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Mexico's Mayan Riviera Has Something For Everyone
Playa del Carmen and the Mayan Riviera have an exceptional variety of attractions and activities from the Mayan ruins at Tulum to the Playa del Carmen nightlife. You will love your Mexico vacation. Here is a listing of some of the popular attractions:

Beaches and sport activities

This area has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Most of the beaches have been manicured and have fine white sand. The water is a turquoise blue of the Caribbean Sea.

Scuba diving and snorkeling

Just off the coast is the world's fifth-longest barrier reef. The reef, home to hundreds of species of marine life, is perfect for snorkeling. Scuba dive and snorkel in the magnificent Caribbean waters. Scuba lessons for beginners and diving tours for the pros are available. Most resorts offer scuba and snorkel tours and/or lessons. Most of the ecological parks have great areas for snorkeling. For more information: www.sealifedivers.com

Cozumel - Only 45 minutes from Playa del Carmen by ferry, this diver's haven is well worth the trip across the ocean. Considered among the best snorkeling and diving spots in the world, Cozumel offers magnificent coral reefs, underwater caves, and shipwrecks sites to explore. There are over 30 kilometres of coral reef, including the world's second largest reef called the Gama Reef.

Golf Courses

Playacar Golf Club - This is an 18 hole, par 72-championship golf course designed by Robert Von Hagge. This course is carved through the lush Mayan jungle where it challenges any golfer to come and enjoy it. Also features a putting green.

Puerto Aventuras - Marina, Tennis and Golf Club. Features a par 36, 9 hole course designed by Thomas Leeman. Maximum length 3,236 yards. Also features a putting green. Rental clubs and carts are available. Located on the Cancun to Chetumal highway at Puerto Aventuras, Playa del Carmen. Puerto Aventuras also has swimming with dolphins. You can relax and watch the dolphin show while having lunch at the marina and restaurant.

Mayan Jungle

Take a trip out of the ordinary and explore the wild exotic jungles of the Mexican Riviera. The ATV Explorer Jungle Tour is the original Playa del Carmen jungle tour. Ride an ATV through jungle paths, swim in a clear 60 foot deep cenote, explore caves, and climb ancient Mayan ruins on this 2 hour tour.

Mayan Ruins

Tulum - The smallest Mayan ruin site among the big three, Tulum only needs a day. These ruins overlook the ocean and are right on a beautiful beach. This is a perfect spot for a picnic, a short swim and sun bathing. Don't forget your camera!

Coba - Wear comfortable clothing and shoes and prepare for an hour and a half drive into the jungle before reaching these ruins. Well worth the drive as there are beautiful temples and pyramids to see.

Chichen Itza - This is the most famous and grandiose pyramid of them all. Bring plenty of film and enjoy the beautifully kept grounds and the new restoration work on the pyramid. A must see Mayan ruin for culture enthusiasts. There are also restaurants, a small museum, and tourist shops on the site. Plan for a day excursion.

Eco-Parks

Xcaret - An eco-Mayan theme park for the whole family. A must see if you visit the Mayan Riviera. Prepare to spend your entire day at Xcaret as there are a million and one things to do and see. You can swim with the dolphins, snorkel, tour underground rivers, do sea trekking, visit a butterfly park, a Mayan village, and much more. The is also an excellent light and sound show in the evening. For more information: www.xcaret.net

Xel-Ha - Xel Ha is an eco-park with a large lagoon for snorkeling. It is a great place for first time snorkellers. Inner tubes and life vests are free, and you can rent snorkel gear or bring your own. There is an amazing cave system, cenotes, lagoon, and great snorkeling with thousands of tropical fish. For more information: www.xel-ha.com

Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve - The Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, one of Mexico's largest parks, covers more than 1 million acres of coastal jungle or about 20 percent of the state of Quintana Roo's land. This virgin wilderness is home and sanctuary to wide number of species of tropical flora and fauna, of which, the jaguar found here is counted as one of the many protected species. Offers eco-trekking through mangroves, lagoons and rivers. Get a close-up look of the wildlife in the reserve in their natural habitat.

Aktun Chen - Witness spectacular geological formations and swim in crystal clear fresh water in the underground caves. Spider monkeys and a serpentarium (snakes) can be seen. For more information: www.aktunchen.com

Xaman-Ha Aviary - Located in Playacar, this exotic bird sanctuary is a wonderful natural habitat for some 60 species of tropical birds that populate the jungles of the Yucatan peninsula. Scarlet macaws, flamingos, herons and may other beautiful feathered creatures can be found here.

Jardin Botanico del Dr. Alfredo Barrera - Beautiful botanical gardens sprawling with exotic species of tropical fauna in the lush Mayan rainforest. The gardens sit on 60 hectares of jungle and mangrove. A groomed loop trail provides easy walking to various collections of plants, all beautifully displayed in their natural environment. A scenic lookout tower is a bit of a challenge to climb but rewards the brave with a panoramic view from the mangrove to the sea, and out over the jungle.

Shopping

Playa del Carmen Shopping - Play del Carmen is a must for the best shopping in this area. The pedestrian street 5th Avenida in the heart of Playa del Carmen is lined with boutiques filled with goods from all over Mexico and the world. With handicrafts such as fine silver jewellery to hammocks there are shops that cater to every budget.

The stores that cater to tourists typically carry items such as carved wood and stone, hammocks, leather goods, paintings and sculptures. However, there are also high-end galleries featuring artworks from San Cristobal and Oaxaca for the serious Mexican art shopper.

If you'd prefer to venture off the main strip, there are interesting treasures to be found in the small plaza between 6th and 8th Ave.
About the Author
Jolana Klobouk is a former travel agent who has traveled extensively for work and vacations with her family. For more information visit her website: Best Family Beach Vacations.
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