One of Our Favorites
We started Wildhorn Outfitters in the spring of 2015. Since then we’ve become one of top 20 fastest growing outdoor brands on Amazon.com. Some of the inspiration in the brand stems from our love of the Riviera Maya.
You will fly into the Cancún International Airport. From there you will either need to rent a car or take a certified taxi.
Pro tip: there’s a semi-round desk just before you exit the airport where you can purchase your taxi. Doing it here saves you money. Once you walk outside it’s a bit of a free-for-all.
I've rented a car and taken taxis. The advantage to the car rental is more freedom to move around. Taxis can add up, but there's less of a chance you run into issues with the local police. I was pulled over and asked to pay a bogus fine. I refused and eventually they let me go. There are many places to stay and visit, all within 2-3 hours of Cancun. If you are staying somewhere like Playa Del Carmen, a taxi might make the most sense. Downtown Playa will offer you everything you need within walking distance. If you stay down in Tulum, consider a car rental. Tulum is 2 hours from the airport and you will end up driving most places you want to go.
Where to Stay
The Riviera Maya is situated on the east coast of the Yucatan peninsula along the warm waters of the Caribbean. Cancun is the most famous destination, but there are many other appealing towns to consider. Tulum, a sleepy town, has a population of less than 20,000. Once home to the pre-columbian Mayan people, Tulum features several breathtaking archeological sites, beaches, and cenotes. If you are taking a family or larger group, consider renting a beach house just outside Tulum.
Playa Del Carmen has lots of VRBO options. Stay downtown and you'll be within walking distance of beaches, food, and entertainment. Playa is in between Cancun and Tulum. Just north of Playa you will find the infamous all-inclusive resorts. I've stayed in a condo downtown for around $120/night.
All-inclusive resorts aren't really my thing. But if I have to recommend one its the Vidanta Grand Mayan. If you want to skip out on the stress of meal planning or dealing with some of Mexico's current risk factors, you can spend a few days in this mini paradise.
Pro Tip: check VRBO and AirBNB for some cool options to stay. They may not include food and other amenities found at resorts, but it's easy to go to a local grocery store and get many of the same staples you'd find in the States.
What to Do
When I'm on the Riviera Maya, I rarely wear anything besides my board shorts, a quick-dry tee shirt, and water shoes. I'm usually in and out of water all day including time spent at cenotes and beaches. cenotes are natural pools formed from the collapse of limestone bedrock. The water is crystal clear and cool. You can swim, dive, and snorkel in them. Here's a list of my favorite cenotes:
Pro Tip: If you plan on seeing Jardin Del Eden and Azul, plan on going to Jardin Del Eden first. Logistically it's easier because it's the first one you would arrive to on the one-way highway. If you miss it, you could stop at Azul...but then you'd have about a 10 minute detour getting back to Jardin Del Eden.
Pro Tip #2: You aren't supposed to wear sunscreen or other chemicals in the cenotes. However, if you use a non-nano, reef safe sunscreen it won't hurt the environment or animal life.
Visiting cenotes is a lot of fun. It's a bit more adventurous as you spend your time moving from one to the next, cliff jumping, swimming, or diving. If you need a little bit of relaxation, there's some great beaches in the area as well. Here are my favorites:
Pro Tip: You have to take a ferry from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel. You can buy tickets right by the dock. There will be lots of re-sellers along the way, but if you want a no-hassle experience just bypass them and head straight for the ferry.
The Riviera Maya offers everything from relaxation to adventure. Besides the cenotes and beaches, there are amusement parks like Xel-ha and Xplor. You can find great restaurants all over. For something more relaxing try visiting the Mayan ruins up and down the coast and on the interior at places like Coba. The Riviera Maya is a unique trip and one worth putting on your list if you love water and beach activities. While there have been media reports of increasing risk for travelers on the Yucatan, I felt completely safe while I was there in early 2018. If you have any tips or updates for traveling to the Riviera Maya, let us know in the comments.
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