5 Incredible Cultural Adventures in the Riviera Maya

published on March 28, 2023 by

Mexico’s Riviera Maya is filled with luxurious resorts and gorgeous beaches. But the region has much more to offer than sun and sand. During your Riviera Maya vacation, be sure to check out some of the many fun and family friendly experiences that highlight the destination’s history, culture and cuisine. 

Travel Back In Time In Tulum

We haven’t invented a time machine yet. But a trip to Tulum, located a short drive from Playa del Carmen, might be the next best thing. Overlooking the Caribbean Sea, this ancient Mayan city was once a major port, as well as a spiritual and cultural center. Today, Tulum’s ruins are one of Mexico’s most iconic attractions, offering a perfect off-resort daytrip adventure. Accessible from 8am to 5pm daily, visitors can explore such famed sites as the House of Chultun, the House of Columns, the Great Palace, the Temple of Frescoes and the Temple of the Descending God. Tulum’s most well-known ruin is known as the Castle, which served as both a temple and a lighthouse for sailors trying to navigate the treacherous reefs just offshore. 

  • Tulum Travel Tip: Because of Tulum’s popularity, the best time to visit is in the morning, when there are fewer crowds and more space to roam. 

Get To Know Mexico’s Sweet Side 

What’s the most popular food in the world? Chocolate, of course. And chocolate began with the Mayans. Thousands of years ago, Mayans cultivated the cacao bean — and centuries later we’re still reaping the delicious benefits. In Cozumel, the Mayan Cacao Company’s interactive museum gives visitors an eye-opening, mouth-watering look at chocolate’s incredibly rich history via interactive tastings, tours, galleries and exhibits. The Chocolate Workshop experience is particularly fun, giving you the chance to make your very own chocolate bar with cacao seeds that the Mayans used in rituals and ceremonies. 

  • Chocolate Travel Tip: To taste some of Riviera Maya’s best chocolate, stop in at Playa del Carmen’s Ah Cacao Café, a spot devoted to the fine art of chocolate. 

Enroll In Tequila University

Do you know the difference between blanco or reposado tequila? Or that authentic tequila can only be produced in certain regions of Mexico according to exacting specifications? You’ll learn all of this and more at Tequila University, an experience offered by La Sirena Restaurant in Puerto Morelos. Held every Monday at 4 p.m. on La Sirena’s scenic rooftop, the class offers a deep dive into the fascinating universe of tequila, Mexico’s signature spirit. Experts will guide you through the basics and provide plenty of tasting opportunities from the restaurant’s extensive tequila collection. Note: reservations are required. 

  • Tequila Travel Tip: The Hacienda Tequila Museum in Playa del Carmen is another great spot to check out, with souvenirs, historical items and more. 

Discover The World Of Frida Kahlo

One of Mexico’s — and the world’s — most famous artists, Frida Kahlo was a creative trailblazer in the 20th century. Her story and imagination come to life at Museo Frida Kahlo Riviera Maya, an expansive attraction in downtown Playa del Carmen. Kahlo’s life was often as fascinating as her surreal artwork, and the museum offers insight into her relationship with artist Diego Riviera and the devastating accident that altered her path forever. The Museo Frida Kahlo Riviera Maya also features exhibits that highlight Mexican history during Kahlo’s lifetime, giving visitors a rich understanding of an amazing time and place. 

  • Playa del Carmen Travel Tip: For more Playa del Carmen arts, pay a visit to the renowned Gastón Charó Art Gallery, where you’ll find an array of locally made masterpieces.

Get Lost In The Aktun Chen Parque Natural

Extraordinary eco-adventures are everywhere in the Aktun Chen Parque Natural in Akumal. The park’s main attraction is the five-million-year-old Aktun Chen cave system. Here, you’ll find underground rivers, crystal-clear cenotes (natural pools that you can swim in!), and awe-inspiring rock formations. Take a guided tour of the caves and explore the ancient Mayan history and culture that can be found within. Additionally, the park is home to a vast nature reserve, where visitors can encounter a diverse range of wildlife and plant species. 

  • Akumal Travel Tip: Not too far from Aktun Chen, Playa Akumal is one of Riviera Maya’s most beautiful beaches, where you can snorkel amidst sea turtles. 

Where To Stay

  • Grand Mayan at Vidanta Riviera Maya: Just a short drive from Playa del Carmen, the Grand Mayan resort boasts upscale and spacious accommodations, easy access to a white-sand beach and 20 different dine and drink options. 

Start planning your Riviera Maya vacation with RedWeek now.

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