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Cool Excursions on the Riviera Maya

Cool Tours on the Riviera Maya

Cancun and the Riviera Maya are loaded with culturally significant historical sites and gorgeous natural parks and aquatic features.  In this article I’m going to highlight a few of our favorite excursions, and let you know if you should take a tour, rent a cab, or arrange a trip with your resort.

1.  Chichen Itza, recently named one of the 7 New Wonders of the World,  is the site of a religious and urban city built by the Mayans.  Left are pyramids, the largest ball court in North America, and The Temple of Kukulcan.  We recommend doing a tour if you take the trip, you’ll have a large air conditioned bus, lunch and drinks provided, and a guide.  Its a 2 1/2 hour bus tour from the Cancun region.  Because its such a lengthy tour, and the ruins themselves are in the heart of a jungle, we don’t recommend for small children.  Tip – do not forget your insect repellent!  Bring a camera, and prepare to be awed by the accomplishments of the Mayans.

2.  Tulum is a coastal site of Mayan Ruins located on sheer 45 foot cliff.  Its scale is smaller, and its also a shorter trip from Cancun.  In fact, numerous tours combine a morning trip to Tulum with an afternoon trip to Xel-Ha.  Tulum has a beautiful white sand beach below, so you can swim in the acquamarine once you’ve seen the ruins.  We think this trip is do-able for small children, although make sure to bring something to entertain them for the 1 and 1/2 hours en route.  Again, a camera and insect repellent are a must!

3.  Xel-Ha is a naturally occurring water park along the Riviera Maya’s coast.  Its a fabulous place for all ages to snorkel, swim, or just kick back and soak in the sun.  What we like about the park is that it’s chock full of fish, so even if you don’t don a snorkel mask and take a dip, you’ll still be able to view hundreds of fish by crossing bridges throughout the park.  You can swim with Dolphins, Rays, or Manatees.  You can zip-bike, or even take some spa time.  Although we do recommend doing the combo Tulum and Xel-Ha excursion, you can easily just do a day trip to Xel-Ha.  If you go that route, a cab is probably better than a tour — from Cancun its less than an hour, and you’ll be able to head straight to the park and enjoy.

4. Xcaret is a water themed park in Riviera Maya — sort of a combo zoo,water park, and evening show. The show is huge, the theme is traveling through Mexico’s history.  With a cool lagoon for swimming and snorkeling you have an ideal way to cool off from the humid jungle climate.  And throughout the zoo portion of the park you’ll see hundreds of species of animals — our favorites were the turtle sanctuary, and the butterfly pavilion.  We traveled to this park via cab, and would recommend it so you can enjoy a few more hours in the park.  Although this is a great park for kids, just be aware that the zoo part is alot of walking, and its hot and humid.  So for those who would rather chill by the beach, this might not be the coolest trip.

5.  Snorkeling is a fabulous way to enjoy the Riviera Maya’s coast.  Offshore is the world’s second largest barrier reef.  This is why some spots on shore are rocky — but if you love to put on a mask and enjoy the world beneath you won’t complain.  There are a variety of ways to snorkel — from the parks, to day trips on catamarans, to arranging for a small boat with your hotel, to heading out to the beach and diving in (with a buddy please).  I wish I could say we have a favorite here, but I’ll approach two ways.  For strong swimmers who just want to snorkel and don’t need a free lunch and music, arrange a boat with your hotel (or negotiate with a vendor for a good discount).  For families who have some members not wanting to swim, but who would enjoy a nice boat trip, do the catamaran.

6.  Coco Bongo – an adults only adventure in Cancun.  Raucous entertainment, alot of free alcohol flowing, and all the craziness that goes with it!  If you attend the show, do the tour.  That way you have a guide to get you home safely.

There is much more to the Riviera Maya — I haven’t covered Coba, or the Cenotes, or the kayaking adventures . . . another time!

Thanks for tuning in and let us know if you would like some help planning your next cool trip!  Amy@PlanCoolTrips.com

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