11 authentic activities to do in the Riviera Maya

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The Riviera Maya is a tourist destination located on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, in the state of Quintana Roo, which runs from the south of Cancun and ends south in Punta Allen, is a coastal strip that offers beautiful white sand beaches, archaeological sites, reefs, parks, lagoons, rivers, cenotes, subway caverns, a great variety and richness in flora and fauna, cabins, hotels and picturesque villages that still preserve vestiges and traditions of the ancient Mayas.

But along the Riviera Maya there are several activities of interest where you can find different options for entertainment, fun and culture so here is a list of 10 authentic activities that you can do when visiting the Riviera Maya and that every visitor should experience. 

Coba Jungle Ruins Tour

 One of the favorite activities among visitors is the Coba archaeological site excursion, we will tour the ancient and extensive white roads, which were built by our Mayan ancestors and connects Coba with Chichen Itza, in Coba you can find several temples, and a ball game, the main pyramid called Nohoch Mul is catalogued as the largest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula, where if you climb to the top your effort will be rewarded with an extraordinary view of the beautiful jungle that surrounds this impressive site.

Dive into the cenotes of Chemuyil

 Beautiful, full of mysteries and magic at the same time, they are one of the most beautiful jewels of the Yucatan Peninsula, the ancient Maya had a strong connection with the cenotes, as it was their main source of water and they also considered it the entrance to the underworld, they are deep water wells sheltered by jungles that are fed by the filtration of rain and river currents, swimming in the cenotes is an adventure you can not miss.

Chemuyil is a small beachfront village with white sand and shallow waters. A local guide will be waiting to welcome you with a fruit platter and tell you more about the different places you will visit. It allows the visitor to explore virgin jungles, discover the wildlife and become one with nature.

You will start pedaling through the charming village of Chemuyil, where you will continue your tour to visit 3 cenotes of different shapes and sizes. The first stop is a cenote known locally as “La Cuevita”; enclosed where your guide will tell you anecdotes and stories of the place. The second stop is an open cenote where you will enjoy a few moments of relaxation surrounded by the abundant nature where with a little luck you will be able to observe some of the endemic birds of the Yucatan Peninsula and finally, you will visit an open cenote of spectacular beauty.

Visiting the transparent canals at Sian Ka’an

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, which in Mayan means “place where the sky is born”, your first stop will be at the little known and mysterious archaeological site of Muyil, which you will reach at the end of an interpretative trail surrounded by jungle. You will walk until you reach the shore of the Chunyaxché lagoon and its wonderful turquoise color, where you will take a small boat to pass through a channel of crystal clear waters with mangroves on each side, arriving at a small dock. From there, you will launch into the slow river, a beautiful and relaxing experience in contact with nature, it is a moment of reconnection with mother earth, as you float slowly through the channels you will feel the peace of your surroundings with the soft sounds of the local birds and the gentle current of water that will make you live a unique moment.

Hammock Workshop

The best experience to relax and pamper yourself, a place where you can enjoy nature, ride bicycles, eat traditional Mayan dishes, enjoy every moment of your stay in unique cabins, which will make the best adventure of all your travels. 

In addition to the conservation of animals of the region that are in danger of extinction, where they are responsible for their reproduction, for later release in protected areas where hunting is prohibited. The species they have been conserving the longest are the white-tailed deer, the tepezcuintle, the ocellated turkey and the oco pheasant.

If cooking is your thing, you can’t miss this exciting workshop where you can gather fresh ingredients from the garden and cook a delicious dish with members of the community.

Catamaran in Bacalar

Bacalar, in Mayan, Bakhalal, which means “near or surrounded by reeds”, is known for its seven-colored lagoon, which you will experience on this boat excursion. Sailing in these boats is a great alternative to motorboats, as they do not pollute the water, helping to preserve the natural beauty of the place.

This excursion of approximately 4 hours visiting the pirates channel, where you will have the opportunity to swim and snorkel, for hundreds of years, has been the territory of travelers and treasure hunters. It is said that the Mayas built this channel for commercial purposes and also to connect the towns of the south with those of the north; as a consequence, pirate attacks became very frequent, hence the name given to it. 

Navigate to the “Cenote de la Bruja”, also called “black cenote”, here you can dive into its waters and enjoy the colorful spectacle of the different depths. Finally, you will visit the Isla de Los Pájaros, a place locally declared as a sanctuary, where you can go bird watching and enjoy the different shades of blue of the magical Bacalar lagoon.

Jungle and chicle workshop in Chunhuhub

Little by little you will immerse yourself in the dense Mayan jungle where you will discover how the ancestors found their food, water and shelter until you reach an area of lush Chicozapote trees over 50 years old, the tree from which the “chicle” is extracted, you will learn the process to obtain it from the Chicozapote tree. To carry out this activity, the chicleros make cracks (that do not damage the tree), in a kind of zig zag, then the sap runs down the trunk into a container, this mixture is put on the fire to generate a gum that is then left to dry.  The extraction is done during the rainy season, so if it is the dry season, you will see a demonstration of the activity, in both cases, you will learn how the Maya used the tools that Mother Earth gave them to carry out all these processes in their daily lives.

Subway cenotes tour in Nuevo Xcan

You will begin with a Mayan purification ritual, guided by the local H ́MEN of the community, the ritual is part of the cultural heritage and consists of asking permission to the gods that take care of the jungle and the cenotes to enter the cavern of Xibalba (the Mayan underworld) and have a pleasant experience being inside it. Once the ceremony is over you will make a tour of several meters underground knowing what mother nature has created for thousands of years, be amazed by its majesty, enjoying 3 vaults full of canals, crystalline subway rivers where you can relax, cool off and enjoy a meditation in a totally different way.

Snorkeling in Puerto Morelos

Underwater hides a wonderful world that we can rarely explore, here you can navigate and enjoy its beautiful turquoise waters and the variety of species that inhabit it. You will put on your snorkeling equipment and dive into the sea where you will be able to observe, learn and meet different marine species, accompanied by a guide who will show you the marine life of the place.

Bike tour in Tulum

Although Tulum is a small town, it has significant traffic, instead of spending time in traffic, opt for this bike tour in an authentic and different way, with your guide you will get to know the center of the “original” Tulum and the current Tulum, you will also learn about the traditions and beliefs of the Mayan culture and the efforts of different actors to rescue traditions and activities such as beekeeping.

See whale sharks in Holbox or Islas Mujeres

Your adventure starts early, we will give you the snorkeling equipment and go to the boat, where you will have the experience of swimming with a whale shark, these incredible animals can reach up to 14 meters long and are considered the largest fish in the world. They are totally harmless, so you will be able to swim with them. We remind you that this is a swimming and watching activity, so you should not touch the animals.

During your boat ride, you may also come across turtles, giant manta rays, dolphins and many other species. 

Visit Punta Allen Island

A paradise within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve where you will spend a peaceful and relaxing day sailing and swimming in crystal clear waters. You can delight in the great biodiversity that inhabits this place, from iguanas, coatis, raccoons and birds, to a large number of aquatic species such as dolphins, turtles, fish and manatees. 

This corner is home to a warm community of fishermen who will guide you on this fun journey, and encourage you to practice artisanal fishing. The best of all is that the place where you will taste what you caught yourself is a virgin island with calm waters where you will spend the rest of the day.

Enjoy and rediscover the beauty of the Mayan heritage on the coast of the Riviera Maya, in a hospitable destination, ready to welcome you with the warmth, luxury and comfort you desire for your stay. 

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July, 2021
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The Mexican Eco company Rutopia is excellent. As a solo female traveller, I was very pleased with the custom itinerary planned for me by Sibila. All of my requests were fulfilled, from urban tours and decent, clean hotels in CDMX to horseback riding, hikes and cooking lessons in beautiful Guanajuato. All drivers and guides were professional , knowledgable and arrived on time. I was very reassured by Melina from Rutopia, a warm and and very diligent person who checked in with me every step of the way both before my trip and during my days in Colonial Mexico. I heartily recommend this company as a reliable source for trip planning in Mexico.
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Jorge and Melina did a great job and I was very happy with my trip. On very short notice during the high season, Jorge put together a perfect itinerary. I hate to plan and Jorge took all the work out of it. He put together a good balance of the big, can’t miss sites and activities that were a little more off the beaten track. Jorge helpfully worked with me to adjust the itinerary to meet my interests, and in hindsight, I only wish I had gotten more involved. Every tour they arranged was fun and worthwhile with knowledgeable and professional guides and comfortable transportation. During my travels, Melina kept close tabs on me to make sure things were going smoothly. The few times I sent her a message, she quickly responded and she would check in on me every couple days when I hadn’t been in touch.
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My husband and I had the best vacation of our lives while visiting Oaxaca, Mérida, Valladolid and Puerto Morelos in México. Vanessa helped us tailor the trip and then Marisol coordinated the final details. Anita, from Rutopía, was always responsive to our questions and concerns while we were in México. In Oaxaca, Alex, our guide from Etnoturismo, made sure we fell in love with that city. And we did indeed. The colors, the food, the people are just amazing and have a special place in our hearts. The guide we got for Chichén Itzá, Juan, was very knowledgable and took great photos of us. The hotels chosen by our local specialists were breathtaking. We wouldn't have been able to plan such a wonderful vacation without their help. Muchas gracias!
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Rutopia did an outstanding job with the arrangement and execution of a 9 day tour of Mayan sites in the Yucatan peninsula. We provided Rutopia with the general parameters of the trip we wanted and they suggested an itinerary. After our approval, they set up the hotels, transportation within Mexico, and site tours. The hotels were good quality, and all of the drivers and tour guides showed up on time. We were very impressed with the quality of the tour guides and learned a lot on the trip. Jorge handled setting up the itinerary, and Melina handled the execution of the trip and was readily available via WhatsApp throughout the trip for any questions or issues. Melina was particularly helpful in changing our transportation arrangements to the airport at the last minute per our request. I would recommend Rutopia and would use them again for future trips.
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We have worked with Rutopia for several tours in Mexico in the Yucatán and Chiapas and we have never been disappointed. Authentic experiences, with locals, in magical places and off the beaten tourist track. Our contact Marisol was always super available and responsive, understanding and anticipating our desires. And she speaks very good French. I highly recommend Rutopia!
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We were traveling as a group of friends with nothing organized. We like to improvise and be able to find alternative plans to the conventional tourist routes. We arrived in Puerto Escondido - Mexico's paradise - and started looking for options. A Mexican friend recommended us to contact Rutopia and we did. We explained our way of traveling - which they quickly understood - and in a few hours they came to us with a perfect selection of activities. We chose one of them and the next day we found ourselves galloping through beautiful hills, crossing a small lagoon in canoes, bathing on an unspoiled beach at sunset and sipping freshly picked coconuts with some mezcal. We had dinner in the only hut on the beach, eating fish that had been caught that day from the lagoon. Then we went to see the luminescence of the placton with paddle canoes until we were surprised by one of the biggest and reddest moons I have ever seen in my life. We ended up sleeping in bamboo huts a few meters from the waves. There were no more than 5 huts on the miles of beach that we could see. And at ALL times with an exquisite treatment - sympathy, kindness and attention. This is just one of the plans we booked with Rutopia, which definitely changed the course of our trip. Without a doubt, I would repeat this experience in any place I would like to visit in Mexico. Viva Mexico!
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Septiembre, 2020
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Marzo, 2020
Circuit in Yucatan
Discovering wonderful and surprising sites, Mayan communities with an unforgettable welcome, breathtaking landscapes, a very pleasant climate in the middle of March...and smiling people! A big thank you to Rutopia and his team for the elaboration of this ideal circuit, alternating nature, city life, simplicity and comfort. Thanks to Mélina for the follow-up during our trip. We don't speak Spanish well enough, and we appreciated having a French-speaking contact person who could be reached if necessary. We still have a lot to discover and hope to come back very soon, and with Rutopia without hesitation!
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Marzo, 2020
Perfect
For those who don't like to manage logistics like hotels, rental cars, activities. And above all, to have someone who speaks fluent French that we can reach at any time for the unexpected... You are in the right place! Thank you to Chloe for the preparation of our trip, to Melina our Ariadne's thread and Teresa for her welcome and help at the arrival and departure. A big thank you to Enrique and Blanca from Nuevo-Durango for their welcome, their smiles, their family, a lot of emotions at the time to leave you. Thanks to Mémo for your teaching of Mexican customs (Sian Ka'an) The Yucatan is a magnificent region. And the population is very pleasant. Only downside Holbox... Too much dust, too much smell of fuel oil, too much tourist. I will keep in memory these wonderful moments!
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