RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO MESOAMERICAN BARRIER REEF Mexico£â€¢s eastern coast...
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MAYAN MYSTERY For over 600 years, the Yucatán Peninsula was the center of the Mayan civilization, whose sudden extinction during the 13th century remains one of the world’s great unsolved mysteries. Visitors can explore the historic ruins of these majestic cities up and down the peninsula’s southern coastline.
SACRED WELLS Riviera May is dotted with idyllic watering holes called cenotes. Cenotes, Mayan for “sacred wells,” come from caved-in limestone formations that create pools of pure freshwater. Many of these cenotes are completely undiscovered and hide in the leafy jungle. Or you can pay a small fee to snorkel in one of the more popular pools.
MESOAMERICAN BARRIER REEF Mexico’s eastern coast touches on one of the world’s most beautiful natural formations, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the largest reef in the Western Hemisphere. Snorkel or scuba dive around the reef to see vivid coral, schools of tropical fish, and perhaps some sea turtles.
GETTING THERE You’ll fly into Cancun International Airport (CUN). There are daily direct flights from most cities including Miami, Atlanta, New York, Boston, and San Francisco. There are taxis waiting at the airport to whisk you to your accommodations, or you can rent a car.
GETTING AROUND Renting a car gives you the most flexibility to explore the island. However, you can rely on taxis or organized tours to get to most destinations. Your concierge is happy to discuss options with you.
CLIMATE Weather in Riviera Maya is just beachy year-round, with days in the 80s and 90s and balmy evenings in the 70s all year round. Summer humidity can feel heavy. Rainfall spikes in September and October, which coincides with hurricane season along the coast. Visitors are advised to follow all storm warnings.
RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO DESTINATION GUIDE
IDEAL FOR Couples, families, diving enthusiasts, seafood lovers, history buffs
AIRPORT Cancun International Airport (CUN)
PASSPORT NEEDED? Yes
DRIVER’S SIDE? On the right side of the road
CONVERTERS 120V, same as the U.S.
TIME ZONE EST - Eastern Standard Time (changed from Central in February 2015)
+ Peak Season: November to April + Summers are less crowded but very humid + Rain is most likely in September and October
THINGS TO KNOW
THINGS TO DO GOLF Bahia Principe Golf Club is one of the most recent additions to the Riviera Maya golf scene, and also one of its finest. This 27-hole golf course features an 18-hole championship course and a more leisurely 9-hole course, both designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. This 290-acre property was carved out of the jungle and the adjacent limestone quarry, offering an array of natural challenges and water features.
BEACH Rivera Maya is considered by many to be one of the top beach destinations in the world, which is no surprise considering its white sand beaches and aquamarine waves. Spectacular beaches stretch all along the coastline, including the secluded and shallow Xpu-Ha Beach, perfect for snorkeling. The beach at Akumal (Mayan for “place of the turtles”) is one of the best places to see turtles lay their eggs between May and November.
TREAT YOURSELF Relax at the world-renowned Banyan Tree Spa at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba resort for a day of luxury and serenity. This sanctuary for the senses introduces guests to an innovative experience with its Rainforest: a complete hydrothermal experience combining the best of European spa techiniques, hydrothermal therapy and the Asian wellness philosophy. Choose from signature treatments inspired by holistic healing traditions like an ayurvedic massage or an antioxidant facial.
FAMILY There are a number of eco-theme parks along Mexico’s east coast, but Xcaret tops them all. It’s a little touristy, but there’s a reason behind its popularity. Tour a number of nature preserves including the Butterfly Pavilion, Wild Bird Breeding Aviary, and a Dolphinarium. Then wander through the replica Mayan village surrounded by jungle caves and an underground river. End your visit with the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular, a colorful and dynamic performance depicting the history of Mexico through music and dance.
ROMANTIC Touring the ruins at Tulum might not seem romantic at first, but you’ll feel transported by the remains of ancient civilization, surrounded by the lush jungle with ocean waves crashing just below you. There is a sense of mystery about the Mayans, which you can feel as you ramble through the crumbling fragments of the Castillo and the Templo de los Frescos. Take a break for lunch and a cool-off in the blue waters just below.
ADVENTURE Whether you’re envisioning yourself as Wonder Woman in her invisible plane or the next 007 with all the latest gadgets, a hydro jetpack adventure is the thrilling experience you’ve been craving. Strap on a water-propelled jetpack, which will speed you across the ocean as though you’re flying, zooming as high as 30 feet above the water.
NATURE Visit the Tulum Monkey Sanctuary for a chance to see some of the Yucatán Peninsula’s flora and fauna in their natural habitat. Primarily devoted to protecting the spider monkey population, you can see and even meet some of the sanctuary’s residents, like Don Tito, the first inhabitant and the de facto leader. The sanctuary is also home to other rescued animals including fish and crocodiles that live in the property’s cenotes, white-tailed deer, and a number of rare plants and trees.
MUST–DO Venture through the Rio Secreto, an 8-mile-long underground river weaving throughout a series of caves. Stalactites and stalagmites cover the floor and ceiling, and crystal-blue pools appear as if from out of nowhere as you make your way through narrow passageways.
LOCAL The lively town of Playa del Carmen has a number of restaurants, shops and beach activities, making it a popular spot to visit on your Riviera Maya Vacation. The bustling pedestrian thouroughfare of La Quinta Avenida is the best way to explore the town, with quirky shops and dlelicious restaurants running parallel to the beach for 20 blocks. From gourmet eats to people watching, there’s something for everyone along this local promenade.
OTHER ACTIVITY SUGGESTIONS + Parasailing + Windsurfing + Pilates and yoga + Snorkeling
+ Sian Ka’an biosphere + Kayaking + Horseback riding + Jet skis/waverunners
+ Paddleboarding + Scuba diving + Sunset Cruise
FESTIVALS & EVENTS
+ February to March – Carnival (similar to Mardi Gras; celebrated with costumes, parades, parties, and live music)
+ March 20 – Spring Equinox at Chichén Itzá (celebration honoring Mayan acheivements in astronomy and the calendar)
+ April – Riviera Maya Film Festival
+ May – Sacred Mayan Journey (multi-day cultural festival honoring Mayan pilgrimage from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel)
+ September 16th – Mexican Independence Day (schools and many businesses closed)
+ November – Riviera Maya Jazz Festival
KAXAPA FACTORY Atmosphere: Family Calle 10 Norte, Playa del Carmen
Mexico has become a popular ex-pat destination for Venezuelans in recent years, who’ve brought their culinary traditions along with them. Kaxapa Factory specializes in organic Venezuelan cuisine with a casual and friendly atmosphere. Their specialty dish is the arepa: cornmeal flatbread stuffed with savory ingredients like shredded beef, black beans, and avocado.
OH LALA! Atmosphere: Romantic 10 Avenida Norte, Playa del Carmen
Intimate is definitely the appropriate word to describe this French-influenced restaurant. With only nine tables in the airy indoor-outdoor dining room, each guest will feel like they’re enjoying a private dinner with Chef George. Watch him work his magic in the open kitchen with fresh, local ingredients like mussels, lobster, and filet mignon.
TERRA NOSTRA Atmosphere: Fine Dining NIZUC Resort & Spa, Cancun Area
Located within NIZUC Resort & Spa, Italian-born Chef Daniele Tonin’s Terra Nostra restaurant showcases authentic Italian specialties like homemade pasta, an array of unique bruschettas, and warm rosemary foccacia. The seasonal ingredients, and impressive dining area overlooking an infinity pool and mangroves beyond have contributed to Terra Nostra’s acclaim. The adjacent lounge often features live music alongside their craft cocktails, making it perfect for pre- or post-dinner drinks.
YAXCHÉ Atmosphere: Local 5th Avenue, Playa del Carmen
It would be a mistake to travel to the Yucatán Peninsula without trying some the region’s native foods, and there’s no better place to sample Mayan cuisine than Yaxché. Decorated in the style of a Mayan palace, Yaxché is on the forefront of preserving the area’s culinary roots with dishes like Duck Yaxché, crispy shredded duck with cucumber and coriander.
PL ACES TO EAT
Information presented in this Inspirato destination guide is current as of July 14, 2016. While it is believed to be accurate, Inspirato LLC (and its officers, employees and affiliated entities, collectively “Inspirato”) makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of the content presented herein. The contents of this destination guide may change at any time and without notice. This destination guide is presented for informational purposes only for Inspirato