Riviera Maya is a family friendly destination with white sand beaches, a plethora of resorts, Mayan ruins, and freshwater cenotes. There are so many great things to do in Riviera Maya with teens from day trips, excursions, and adventures to visiting local attractions, learning about the history & culture, and relaxing on the beach.

This guide details the best things to do on the Mayan Riviera with teens, the best resorts for teens, and logistical tips for visiting Riviera Maya.

About Riviera Maya Mexico

Riviera Maya is one of the Caribbean’s youngest and fastest-growing resort areas. There are many resorts and hotels ranging from luxury to basic accommodations. There are many direct flights from the US to Cancun. In March 2024, a new airport in Tulum opened to international flights making the southern part of Riviera Maya more easily accessible.

Where is the Mayan Riviera?

The Mayan Riviera is located on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It stretches almost 100 miles from Cancun to Tulum in Mexico’s 31st state, Quintana Roo. 

Riviera Maya History

The Mayan Riviera is named after the Maya people who settled in this area on the Yucatan Peninsula sometime around AD 987. The Maya are considered one of the most advanced civilizations of the ancient Americas, creating precise calendars, mathematical systems (including the concept of zero), great works of art, and ball games among many other things.

In the 1500s, the Spanish began conquering some areas of the Caribbean and ultimately the Maya people surrendered. The Maya people again surrendered to the Mexican military shortly after the United Mexican States gained liberation from Spain in 1821.

In 1967, the Mexican government decided to create a tourist destination offering white sand beaches, fabulous weather, and few hurricanes. A stretch of land on the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, now known as Cancun, was selected. The popularity of this area has brought economic growth and expansion to the region – now reaching down the peninsula to Tulum in the south.

Things to do in Riviera Maya with Teens

Spending the day on the beach, sailing, exploring ancient Mayan ruins, jumping into freshwater cenotes, floating down an underground river, swimming with turtles, and ziplining – these are just a few of the things to do in Riviera Maya. Below you’ll find the best things to see and do in Riviera Maya with teens.

Exploring cenotes in Riviera Maya, Mexico with teens
Exploring cenotes in Riviera Maya

** I only recommend products and experiences I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. This means I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Explore Ancient Mayan Ruins

Take time to explore the ancient Mayan Ruins in Riviera Maya! Chichén Itzá is probably the most well-known. The Coba Ruins near Tulum are older and less visited while the Tulum Ruins are built right on the Caribbean Sea.

Chichén Itzá

In front of El Castillo at the Mayan Ruins Chichen Itza. Mexico
In front of El Castillo at the Mayan Ruins Chichen Itza

The most recognizable Mayan Ruin is the Chichén Itzá Pyramid or El Castillo. Chichén Itzá was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988 and one of the new seven wonders of the world in 2007.

We hired a guide who walked us around the ruins and pointed out many things we would have missed. In addition, he explained the significance of the different ruins, like the ball court used to play tlachtli, The Temple of The Warriors, as well as the tradition of human sacrifice to the rain god, Chaac, in the city’s main cenote.

After exploring the ruins, our guide took us to a nearby cenote where we got to cool off in the fresh blue water, and then to Valladolid for lunch and to explore the town).

Coba Ruins

The Coba Ruins are located approximately 30 miles east of Tulum. While these ruins have fewer visitors every year, they are older than Chichén Itzá. We drove here on our own and opted to skip the tour. Even though it had been a few years since visiting Chichén Itzá, we felt we remembered enough and just wanted to explore on our own.

A highlight of the Coba Ruins is exploring ruins by bike! There is a large area to rent bikes on site. There were a lot to choose from including bikes for kids. The bikes were not in the best condition, but the grounds are fairly flat and easy to get around so no need for a fancy bike with gears.

There were plenty of guides offering their services when we arrived. I don’t think there’s any need to book a tour in advance. However, if you need transportation from your hotel and combine a tour with visiting a cenote and lunch, then I think it’s worth it (that’s basically what we did at Chichén Itzá). This tour is a similar format to the one we did at Chichen Itza.

Tulum

The Tulum ruins are the only Mayan ruins right on the coast and the setting is stunning. Tulum was one of the few cities protected by a wall. Made of limestone, the 784-meter wall encloses the site on three sides, is 7 meters thick.

Another tour option, if staying outside of Tulum is to see both the Tulum Ruins and Coba Ruins + a cenote. I’ve seen some tours that try to also combine Chichén Itzá and I think that would be too much!

Explore Fresh Water Cenotes in Riviera Maya with Teens

The Yucatan Peninsula is dotted with many cenotes – some estimate up to 10,000!

What is a cenote? It’s a water-filled sinkhole.

Riviera Maya is full of limestone. When it rains and water builds up, the limestone can collapse/sink, creating cenotes and a system of underground fresh water. Cenotes are an important part of life in the area as they are the main source of irrigation (there are no rivers on the Yucatan!).

Exploring different cenotes in Riviera Maya is one of the best things to do with teens. Because cenotes are the peninsula’s main source of fresh water, it’s important to visit cenotes that follow some best practices. For example:

  • Require that visitors shower prior to entering the cenote
  • Do not allow the use of sunscreen

Cenote Saamal (Valladolid)

Amazing Cenote Saamal in Vallodoid, Riviera Maya Mexico
Amazing Cenote Saamal in Vallodoid, Riviera Maya Mexico

Cenote Saamal was the first cenote we ever visited and it was amazing! This is a common cenote to visit after Chichén Itzá as it’s nearby. We stopped here as part of our tour. There was a restaurant, gift shop, showers, restrooms & changing area. Our favorite part was jumping into the refreshing water from a platform (about 15 feet high). The water was a deep blue and water & sunlight streamed into the open air cenote making it pretty magical.

Tankach-Ha

Jumping into the clear blue water deep underground at Cenote Tankach-Ha. Tulum. Riviera Maya, Mexico
Jumping into the clear blue water deep underground at Cenote Tankach-Ha

There are 3 cenotes very close to the Coba Ruins: Cenote Tankach-Ha, Cenote Choo-Ha and Cenote Multan-Ha. After visiting the Coba Ruins, we planned to stop at all 3 cenotes, but ended up visiting only Tankach-Ha due to limited time.

Tankach-Ha is a very deep cenote with 2 jumping platforms and lots of space to swim in the deep blue water. To get to the cenote, you must descend a spiral staircase deep underground. “Tankach” translates to “deep place,” and “Ha” means “water” – so the name is extremely fitting!

The 2 jumping platforms are 15 & 30 feet high. We ran into only one other group who left when we arrived so we had it pretty much to ourselves and were able to jump from the platforms over & over again and swim around in the deep water.

Cost: We paid around $5 per person to enter (cash only – they did take USD though it’s best to have pesos). Life jackets available to rent.

Take a Cenote Tour

We’ve done 2 cenote tours in Riviera Maya – and both experiences are some of our favorite days spent in Mexico.

Visiting an open air cenote near Tulum with Kay Tours. Riviera Maya Mexico
Visiting an open air cenote near Tulum with Kay Tours

One of our favorite excursions in Riviera Maya was snorkeling with sea turtles in Akumal and visiting 3 cenotes on private land with Kay Tours. The cenotes were in the Mayan jungle not far from Tulum.

The best part of this tour was visitors to these cenotes are limited so we had each cenote to ourselves. We jumped off cliffs into the deep water, ziplined over a cenote, canoed, and finally ziplined halfway across a cenote and dropped into the water below. We were also served a traditional Mayan lunch which was delicious.

Another cenote tour option closer to Playa del Carmen is with Xenotes. We were picked up at our hotel and visited 4 different cenotes:

  • Lu’um Cenote – where we rapelled into a cavernous cenote and then jumped into the turquoise water from a platform.
  • Iik’ Cenote – Here we ziplined right into the water!
  • Ha’ Cenote – we swam around and snorkeled in this semi-open cenote filled with water lilies.
  • K’aak Cenote – an open cenote with tall stone walls surrounding it. We entered the cenote via a waterslide, dropped from a zipline, cliff jumped into the water, and floated around.

Diving and Snorkeling in Riviera Maya

Scuba Diving in Riviera Maya, Mexico!
Scuba Diving in Riviera Maya, Mexico! Photo by @leavebubbles

There is some of the best snorkeling in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

  • Swim with sea turtles in Akumal
  • Isla Mujeras
  • Cozumel
  • Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
  • Snorkel in a cenote!

There are plenty of opportunities to go diving in Riviera Maya. From Cozumel to Isla Mujeras – to right off the beach. We took a boat a short way off the coast near Akumal and spent some time diving around the reefs.

We went with Bahia Divers who we thought were great – from picking us up at our hotel, fitting us for gear, to the quality of the guides & safety standards. They even had a photographer dive with us so we were able to get photos of ourselves. Since only 3 of us are certified divers, they also arranged snorkeling for my sons while we dove.

Isla Mujeras

Isla Mujeres is a small island 4 miles east of Cancun and arguably has the best snorkeling in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Here you’ll find turquoise water, white sand beaches, mangroves, and amazing reefs for snorkeling. If you visit Riviera Maya between May – September, you may even see Whale Sharks!

There are lots of options to visit Isla Mujeras. This half day trip visits 2 reefs and includes snacks, but you can also choose a full day tour that includes lunch and an open bar.

Note: Most tours will leave from the Cancun or Playa del Carmen area. We considered doing this but it was too far from where we stayed in Tulum. Instead, we opted for Akumal.

Swim with Sea Turtles in Akumal

We decided to swim with sea turtles in Akumal instead of going to Isla Mujeras. If you are closer to the Cancun area, I recommend Isla Mujeras. I was a little disappointed with our experience in Akumal. Yes, we saw turtles and they were amazing! But there were so many people in the water bumping into each other and kicking up the sand, the crowds took away from the experience.

I would have enjoyed this activity during the low season or first thing in the morning – otherwise, I would skip this.

Have a Beach Day

Tulum Beach in Riviera Maya Mexico
Tulum Beach in Riviera Maya Mexico

There’s nothing like lounging on one of the beaches in Riviera Maya under palm trees with your toes in the white sand listening to the sound of ocean waves crashing.

All beaches in Mexico are public, however some can be difficult to access in cases where hotels are situated on the beach – like in the Hotel Zone in Tulum or the Resort Zone in Playa del Carmen. If your hotel or resort is on the beach then this makes access to the beach easy.

If your hotel is not on the beach:

  • Beach Club: Rent a beach cabana or lounge chairs at a beach club in Riviera Maya and have access to some hotel amenities. This can be pricey. We rented 2 cabanas at Ana y Jose and had a minimum amount we had to spend on food & drinks. We ended up leaving with bottles of wine because we didn’t meet the minimum spend despite ordering what I thought was a lot of food & drinks.
  • Public beaches: Some of the best beaches around Tulum with easy access are Playa Paraiso (Paradise Beach) and Playa Ruinas (near the ruins). Both of these can get crowded so go early to secure a spot. Las Palmas is a little more secluded and less crowded. Or try “Secret Beach” (Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve) – combine this with a tour of the reserve.

Adventure at an Eco Park

A day at an Eco Park is an adventure in Riviera Maya with teens that’s fun for the whole family! My daughter celebrated her 17th birthday in Tulum and requested a day of exploring underground caves, a river float, and ziplining. So we spent the day at Xplor in Riviera Maya.

We almost never visit theme parks when we travel, but Xplor seemed like an exciting way to spend the day. Plus the park is built into the natural ecosystem – so the caves, rivers, and jungle are all part of the natural landscape. We went with 3 adults and 5 kids between the ages of 5 & 19 – and all of us had a blast!

Zipline

Tandem zipline at Xplor. Riviera Maya, Mexico
Tandem zipline at Xplor

We saved the ziplines until the end of our day – they were getting ready to close them down so they sped us through. But the best part was we were the only ones in line! My nieces (ages 5 and 8) were a little bit nervous to try the ziplines so getting rushed through was a blessing in disguise as there was no time to back out – the guides just hooked us up and sent us off.

The ziplines are long – so they sent some of us tandem (for added weight) to get us across without getting stuck in the middle. This was also great because my sister and I both went with one of her daughters so they didn’t have to ride alone.

Underground Caves

Floating through the underground caves at Xplor. Riviera Maya, Mexico
Floating through the underground caves at Xplor

My daughter was most excited about the underground caves. We did a river walk through the cave system filled with stalagmites and stalactites and also floated through the caves on rafts.

ATV

Riding the amphibious ATV at Xplor in Riviera Maya, Mexico
Riding the amphibious ATV at Xplor in Riviera Maya

The amphibious ATV was a hit with all of us. The ride was bumpy, fast, and thrilling. The ride lasted around 30 minutes – we climbed up hills, went into underground caves, around a lot of hairpin turns, and bounced along the track.

My 19-year-old got called out by an employee stationed along the course several times for driving too fast – but it was still fun!

Note: Must be 18+ years old to drive and show a valid official ID as proof of age.

This is the only ATV we’ve done, but there are other ATV tours in Riviera Maya that explore further into the jungle and are often combined with ziplining and/or a cenote swim.

Xplor Admission & Important Information

Admission as of 4/2024:

  • $129/adult (ages 12+) with 7+ day advanced purchase
  • $97/child (ages 5-11) with 7+ day advanced purchase
  • Minimum age: 5 years old

Admission Includes:

  • All activities within Xplor
  • 8 hours of fun (open 9am – 5pm)
  • Buffet lunch & drinks (the lunch buffet was huge with plenty of options. We were all pleasantly surprised by how good everything was too).
  • Locker for personal belongings
  • Free parking

Age/Height/Weight Restrictions:

  • While the minimum age for rides is 5 years old, note that there are height restrictions on some of the activities. To ride the zipline, amphibious vehicle, and underground expedition (walking through the river), the minimum height is 3.5 feet. The Toboganxote is 4.2 feet. My 5-year-old niece, who is not tall for her age, was able to do everything except for the Toboganxote.
  • The minimum weight for the zipline is 88lbs which neither of my nieces met, however, they rode tandem with an adult and were able to do the zipline.
  • Check here for the most up to date info to avoid any disappointment.

Rio Secreto – Underground Caves

Another option for exploring underground caves in Riviera Maya is Rio Secreto, a protected nature reserve. You can hike and swim through this underground semi-flooded limestone cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites. Rio Secreto is located near Playa del Carmen

Visit Rio Secreto here

Biking in Riviera Maya with Teens

Things to do in Riviera Maya with Teens. Biking around Mayakoba. Banyan Tree. Mexico.
Biking around Mayakoba

We love hotels that provide complementary bikes to guests. At Banyan Tree, we rode bikes to get everywhere around the expansive property. We also rode bikes to get around the Coba Ruins.

Biking is a great way to get around anywhere. There are bicycle rental shops in town. There are also bike tours around Riviera Maya.

Cirque du Soleil – Joyà

Watching Cirque du Soleil Joyà. Dinner & a show! Riviera Maya, Mexico with teens
Watching Cirque du Soleil Joyà. Dinner & a show!

For a special experience, book tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s Joyà. We’ve been to several Cirque du Soleil performances (in Las Vegas and San Francisco) and each show is unique. Joyà combines the show with dinner. We weren’t sure what to expect, but we were blown away! From an edible menu to smoking appetizers to dinner served in a treasure box – it was an interactive delight!

Book tickets to Joyà here

Good To Know: Be sure to bring your ID that matches the name on the reservation. They will not issue your tickets without this! I know because I forgot to bring my ID and had to cancel my existing reservation and rebook 5 tickets on the spot.

Cooking Class

Family friendly cooking Class at Banyan Tree in Riviera Maya Mexico
Cooking Class at Banyan Tree in Riviera Maya Mexico

We did a cooking class at the Banyan Tree resort near Playa del Carmen. We picked a menu of tacos, salsa, guacamole, and dessert. Our instructor was great with the kids – he provided assistance when necessary, but let them do things on their own. The best part was getting to eat it when we were done! And they sent us home with printed copies of the recipes so we could make everything again at home!

In Tulum, Lina’s Mexican Kitchen is a popular cooking school with fantastic reviews. We booked a class with her, but then she got sick and had to cancel. We didn’t have enough time to reschedule – so we’ll do this the next time!

Food Tour

We think food tours are one of the best things to do anywhere! We enjoy learning about a city or culture through its food. Plus we always walk away with a list of places to go back and eat!

Tequila Tasting

Tequila store in Riviera Maya. Tulum, Mexico
Lots of tequila stores in Riviera Maya!

I like tequila in my margarita and that’s about it. Unless I’m in Mexico and then I find myself tasting a variety of local tequilas. My favorites are typically flavored tequilas like coffee and chocolate (try mixing those two together!). You’ll find tequilas in many flavors as well as those aged for multiple years.

The legal age to consume alcohol in Mexico is 18. Older teens traveling with parents who are open to abiding by the local drinking age will be delighted.

Explore the Towns & Go Shopping

MexicArte: My favorite store in Tulum! Fine art store in Tulum, Mexico. Riviera Maya
MexicArte: My favorite store in Tulum!

I’m not a big shopper on vacation, but I do love to pick up local art/ goods and things unique to the destination I’m visiting. I could have spent hours in MexicArte in downtown Tulum. It was filled with handmade crafts like Christmas ornaments (we were there over New Year’s), bowls, mugs, art, jewelry, and more!

We had a great time walking around, stopping at local vendors, tasting tequila, and just enjoying the atmosphere.

5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen is a must-stop for shopping. This bustling area is filled with restaurants, boutiques, coffee shops, handicrafts, art galleries, jewelry and all kinds of knick-knacks.

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Located just south of Tulum, Sian Ka’an is the largest protected area in Riviera Maya. In this biosphere reserve, you’ll find tropical forests, mangroves, marshes, coral reefs, and beaches (including Secret Beach).

Sian Ka’an is best explored with a guide who knows how to navigate the waterways. Here you can swim in canals, snorkel on the coral reef, fly fish, kayak, look for dolphins and turtles and fly fish!

This full day tour includes lunch, a boat tour, snorkeling, and looking for dolphins, turtles & different species of coral

Good To Know: Getting to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve can be cumbersome. Punta Allen is the gateway to the coastal environment: marine life, coral reefs, and beaches. The Punta Allen access point is accessible via the road through Tulum’s Hotel Zone. Entering via Muyil will give you access to the freshwater lagoons, canals, and marshes, as well as some ancient Mayan sites. This access point is logistically easier to access as it’s off the main highway.

More Things to do in Riviera Maya with Teens!

  • Go sailing on a Catamaran
  • Cozumel Day Trip – Take a day trip to Cozumel for even more amazing snorkeling and diving with turquoise water, shallow reefs, coral, shipwrecks, and marine life.
  • Mayan Jungle Tour

Where to Stay in Riviera Maya with Teens

Relaxing in the pool at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba. Riviera Maya Mexico. hotels in the riviera maya mexico with teens
Relaxing in the pool at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba

Choosing the best place to stay in Riviera Maya, Mexico might be the most difficult decision of all. There are endless hotels, resorts, all-inclusives, Airbnbs, villas, beach bungalows, and boutique hotels from which to choose!

We have stayed at 5-star Riviera Maya resorts and a private villa in Tulum. While we liked both types of accommodations, I prefer to stay at a resort as I appreciate the amenities and I find it’s easier for our kids to do their own thing when we have downtime.

Here’s where we’ve stayed and what I have my eye on for future stays!

Banyan Tree Mayakoba

The Banyan Tree Riviera Maya is located in the gated Mayakoba resort area, along with several other luxury resorts, near downtown Playa del Carmen.

Banyan Tree Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico
Banyan Tree Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico

The Banyan Tree in Riviera Maya is our family’s favorite place we’ve stayed. They have a variety of suites and villas: multiple bedrooms, oceanfront, private pools, and generous terraces. We stayed in a 3-bedroom villa with a rooftop pool overlooking the golf course which was quite spacious for our family of 5. There are several restaurants, including a delicious breakfast buffet. The resort offers bike rentals for guests to get around the expansive property (our bikes were complementary – part of a deal at the time of booking).

The resort also offers amenities like a large pool, white sand beach, beach club, spa, fitness center, Kids’ Club, Archery, Tennis, Golf, a boat you can ride around the canals on the property, kayaking in the canals, cooking classes, and a concierge to plan additional excursions around the area.

We enjoyed riding our bikes around several miles of trails within the Mayakoba resort area, including to El Pueblito where there’s an arcade, church, more restaurants (we ate at the Burger Spot) plus a candy shop & bakery, a few boutiques, and a cooking school.

The church at El Pueblito in Mayakoba. Riviera Maya Mexico
The church at El Pueblito in Mayakoba

Other fabulous resorts within the Mayakoba resort area:

  • Rosewood Mayakoba
  • Fairmont Mayakoba
  • Andaz Mayakoba

Grand Velas Riviera Maya

For one of the best all inclusive resorts with teens, check out the Grand Velas in Riviera Maya, Mexico. It’s located on the water just outside the Mayakoba area in Riviera Maya. We stayed at the Grand Velas Puerto Vallarta and loved it! I am skeptical of the quality of all-inclusives, but we were extremely impressed with Grand Velas – from the delicious meals at multiple restaurants (breakfast, lunch & dinner), drinks (alcohol too), stocked mini-bars, pool & beach concierge, pool/beachside service, beach & non-motorized watersports included, daily activities, Kids’ Club, Teen Club, size of our room, and the service. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay at any of the Grand Velas resorts. And if you have teens (who like to eat and snack a lot!) all-inclusive is a smart way to go.

Conrad Tulum

The Conrad Tulum is a little bit north of Tulum, but is a large resort right on the beach with a protected area for snorkeling, kayaking, and other water sports. It has 5 pools, a spa, fitness center, Kids Club, Teen Zone, and offers tours to local attractions and excursions.

Or look for a smaller boutique hotel in the Hotel Zone.

Tulum Residence

In Tulum, we stayed at a villa in a residential area. The villa was expansive with a large yard, a pool, kitchen, living area, patios, 4 bedrooms, even a treehouse and a cenote in the backyard! But it was not close enough to walk to anything. Unless you rent a place near the beach, I’d stick to a hotel or resort in Tulum. The infrastructure isn’t yet set up to accommodate a lot of traffic to/from the beach on 2-lane roads, most without shoulders or bike lanes.

Best Time to go to Riviera Maya

Weather in Riviera Maya

The best time to go to Riviera Maya, Mexico is during the dry season from October to April. Not only is the weather drier, but it’s also cooler (though still plenty warm with highs generally in the 80s).

The rainy season in Riviera Maya is from April to October. During this time, the weather is hot (high 80s to 90s), humid, and rainy. Unless there’s a storm, rain tends to arrive and pass quickly leaving sunshine in its wake. September & October tend to be the rainiest months so if possible avoid those months.

Good To Know: Hurricane season is June through November. The odds of a hurricane hitting Riviera Maya are low but not zero.

High, Low, and Shoulder Season

  • High Season: March/April, July/August, Chrismas/New Year’s (more tourists & higher prices)
  • Low Season: September/October (lower prices, fewer tourists, rainiest months)
  • Shoulder Season: January/February, May/June (lower prices, fewer tourists)

How to get to Riviera Maya Mexico

From the US, the most convenient way to get to Riviera Maya Mexico is to fly.

Closest Airport for Riviera Maya, Mexico

Riviera Maya is large stretching almost 100 miles from Cancun to Tulum. Up until 2024, the most convenient international airport for Riviera Maya was Cancun (CUN). In March 2024, the Tulum Airport (TQO) began servicing limited international flights.

The best airport for Riviera Maya will depend on a couple of factors:

  1. Where you are staying in Riviera Maya
    • How long is the drive from each airport?
    • Does your hotel offer a shuttle from one of the airports?
  2. Flight options to each airport
    • Price
    • Route: Direct vs. Connections. Maybe it’s faster to fly to Cancun & drive vs having a long connection.
    • Preferred carrier

We visited Tulum in January 2024 and flew direct on United from San Francisco to Cancun. The drive from the Cancun airport to Tulum is 1.5 – 2 hours making for a long day of travel. Going forward, we would check flight options into Tulum as well.

As of May 2024, the American, Delta & Spirit Airlines fly to Tulum from the following US Airports:

  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Charlotte (CLT)
  • Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Orlando (MCO)

Check here for the most up to date list of Airlines & Flight Routes to Tulum.

Is Riviera Maya Mexico Safe?

Riviera Maya is a popular travel destination and is generally considered a safe place to travel. Crime in the area is rarely targeted at tourists. However, as with any destination, it’s best to exercise caution. Avoid traveling alone, especially in remote areas and after dark; use regulated taxi stands, vehicles arranged by a concierge, or app-based services like Uber; secure personal belongings; don’t flaunt expensive items.

The best resource to determine the safety of a particular destination is to check the State Department’s Travel Advisory page.

Getting Around Riviera Maya

Driving in Riviera Maya

To rent a car or not? The only time we rented a car was when we stayed in Tulum. Every other time, we have utilized a car service or shuttle to get us to/from the airport, excursions, dinner, etc. I have found that most tour operators offer a hotel pickup service, and hotels are happy to arrange private transportation (taxi, uber, etc).

Why did we rent a car when we stayed in Tulum:

  • We stayed at a private residence and we had to drive everywhere we wanted to go. Our villa was on a dirt road filled with potholes half a mile off the main road. There were no street lights and dense jungle on both sides of the road – so not easily accessible or easy to find. We would have felt stranded without a car.
  • Because we stayed at a private residence, there was no hotel shuttle service. We could have arranged private transportation, but the drive is quite long and we thought it was more economical to rent a car.

Currency in Riviera Maya

The currency used in Riviera Maya is the Mexican Peso. In our experience, most vendors and establishments take either credit cards or will accept US dollars.

We always travel with some cash in the local currency. Here’s why:

  • It’s courteous to tip guides, hotel staff, etc in local currency so they don’t have to hassle with exchanging the money or dealing with an unfavorable exchange rate.
  • We felt that any time we pay with dollars for a product or service rather than the local currency, vendors increase the price and charge more. And they should because they will have to deal with the exchange rate – but they can also easily markup the price or offer unfavorable exchange rates.

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