Do the crystal-clear turquoise waters and powdery white sands of the Riviera Maya have you urging to book a holiday?
Perhaps it is the history you want to explore by visiting the Mayan ruins, or the underwater caves and cenotes that you wish to dive into?
Whether it is some, or all of the above reasons to visit, now has never been a better time for booking a trip to the Caribbean coastal area of Mexico.
Here is out quick guide to visiting the Riviera Maya.
Where is the Riviera Maya?
The Riviera Maya can be found on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. It is on the Caribbean coast, so you can imagine the impressive white sandy beaches and crystal blue waters that you can find here! You may be more familiar with the tourist destinations within Riviera Maya, such as the mega hotel and party area of Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, and the eco-chic and historic Tulum.
How do I get to Riviera Maya from South Africa?
The main airport for this area is Cancun International Airport. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from South Africa to Cancun at the time of writing, but there are many options with one or two stop overs.
Do I need a visa to visit Mexico?
As a South African citizen, you will be required to obtain a visa before travelling. You must check with the Mexican Embassy for the most up to date requirements and details of how to apply.
Do I need a medical insurance to visit Mexico?
At the time of writing you do not need to have medical insurance in place in order to obtain your visa to visit Mexico. However, it is strongly recommended that you do take out a good travel insurance before visiting Mexico. Not only will it help with cost and speed of any treatment you may need, it will also cover you for theft and loss of belongings and out of pocket expenses for travel or accommodation delays or cancellations.
Visit our website here to find out more about travel insurance for Mexico: https://www.allianz-assistance.co.za/travel-insurance-products/
Where to stay
The 3 main tourist areas are Tulum, Cancun and Playa Del Carmen.
Tulum is known for its well-preserved ruins of a Mayan port city which you can visit on day trips.
Outside of the ruin’s is a lovely area which has be increasing in popularity over the last few years. You
can stay in accommodation of any budget, explore cenotes or lie back on the white sandy beaches.
Playa Del Carmen is a popular coastal resort town. Here you will find powdery white beaches, coral reefs, bars, clubs, restaurants and shops. The nightlife is a great mix of laidback beach bars to big nightclubs.
Cancun is a popular destination for honeymooners, families, and party goers!
The area has numerous party hot spots, including the famous Coco Bongo! However, you do not need to come here for the nightlife, the beaches are absolutely stunning in a soft powdery white sand. The sea is shallow and warm, just like the Caribbean! (Well, it is the Caribbean Sea after all!
When is the best time to visit Cancun, Tulum and Playa Del Carmen?
Although it may be busier than other times of the year, December to April will provide near perfect weather with some of the best flight prices.
Unless you are looking to join in with the spring breakers, we would recommend that you do not visit between mid-March and mid-April.
The weather is warm throughout the year, but in the summer (June – August) temperatures can be sweltering, and the autumn is known for storms. However, hotel prices at this time of the year can be considerably cheaper.
What to do in the Riviera Maya
Dive the underwater museum
Cancún’s Underwater Museum is a sight that you would not believe. There are 475 submerged sculptures (with more being added) which have been used to help preserve nearby coral reefs by giving divers an alternative location to dive in.
Swim in Cenotes
A cenote is a natural pit or sinkhole which has exposed ground water underneath, and Mexico has many of these.
Dos Ojos Cenote can be found north of Tulum and is one of the most extravagant diving sites in the area. This area is formed of two 70m wide sink holes connected by a 400m passage. Plus, the water is nice and warm!
Ik-Kil Cenote can be found near Chichen Itza and is often offered to tourists as part of an organised tour. Here you can swim freely in the waters with the black catfish whilst looking up to the sky. It really is a pretty experience!
Chichen Itza may be a 3-hour drive away from Cancun, but a journey well worth taking.
Here you will find Mayan ruins dating back to around 600A.D. The buildings here are also not all they seem. They have been sophistically placed and built to form light and shadows for telling times and dates, as well as much more.
The main and most famous pyramid structure itself features 365 steps, equal to the number of days of the Haab year. During the late afternoon of spring and autumn equinox, the afternoon sunlight casts a series of shadows on the northwest corner of the pyramid. This creates the illusion of a feathered serpent crawling down the pyramid!
Here you will find the site of the pre-Columbian Mayan walled city. The city is located on top of 12meter high cliffs with stunning views. You can visit the ruins daily.
The Riviera Maya is the perfect place to visit with your partner, friends or you family. As you can see, there is lots to see and do to keep you busy, and stunning beaches to lie back and relax on when you want to do very little at all.
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