Ruins of Tulum

Travel Guide: The Riviera Maya, a Mexican Paradise

Ruins of Tulum, Mexico overlooking the Caribbean Sea in the Riviera Maya
Ruins of Tulum, Mexico overlooking the Caribbean Sea in the Riviera Maya

One of the most famous places in Mexico, and perhaps of the world is the Riviera Maya. Located on the southeast cost of Mexico, is a beautiful Caribbean stretch within Yucatan. It is famous touristic destination due to its generally warm weather, archaeological sites and its culture.

If you are planning to travel to this amazing paradise, then these are some of the facts that may interest you.

History

The Mayan civilization were a dominant culture at in the old Mesoamerican territory.

Mexican Mayan  authentic wood and ceramic mask, scary face, handmade, hand-painted
Mexican Mayan authentic wood and ceramic mask, scary face, handmade, hand-painted

Nearly 4000 years ago, the Mayans settle down in the Yucatan Peninsula where the ruins of Chichén Itzá are. The Mayan were famous for their legacy, their complete writing system, mathematics and architectural.

Their history can study in three parts. The first is the preclassical period, which goes from the 2000 B.C to the 250 A.C. In this period the first Mayan people started their settlements in the stretch to their collapse (unknow reasons).

The second, the classic period which goes from the 250 to 900 A.C. In this period the Mayan civilization went through a revival. Within this time is when ceremonial centers came to exitance such as Chichén Itzá and Uxmal Arose. It was also a period of war due to political changes within the civilization. Within this period there are also three sub-periods, the early classic, late classic and terminal classic.  

The last period is the Postclassic, this period covers the last years of the Mayan civilization 950 to 1539 A.C. This is when the Spnaish came to conquer America and took advantage of their situation. The Mayans were already weak due to political problems and conflicts with other tribes. They were unable to stand to the Spanish colonization.

Now a day’s, there are descendants of the Mayans living in central America. Including, parts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Language

The language spoke in the Riviera Maya is Spanish but due to the amount of tourism, English is pretty common.

Apart from the Spanish as a first language in the Riviera Maya the native language is the Yucatecan Mayan. A derivation from the Mayan which has a history of more the 4000 years. In total there are more the 20 derivations of the Mayan which includes Achi, Akateko, Chorti’, Chuj, Itza and Ixil. Currently there are 774,000 speakers of Yucatecan Mayan according to the census of 2020. It is the second indigenous language with more speakers, the first is the Nahuatl with 1.6 million speakers. The Yucatecan language is a thrifty and synthetic language with monosyllabic morphemes. It doesn’t count with articles gender or infinitive verbs.

Here are some words that may help you in you visit to the Riviera Maya.

How are you? – Bix a beel, bix a wanil          Whats your name? – Bix a kàaba

Good Night – Maálob áakáb                          Good Morning – Ma´ alob k´iin        

Weather

Somewhere in Mexico
Somewhere in Mexico

When traveling to anywhere is imperative to know the weather in order to pack the right stuff.

Generally, the weather in the Riviera Maya is known to be perfect beach weather with sunny days and hot water. Nevertheless, in the winter nights my get a bit chilly, during the summer there may be some rain and hurricanes. Here are some recommendations before traveling to the Riviera Maya regarding the weather.

If you are planning to travel during the spring season this is a good time to travel. It is usually warm and sunny (82 F – 77 F). Towards the end of the spring, you may encounter some light rain. But don’t worry, it last for a bit and then the sun comes back. If you are planning to relax, it is important to keep in mind these dates. Easter (28 of March to 3 of April) is a time for Mexican people to travel. Spring break (between March 9 and April 21) brings a lot of American students to party.

I recommend to pack beachwear, also bring sunscreen as the sun is pretty strong. Bring something formal casual if you are planning to go out in the night . If you are a cold person bring a light jacket or sweat. There is air-conditioning inside buildings due to the hot weather.  

If your visit is during the summer, then bring some rainy cloths as is the rainy season. But don’t worry so much about the rain as it only lasts for a short period of time. The only thing you should consider before traveling is tropical storm or hurricane as it is the season for it. Check for them before going. If you are looking to relax during you vacation then this is the perfect time for you. Not many people go during this time. The temperature usually is between 83 F and 82 F.

You should pack rainy cloths, umbrella, beach wear and warm cloths. Due to the rainy season, there are a lot of mosquitos so you should also pack insect repellant. In case you forget it don’t worry all place have some to offer.

During the fall the weather tends to be nice with clear skies and less humidity. It may just get chilly in the nights so bring a light sweater or jacket. The temperature during this season is between 82 F and 77 F. You may encounter some Mexican tourist as it is a season of cultural celebrations. The Day of the death (2 of Nov), Hanal Pixan (31 Oct- 2 of Nov) and Mexican Independence (16 of Sept). I recommend experiencing one of these beautiful celebration as there are really important in Mexico and you can appreciate the culture.

Finally, the winter in the Riviera Maya is the busies time of the year. Many tourists come from cold countries to enjoy the warm weather (75 F). During the day the sun is out clear skies and warm weather. But keep in mind that sometimes there are cold fronts so bring winter cloths just in case.

Tourism

Tulum beach Quintana Roo Mexico - drone shot.
Tulum beach Quintana Roo Mexico – drone shot.

Riviera Maya has a lot to offer to all tourist, if you are planning to come and party there are amazing clubs and bars, if you come the beaches there are fun activities to do in the water and if you are coming to see the art and culture there are incredible ruins and historic sites. Here are some activities and torus you should try while your visit.

Chichén Itzá is one the most famous archeological places to visit now a days to see the Mayan architecture. In 1998, UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage site and new seven wonders of the world. Its name comes the Mayan, meaning “The mouth at the well of Itza”. The main building is “El Castillo”. In here, the famous optical illusion of the serpent coming down from the top of the castle takes place. This mysterious event occurs in the equinox of March 20 or 21 and on September 22 or 23. It happens during a few hours so if you want to see it you have to ask the hours.  Take comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking. Use some shorts and short-sleeve shirt, it’s going to be really hot. As well, bring some sunscreen as the sun is pretty strong.

Cenote sinkhole in rainforest jungle of Riviera Maya at mayan Mexico
Cenote sinkhole in rainforest jungle of Riviera Maya at mayan Mexico

Take a bath in one of Mexico’s famous cenotes. There are many you can visit but here are some of the best ones. Cenote Ik Kil, Chichén Itzá, Cenote X’Canche, Valladolid. Cenote Dos,Ojos, Tulum, Grand Cenote, Tulum, Cenote Jardin del Eden, Puerto Aventuras, Cenote Chaak Tun, Playa del Carmen. Cenotes are natural water wholes formation. Usually they are part of an underground system of caves. If you are planning to visit one them take a swimsuit and a change of clothes.

Tulum is also home to another archeological site that you should visit. It was a trading center for the Mayan where they trade different types of goods. The archeological site is a place where you can see the flora and fauna of the region. The ruins are beside a beautiful cliff that offers a wonderful view of the Caribbean ocean.  You may also swim in Tulum secret beach, which is below the main pyramid. The beach opens in the morning around 10 so don’t forget a swimsuit. I recommend you go early, it is a popular site and there may be many tourists. The place opens at 8am and closes at 5pm, it usually takes 2 hours to see everything.

Ruins of Tulum

Xcaret tour is perfect for all the family, is the biggest ecological theme park. There are hundreds of fishes and other exotic animals you can see. Is a place where you can swim in crystal clear waters and dive into subterranean caves. If you don’t feel like swimming and want to appreciate the water life you can visit the aquarium . Or you can also visit the jaguar island to see one of the biggest cats of the wild.  I recommend you take a towel, swimsuit and ecological sunscreen. The park take very seriously the protection of the fauna and flora so take care of it.

There are many beaches in the Riviera Maya but these ones are the beaches that you must visit. Holbox is a place that offers an amazing snorkeling experience where you can see the beautiful ocean life. There are a lot of starfish at the bottom so keep an eye for them. There is an island call Isla Mujeres with popular beaches such as Playa Norte. This Islan offers a lot of water activities such as swimming with dolphins, water skies and other water sports. As well, this Island is known for their beach clubs, there are many of them. Cozumel is a famous port for cruises that also offers beautiful beaches. There are really good restaurants to have lunch or dinner. There are many beaches in the Riviera Maya stretch, all of them have something nice to offer.

Gastronomy

Taco Pulled Pork
Taco Pulled Pork

Mexico is also famous for its gastronomy; it has a variety of dishes as all of the states have a typical dish. Along the Riviera Maya you can find delicious national food and typical food from the Mayan cousin. The Riviera offers a variety of amazing restaurants that you can try, here are some ideas. There are also international restaurants if you don’t feel like eating the local food.  Keep in mind that the seafood is really good as it is fresh.

If you are feeling to go to a nice, elegant experience I recommend you the restaurant Frida. Is a Mexican cousin named after a famous Mexican painter, with seafood, vegetarian dishes and meat dishes.

In Tulum I recommend you visiting the Azulik hotel as it is a really photogenic ecological hotel. The restaurant of the hotel offers amazing views of the jungle with the seafood and vegetarian cousin. It’s a nice place for drinks and to smoke a shisha. I recommend going for the sunset as it is something amazing.

In Tulum the night life is really famous world wide. There are many restaurants that offer the style of a club dinning with entrainment. The Rosa Negra is a bohemia style restaurant with a fusion menu of Asian and Mexican.  Bagatelle is a French Mediterranean restaurant that offers lunch and dinner with entrainment. These restaurants require booking and is manly for 18 and above.





















Leave a Reply