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. 

More than 1500 travelers, 5 stars in Tripadvisor

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Victoria O.

September, 2022
Two Weeks in Mexico
Seamless transfers, excellent hotels particularly in Mexico city and Puebla, combined with various cultural and food tours. Particular highlights were the cultural/food tours in Mexico city and Puebla (also including the anthropology museum in Mexico city), and the rural tours in Oaxaca where we visited textile workshops, mescal producers and participated in a cooking class using traditional equipment. Also, although we didn't need it, the on call remote assistance was reassuring. I would definitely recommend Rutopia.
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Kris S.

April, 2022
Enjoyed using Rutopia
Enjoyed using Rutopia (Marisol and Melina) to plan my trip to Mexico. Marisol helped me figure out the best options fand booked everything. Melina was my in country support. Rutopia (the company through Kim Kim) is great and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to take the burden out of vacation planning. My son and I truly enjoyed the trip knowing everything was taken care of and we just had to have fun. Thanks!
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Melissa W.

July, 2022
Adventures in the Yucatán!
Such an amazing time in the Yucatán! Between floating in the mangroves to visiting Chichén Itzá to spending a whole day on the beach in El Cuyo, I couldn’t have planned a better trip without their help. Thank you so much for an unforgettable birthday vacation!! Simply amazing! Don’t think twice about having them help you plan your next vacation!
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April, 2022
Great experience with this agency, totally recommend!
Great experience with this agency. Our tour in Mexico was perfect and organised with great passion and precision. Special thanks to Mel (our direct contact during the trip) for being super responsive and to Jorge Barbosa (our tour guide in Mexico City). Totally recommend this tour operator!
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Sue G

June, 2022
Mayan Site Tour in Yucatan Penninsula Mexico
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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July, 2022
Fantastic Will do it again
My wife and I had a fantastic holiday in Mexico thanks to Marisol, Ana, Teresa and their colleagues & partners. The entire itinerary and arrangements were put together in less than 4 days. What we really liked about Marisol & her team was that they were only a message or a phone call away for any query/suggestion, etc. The trip was bespoke to the extent that Rutopia had kept in mind about our interests, food habits & executed bookings, tours. They were also very flexible in catering to last minute changes/requests. The team took upon them to ensure that our entire trip was comfortable & safe by taking care of even small stuff that one normally finds out post getting to a place. We would definitely like to use their services again!!
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Elena R.

April, 2022
A literally perfect trip to the Yucatan peninsula
Tom and I knew we wanted to go to Mexico. We knew we wanted a little bit of culture, some wildlife, and maybe a splash in the ocean. That's it. With the vague and minimal information we gave them, Rutopia was able to put together a perfect trip for us. We had a flawless itinerary. It's so clear that Rutopia really cares about the communities (animals and humans) in Mexico. Everything we did and everywhere we stayed felt like they were helping us experience Mexico as authentically and respectfully as possible. It's almost impossible to pick a highlight, but top of the list has to be the day we shared with Enrique, a Mayan host who was unbelievably generous with us. He shared the community gardens, including history and background about the families that live in Nuevo Durango and other nearby communities. He showed us the neighborhood cenotes, Punta Laguna, Uma Nojoch Keej (a wildlife reserve), and more. We picked and prepared the plants as Enrique and his wife Blanca showed us the best way to cook them (and rescued us when we were pricked by the nopales!). We saw howler monkeys and spider monkeys in the wild which was very cool. That had to be the very best day, but every day was amazing. Sian Ka'an reserve was lovely, the Mayan ruins were spectacular, the snorkeling in Puerto Morelos was fabulous, the bicycle cenote tour was jaw'droppingly gorgeous. I'm waxing superlative but it really all was like a dream. Beyond the activities, the scheduling and pace was perfect for us. We felt like we really made the most of our six days, but with enough downtime to explore and enjoy at our leisure. From picking up our car at the airport to finding our accommodation, the logistics were very smooth at every interaction. Special shoutout to Melina who pretty much instantly helped us when we had any questions about the trip. We've never used a travel planning service like this before. But after this trip, we'll never go back to the old way!
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July, 2022
Journey to Mexico City, Cholula and Cuetzalan
We had a wonderful time. We started out in Mexico City with a 2 day tour filled with museums, food, and beautiful sights. We then went on to Cholula to experience the culture in a smaller town, see a local market, and eat traditional food. We finished the tour in a small town called Cuetzalan, where most people speak an indigenous language. All of our guides were great. Thank you for a memorable vacation!
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March, 2022
Just wonderful!
We had an amazing trip excellent organized by Jorge and supervised by Melina from Rutopia. We spent 10 days in Mexico, starting in Ciudad de Mexico where we visited the amazing Teotihuacan and then we flew to Yucatan for the amazing sites of Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Ek Balam, Tulum, Merida, Valladolid and the great Island Holbox. The trip was perfectly organized, the hotels were very good, and the guides were carefully chosen. We highly recommend Rutopia and especially Jorge!
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Bikø J

November, 2021
Chiapas, Neri and her family
I traveled to Chiapas for an ecotourism experience with Rutopia and I liked it very much, the team responds very quickly to all questions and accompany the traveler throughout the experience, I missed my flight and they were very flexible to accommodate the entire itinerary, My destination was the lakes of Tziscao, where I was received by Neri with his family in very nice cabins next to a lake with incredible views and a magnificent tranquility, with them you make experiences of beekeeping and coffee and tours to nearby lakes, Montebello is a must! 100% recommended.
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March, 2021
Super local agency
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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Mikel D

April, 2021
The best moment lived in Mexico
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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Claudia A

September, 2020
Super organization, great accommodations and nice team
The trip was perfectly organized, we were always exclusive or in very small groups and had freedom to do our own activities. All accommodations were fantastic and sustainable, the food almost always local and very good, we could always fill our Rutopia water bottles and travel as plastic free as possible. We were met at the airport and had assistance getting a rental car. After that, we traveled independently but had our fixed dates and reservations with Rutopia. It was the perfect mix!
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March, 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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Sabrina N

March, 2020
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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