The Best Riviera Maya Excursions You Can’t Afford to Miss

The Riviera Maya is a beautiful part of Mexico featuring endless beaches, Mayan ruins, and land to explore. As you can imagine, there are plenty of Riviera Maya excursions that take you to see the best places this area of Mexico has to offer. To make the most of Riviera Maya excursions, we have put together a brief post explaining the best things to do in the Riviera Maya to make your stay in Maya that little more special.


Best Things to Do in the Riviera Maya 


There are several excursions to take to see the fascinating and the wonderful. Here’s a snapshot of the best things to do in the Riviera Maya.


One of the Best Things to Do in the Riviera Maya is to Go On a Mayan Ruins Excursion


The Riviera Maya is home to some truly fantastic Mayan ruins. There are several tours you can join that will take you to the best sites. As there are so many to explore no matter where you stay, you will be within easy reach of them, and a tour provider will operate close by.







Coba features the Ixmoja Mayan pyramids. This is climbable and from 42 meters at the summit, you can see over the whole jungle. According to archaeologists, Coba was an important city, and that 50 white roads have been found that networked the city together. Sixteen of which you can explore.


Chichen Itzá


Riviera Maya Excursions Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza


Head towards Yucatan and you will encounter the UNESCO World Heritage and “New Seven Wonders of the World” site of Chichen Itzá. This is 6.5 square miles of archaeological wonder. The biggest draws are in the central area and they are the Pyramid of Kukulkan, the Mayan calendar stone that measures 25m, ball game, and various temples. It is believed they were constructed between the 7th and 10th centuries.


Riviera Maya Excursions Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza


One of the intriguing things about the pyramid is that during the spring and autumn equinoxes it appears that snakes are moving up and down the stairs.




Tulum features smaller archaeological finds but is still worth your time. Principally, there are three temples that no visit to the region is complete without seeing. They are:


  • Temple of the Frescoes. This appears to have been an observatory for tracking the movements of the sun.
  • Temple of the Descending God – This temple is believed to have been built on another temple and features a sculpture of a winged creature that is found throughout Tulum.
  • El Castillo – The 7.5m high structure appears to have been built on a building that was constructed using beams and mortar. Rare for the period. It is believed that Castillo was built to act as a beacon for incoming canoes.


Riviera Maya Excursions Tulum



Good tour operators will show you the most popular site and provide context and information about them. Tours tend to last between a half a day and full day. This is an exciting tour to make part of your vacation.


Of the Best Things to Do in the Riviera Maya, Beautiful Island Excursions Are a Must


Isla Mujeres 


Isla Mujeres is a small island northeast of Cancun. It has a reputation for relaxation and water sports and features coral reefs. It is possible to see many fish species swimming beneath the clear blue ocean.


isla mujeres

Isla Mujeres


It’s easy to get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. The northern end of the beach is a little more lively featuring shops, restaurants and night clubs.


The island seems to have been used by the Mayan people to pay tribute to the Moon Goddess Ixchel. There are ruins dotted around the island that feature the deity who was the goddess of fertility. Its name translates to Women Island and fertility was probably a big influence on the choice of name.




Head southeast of Playa del Carmen and cross the sea and you will come to Cozumel which is kind of a mini Playa del Carmen and Cancun. The capital city of San Miguel features low rise buildings and similar entertainment.


Riviera Maya Excursions Cozumel



Outside of the San Miguel and head east and you will find a wilder less touristy Mexico. The island has become famed for romantic secluded spots and for adventurers who want something different than bars and clubs.




Many excursions come in the form of participating in your favorite sport, such as golf. Some resorts offer professional golf courses that are just begging to be played on. If you enjoy a round or two and want to try and score a hole in one, this is a good option for you. If your resort does not offer golfing or your favorite sport, you should be able to find a tour that will let you play.


Tours of the Lush Green Jungle Just Another One of the Best Things to Do in the Riviera Maya


The Riviera Maya has plenty of jungle trails for you to explore. There are some great tour operators that will take you to the most amazing places. One of which is Sian Ka’an, a UNESCO protected world heritage biosphere featuring rare species of fauna and creatures. Sian Ka’an is the Mayan name that translates to ‘where the sky is born’. Most visitors believe this name to be very apt.


It is possible to see Sian Ka’an by car and boat.




Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret, Gauge Rybak, Kidfriendly

Climbing the ruins at Xcaret Park


Many resorts offer some great excursions for kids of all ages. Here, they can participate in crafts and make things, or get active and outdoors enjoying the delights of swimming pools and waterslides. One great example is Xcaret, where kids can play and have fun while their parents relax in a special resting room.


These are just a few of the best things to do in the Riviera Maya. As one of the best vacation spots in the world with plenty to see and do, you’ll find adventure at every turn. Pack your itinerary with these amazing Riviera Maya excursions and you will have the adventure of a lifetime!

About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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