With 2019 coming to a close, it’s time to start planning your 2020 adventures. One of the best places to travel next year is Riviera Maya, that privileged stretch of Caribbean coastline on Mexico’s northeastern Yucatán Peninsula. Here, you’ll discover eco-adventures, perfect beaches, historic Mayan ruins and all inclusive Caribbean resorts – including the brand-new, adults-only Barceló Maya Riviera.
The Riviera Maya is filled with natural swimming holes known as cenotes. Here, you’ll find crystal clear waters, aquatic life and a serene, otherworldly atmosphere. One of the most famous Mexican cenotes is the Gran Cenote, which is located not too far from the Barceló Maya Grand Resort – comprised of the Barceló Maya Riviera, Barceló Maya Palace, Barceló Maya Beach, Barceló Maya Caribe, Barceló Maya Colonial and Barceló Maya Tropical.
Located on a tropical beach overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Tulum was once a major port city for the Mayans. As you explore the ruins here, you’ll gain keen insight into the culture and heritage that once dominated Riviera Maya centuries ago.
3. Riviera Maya nightlife
When the sun goes down, things just heat up in Riviera Maya. From Barceló Maya Grand Resort’s extremely energetic Jaguar Club to the refreshing cocktail lounges in Playa del Carmen, you’ll find excitement, music and fun throughout Riviera Maya.
4. The best Riviera Maya restaurants
Authentic Mexican cuisine (and much more) is very much worth discovering during your Riviera Maya getaway. You’ll sample everything from street food to fine dining to fresher-than-fresh seafood on a culinary journey through the area. Check out a guide to eating and drinking your way through Riviera Maya.
5. Xcaret Eco-Park
There are virtually endless eco-adventures to be had at Xcaret, a natural attraction for all ages in Riviera Maya. Occidental at Xcaret Destination is located adjacent to the park, offering easy access to the park by two private entrances. Swim in underground rivers, explore a teeming jungle, and descend into mysterious caves. Walk amidst hundreds of fluttering, colorful creatures in the Butterfly Pavilion, and get up-close-and-personal with deer, jaguar and exotic birds.
6. Barceló Maya Riviera
The Riviera Maya’s newest all inclusive resort, Barceló Maya Riviera, is the perfect place for an adults-only getaway in the Mexican Caribbean. Newly opened in December 2019, this all suite resort provides exclusivity, luxury and a home base for all kinds of Riviera Maya adventures.
7. Ventura Fly and Ride
Located inside the Barceló Grand Maya Resort, the brand-new Ventura Fly & Ride Park is open year-round from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Ventura Fly & Ride Park (made up of two areas, Ventura Fly and Ventura Ride) offers thrilling attractions and experiences, including zip lining and an off-roading track.
8. Chichén Itzá
The wonders of a bygone civilization come to life at Chichén Itzá, on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. an astounding complex of Mayan ruins, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was recently named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, chosen by more than 100 million voters from all over the globe.
9. Akumal Beach
The sugary white sands at Akumal, located between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, may be the main attraction. But there’s a lot more going on here. For one thing, it’s a haven for nesting sea turtles. Between May and November every year, hundreds of these majestic creatures come to Akumal to lay eggs.
10. La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue Playa del Carmen)
5th Avenue Playa del Carmen – “La Quinta Avenida” to locals – is 22 blocks of high-end retailers, bars, restaurants, local shops, cafes, and much more. 5th Avenue is essentially Playa del Carmen’s Main Street – and it’s always a blast.
11. Sacred Mayan Journey
Every May, the Sacred Mayan Journey (Travesia Sagrada Maya) takes visitors back in time. The interactive cultural festival is a multi-day reenactment of the ancient pilgrimage made by the Mayan people from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel. It was a 36-mile journey that brave souls made in hand-carved canoes, which they undertook to consult the oracle of Ix Chel, the goddess of fertility. The event concludes with a grand return to Xcaret, the site of the Mayan city of Pole.
12. Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
At the beginning of November, Mexico celebrates life and death during the extraordinary Dia de los Muertos holiday. In Riviera Maya resorts and cities, there are parades, dancing and music, traditional food and drink and so much more. A wonderful cultural experience!
13. 3-D Museum of Wonders
You won’t believe your eyes! The immersive and interactive artwork at 3D Museum of Wonders is made using high-tech three-dimensional optical illusions that make your eyes pop. You’ll become a part of the art as a daring adventurer facing a lion, a Formula-1 driver going over 100mph or a surfer catching the ultimate wave.
14. On-the-water adventures
That sparkling Caribbean Sea isn’t just nice to look at. Scuba diving, snorkeling, paddle boarding, kitesurfing, flyboarding, kayaking, fishing … every one of these aquatic activities (and more!) is easily accessible at Barceló’s all inclusive Riviera Maya resorts. And several of the resorts offer PADI certification classes for first-time scuba divers, too.
15. Wildlife encounters
During your vacation, explore the best places in Riviera Maya for wildlife, both on land and under the sea. Just a few of the creatures you may encounter include whale sharks, sea turtles, spider monkeys and much more.
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If you’re of legal drinking age, you can’t visit Mexico without trying some of the country’s signature spirit. For a crash course in all things tequila, plan your stay to the adults only, all inclusive Royal Hideaway Playacar and visit its Tequilaria, which features an array of varieties and expert mixologists.
17. Craft beer discovery
Did you know? Riviera Maya craft beer is booming – it’s not just Tecate and Corona! The upstart breweries in Playa del Carmen and beyond are making some truly amazing beers that will please both the newbie and the aficionado.
18. Puerto Morelos
Laid-back and chilled out, Puerto Morelos is a quintessential Riviera Maya beach You’ll find it between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The beach here features crystal clear waters (great for snorkeling), pristine sands and fewer crowds than other beaches in the area.
19. Mexican Independence Day
A great time to visit! Mexican Independence Day is celebrated each year on September 15-16. In towns across Riviera Maya, you’ll enjoy colorful parades, mariachi bands, festive fiestas and deliciously authentic eats.
20. Taco immersion
Tacos are serious business in Mexico – and Riviera Maya is no exception. Here, you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in tacos. Click here to find out the very best taco restaurants in Riviera Maya.