• Riviera Maya - The Region

    The guide was updated: 2015-11-05

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Riviera Maya

Puerto Aventuras

Puerto Aventuras: Is a beautiful and exclusive tourism development, preferred by travelers seeking relaxation in comfortable tranquility. Located at 24 km from Playa del Carmen. One of the principal attractions at Puerto Aventuras is the “Marina” where many yachts are docked and abounding in restaurants and cafes with a splendid view of the entire area. It is possible to charter boats by hour or for the whole day, for deep sea fishing or simply for cruising on tranquil turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. It is also a dolphin facility, where visitors can experience the thrill of swimming with dolphins or manatees. They can also visit the CEDAM Museum where numerous objects rescued from shipwrecks are on exhibit; this is an enormous interest for those who love navigation. The abundance of fish in this zone makes it one of the favorite places for big-game fishing, and there is an international fishing tournament during the spring. Besides fishing, regattas are held in the marina during May and June. And another favorite activity in the area is Golf, with a scenic course inside the complex.
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Tulum which original name is Zamá meaning “Sunrise” in the Mayan language is the best known and the most representative site of the region. This majestic archeological zone preserves impressing views that inspire its visitors to be part of the mysticism that surround them. There are over 60 structures all perfectly well preserved, amongst them “El Castillo” or “The Castle” , the highest construction of Tulum, which splendor and unique beauty are framed by the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. For the many murals and other painting that were found in the buildings it is believed that Tulum was an important ceremonial site dedicated to the Descending God. The site is open daily from 08.00 – 17.00 hrs. A little train will bring you from the parking lot to the entrance of the site, if you prefer you can also walk, it will take around 15 minutes. There is a fun outdoor shopping mall to buy a cold drink or some souvenirs after your visit to this stunning site.
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About 30 km further south you find the village of Akumal. Akumal means ”the place of the turtle” in the Maya Language and it was the first settlement of what has become the Riviera Maya, funded 52 years ago. Inspite of tourist development the place has not lost it’s small village mentality and the atmosphere is laid back and friendly. Within the community you will find some hotels and guesthouses and many private villas and condominiums for rent. In the town there is a center on environmental issues created by the CEA (Centro Ecological Akumal) a nonprofit civil organization, whose primary interest is to create environmental awareness to residents and visitors and to ensure the environmental quality of the village. The main attraction of the village is Half Moon Bay, the beach area in the center of the village. As the coral reef runs very close to the shore there are very little waves and almost no current, which makes this beach area ideal for family vacations. Half Moon Bay is home to the amazingly beautiful sea turtles, an endangered species that until today comes to the shore of Riviera Maya to lay their eggs. By just swimming out for about 100 meters you will have the unique possibility to snorkel with those fabulous creatures, as well as with stingrays and other multicolored tropical fish. At the end of the village there is a beautiful inlet called Yalku. This is the outlet of an underground river that mixes with the sea, so its water is brackish (mixed fresh and salt water). Yalku is a fabulous place to go snorkeling. The place charges a small entrance fee and there is snorkel equipment and life jackets for rent. You can also rent a palapa and spend the entire day here. In Akumal you will find many different restaurants with excellent food and even better service. There are also some souvenir shops and supermarkets.
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Tulum Village

Tulum Village is located at 3 km south of the archeological site. This cute little town is certainly worth a visit. Tourists from all over the world travel to Tulum because of its laid back atmosphere. Tulum is very popular amongst European backpackers who travel here to enjoy the beautiful beaches and the local ambience away from the crowd. There is a bus station for those who want to travel by bus. In the town you will find many different restaurants and bars as well as souvenir shops, Banks, internet cafes and supermarkets. Most of the tourists rent bicycles to move around but there is also taxi service available. The Tulum area is also very famous for its cenotes. A cenote is a fresh water sinkhole connected to vast underground river systems that flow beneath the ground and connect several caves and caverns. The cenotes have provided fresh water to the locals for centuries and they were sacred for the Mayans as it represented the entrance to the Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. Nowadays they are a unique place to go snorkeling or scuba diving.
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Tulum Hotel Zone

The hotel strip of Tulum is without a doubt unique in the entire world. It is located on the coast just south of the archeological site and at 3 km distance from the village of Tulum. The beaches along this 9 km long hotel zone are amongst the most beautiful beaches Riviera Maya has to offer. The sand is powdery and white and the beaches are endless. The hotels are small and constructed with materials from the region and with great precaution to protect the natural environment. It is probably best described as small palapa style bungalows in an unspoiled natural setting. Most of the hotels depend on generators and alternative sources such as solar panels for their electricity. Only a few will offer power 24 hours a day, more common is that the electricity gets shut off at 11.00 pm. The hotels will provide you with candles to illuminate, and of course there is the moon and the millions of stars that will for sure make your stay memorable. The ambience in Tulum is best described as “Hippy Chic”. People come here to be away from the hustle and the bustle of the cities, to relax and to be close to nature. Many tourists will come to meditate and to practice yoga, giving this destination a unique spiritual touch.
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Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve

Sian Ka’an, means “where the sky is born” or “gift from heaven” in Mayan, is unique because of its diverse cultural and biological preservation. The area has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve site and is home to more than 500 species of birds as well as the Muyil archaeological site. Funded as a non-profit Maya co-op program, the Community Tours Sian Ka’an offers visitors a myriad of experiences such as kayaking and visiting a local Maya community to learn how to make chewing gum.
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