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Plan Your Trip to Riviera Maya: Best of Riviera Maya Tourism

Riviera Maya

Starting from the fishing village of Puerto Morelos and rolling down to the biosphere reserve of Sian Ka’an, the Riviera Maya covers an impressive stretch of Caribbean coastline. It’s a jumping-off point for popular spots like Cancun, Tulum, Isla Mujeres, and Holbox Island—so no matter what you’re looking for, there’s a beach for every vibe. There’s sacred ruins and deep-blue cenotes to explore, plus, the area’s diving and snorkeling are next level, especially at Xcaret and the Puerto Morelos Reef. For party people, Carnival season is a big draw with parades, dancing, and elaborate costumes. And there’s plenty for families, too, including water parks and zoos.

Travel Advice

Essential Riviera Maya

A five day road trip through the Riviera Maya

From Cancun to Bacalar and back again.
Let's go

A high-low food tour of Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is one of my favorite beach towns in Mexico. It has it all: nearby ancient archeological sites, beautiful beaches, magical cenotes, world-renowned nightlife, and, most importantly, fantastic food at all price points. Each time I’ve visited, I’ve had delicious meals everywhere from hole-in-the-wall spots popular with locals to upscale restaurants in fancy hotels. Here are some of my favorites.
Lola Méndez, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • The Pitted Date Vegan Restaurant Bakery & Cafe
    266
    One of my top restaurants in Playa del Carmen, the Pitted Date just happens to be vegan. But even meat-eaters will love the food here, especially the conchita pibil tacos made with jackfruit. Standards like chilaquiles and huevos rancheros are also great, as are more international dishes like the croque monsieur and gluten-free pancakes. I love to come here for brunch before heading to the beach just a few blocks away.
  • Las Quekas
    11
    A type of fungus that grows on corn, huitlacoche is basically a Mexican truffle—it’s delicious and a must-try when visiting the country. I love to eat it at Las Quekas, where it’s cooked into a massive quesadilla (called “quekas” for short). Get one to see if you like it, and if you don’t, don’t worry. You can get quesadillas filled with mushrooms, chicken, and chorizo instead.
  • El Fogon
    6,716
    If you go to Playa del Carmen and don’t get tacos at El Fogón, did you even go? This open-air spot is my absolute favorite for made-to-order tacos al pastor, but I also love the Oaxacan queso fundido with chorizo, which comes with a pile of fresh flour tortillas. Of all the El Fogón locations, I prefer the two-story outpost at 30 Avenida Norte because it has the most seating.
  • Las Hijas De La Tostada
    217
    When I’m craving freshly caught fish, I always head to this trendy seafood bar for the tostadas topped with chipotle shrimp and chili tuna. There are three locations around Playa, but the Coco Beach outpost is best because of the water views. Despite being a chain, Las Hijas isn’t a fast-food joint, so budget some time to sit and enjoy your meal here.
  • La Vagabunda
    6,183
    I’m not huge into the Playa del Carmen nightlife scene, but I can’t resist an al fresco margarita at this popular spot. It’s just a few minutes from the beach, so I’ll make a pitstop here for drinks and appetizers like guacamole, ceviche, and aguachile on my way back to my hotel to get ready for dinner. Check the calendar of events on their website, as there’s often live music in the evening.
  • Trattoria Del Centro
    2,064
    Just because you’re in Mexico doesn’t mean you need to eat Mexican for every meal. Playa del Carmen is an international city with plenty of global cuisine. For Italian, my go-to is Trattoria del Centro. I love the spaghetti alla trapanese (pesto). The pizzas are great, too; just don’t sit too close to the wood-burning oven, it gets really warm. Also, be sure to start your meal with some of the rosemary focaccia.
  • Estero
    7
    Located in the ultra-luxurious La Casa de la Playa resort, Estero is helmed by award-winning Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez, who runs Central in Lima (the number one restaurant on the “Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants” list). The eight-course tasting menu mixes Mexican and Peruvian flavors and was some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life. Totally worth the splurge, but be sure to make reservations well in advance.
  • Alux
    3,154
    If you’re in the mood for a fancy night out, try ALUX, which serves gourmet fare in a cenote cavern. It’s one of the most memorable dining experiences I’ve had in Playa del Carmen. The food is contemporary Mexican; get the slow-cooked pork belly in beet mole or splurge on the Caribbean lobster. Either way, you’re in for an amazing night—you’ll be eating under ancient stalactites illuminated by neon lights.

Riviera Maya Travel Guide

Travelers' pro tips or experiencing Riviera Maya

Lucero Lizbeth I

The heat and humidity are strong here, so it is important to use bug repellent and sunscreen. Ask about the specific codes of conduct you should follow when visiting natural areas and native communities.

Barbara A

For some parks and activities it's better to book in advance so that it's confirmed in your schedule. Withdraw some cash beforehand as some places do not have credit and debit card terminals.

Enrique A

Wear comfortable shoes and light clothing — the climate is often hot and humid. Carry some sunscreen and water with you!

Lucero Lizbeth I

Along the Mayan Riviera tourist corridor, you'll find everything from beaches, reefs, and rivers to communities, forests, and lakes — with plenty of adventure, food, and history mixed in. The Mayans believed that the gods protected this place, and given the beauty to be found here, it's hard to argue with that assessment.

Monica U

Playa del Carmen is one of the most romantic places on earth. From cute little spots to watch the sunset to delicious candlelit dinners at award-winning romantic restaurants, to diving inside a sacred Mayan cenote, enjoy creating plenty of lifelong memories here for you and your special someone.

RC21Dec2015a

We keep returning to Playa because of activities, food, friendly culture, and ease of getting around. The street life is stimulating, but, there are so many quiet getaways in town too!

What is the best way to get there?

flying

Cancun International Airport serves the whole of the Riviera Maya region.

bus

In all of the Riviera Maya cities, there’s an ADO bus station, from which buses depart to destinations in the Yucatan and the rest of Mexico.

Do I need a visa?

If you’re visiting Mexico from overseas, see if you need a visa using this website.

When is the best time to visit?

November to February: To lessen the chance of encountering rainfall, visit Riviera Maya during the dry season, which occurs between November and February. From March through May, heat and humidity skyrocket and result in oppressive conditions. Spring Break sees a huge rise in party-goers so avoid visiting in March and April if you’re looking for a more laid-back vibe.

For more information on Riviera Maya’s weather and when to go, check out some tips here.

Get around

bus

Local buses connect the towns of the Riviera Maya. Conductors generally only accept cash. Find more information here.

taxis

Taxis are widely available to hail from the street. Though most run on a meter, be sure to agree on a price in advance if the taxi does not have a meter.

colectivo

Colectivos are shared taxis that operate within and between the Playa del Carmen and other Yucatan towns. They’re cost-effective and depart regularly though don’t abide to a specific timetable.

On the ground

What is the timezone?

Eastern Standard Time (EST), GMT-5

What are the voltage/plug types?

The standard voltage in Mexico is 127V and the standard frequency is 60Hz. Mexico has two associated plug types: type A, which has two parallel pins, and type B, which has two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin.

What is the currency?

Mexican pesos (MXN)

Are ATMs readily accessible?

Yes.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Yes.

Is it easy to find a bank?

Yes.

How much do I tip?

Bartender

10-20 pesos per drink

Restaurant

10-15%

Bellhop

10-20 pesos per bag

Taxis/rideshare

Not expected unless extra service is provided.

Tour guide

15-20%

Are there local customs I should know?

Drinking

The federal legal age for buying and drinking alcohol is 18 years old.

Walking

Walk to the right of the sidewalk and step off to the side of the sidewalk if you want to stop to check your phone, look up directions, or want to take in a view.

Always greet people

An informal greeting in Spanish—“Hola”—is always appreciated — this includes shop attendants, wait staff, hotel staff, drivers.

Frequently Asked Questions about Riviera Maya


Some of the most popular restaurants in Riviera Maya include:

Riviera Maya is known for some of its popular attractions, which include:


If you're a more budget-conscious traveler, then you may want to consider traveling to Riviera Maya between September and November, when hotel prices are generally the lowest. Peak hotel prices generally start between December and February.