By now I should be a pro regarding the entire Riviera Maya region. I first laid eyes on the warm, crystal clear waters of the Caribbean back in 1992, but it wasn’t until 2007 when I discovered Playa Del Carmen and Tulum while I was on a Mexican Riviera cruise with several friends. It was love at first sight. So much so, that I put a deposit on a Rosewood Mayakoba condo hotel residence that was not even built yet. For the next 8 years, the Rosewood Mayakoba and Playa Del Carmen was my home away from home as I would visit 2-3 times per year. Although I recently sold the residence, it remains one of my favorite resorts and destinations. Mayakoba now has 3 unique properties that offer full and fractional ownership opportunities. Feel free to browse my Mayakoba Residences section for more information regarding other Riviera Maya things to do.
The Riviera Maya region includes the cities of Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum and Cozumel. Back in 2007, Playa Del Carmen was predominantly a fishing village backed by scrubland and verdant jungles. There were only a few hotels and the town of Playa also known as Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue) was only a couple blocks long.
Today, as Playa Del Carmen and Tulum keep growing and growing, they have become the Riviera’s trendiest cities. The town’s beaches and streets are jammed with super fit Europeans where it has become a place to see and be seen.
As has been the case since 2008, I have been staying at my condo at the Rosewood Mayakoba Resort. Mayakoba is now a collection of four high-end and exclusive 5 star hotel resorts all connected and intertwined by freshwater lagoons. They include the Fairmont Mayakoba, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Andaz Mayakoba and the Rosewood Mayakoba, which was just crowned the #1 hotel and resort in all of Mexico by Travel & Leisure. Mayakoba is also home to the annual OHL Classic, which is the only PGA tour event outside the U.S. and Canada played on the Greg Norman designed championship golf course.
Stroll through the town of Playa on 5th Avenue and you’ll find numerous shops, bars, restaurants and nightclubs catering to all ages. My favorite restaurants are Cenacolo (Italian), Almirante Pech (Seafood) and Yaxche (Authentic Mayan).
Although you can stay at your resort for an entire week and get pampered and spoiled, I highly recommend getting out and trekking to see some of the natural wonders the region has to offer. The Tulum ruins and beaches are stunning. The island of Cozumel is a short ferry away. If you are into snorkeling and diving, the 2nd largest coral reef in the world outside of the Great Barrier reef in Australia is just off the coast, but what is most unique to the Riviera Maya area and a must do, are the Cenotes. Cenotes are freshwater underground caves with crystal clear waters that have stalagtites and stalagmites growing all over the place. This freshwater is what eventually seeps and flows into the ocean where it then feeds the coral reefs. There are many cenotes and although they are all interconnected underground via tunnels, it is advisable to go with a guide to give you a tour and to make sure you don’t get lost. Another fun excursion is a day trip to an island called Isla Mujeres where you can rent a golf cart and explore the island. During certain months you can also go swimming with Whale Sharks. Other activities include an adventure park (think Disneyland for adults) called XPlor. Here you can Zip Line over Crocodiles, raft and swim through cenotes and drive 4×4’s through jungles and waterfalls.
Finally, the peak season runs from November to May. The summer months of June through October get quite warm and humid, but I highly doubt you’ll be complaining much while you’re in paradise with the scenery, amenities and activities around you.