Is Riviera Maya a Good Vacation Spot (a Complete Guide for the Best Vacation)?

The Riviera Maya is a fantastic vacation spot. A beautiful stretch on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico, the Mayan Riviera is popular for its warm, sunny weather, white sand beaches, turquoise sea waters and sprawling all-inclusive resorts.
Is Riviera Maya a Good Vacation Spot
Table of Contents

Moreover, its general laid-back atmosphere is perfect for travelers seeking a tranquil holiday.

Read on for the ultimate guide to vacationing in the Riviera Maya.

Where is the Riviera Maya?

Located to the south of Cancun in Mexico, the Riviera Maya is found in the eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula, along the Caribbean coastline of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The tourist corridor stretches about 40 kilometers (25 miles) inland to the Yucatan state border, straddling the coastal Federal Highway 307.

Is Riviera Maya and Mayan Riviera the Same?

Yes. The terms “Riviera Maya” and “Mayan Riviera” can be used interchangeably to describe the same geographical area.

What is the Time Zone in Riviera Maya Mexico?

The time zone in the Riviera Maya is Eastern Standard Time (EST). In 2015, the Mexican Caribbean switched from Central Standard Time to Eastern Standard Time, thereby aligning it with the time at twenty-two major U.S. airports – including New York and Miami. This new time zone allows vacationers to enjoy an extra hour of sunshine, as well as easier travel from the East Coast of the United States.

What Does Riviera Maya Mean?

“Riviera” is an Italian word which means “coastline.” The word may also be applied to any coastal area, in particular one that is sunny, topographically diverse and popular with tourists. The word “Maya” pays homage to the indigenous culture that ruled over the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from around 2000 BC up until the arrival of the Spanish.

What is Riviera Maya Known for?

The Riviera Maya is known for:

  • Marine Activities: The Riviera Maya offers abundant water sports activities in unique natural spots such as cenotes, lagoons and underwater caverns, as well as the amazing Caribbean Sea.
  • Beaches: The Riviera Maya boasts some of the most popular beaches in Mexico, with soft white sands fringed by azure sea waters and lined with swaying coconut palms.
  • Archaeological Sites: The beauty of the Riviera Maya made it a popular choice for the establishment of several ancient Mayan cities, the most famous being Tulum and Coba.
  • Nature & Adventure: Boasting incredible nature, the Riviera Maya is home to diverse flora and fauna nestled amid a lush jungle that offers endless eco-tourism activities.
  • Nightlife: End your days on a high note with an evening tour of Playa del Carmen’s 5th. Avenida for some drinks and dancing at one of the happening nightclubs.
  • Shopping: There are great shopping opportunities in Playa del Carmen and Tulum, where you can find amazing souvenirs and gift items.
  • Wellness: The Mayan Riviera has endless options for travelers seeking to disconnect, including beach yoga, ancestral saunas and luxurious spas.

What is there to do in Riviera Maya?

Here is a list of things you can do in the Riviera Maya:

  • Explore Tulum: An eclectic beach town, Tulum boasts a delicious restaurant scene and hip parties, which are balanced by a focus on wellness with abundant yoga, meditation and healing treatments. Besides the exclusive resorts lining the gorgeous white sand beaches, Tulum’s biggest attraction is the 13th Century ruins whose breathtaking cliff-side location makes them one of the most unique Mayan sites in the region.
  • Swim in a cenote: A refreshing dip in the cool waters of a cenote is one of the most unique and fun experiences you can have in the Mayan Riviera. Cenotes are beautiful swimming holes with crystal-clear waters that dot the Yucatan Peninsula. Some of the best include Ruta de Los Cenotes in Puerto Morelos and the family-friendly Cenote Azul in Playa Del Carmen.
  • Visit Si’an Kaan Biosphere Reserve: Spanning 120 kilometers of pristine coastline to the south of Tulum, the Si’an Kaan Biosphere Reserve is famous for its breathtaking natural beauty. The reserve is home to the remote Muyil Mayan ruins, secluded beaches, a beautiful coral reef and lush mangrove swamps. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the reserve provides a natural habitat for diverse fauna, including turtles, crabs and crocodiles.
  • Party at Playa Del Carmen: Boasting gorgeous white sandy beaches, luxury resorts and easy access to amazing Mayan ruins and cenotes, Playa del Carmen is the most popular town along the Mayan Riviera. Playa Del Carmen is famous for its gorgeous beaches, night scene and all-inclusive resorts, and is the place where most travelers who visit the Mayan Riviera base themselves.
  • Chill out at Cozumel: Cozumel is a laid-back Caribbean island located a short ferry ride from Playa Del Carmen, along the Mayan Riviera. The beautiful isle is famous for amazing scuba-diving and snorkeling, while its western part boasts some of the most idyllic white sandy beaches in Mexico. Cozumel offers the perfect island getaway with delicious food, refreshing drinks and cool island vibes!
  • See turtles at Akumal: Sandwiched between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, Akumal is a picture-postcard destination along the Riviera Maya. A quiet beach town, Akumal boasts gorgeous white sand beaches, warm Caribbean seawaters and a pristine coral reef with resident nestling turtles. It is also a haven for snorkelers and scuba-divers drawn by its many secluded cenotes and tranquil bays.
  • Explore Mayan Ruins of Coba: Situated about 45 minutes’ drive from Tulum, Coba is one of the most important Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula. Nestled deep inside the jungle, much of the Coba site remains undiscovered to this day. But visitors can climb the 137 feet high Nohoch Mul pyramid – the tallest Mayan structure in the Yucatan. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views over the lagoon and surrounding jungle.
  • Day trip to Isla Holbox: Although it is not located on the Mayan Riviera, the island paradise of Isla Holbox is accessed by visitors who begin their journey mostly from the Riviera Maya. Boasting white sandy beaches, azure seawaters and cool island vibes, Isla Holbox provides an idyllic paradise getaway. A real slice of heaven, a stay on this beautiful island is a great way to end your vacation in Mexico.

Is Riviera Maya Good for Families?

Yes, the Riviera Maya is good for families. The Riviera Maya offers a calm and relaxing getaway ideal for children, away from the 24/7 party atmosphere of nearby Cancun. In fact, the Mayan Riviera is a world-class holiday destination that offers many family-friendly resorts, adventure tours and fun activities for adults and children of all ages, including diverse watersports, zoos, museums and eco-parks.

Is Riviera Maya Safe for Families?

Yes, the Riviera Maya is perfectly safe for families, as long as you stick to the well-populated tourist areas and have your wits about you at all times. It is possible for traveling families to leave their resorts, go out and experience the “real” Mexico, as long as they remain mindful of the legitimate threat of opportunistic crimes in the places where they do occur along the Riviera Maya.

Can You Go Out in Riviera Maya?

Yes, you can go out in the Riviera Maya. The best place to stay for partying in the Riviera Maya is Playa Del Carmen, which has a lively nightlife scene especially along its 5th Avenida. Here you’ll find a wide variety of small clubs clustered together inside the tourist zone. There are also sports bars, discos and many quaint little bars found along the beach.

Where Should I Stay in Riviera Maya?

Here is a list of places to stay in the Riviera Maya:

  • Playa Del Carmen: Simply called ‘Playa’ by the locals, Playa Del Carmen is known for its relaxed laid-back vibe. Famous for its luxury resorts, long stretches of stunning beach, lots of water sports, and prime shopping opportunities, Playa del Carmen is a popular place to stay. Its proximity to archaeological sites like Tulum also makes it the perfect base for exploring the Riviera Maya.
  • Cozumel: Situated a ferry-ride from Playa del Carmen, Cozumel is the largest inhabited island in Mexico. Famous for its ecologically rich scuba-diving scene, Cozumel offers an abundance of tropical flora and fauna, including more than 250 species of turtles, sting rays and of techni-coloured fish. With its many affordable hotels and B&Bs, Cozumel is the perfect choice for budget travelers.
  • Tulum: One of the Riviera’s most historic areas, Tulum is a walled city with tropical beaches, archaeological sites and uninterrupted views of the Caribbean Sea, all of which make it an appealing place to stay. Tulum has many budget accommodation options, from hostels to B&Bs. Dotted with garden hammocks and small restaurants, these charming family-run establishments provide visitors with a real glimpse into local life.
  • Puerto Morelos: A favorite hangout among locals, Puerto Morelos is an old fishing village with a laidback atmosphere. The center of all the action is the harbor where you’ll find locals listening to traditional music. Puerto Morelos has no shopping malls, high-rise hotels, upscale restaurants or supermarkets. Instead visitors can enjoy the tranquil B&Bs and modest hotels.
  • Akumal: Popular for its nestling turtle population, the little town of Akumal is also a snorkeling haven, with lots of tranquil bays and secluded cenotes. Akumal has many boutique hotels and villas ideal for families or groups that prefer a home-away-from-home type of vacation. Most accommodations are situated right on the beach or hidden amid lush surroundings, thereby providing a tranquil escape.

What Should I Pack for a Trip to Riviera Maya?

Here is a list of items to pack for your trip to the Riviera Maya:

  • Light raincoat or small umbrella – If you’ll be visiting the Riviera Maya during its rainy season (late May through November).
  • Light dresses, tank tops, shorts and other summer wear – Temperatures in the Riviera Maya are typically warm and pleasant year round.
  • Comfortable walking shoes, beach sandals, at least 2 swimsuits and a cover-up – For strolling on the beach or just lazing by the pool.
  • One or two dressy outfits – If you plan to go have dinner at some upscale restaurants during your vacation.
  • General over-the-counter medicines, such as antacids, cough drops, a mild laxative and medicine for pain, fever, diarrhea and motion sickness.
  • Reusable water bottle – It is important to constantly drink water and hydrate while you’re out and about in the sun-drenched Mayan Riviera.
  • Sunscreen – It tends to be expensive in the Mayan Riviera. Choose one that is SPF 50 or higher, as the sun can be brutal in the Riviera Maya.
  • Travel documents – You will need your valid passport and its copy, a photo ID and travel insurance.

What Should I Pack for an All Inclusive Resort in Riviera Maya?

Here is a list of items to pack for an all-inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya:

  • Pack only what the resort will not provide for free. Items like beach towels, snorkeling gear, bottled water, shampoo, board games and movies can be supplied daily or upon request.
  • For a one-week stay at an all-inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya, limit yourself to one large suitcase and one carry-on bag only.
  • In the carry-on bag pack travel essentials, such as makeup, medication, accessories, and hair and grooming supplies.
  • In the suitcase pack your bathing suits, cover-ups, casual clothing, sportswear and at least one semi-formal outfit, along with sandals, tennis shoes and dress shoes.
  • Take some cash with you. Even though you won’t need it at the resort, it may come in handy when exploring the Mayan Riviera.

What is the Best Time of Year to Visit Riviera Maya?

The best time to visit the Riviera Maya is during the season of spring, when the weather is warm and sunny with a few brief showers. At this time of year, average temperatures have increased since winter, reaching highs of 25 degrees Celsius in March and 26 degrees Celsius in April. The monthly average rainfall in the Riviera Maya in spring is about 30mm, with showers on 2-3 days per month.

What is the Best Month to Go to Riviera Maya?

May is the best month to go to the Riviera Maya. The month of May is the best time to enjoy low prices and mostly dry weather in the Mayan Riviera. During this time of year, temperatures rise with the approach of summer, although there may be a few brief showers. In May, travelers on a budget can find fantastic end-of-season flight and hotel deals, as well as avoid the tourist crowds.

What is the Cheapest Time to Go to Riviera Maya?

Hurricane season is the cheapest time to go to the Riviera Maya. Hurricane season in the Mayan Riviera brings hot and humid weather that keeps most visitors away. Low demand from fewer tourists makes visiting the Riviera Maya during Hurricane Season more affordable. As such, budget travelers visiting the Riviera Maya during this low season can find great bargains on flights and hotel prices.

What is the Hottest Month in Riviera Maya?

August is the hottest month in the Riviera Maya. During this time of year, average temperatures reach highs of 33 degrees Celsius in the Mayan Riviera. On most days in August there is a moderate ocean breeze with temperatures hovering at 28 degrees Celsius, but dipping to 21 degrees Celsius on cooler days. Nighttime temperatures average at a comfy 20 degrees Celsius.

Is It Humid in Riviera Maya?

Yes. The Riviera Maya generally experiences high humidity throughout the year, which worsens during the rainy summer season. October is the most humid month in the Riviera Maya, recording humidity levels of 84.2%. The least humid month in the Mayan Riviera is March, which records relative humidity levels of 70.4%.

What is the Rainy Season in Riviera Maya?

The rainy season in the Riviera Maya is the time of year when most of the region’s average rainfall occurs. Also known as the “green season” or “wet season”, the rainy season in the Mayan Riviera stretches from the month of June until October. The rainiest month of the Riviera Maya is September, followed by October.

Does It Rain a Lot in Riviera Maya?

The frequency of rainfall in the Riviera Maya will depend upon the time of year you visit. If traveling to the Mayan Riviera in the rainy season (June to October) you should expect it to rain on most days, usually in the late afternoon or early evening. However, unless there is a hurricane or tropical storm in the area, these rain showers will be brief.

Does It Rain All Day in Riviera Maya?

No, it does not rain all day in the Riviera Maya. Even in September – the rainiest month of the Mayan Riviera, rainfall is frequent and heavy, but it always stops quickly. Therefore, even when it does rain in the Riviera May, most of the day will remain dry.

Is It Always Windy in Riviera Maya?

No, it is not always windy in the Riviera Maya. In fact, the wind is usually calm in the Mayan Riviera. April is the windiest month in the Riviera Maya, followed by March and May. The average wind speed in April is about 7.2 knots, which is considered a gentle breeze. The highest wind speeds per day are recorded in early April at an average of 15.3 knots, which is considered a moderate breeze.

Do Hurricanes Hit Riviera Maya?

No, the risk of hurricanes hitting the Riviera Maya is very low. That said, be sure to check the weather reports before booking your vacation in the Mayan Riviera. Hurricane season in the Riviera Maya runs during the rainy season, which begins in June until October. During hurricane season in the Mayan Riviera, tropical storms occur bringing several days of rain, mostly in August and October.

When Should I Go to Riviera Maya?

The best time to go to the Riviera Maya is between December and April. While this is the high season, which means more crowds, vacationers can enjoy great weather, along with cheap flights and hotel deals. That said, if you’re looking to enjoy a family vacation or quiet romantic holiday, avoid visiting the Riviera Maya during Spring Break, from mid-March to early April.

How Hot is Riviera Maya in December?

Average daytime temperatures in the Riviera Maya in December reach highs of 28 degrees Celsius, which is very warm for this time of year. Temperatures also fall to lows of 22 degrees Celsius on the rare cooler days. Sunshine is very strong in December, with an average of 8 hours per day. UV levels are moderate to high, which means that you should take care when out and about in the afternoon sun.

Is January a Good Time to Go to Riviera Maya?

Yes, January is a good time to go to the Riviera Maya. In January, the Riviera Maya is hot and sunny, which is ideal for escaping the cold of Europe. The sunny weather coupled with the refreshingly cool ocean breeze is great for relaxing on the beaches and exploring ancient Mayan ruins. At 27 degrees Celsius, the ocean is the best place to cool off from all the heat and high humidity.

Is June a Good Time to Visit Riviera Maya?

Yes, June is a good time to visit the Riviera Maya. In June, the Riviera Maya experiences fantastic weather which is characterized by nice temperatures and clear, sunny skies. June is hot and sunny so visitors can spend hours relaxing in the sun. Although June is the wet season, and may have short and sharp downpours, there is a cool sea breeze that helps with the high heat and humidity of the summer.

Is July a Good Time to Visit Riviera Maya?

Yes, July is a good time to visit the Riviera Maya. In July, the hot weather of the Riviera Maya allows visitors to relax on the beach or by the pool in brilliant sunshine. Although there are brief showers, the cool ocean breeze from the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico will refresh you. Be sure to bring some sunscreen and drink lots of water while exploring because of the high UV and humidity levels.

How Hot is Riviera Maya in August?

In August, average temperatures in the Riviera Maya rise to highs of 33 degrees Celsius. For most days of the month, temperatures hover around 28 degrees Celsius with a moderate ocean breeze, and fall to 21 degrees Celsius only on cooler days. Average nighttime temperature are a comfortable 20 degrees Celsius. Sunbathers can make the most of the 10 hours of sunshine recorded during this time of year.

Is November a Good Time to Go to Riviera Maya?

Yes, November is a good time to go to the Riviera Maya. November marks the start of the dry season in the Riviera Maya, which sees much less rain than in summer. Temperatures rise to highs of 30 degrees Celsius, offering hours of sunshine for relaxing and exploring the vast stretch of gorgeous beaches. At 28 degrees Celsius, the ocean is perfect for a refreshing dip or some thrilling marine sports.

Is It Safe to Go to Riviera Maya for Tourists?

Yes, it is perfectly safe for tourists to go to the Riviera Maya, as long as you stick to the well-traveled tourist areas. Keep in mind that because this is a major tourist area, opportunistic crimes against tourists do occur such as petty theft, bag-snatching and pickpocketing. It is therefore important to have your wits about you at all times when vacationing in the Mayan Riviera.

Are Resorts in Riviera Maya Safe?

Yes, the resorts in the Riviera Maya are generally safe. In fact, the resorts are the safest places to be in the Mayan Riviera.

Can You Drink the Water in Riviera Maya?

No, it is not recommended that you drink tap water in the Riviera Maya. Indeed the water that comes out of faucets at some resorts in the Mayan Riviera goes through an on-site water filtration and purification system thereby making it safe to drink. That said, it is advisable to only drink bottled water in the Riviera Maya to avoid ruining your vacation by getting sick.

Are There Mosquitoes in Riviera Maya Mexico?

Yes, there are mosquitos in the Riviera Maya.

Are Mosquitoes Bad in Riviera Maya?

In the Riviera Maya, mosquitos are particularly bad during the rainy season, which stretches between the months of June through October.

Is There Zika in Riviera Maya?

As of the year 2019-2020, there haven’t been any confirmed cases of Zika in the Riviera Maya.

Are There Crocodiles in Riviera Maya?

Yes, there are crocodiles in the Riviera Maya. The subtropical rivers and lagoons of the Mayan Riviera provide a natural habitat for the region’s native crocodiles. It is therefore important to be careful to avoid a crocodile attack when visiting these areas, especially at night.

Can You Use US Dollars in Riviera Maya?

This will depend on where you want to make the payment. US dollars are widely accepted at most shops, resorts, restaurants and tour operators in the Riviera Maya. However, small merchants such as street vendors may only accept Mexican pesos.

Is Riviera Maya a Good Place to Vacation?

Yes, the Riviera Maya is a good place to vacation. From glittering white sand beaches to picture-postcard cenotes, the Riviera Maya boasts all the ingredients of a Mexican paradise. For accommodation, this gorgeous stretch of coastline offers both luxurious all-inclusive resorts and beachside boutiques, while it’s amazing Mayan ruins add a touch of culture to your vacation.