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On the eastern side of the idyllic state of Quintana Roo you'll find the Riviera Maya, a new tourist destination comprising well over 75 miles of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The Riviera Maya is the coastline that starts at Puerto Morelos and ends in the picturesque fishing village of Punta Allen.
The Riviera Maya features an array of attractions ranging from deserted beaches to modern architectural complexes, including hotels, marinas, sports facilities and gourmet restaurants. At the southern end you'll find the area's principal ecological reserve, Sian Ka'an, a habitat noted for the richness of its flora and fauna.
The Maya culture remains present throughout the area, in the many indigenous communities still found here. They strive to preserve their traditions, religion and social structure, although the real splendor of the ancient Maya civilization is most evident in the numerous archaeological sites of this stunning area. It is through the pyramids, playing fields, sculpted stone pillars, plazas and temples that some of the mysteries, still surrounding one of Mexico's most important cultures, have been partially deciphered.
Come and visit the Riviera Maya to discover its diversity. Here one can experience everything from ecotourism, theme parks and extreme sports to tennis and golf tournaments, jungle tours on foot or horseback, a wide variety of water sports and the most amazing cultural and archaeological treasures of the Maya world.
Jungle, diverse flora and fauna, archaeological sites, deserted beaches, a turquoise-colored sea with crystal-clear water that turns to silver under the moonlight, the fantasy and warmth of the tropics and the mystery of an ancient culture which lives on today, are just some of the qualities which have transformed the Riviera Maya into a destination which can compete favorably with the rest of the Caribbean's tourist destinations.
For all these reasons this region, where the ancient Maya civilization flourished and reached its full splendor, has become the world-class tourist destination that it is today, for both national and international travelers alike. Plan your next vacation to the Riviera Maya and discover all its wonders.
The Riviera Maya has several small towns along its coastline; all of them located no more than 1.5 miles from the wonderful turquoise waters of the Mexican Caribbean. The most important towns, according to the size of the population, are Playa del Carmen, the heart of the Riviera Maya; Puerto Morelos, the first town in the Riviera Maya, located 22 miles south of Cancun; and Tulum town, as is known to make the distinction from the archeological site.
South of Playa del Carmen is the lovely town of Puerto Aventuras, a residential subdivision with a large marina for 280 boats. Located thirteen miles to the south of Playa del Carmen, this luxurious community features a challenging golf course, hotels, condominiums and deluxe residencies. Continuing south of Puerto Aventuras, you will find the small villages of Akumal and Chemuyil. These small private residential areas are home to the hundreds of people that work in near by hotels. The last town south of Tulum is Punta Allen, a small fishing village located on a virgin strip of land beside the Caribbean Sea.
There are a huge number of Mayan sites scattered throughout the Riviera Maya and the theme parks of Xel-Ha and Xcaret are home to several small yet attractive structures as well. With out doubt, the most popular and famous of all is Tulum, the only Mayan site perched on top of limestone cliffs in front of the sea. Although small, in terms of size and with few structures and temples, Tulum is an excellent cultural attraction for those travelers who want to learn more about the ancient Maya world.
The virginal and unexplored archeological zone of Coba is located northwest of Tulum, less than an hour by car. Coba is an enormous site with hundreds of structures spread out over 50 square miles. In order to visit the accessible buildings you have to walk down long trails surrounded by incomparable beauty, where you'll have the opportunity to see a wide variety of birds and animals, as well as the exuberant jungle of this unexplored region.
Sixteen miles south of Tulum is Muyil, a small Mayan archeological site in the Sian Ka'an reserve. It is an astonishing place that as of today is one of the best preserved in the area.
For real lovers of the Mayan civilization and for the more adventurous, then there are many more extraordinary archeological sites, although relatively far from the heart of the Riviera Maya, such as Dzibanche, Kohunlich and Chacchoben, located approximately a 4 hour drive south of the Riviera Maya. In the neighboring state of Yucatan you can visit the ancestral Puuc Route, which includes the wonderful Mayan cities of Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil and Labna. And the world famous Mayan city of Chichen Itza is only 3 hours away from Playa del Carmen.
One of the main reasons, if not the most important for visiting the Riviera Maya, is the beaches. The coastline of the state of Quintana Roo and the Riviera Maya is irregular in shape and is made up of keys, inlets, capes and bays. Aside from offering its unique white talc like sand, the sandy beaches are always cool due to its main components, which are pieces of shell and ground up coral. For all the above, plus the Caribbean Sea with its incredible turquoise waters and fantastic sunsets, the Riviera Maya is definitely the best remedy for the traveler looking for a relaxing vacation far from everyday stress.
On the beaches of the Riviera Maya you'll find plenty of water sports available, ranging from swimming to more exciting activities, such as snorkeling or diving on the coral reefs, sailing, fishing and windsurfing. On the other hand, if you don't want to get wet, there are number of activities that you can do on the beach, such as sunbath, horseback riding, play volleyball, build sand castles with your kids, or simply stroll the beach and enjoy the immaculate sands of the Mexican Caribbean.
From north to south and with approximately 75 miles of beautiful beaches to choose from, the Riviera Maya offers a wide selection for everybody. Take time to explore the beaches of Puerto Morelos, Playa del Secreto and Playa Paraiso (Secret Beach and Paradise Beach), Punta Maroma that according to the Travel Channel is ''an exquisite secret in Mexico'', Punta Bete; the white beaches of Playa del Carmen; Xcalacoco, Paamul and Xpu-Ha; Kantenah Bay with its long white beaches; the small but extraordinary Yalku Bay; the amazing beaches of Akumal; Xcacel ecological reserve where every year hundreds of turtles arrive to lay their eggs; Tankah Bay and its Manatee Cenote with crystal clear waters; the semi-virgin beaches of Tulum; Boca Paila with its exclusive beach; and the southern fishing village of Punta Allen.
EcotourismThere is also a great selection of environmentally responsible excursions to the natural areas of the Riviera Maya. For water sports enthusiasts, there are snorkeling and diving tours to the amazing coral reefs and the complex underground river and caves systems unique to the region. There are plenty of kayak tours of the bays and inlets as well. For nature lovers, take a walk through the virgin ecological reserves, or enjoy a horseback ride or bike tour and explore the different geographical zones of Quintana Roo. For those who want to know more about one of the great civilizations of the ancient world, then there are guided tours to Mayan archeological sites. And if you want a bird's eye view of the Riviera Maya then you must do the canopy tour, a truly exciting experience.