Mexico: The Mayan Riviera
Thursday, January 01, 1970 (01:33:23)
In this ancient land, where the majestic turquoise caribbean sea meets white, cool soft sand beaches you will also meet the warm and welcoming hospitality of the Maya people... Here you can dive amazing reefs, snorkel and see wondrous sea life, tour ancient archeological sites, Lay all day in a hammock or stroll the walk way lined with shops, sliver, arts and crafts, experience great restaurants and much much more!!!
The Yucatan coast south of Cancun is coming to be known as the Mayan Riviera. Extending southward almost 200 miles fron Puerto Morelos to Xcalak, the region consists of a handful of tourist centers and Mayan sites along with great beaches and charming local villages. What the region lacks, fortunately, is the massive development of better-known resort areas like Cancun. As the government has marked the Mayan Riviera area for low-density development, it is hoped that the situation will remain in that way.
Still, in the last few years a number of major resorts have opened in the Tulum Corridor within an hour's drive from the Cancun airport. The development is now continuing to move farther south, and there are already more that 5,000 hotel rooms spread over the Mayan Riviera.
Listed from north to south, described below are some of the tourist destinations along the corridor:
Puerto Morelos - Few hotels located in this seaside village translates to a low-key vacation with excellent snorkeling. About 10 miles north of Puerto Morelos is a crocodile breeding installation, Crococun. The Marin Botanical Gardens, just outside of Puerto Morelos, features native flowers and a nature trail.
Punta Bete - About a half-hour drive from Cancun is Punta Bete, a tiny yet beautiful expanse of beach adjacent to a coconut plantation.
Playa del Carmen - This major tourist town has become a favorite launch point for overnight visitors making day trips to other parts of the region. It features eight five-and-four-star hotels, a variety of restaurants along its waterfront, shops and an 18-hole, Robert Von Hagge golf course.
Xcaret - Amid a scenic backdrop of beautiful coves and grottos are a few Mayan temples, a saltwater aquarium, scale models of the Yucatan's Mayan sites, a wild bird aviary, and an excellent beach for swimming and snorkeling. Xcaret also features a restaurant and evening folklore show. The park does not have lodging, but buses provide daily trips from Cancun.
Paamul - Reefs along the coastline at Paamul, 57 miles from Cancun, make it a good choice for snorkeling.
Puerto Aventuras - Three miles south of Paamul is the upscale resort development of Puerto Aventuras, which features a 240-slip marina, nine-hole public golf course, several five-star hotels, shops and a nautical museum.
Xel-ha - One of the great snorkeling sites on this coast, Xel-ha (pronounced "shel-HA") is a series of lagoons, coves and inlets with clear water and an abundance of fish. A sacred city during Mayan times, Xel-ha also has few temples where rituals and dances of honor to various gods took place.
Tulum - One of the few Mayan cities still occupied when the Spanish arrived in the 1500s, Tulum also is the only known Mayan port city. The walled complex overlooks the Caribbean and contains a number of interesting structures with frescoes. It is a beautiful site well worth visiting.
Coba - About 100 miles south of Cancun, deep in the jungle, is the ancient city of Coba, occupied by the Mayans about 1,100 to 1,400 years ago. Although only partially excavated, the site is a fascinating one, boasting the largest pyramid in the Yucatan and a nine-tiered castle.
Sian Ka'an - Near the southern end of the corridor is Mexico's premier ecological site, Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. The attraction, named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is about a three-hour drive from Cancun. Sian Ka'an covers 1.3 million acres of untouched forests, lagoons, wetlands, shallow bays and a barrier reef. It is a nursery and home to thousands of water birds, large cat-species, crocodile and monkeys. The reserve also encompasses more than 30 little-known Mayan sites. Amigos de Sian Ka'an, a non-profit group, offers guided tours.
Kohunlich - Located a two hour drive west of Mahahual, Kohunlich is a "new" Mayan site just recently excavated, restored, and opened to the public. A new eco-tourism resort concept, an Explorean Hotel, is being developed at this site.