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Best Excursions in Riviera Maya for Mexico Bucket List

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Mexico is certainly one of the luxurious destinations in the world. It is one of our favorites – a destination with immense archaeological delights, slow travel, relaxing beaches and pampered all-inclusive resorts – Mexico has it all. If you are looking for ways to add some fun activity to your relaxing vacation, then read to find the best excursions in Riviera Maya that you can add to your Mexico bucket list travel.

Riviera Maya or the Cancun-Tulum corridor as this stretch of land was once called, has been a tourist magnet for years. And for a good reason. Riviera Maya offers front-row seats to experience the Caribbean coastline, the Mayan ruins, and loads of fun activities including water sports. 

Best Excursions in Riviera Maya for Mexico Bucket List

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

ExcursionsFor every travelerBook Here
Aeriel Tour of Chichen Itza Ultimate Bucket List Book Here
Ultimate Mayan Ruins TourFor History Lover Book Here
Temazcal CeremonyFor Culture Lover Book Here
Underwater Dive to museum For Curiosity Lover Book Here
XCaret Park AdventureFor Adventure Lover Book Here
Whale Shark TourFor Adventure Lover Book Here
Rio Secreto Full Dday TourFor Adventure Lover Book Here
Romantic Yacht DinnerFor Couples Book Here
Mexico Food/Cuisine TourFor Taco Lover Book Here
Ultimate Cenote ExperienceFor Curiosity- History Lover Book Here

Where is Riviera Maya located exactly?

Riviera Maya is a tourism and resort district located to the south of Cancun in Mexico. It stretches from Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, and goes all the way down to Tulum from Cancun.

The entire stretch lies in Mexico’s Quintana Roo state and is known for all-inclusive resorts (like the resorts in Playa del Carmen with access to private beaches), Chichen Itza (known for the Mayan ruins/pyramid) and Tulum (Mayan ruins and the white sandy beaches). So if you are touch down in Cancun, Mexico – this awesome list of activities is for you.

Why take excursions in Riviera Maya?

You are heading to Mexico’s all-inclusive resorts to relax and unwind, probably eat and drink and soak all the sun (which is much needed after Christmas, or could be before or any time you find a great vacation deal – which is so common if you are in the USA or Canada, eh).

So take a day or two to enjoy the cultural and historical side of Mexico. Don’t have time to research and plan it all out – well, that’s why you NEED these excursions. I am a history majors student but seriously I knew nothing about Chichen Itza and how its all connected to Tulum and Coba ruins and those cenotes (OMG), and that list can go on and on.

These excursions are handpicked to give you the unique experience of Riviera Maya. And there is something for everybody to enjoy. So sit back, relax, and be amazed at what Mexico’s popular coastal towns have to offer.

10 Best Excursions & Tours Riviera Maya

Riviera Maya Mexico Things to do - Mexico vacation Riviera Maya bucket list items like snorkeling, adventure water activities, honeymoon ideas. Add these beautiful destinations and ideas from Cancun. Read about Riviera Maya Mexico excursions in this post. #mexico #traveldestinations

Aerial Tour of Chichen Itza Excursion- Ultimate Mexico Bucket List Item

Chichen Itza is a Mayan pyramid or ruins located in the Yucatan peninsula. It is considered one of the wonders of the world. Imagine viewing the pyramids and all the surrounding Yucatan forest from a bird’s view. Stunning ‘imagination, isn’t it? What if, we tell you there is a way of making this a reality? (No, you don’t have to own a private jet).

Riviera Maya Mexico Things to do - Mexico vacation Riviera Maya bucket list items like snorkeling, adventure water activities, honeymoon ideas. Add these beautiful vacation destinations and ideas from Cancun. Read Riviera Maya Mexico excursions in this post.
Chichen Itza – Riviera Maya Excursions

This aerial tour of Chichen Itza is once in a LIFETIME experience. So what is included in this tour?

  • A 3 hour guided tour of Chichen Itza with an archaeologist. These guided tours provide you an in-depth history of the ancient Mayans and the ruins. Conducted on the pyramid grounds.
  • Includes plane ride from Cancun to Chichen Itza to check off this bucket-list item. Here is where you will experience the surreal (and dense) Yucatan jungle, with the pyramid playing peek-a-boo in a scenic air tour (hint: if you have a proposal on your mind, consider this; you will surely your sweetheart’s breathe away)
  • Small-group tour
  • Pick up and drop off included.

Chichen Itza – Tulum – Coba Tour – Explore it all, history lover!

You want to relax at the white sandy beaches and only have a day to check-off the Mayan ruins. Well, let’s help you get there. Not one or two, but check THREE Mayan ruins/pyramids off your Mexico bucket list (and then return to margaritas, tacos, and beaches).

Tulum one of the finest Mayan Ruins Yucatan

This tour covers the three Mayan ruins sites of Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Coba.

Did you know that Coba is the oldest Mayan ruin to be discovered and Tulum – the newest/youngest? And of course, you know El Castillo, who stands tall at Chichen Itza (see the picture above). 

Highly recommend this tour to every history lover. What is included in this tour?

  • Explore 3 Mayan sites – Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Coba with a guide
  • It is a FULL day tour (10-12 hours)
  • Lunch is provided
  • Small-group tour
  • Climb the Coba pyramids (you will be provided with a PADI-cab to reach the pyramid, cycling through the jungle)
  • Hotel pick up and drop off is included.

Trust me, we did the guided tour of all these places and it was awesome. We were appalled at what the ancient Mayans did and knew in those times.

We arrived early on-site and were able to take these awesome shots, minus the crowds. So if someone says, guided tours are bad, they may not have taken one themselves, so – trust me.

Temazcal Ceremony – Cultural Mexico

Have you heard about the ancient Mayan practice of ‘temazcal’? ‘Temazcal’, literally means ‘house of heat’ – it is a type of Maya sweat lodge.

This is believed to be an ancient purification ceremony, conducted by a local expert (aka shaman). It is a very unique experience, sort of pagan, and raw. After spending some time in the ‘sweat lodge’, you will be taken to a cenote (or sinkhole) for a swim to complete the purification process.

The tour recommended here is a 6-hour tour from Cancun. It is a perfect way to spend time learning about Mayan culture and mingling with the community.

  • It includes the authentic ‘temazcal’ experience, with a local guide
  • Ceremony + Cenote swim
  • Mayan dinner is provided.
  • Round trip from the hotel
  • It is a small group tour.

Underwater Mystery – Dive & learn

This is a unique scuba diving experience in Cancun. In this mystery dive, you will discover the Underwater Museum of Art.

One of the stunning and surreal landscapes where you will explore life-sized sculptures and bright coral and tropical fish of the Manchones Reef. You can take this tour even if you have never done before, you will be provided with lessons prior to dive.

What does the tour include?

  • 4-hour diving experience, which includes one pool session and two open water dives
  • Explore the underwater museum of Art
  • All equipment is provided
  • Guided by a certified PADI-instructor (with dive lessons)
  • Pick up from Cancun hotel

Xcaret Tour Riviera Maya & Park Adventure 

Xcaret is an adventure theme park, located in Riviera Maya. It is often called the “modern-day garden of Eden”, due to the host of activities conducted at Xcaret. This park is privately owned and there are cultural and history shows, tons of underwater activities, wildlife, and birds explorations, including an ancient Mayan cemetery and a Spanish church for you to explore.

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Xcaret Riviera Maya 

Check prices for Xcaret Park Adventure and activities 

Xcaret is a perfect place for full-day relaxation with family, or you can pretty much do your own thing. (you will find me oscillating between the water and the lounge, with a margarita!)

The tour that we are recommending below is a PLUS (upgraded) full-day tour to Xcaret from Cancun and it is priced at a good value to include the following

  • This tour allows access to more than 40 different exciting activities
  • Activities include underground aquatic activities (+ snorkel, reef), wildlife exploring, culture shows, jungle and birds sighting
  • Includes a night show of Mayan History (Xcaret Mexico Espectacular)
  • Xcaret Aquarium, exploring the depths of the Caribbean Sea
  • 1 buffet lunch with UNLIMITED beverages (+ one beer)
  • Return trip from Cancun

Go snorkeling in Riviera Maya with sharks (Seasonal)

Does the underwater world fascinate you? Well, then this tour is perfect for you. A complete 6-hour tour from Cancun (or other Riviera Maya hotels) to snorkel with whale sharks at the Mexican Caribbean sea. This is one of the amazing diving/snorkeling activities where you can swim with sharks and other marine creatures.

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Underwater World in Riviera Maya 

Check prices for whale shark tour

Some adult specimens can measure up to 13 meters in length, though accounts of individuals of up to 18 meters, making it a truly wonderful diving/snorkeling experience. It is a seasonal tour valid from May to September every year.

This tour includes the following-

  • Underwater experience with a trained guide/expert
  • Snorkeling gear is provided. Wet-suit available for rent
  • Light breakfast is provided. Lunch buffet at Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres
  • Free pick up and drop off from hotels in Cancun and other Riviera Maya hotels
  • Not recommended for pregnant women and children under the age of 6 years.
  • Seasonal tour valid from May to September

Rio Secreto – Land of hidden caves, underground rivers

Dive into the wonderful and fascinating world of stalactites and stalagmites, with scintillating turquoise waters at Rio Secreto – the adventure land. Rio Secreto is located in Playa del Carmen, it is a very unique way of exploring the Mayan underground world.

Imagine exploring and biking through the jungle, snorkeling in a semi-flooded cave, being amazed at the stalactites and stalagmites. This full-day guided tour at the Rio Secreto takes you through the crystal caves, underground rivers and also includes a bike tour through the jungle. As it is a guided tour, rest ensured you will be in good hands. Mexican buffet is included in the full-day ticket access to the Rio Secreto.

Check prices for Rio Secreto Full day tour

This excursion covers

  • Full day guided tour at Rio Secreto
  • Bike tour, crystal caves, and underground river swim and snorkel
  • Exploring Mayan underworld
  • 2 buffet meals included.
  • Equipment provided on-site.
  • Hotel pick up and drop to be arranged separately at the time of booking. Or you have an option to arrive directly at Rio Secreto and meet your guide.
  • Small group up to 10 people only.
  • Not recommended for pregnant women.
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Romantic Waters of the Caribbean

Romantic yacht sailing – champagne, lobster and the beautiful Caribbean

Romance on your mind? Or are you on your honeymoon (awww)? Set sail on a yacht, with champagne on one hand and the hands of your beloved in the other, and watch the sun go down, mesmerized by the waters of the Caribbean.

This evening/sunset cruise dinner is a perfect way to make your Mexico vacation memorable. The 2.5-hour dinner cruise in Cancun Excursion (on Nichupté Lagoon) is conducted on a historic replica of the tall ship, Columbus.

Check prices for Columbus Dinner cruise – for a romantic evening

What does this dinner cruise consist of?

  • This 2.5-hour cruise is an evening of live jazz, drinks, and fine dining, perfect for couples
  • You can choose between a sunset sail and an evening cruise (open deck or inside a cabin)
  • This dinner cruise includes access to an open bar as well as a full dinner of lobster, steak, or vegetarian food

Mexico Food Tour – for the Taco lover

I am a BIG fan of Mexican food. Not your usual TacoTime or Mucho Burrito guys, you gotta try the authentic Mexicana cuisine. In this Mexico food tour, you will be experiencing and relishing the best of cuisines from Yucatan, Caribbean, and Central Mexico. Mexican spirits are included as well.

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Mexico Food Tour

So what else does this Mexico food tour include?

  • Music, while you eat
  • All the food origins and history (yippie)
  • Food items such as tacos, street food, and gourmet dishes  (of course, taco lover!)
  • You get to sample three Mexican spirits: tequila, mezcal, and xtabentun
  • Small-group tour. This tour has great reviews, so highly RECOMMENDED. And its food!
  • Return trip from Cancun. This is a half-day tour

Cenotes Riviera Maya – Ultimate Experience

A cenote is a sink-hole or a pit, filled with underground water. Cenotes were important for the Mayans, as it was considered to be very scared. It is believed that all the cenotes in the Yucatan region are interconnected and the present Mayan community still utilizes it, in their day to day activities.

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Cenotes (Pic: Pixabay)

Check prices for the Ultimate Cenotes experience

Due to its religious and spiritual significance, it is important that certain cleanliness norms are followed before entering a cenote. A shower is mandatory, and one should avoid applying any short of chemicals/lotions on their bodies before entering a cenote.

Entering a cenote is a surreal experience in itself. (For me it was the moments leading inside the cenote. It is one of the unforgettable memories from our Mexico trip).

So here is an ultimate cenote experience. In this full-day tour, you will be exploring not 1 or 2, but FOUR cenotes in the Rivera Maya. Add some fun activities like zip-lining, snorkeling, kayaking and so much more. You will get to enjoy different activities in all 4 cenotes.

All the cenotes are located in Yucatan forests, which makes the travel very interesting as well. (Also you are treated to unlimited snacks and a glam picnic in these natural and beautiful spots)

What does the tour cover?

  • Full day tour to 4 cenotes
  • Included activities snorkeling, kayaking, zip-lining, and inner tubing, etc
  • Equipment provided
  • Lunch and snacks included (aka your glam picnic lunch)
  • Return trip from your hotel

We hope you enjoyed this list of Riviera Maya excursions and tours. Include them in your Mexico vacation to make your trip extra special.

ExcursionsFor every travelerBook Here
Aeriel Tour of Chichen Itza Ultimate Bucket List Book Here
Ultimate Mayan Ruins TourFor History Lover Book Here
Temazcal CeremonyFor Culture Lover Book Here
Underwater Dive to museum For Curiosity Lover Book Here
XCaret Park AdventureFor Adventure Lover Book Here
Whale Shark TourFor Adventure Lover Book Here
Rio Secreto Full Dday TourFor Adventure Lover Book Here
Romantic Yacht DinnerFor Couples Book Here
Mexico Food/Cuisine TourFor Taco Lover Book Here
Ultimate Cenote ExperienceFor Curiosity- History Lover Book Here

Additional Resources for your Mexico Trip

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

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Riviera Maya Mexico Things to do - Mexico vacation Riviera Maya bucket list items like snorkeling, adventure water activities, honeymoon ideas. Add these beautiful destinations and ideas from Cancun. Read about Riviera Maya Mexico excursions in this post. #mexico #traveldestinations
Riviera Maya Excursions

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9 Comments

  1. Oh wow I’ve never heard of Xcaret Riviera Maya it looks so dreamy, definitely putting it on my must-do list for Mexico. I also didn’t know showering before entering a cenote is mandatory or that one should avoid applying any short of chemicals/lotions on your body before entering it. I’m even more in love with the idea of experiencing a cenote now 😀 Thanks, very informative and helpful!

  2. Wow. For some reason, since I’m from the U.S., Mexico never seemed like an amazing “abroad” destination for me. But wow, you have changed my mind! Looks like I should start planning my trip to Riviera Maya!

  3. This is fantastic! I’m currently planning a family trip to the Yucatan Peninsula for later this summer! These are some really great suggestions for excursions to do. Unfortunately, I’ll have a couple of young kids with me so I probably won’t get to do much ziplining, but great activities nonetheless! Thanks!

    1. You are welcome Mary! There are many activities other ziplining or other adventures. Mayan ruins and Xcaret will be great options to explore and unwind!
      Have a great trip to Mexico!

  4. Hello,
    It is a blog is a very nice article and best excursions in riviera Maya Mexico is beautiful and expensive.
    Thank You for share us

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