A beachfront vacation in Mexico can be a dream come true. But there's more to do on your vacation than just relax in the sun near your beachside villa. When you're visiting Mexico's Riviera Maya, you are surrounded by history, natural wonders, and the opportunity for exciting activities, and you'll be missing out if you don't take advantage of them. While you're planning your Mayan Riviera vacation, check out a few must-have experiences that you should definitely work into your itinerary.
Snorkel with Sea Turtles
Snorkeling is fun anywhere, but snorkeling with sea turtles is a unique and beautiful experience. In Akumal Bay (the name means "place of the turtles") you're certain to encounter one or more of these large, gentle creatures. Akumal Bay is a popular place for sea turtles to nest.
In April of 2017, government agencies granted permits for tourists to observe and swim with turtles in Akumal. You have to adhere to certain rules, like being accompanied by an authorized guide and maintaining a minimum distance between yourself and the turtles.
The area is also home to coral reefs, caverns, and various tropical fish. The water is calm and clear, so you'll get a great view of the underwater environment. The water is comfortable and warm, and you can easily spend a day enjoying the sights, sounds, and sensations of your snorkeling experience.
Swim in a Cenote
For another one-of-a-kind swimming experience, you can't miss taking a swim in one of the area's cenotes. If you're not familiar with cenotes, they're a type of pit or sinkhole that is formed from the collapse of the limestone ceiling that covers the underground river systems in the area. The result is an accessible pool full of fresh water.
Each cenote is different and unique. Some have cavern formations where stalagmites and stalagmites hang from the ceiling and rise from the floor. Some are full of limestone rubble from the waterway roof, while others are unobstructed and clear. Some contain both salt water and fresh water, creating natural haloclines. There's something new to discover and explore at each cenote.
These natural wonders are also historically significant. Mayans used them for religious ceremonies and built cities around them because they provided access to clean water. There are too many cenotes to visit them all, but make sure that you work at least one or two into your trip.
Explore Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza was once a sacred place of worship and a powerful city. Now the Mayan ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The most famous Chichen Itza landmark is an astronomical observatory, but that's not the only thing that there is to see there. You can also check out the temple-pyramid nicknamed El Castillo and get a tour of the Mayan sweatbaths that played an important role in spiritual purification rituals. A few minutes' walk away, you'll find Old Chichen, another group of historic buildings and temples.
There are a variety of different tours and activities that take place in Chichen Itza, including horseback-riding tours, a cenote that's open for swimming, and a light and sound show with free admission. To really take in everything that that this historical site has to offer, you should plan to spend a couple of days in the area. You'll come away with a greater sense of the history of the Mayan Riviera that will add layers of knowledge and context to your vacation experience.
These are just a few of the amazing experiences that the Mayan Riviera has to offer. Booking a beachside villa through companies like Hacienda Del Secreto in the area can give you the relaxing beach vacation you've been looking for and an exciting adventure that you didn't know you needed.