The Mayan Riviera | Travel Research Online


The Mayan Riviera

This week’s 60-Second Geography takes a look at the amazing Yucatán Caribbean.  If you think you know Cancun, but it’s been years since you were there, now’s the time to explore what’s happening just south along the area known as the Mayan Riviera.

60-Second Geography

Mexico: The Maya Riviera

The Yucatán coast has been a staple of travelers from the United States for forty years or more. This area was largely isolated from the rest of Mexico until the Mexican government selected the region for development. South of Cancun development along the Mayan Riviera is on a smaller scale, with a greater understanding for the principles of sustainable tourism and a respect for native cultures.  

  • The Yucatán’s Caribbean coast is more than 236 miles and stretches from Cancún in the north all the way to Chetumal, on the border with the nation of Belize.
  • The northern half of the Yucatán’s coast is known as the “Maya Riviera”; to the south, the “Costa Maya.” Between the two is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.
  • The second longest reef system in the world runs much of the length of the coast. Playa del Carmen, Xpu-Ha, Tulum and the other magnificent beaches occur where there are gaps in the reef and the tidal action of the ocean’s waves pounds the reef into fine sand.
  • The reef provides great snorkeling and diving and the beaches are some of the world’s finest.
  • Ancient Mayan ruins dot the coast and are easily accessible from the resort communities along the coast.
  • Inland, vast caves are present and underwater rivers run where travelers can explore with experienced guides.
  • The ancient Mayan cities of Uxmal and Chichen Itza remain some of the best examples of the mysterious cultures, the vestages of which exist to this day in the native populations. 
  • The choice of accommodations is large and varied from cabins to all inclusive resorts or boutique hotels.
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