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The Best Riviera Maya Tours & Excursions

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The best Riviera Maya tours and excursions include exploring the ancient civilizations of the Mayan people, sailing through the bright turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, and sampling all the delicious Mexican food the region has to offer. 

Mexico’s Riviera Maya is a VERY special place for me because it is where my bestie and I have our annual girls’ trip no matter what is going on in life.

It’s where we spend a week twice a year relaxing and indulging in food without thinking about calories and maybe join a local food or cocktail tour.

I’ve explored quite a few parts of the country over the last few years, but the Riviera Maya draws me back time and time again.

I love the variety of things to do, the people and the views.

Whatever your desires: adventure, culture, or relaxation, a trip to the Riviera Maya has everything to satisfy your wanderlust for your next vacation to Mexico. Start packing now!

So, it is time to show you my favorite Riviera Maya tours & excursions with my guide to the best things to do in Mexico’s Rivera Maya.

But with so many amazing options, it can be hard to know which tours and excursions to choose from when you only have approximately four days in Mexico.

Best Riviera Maya Tours & Excursions in 2024

In this post, I’m sharing my top recommendations for the best things to do in Riviera Maya and the best Riviera Maya tours that you won’t want to miss while exploring Mexico.

The links in this post may be affiliate links.  That means that if you click them and make a purchase, this site makes a commission.  It will have no impact on the price you pay or the experience of your purchase.

So I’ve got you covered whether you’re looking for a boat trip, a fantastic snorkeling tour, an adrenaline-pumping adventure park, or a cultural excursion!

I’ll also share some tips and essential things to know when booking and planning your Riviera Maya tours and excursions.

Ready to find out which of these fantastic Riviera Maya excursions is right for you? Let’s get started!

⏳ Don’t have time to read the full article?

My top recommendation for the best Riviera Maya tours is the ATV Jungle Adventure with Ziplines, Cenote, and tequila Tasting!

1. Explore Ancient Mayan Ruins

Situated approximately 2.5 hours from Playa del Carmen, the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza present an enticing option for a cultural excursion and day tour.

Chichen Itza is one of the most extensive Mayan ruins in the world, with impressive pyramids and vast ancient structures.

It is a highly popular archaeological site in North America and has been recognized as one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

I highly recommend the Chichen Itza tour. I went on this tour myself and had a fantastic time!

You’ll get round-trip transportation, a chance to swim in a beautiful cenote, and a visit to the charming colonial town of Valladolid.

You won’t regret it! So why not book your spot today? Trust me, this tour is something you don’t want to miss out on!

The experience can be pretty long, but trust me, it’s entirely worth it! The cultural immersion you get is just priceless, and to top it off, you’ll have the satisfaction of ticking off a visit to one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World from your list!

Chichen Itza ruins
Photo Credit: Viatour

2. Dive into a Cenote

The Yucatan Peninsula is peppered with thousands of Cenotes. These natural subterranean cave systems are filled with crystal-clear pools, surrounded by stalactite ceilings draped with low-hanging tendrils.

Cenotes come in many types, and each location in the Yucatan is unique. Cenotes by Tulum, like the Casa Cenote, are above ground and resemble a lake, while Sac Actun and Dos Ojos are both underground cave systems teeming with marine wildlife, perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Cenotes (pronounced “say-know-tay”) are freshwater swimming holes where you can swim, snorkel, or hang out and enjoy nature.

Unlike anywhere else, there are thousands of different cenotes in Riviera Maya and the Yucatan peninsula.

Visiting a cenote is one of the most unique things to do in Riviera Maya and a great way to experience the natural wonders of the destination.

Plus, many of them have adventure activities like snorkeling, cliff jumping, or overwater ziplines.

Water activities like swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving are allowed at most cenotes. Kayaking and rafting are possible at open-type cenotes.

3. ATV Jungle Adventure with Ziplines, Cenote & Tequila Tasting

Feel pure adrenaline in the heart of the jungle when you join this half-day adventure.

Roar around the jungle on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), soar over the canopy on a zipline circuit, and splash into the calm waters of a brilliant blue cenote. Your package includes snacks, guides, and transfers from Cancun area hotels: upgrade for a solo ATV ride.

Enjoy a jungle adventure with a zipline, ATV, and a cenote swim

  • Snorkel with sea turtles in this Riviera Maya tour.
  • Travel through the Mayan jungle on this action-packed, all-day guided tour. Hop on your own ATV (or ride with a driver) and head to a cenote, an underwater pool, where you can take a refreshing dip. 
woman upside down ziplining
Photo Credit: Viatour

4. Snorkle at the underwater sculpture museum

Immerse yourself in the Riviera Maya’s underwater sculpture museum for one of the best snorkeling experiences! Imagine being surrounded by marine life where art seamlessly blends with the ocean.

As someone who appreciates life’s finer things, you will be enthralled by the exquisite sculptures beneath the crystal-clear waters.

These submerged masterpieces provide a visual feast and testament to the intersection of art and nature.

Picture yourself gliding through schools of colorful fish, your senses immersed in the silent dialogue between sculptures and marine life.

It’s a sensory journey that transcends the ordinary. As a seasoned traveler with an eye for luxury, exploring the underwater museum is a must-do activity that promises tranquility and artistic allure beneath the waves.

underwater museum in riviera maya
Photo Credit: Viatour

5. Xcaret Day Trip

If you’re looking for a unique and exciting adventure, I highly recommend visiting Xcaret from the stunning Riviera Maya.

Xcaret is a natural wonderland on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula—it’s home to tropical trails through jungle ruins, natural lagoons ideal for snorkeling, and the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular light and dance show.

Xcaret is a living representation of Mexico’s rich history and biodiversity. Each corner of this place reveals a new aspect of the country’s vibrant heritage.

Whether exploring the lush jungle trails, encountering exotic wildlife, or admiring the ancient Mayan ruins, every step is a journey through time.

You’ll love Xcaret’s diverse experiences, ensuring a day filled with enriching encounters and unforgettable moments.

From underground rivers to traditional dance performances, Xcaret’s seamless blend of nature, culture, and adventure creates a tapestry of memories beyond the usual travel experience.

So, what are you waiting for? Embark on this fascinating journey today and make unforgettable memories!

6. Ecotours in Xel Ha, Xcaret, Xplor, and Xenses Parks

Take a one-part amusement park, two parts of Riviera Maya wilderness, tropical flora, and a dash of ancient Maya, and outcomes ecotourism parks like Xcaret, Xel Ha, Xenses, and Xplor.

Combining amusement park fun with outdoor educational adventures, these parks feature a host of action-packed activities, from zip-lining in rainforests and rafting across the luminous waters of cenotes to trekking across Mayan ruins.

Live performances at the parks are fantastic spectacles to behold.

Watch as Mayan warriors pit against each other in a high-stake ancient ballgame, or witness the ceremonial pole flyers carrying out their daring stunts from 30-meter height in the air.

Recharge and feel purified by the steams at a Temescal sweat lodge before heading out again to conquer the great outdoors.

7. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere 

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere covers more than 5,000 square kilometers of untouched wilderness and indigenous faunas.

With more than 200 conservation projects on this swath of land, Sian Ka’an’s biodiverse environment is home to thousands of tropical wildlife species.

Part of the reserve is an unspoiled stretch of coral reef along the Caribbean coast and is open to snorkelers and scuba divers.

It’s also worth a day’s hike to check out the Muyil ruins at the northern edge of the biosphere and the nearby Laguna.

Siann Reserve. Blue and green water

8. Cirque du Soleil 

Engage your five senses at Cirque du Soleil JOYÀ, a thrilling and whimsical show that draws upon Mexico’s history and heritage and combines culinary and performing arts.

OYÀ, the first Cirque du Soleil resident show in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, engages the audience’s five senses in an intimate, 650-seat theater setting with a thrilling and whimsical show in which joy, courage, and friendship conquer all.

JOYÀ is the only Cirque du Soleil show in the world that offers a fine dining experience—an exciting and unique blend of culinary and performing arts.

Drawing on Mexico’s history and heritage, JOYÀ follows the adventures of a rebellious teenage girl whisked away to a mysterious jungle in her grandfather’s fantastical world.

Surrounded by a strange band of half-human, half-animal assistants, the extravagant naturalist is on a relentless quest for the meaning of life.

Inspired by the fabulous migratory journey of the monarch butterfly in which life is passed from one generation to the next to ensure the survival of the species, JOYÀ reveals a world inhabited by entrancing characters that work hand in hand to perpetuate their love of life.

9. Horseback riding 

Take an unforgettable adventure riding through the Mayan Jungle. Get close to nature, admiring the beach and jungle views on a fun horse ride.

We start the adventure by riding through the jungle and mangrove areas exploring the fantastic nature of the region.

Ride your horse at the beach and watch the natural wonder of the white sand and blue ocean at Maroma Beach in the Riviera Maya. We do small groups for personalized attention.

Make sure you get a tour that includes transportation from your hotel in Cancun, Riviera Maya, and Playa del Carmen.

This is one of the best Riviera Maya tours, in my opinion, but I love horses!

10. Snorkeling in Akumal 

If you are passionate about coral reefs and underwater treasures, snorkeling is one of the best things to do in Riviera Maya. 

There are two possibilities to do this activity: directly from the beach or as part of a sea excursion. El Cielo (Cozumel), Garrafon (Isla Mujeres), and Akumal are among the best spots.

You can also snorkel in a cenote or a leisure park, like Xcaret or Xel-Ha.

Three miles of tranquil beaches run along the sleepy shore of Akumal against the lulling tides of the Caribbean Sea, with skiffs and catamarans parked motionlessly by the shoal as if glued to the water’s glassy surface.

The beach town of Akumal lives up to its Mayan name, the Land of Turtles.

Sea turtles and marine wildlife thrive in its warm waters and untouched coral reefs. Swimming and snorkeling with sea turtles are popular in shallow bay areas.

A little farther out, scuba diving allows a closer view of natural underwater marine life like dolphins, tropical fishes, and sharks.

11. Kayaking in Sian Ka’an Nature Reserve

Kayaking or canoeing is a very common pastime in the Riviera Maya. Kayaking allows you to explore extraordinary places while working your arms and abs.

This tour is perfect if you like kayaking and snorkeling at one of the best coral reef spots around Tulum and Riviera Maya, where we can snorkel to see a great diversity of marine life and tropical fish.

 Get up close and personal with sergeant major fish, different types of parrot fish, schools of blue tanks, gray snapper, sardines, barracuda, stingrays, and an excellent chance to see green turtles).

Most of the snorkeling spots are protected from the waves of the Mexican Caribbean Sea by the great Mesoamerican barrier reef.

Snorkel in one part of the world’s second-largest barrier reef.

12. Ziplining in Riviera Maya

The Yucatan peninsula offers many extreme sports and nothing like a bit of adrenaline to enhance your vacation.

Picture yourself navigating through lush, tropical landscapes astride a powerful ATV, the adrenaline coursing through your veins as you conquer rugged trails.

The adventure doesn’t stop there; it seamlessly transitions into a heart-pounding zipline experience, soaring high above the verdant canopy with breathtaking views.

As you delve deeper into the jungle, discover the hidden gem of a cenote—a natural, azure pool inviting you to cool off in its pristine waters, a serene contrast to the adrenaline-fueled escapades.

To conclude this sensory journey, indulge in a tequila tasting, savoring Mexico’s finest spirits.

It’s an ATV adventure that transcends the ordinary, combining the thrill of exploration with the luxury of tequila, creating an unforgettable tapestry of experiences in the heart of the jungle.

➡️Book a Ziplining tour

14. Riviera Maya Food Tour 

There’s more to Riviera Maya cuisine than hotel restaurants and mariachi joints.

Discover the city’s authentic fare and eat like a local with an expert guide as you taste five separate dishes at five different venues, all washed down with soft drinks.

Try signature nibbles, with their origins in Mexican royalty, delicious desserts, and tacos from different Mexican traditions,

To taste the emblematic meals, you can book a gastronomic tour, go to a Fonda (small restaurant offering homemade food), or delight your taste buds with traditional culinary art thanks to a homestay meal.

15. Swim with Whale Sharks

The Caribbean Sea is a playground for an extraordinary marine encounter – swimming with the majestic whale sharks.

Imagine setting out on a boat, surrounded by the turquoise hues of the Caribbean, anticipation building as you approach the feeding grounds of these gentle giants.

You don your snorkel gear in the warm waters, ready to plunge into an underwater world where the world’s largest fish gracefully glide.

The sheer size and tranquility of the whale sharks create a surreal and humbling experience as you swim alongside these magnificent creatures.

The clear waters offer an unobstructed view, allowing you to marvel at the intricate patterns on their skin and the gentle movements of their colossal tails.

16. Observe Animals in their natural habitat

Mexico is one of the countries with the highest biodiversity in the world. The existing fauna in the Riviera Maya is vibrant and varied.

Therefore, finding exotic animals wherever you go, such as iguanas, possums, or crocodiles, is unsurprising.

In Holbox or Sian Ka’an, book a boat trip to meet the endemic fauna of Quintana Roo: dolphins, turtles, rays, Whales, and birds.

Live the experience of visiting a zoo or an aquarium in Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, or Akumal.

17. Enjoy A Boat Trip To Paradise Islands

Ride a speedboat to two famous islands of the Yucatan Peninsula: Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres.

Your guide makes a snorkeling stop on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef before you explore the island’s protected reserve for nesting seabirds.

After regional cuisine for lunch, spend free time lounging on a white-sand beach or swimming in Caribbean waters. Finish your day trip from Cancun with a visit to Isla Mujeres.

Explore the colorful underwater world of Mexico’s Caribbean Sea on a half-day snorkeling tour from Isla Mujeres.

Plunge in at three different locations, including an ‘underwater museum’ and Manchones — the area’s largest coral reef.

After swimming among fish and marine life in the turquoise waters, recharge with a fresh seafood lunch at a beach club restaurant.

How to stay safe in Riviera Maya

Check out my posts on Safety in Cancun and Safety in Tulum to help you better understand Mexico’s safety warnings so you will know which areas to avoid in Mexico and which areas are the safest in Mexico, specifically the Riviera Maya.  

If you wish to explore other areas, learning about potential local risks is best. Certain areas most definitely should be avoided:

Stay alert even in tourist areas, where petty crime is common. Keep your belongings with you, don’t expose your valuables, and avoid being alone in places that are too isolated. Watch out for scams.

Make a copy/photo of your passport and leave the original in your room with your bank cards. Do not take too much money with you, and avoid valuables (jewelry, luxury accessories).

As in any city, take care of your belongings and avoid walking at night (after 10 p.m.) in deserted and dimly lit streets. 

Corruption is a fact; do not give in (do not give money without having an official document explaining your offense). Also, check out my post, “Safest Cities in Mexico for Solo Female Travelers.”

Here is some Additional information For The Riviera Maya:

When to go to Riviera Maya

The best time to travel to the Riviera Maya typically falls between November and April.

The weather is generally pleasant during this period, with mild temperatures and lower humidity.

This timeframe aligns with the region’s dry season, offering plenty of sunshine and minimal rainfall, creating ideal conditions for outdoor activities and beach excursions.

Specifically, December to February is considered the peak tourist season, attracting visitors seeking a break from winter weather in other parts of the world.

The temperatures are comfortable, ranging from the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (24-29°C).

While the months outside of this peak season (March to April and November) can also offer favorable weather, it’s essential to note that the region experiences a higher chance of rainfall from May to October, which constitutes the wet season.

However, the lush landscapes during this time can be appealing, and you might find fewer crowds.

Travel Insurance for Riviera Maya

Travel Insurance is highly recommended because it can provide valuable coverage for unexpected events, medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and other unforeseen circumstances that may disrupt your travel plans.

I use Travelex to purchase my travel insurance because you should always have travel insurance, no matter the destination.

✈️ Get Travel Insurance NOW! Travelex Is my preferred Insurance

Watch out for Sunburn and Mosquitoes in Riviera Maya!

If you are staying in the center of Playa Del Carmen, we advise you to buy them at the Megastore, as they are more economical. Lemongrass essential oil (among others) is also an excellent natural mosquito repellant.

Remember to pack sunscreen and mosquito repellent in your suitcase.

Some regions’ roads are natural and can cause transportation sickness for those subject to them. Consider taking lozenges, which will also be helpful for seasickness.

Book online

The best way to book your tour in Riviera Maya is to book online in advance through booking platforms you trust, like Viator.

I do this, and I recommend Viator for booking Riviera Maya tours. Not only does it allow you to reserve your spot in advance, but it’s much more reliable.

Final Thoughts: Things to Do in Riviera Maya & Riviera Maya Tours

Finally, enjoy your vacation on the Riviera. The food is delicious. Test new flavors! Don’t worry (except for the boiling green sauce, which should not be confused with guacamole). 

Riviera Maya is a peaceful and stress-free region where life is good. Mexicans are very welcoming, festive, and warm. There are a lot of activities to do in this part of Mexico.

Don’t forget to pack these items: 

Ready to plan your trip? Grab my FREE  Vacation Planner to help you plan your trip in the time it takes to watch your favorite TV show!

If you would like to donate to Passports and Grub click here!

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