The state of Quintana Roo, located on the eastern edge of Mexico’s Yucatn peninsula, is one of the most diverse and beautiful in the entire country. It’s a tourist’s dream come true, providing everything from ancient Maya ruins to lush, unspoiled natural landscapes, to the booming resorts and world-class luxury of the Riviera Maya. In times past it was known simply as the Cancun-Tulum corridor, in reference to its location buttressing two important centers of civilization, both of which date back many centuries to the Maya’s dominance over the region. It is a simply irresistible opportunity to experience every facet of a tropical paradise, in a setting that is safe, educational, and fun for singles, couples, or an entire family.
Family Forest Adventures
If nature tours are what strike your fancy, this is a prime region of Central America to experience them in. The deep jungle is only a short drive from the resort beaches, filled with unusual animals, towering plants, and a wide variety of colorful tropical birds. You can hire a trusty multilingual guide for a single trip or a multiple-day trek to lead you deep into the misty folds of the rainforest, quietly pursuing a glimpse of some of the planet’s rarest and most intriguing animal specimens; or, if you prefer diving, take a day-long excursion out to the reefs and swim with dolphins, manatees, and even a few (non-aggressive) species of shark!
Millennia of Maya History
You might be surprised to learn that, despite all the luxurious trappings and modern conveniences, the Riviera Maya sits adjacent to some of Central America’s most amazing Mayan ruins. A multitude of incredible sites, such as Kabah, Umal, and Xel Ha are within only a short drive of the beaches, hotels, and eco-lodges. What’s more, you’ll have the opportunity to enlist the aid of a personal guide to help point out each site’s myriad subtle details of history and architecture, which will surely leave you in awe of the skill and power of this land’s ancient former rulers.
However, if you’ve only got a limited time to spend in the Riviera Maya, there are two Maya sites you should visit without fail. The ancient port city of Tulum still stands guard over the Yucatn coast. Centuries ago, it’s windows focused light into shining rays on the ocean, helping to guide trading ships away from the treacherous reefs. Similar in architecture but vastly different in scale is Chichn Itz , an enormous complex of temples and pyramids sprawling out over the jungle landscape. Be sure to visit the Jaguar Throne, the temple of the Thousand Warriors, and the mighty Pyramid of Kukulcan, a 30-meter tall structure which, during the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, casts a serpentine shadow over the fields below.
Sian Ka’an Protected Land of Natural Wonders
Not the least of all the spectacular sights to see in Quintana Roo is the amazing nature preserve of Sian Ka’an. One of the largest bioreserves in the world, Sian Ka’an positively overflows with natural diversity. Boasting hundreds of species of rare mammals and tropical birds, giant iguanas, turtles, monkeys, crocodiles, and coatimundi, it’s borders are a sacrosanct barrier which prevents the modern world from snuffing out the delicate ecosystems which rely on them for protection. However, as a visitor to the region, you are welcome to journey inside the preserve, sailing by boat along its coast or through the waterways which permeate the foliage, or traversing on foot or by vehicle through the jungle roads which run a winding course through the jungle.
In addition to natural wonders, the Sian Ka’an reserve is home to some twenty three Mayan ruins, including the ancient city of Muyil, whose oldest artifacts date to the fourth century BCE. You can walk amongst the remains of this gorgeous land’s once-rulers, experiencing the same unspoiled and vibrant natural surroundings they famously worshipped. Don’t forget that the Great Mesoamerican Barrier reef is just offshore, affording you many unforgettable opportunities to dive in the crystal-clear waters of the south Atlantic.
Clearly, this is a region overflowing with history, culture, natural splendor, and luxurious amenities all of which spell a thousand and one reasons why your next family vacation should be to the Riviera Maya. You may only stay a week, but you’ll surely have your fill of exciting adventures, and a lifetime of fond memories to take back home with you. Just don’t forget your camera!
Active travel is a great way to explore the Mayan Ruins from Playa del Carmen. Duende Tours offers amazing packages including Mayan ruins and activities like snorkeling, zip lining. See the Mexico ruins tours for more information.Like this blog post? Buy me a coffee or send me a tip!!!