

Hotel Xcaret Arte

An adults-only haven with unlimited access to a host of adventure parks.

Serenity Authentic Glamping

A two-minute stroll from one of the Riviera Maya’s most glorious beaches, this intimate eco-glamp...

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Coba & Mayan Exploration

An other-worldly Mayan ruin and one of Mexico's famous cenotes are the focus on this action-packed day out. First up is the forest-surrounded relics of Coba where you’ll find Quinta Roo’s tallest pyramid, Nohoch Mul, and a whole host of hidden ruins that are a joy to discover. You guide will also take you around the site to check out other highlights such as the Temple of Paintings, Ball Court and historic roads known as sacbes. Return to your air-conditioned vehicle and enjoy some snacks on your way to a freshwater sinkhole hidden away by the emerald jungle. You can enjoy a refreshing swim here before continuing on to an authentic Mayan village to learn about local day-to-day life.

• Duration: full day
• Daily departures from Riviera Maya, Cozumel and Tulum
• Operates year-round
• Private experience

Good to know
Lunch will be a local restaurant but is not included in the cost of the excursion. Bring your swimsuit, a beach towel, change of clothes, comfortable shoes which you can walk in all day, and biodegradable sunscreen. The use of professional photography equipment, including tripods, is prohibited at Coba archaeological site.

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Encounter Sian Ka'an Nature Reserve

Quintana Roo’s natural landscapes are the focus on this full-day adventure. You’ll travel south to the breathtaking UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an where tropical jungle meet wetlands, mangrove forests, lakes, lagoons and hidden cenotes; keep an eye out for sun-worshiping crocodiles, and dolphins which may pop up as you sail. After a delightful boat trip, you'll stop at a small fishing village and send some time relaxing before heading back out on the water for an unforgettable snorkelling trip at the Mesoamerican Reef; keep an eye out for a kaleidoscopic array of marine life and fan coral as you swim in the warm waters of the Caribbean, The final stop of the day is a jaw-dropping sand bar known as La Piscina, or 'the pool'.

• Duration: full day
• Daily departures from Riviera Maya and Tulum
• Operates year-round
• Private experience

Good to know
Wear comfortable shoes and shoes and pack swimming gear and a towel. Please use biodegradable sun cream and insect repellent, use a reusable bottle for water and take some cash for tips and souvenirs. Wildlife sightings are not guaranteed and the order of tour activities may vary depending on weather conditions or other circumstances. A national park fee will be collected on board the boat (currently 13USD).

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Unearth Chichen Itza

The ruins at Chichen Itza are arguably Mexico’s most iconic pre-Columbian relics and have been designated a New Wonder of the World. Over a thousand years ago, it was one of the largest Mayan cities that was reportedly home to a diverse community – a factor that’s likely to have led to the varying architectural styles within the site. In the company of an attentive English-speaking guide, you’ll explore ruins such as the Great Ball Court, the observatory El Caracol, and the 12-metre-high Temple of the Warriors with its hundreds of columns and stunning bas-reliefs that depict eagles, jaguars and warriors. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant and there’ll even be a chance to take a dip in a cenote – a natural sinkhole permanently filled with crystal clear water – and visit Valladolid, a characterful town with colourful Spanish-style architecture.

• Duration: half day
• Daily departures from Riviera Maya and Tulum
• Operates year-round
• Private experience

Good to know
Wear comfortable shoes and shoes and pack swimming gear and a towel if you wish to swim in the cenote. Please use biodegradable sun cream and insect repellent, use a reusable bottle for water and take some cash for tips and souvenirs.

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Discover Isla Mujeres

A Yucatan coast island awaits on this full-day adventure from the Riviera Maya. Board a boat and hope over to Isla Mujeres, a picture-perfect barrier island where you can swim, snorkel or browse the local shops and stalls which sell a host of Yucatan-made handicrafts. Throughout the day, you’ll be accompanied by an English-speaking guide.

• Daily departures from Playa del Carmen
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

Good to know
The island and nature reserve fee of US$ 20 is not included (amount subject to change) and will need to be paid on the spot on arrival). Please use biodegradable sun cream and insect repellent, use a reusable bottle for water and take some cash for tips and souvenirs. The consumption of alcohol is not recommended before or during this tour.

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Chichen Itza Explora

After an early pick up, head to the Yucatan's most iconic archaeological site, Chichen Itza. You'll be joined by a guide who will take you around the ruins and enrich your visit with stories of the past. You'll see the Temple of Kukulcan, El Castillo and the Observatory which is also known as El Caracol. Other highlights of the tour include the Monastery and Nunnery, the Temple of Warriors and the Grand Ball Court. There'll be a bit of free time to explore on your own before a deli-style lunch is served and you make the return journey to your resort.

• Departure: 6 hours
• Departs daily from Riviera Maya or Tulum
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Tulum Explora

The clifftop ruins of Tulum, with their jaw-dropping Caribbean backdrop, are the focus on this time-saving introductory tour. Step back into the 13th Century as your knowledgable guide explains the importance of this site and the buildings that remain standing. You'll see the Temple of the Descending God, the Temple of the Frescoes and El Castillo which was used to guide incoming boats. You can head down to the beach and even take a dip in the sea if you wish and the water conditions allow before heading back to your resort.

• Duration: 3 hours
• Daily departures from Riviera Maya, Cozumel or Tulum
• Operates year-round
• Private experience

Good to know
Wear comfortable shoes and shoes and pack swimming gear and a towel. Please use biodegradable sun cream and insect repellent, use a reusable bottle for water and take some cash for tips and souvenirs.

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Get to know the Riviera Maya & Playa Del Carmen and those important practicalities when planning your perfect holiday.

Capital
TIME DIFFERENCE

GMT -6 hours

CURRENCY

Mexican Peso

FLYING TIME TO DESTINATION

11 hours

RELIGION

No official religion but the majority of the population are Roman Catholic

LANGUAGE

Spanish

Where is the Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen?
Playa del Carmen is located in the Riviera Maya on the Yucatan Peninsula. Running south of Cancun all the way to Tulum, the Mayan Riviera is on the Caribbean coastline in the state of Quintana Roo.

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Exploring the Riviera Maya
If you can tear yourself away from the shade of a palapa or a dip in the ocean, other highlights include Playa del Carmen’s pedestrianised 5th Avenue – 22 blocks of shops, restaurants, entertainment and nightlife – the extraordinary natural ecological parks of Xcaret and Xel-Há – think diverse marine life, cenotes and lagoons, rope swings and tranquil swimming caves – and day trips to both Chichen Itza and Tulum. You can try cave swimming at Rio Secreto just a few minutes outside of Playa del Carmen, hop on a ferry for the 45-minute ride over to the beautiful island of Cozumel and head to the tiny of Akumal to swim among the endangered green sea turtle.

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Food and drink
Yucatan food is seasoned and flavoured with marinades and citrus juices, and spices such as oregano, coriander and garlic. Meats are cooked to perfection on a pib (fire pit of hot stones and coals), seafood and fresh fish feature heavily and ceviche is a favourite. Don’t forget to try chilaquiles (fried tortilla strips in salsa) for breakfast and look out throughout the day for the colourful agua fresca, tamales and bread bicycles that stop along the Riviera Maya selling sweet and sugary breads, hand-wrapped tamales and fresh mango and hibiscus water.

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Riviera Maya & Playa Del Carmen Weather

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Our experts have curated a wide range of handpicked Riviera Maya offers to make your next holiday extra special. Make the most of great-value savings, exclusive upgrades and bespoke touches. 

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