From all-inclusive vacations to ancient Mayan ruins, the Riviera Maya has something for everyone. Families, couples and solo travellers flock to Mexico for sun, sand, sea and endless adventure. One of our Travel Experts recently visited this little paradise and shares their experience:
A trip to the Riviera Maya has it all – sun, sand, sea, music, dancing, wining & dining, culture, and adventure. But hands down, the two highlights of this trip for me were Playa del Carmen and Chichen Itza.
Playa del Carmen is a must-see if you’re on the Yucatan peninsula. Bustling 5th Avenue is the heart and centre of Playa Del Carmen, full of lively bars, cafes, and shops. Who knew that in Mexico you could also enjoy a little taste of Havana? At La Bodeguita del Medio I danced the night away to the soul-stirring, vibrant beats of a fantastic live band. You can even go to one of the nearby stores and buy yourself traditional Cuban cigars to enjoy along with your mojitos (some of the best I’ve tasted). On the night that I was there, Mexico was battling it out in a boxing match with the Philippines, which played on the televisions at the bar. When Mexico landed a triumphant blow, the band stopped and everybody in the place went wild.
And here’s a little secret, you can get one of the best massages you’ve ever had on 5th Avenue, staffed by the only certified therapists in the area, for a modest price of $25 USD. It may look like a hole in the wall operation from the outside but don’t let appearances fool you. Step through that doorway and head straight in to bliss.
And of course, no trip to the Riviera Maya is complete without a trip to Chichen Itza, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to see the awe-inspiring pyramids and Mayan ruins. My visit lasted a whole day with the first stop to Sacred Ceynote, or “sacred well” located just outside of Chichen Itza.
Legend has it that the pre-Columbian Maya sacrificed people into the ceynote as a form of worship to the Maya rain god Chaac. Present day, the ceynote is a swimming hole surrounded with jungle vines. It looked like a scene from Indian Jones.
Chichen Itza had been on my bucket list for a long time and I finally got to cross it off. I cannot describe the feeling of finally seeing one of the greatest mythological spectacles and wonders of the world. Chichen Itza was one of the greatest Mayan cities of its day and its pyramids, columns, temples, and astronomical observatory, still stand as a testament to the brilliance of the ancient Mayan civilization.
It made me really appreciate the sophistication of this society, as every structure was built with such purpose and attention down to the detail. For instance, during the fall and spring equinoxes, the sun filters through the pyramid, El Castillo, which creates a visual of a serpent climbing the pyramid.
Whether you’re a history buff, an astronomy lover, or simply a lover of beauty and a traveller with insatiable curiosity, there’s something for everyone at this New Wonder of the World. I was really impressed with my experience in Mexico and I can see this becoming a home away from home. I plan to keep coming back in the future and I encourage anyone else to do the same!