Saturday, November 25, 2006

Mayan Riviera Attractions

Q: I'm getting married in the Mayan Riviera. What are the best excursions for my guests?

A: If you are holding your destination wedding in the Mayan Riviera, here are some highly-recommended attractions.

Chichén Itzá
One cannot go to the Mayan Riviera without visiting Chichén Itzá, the ancient Mayan city where between 50,000 and 100,000 Mayans lived. Located 200 kilometers from Cancun, Chichén Itzá dates back to between 750-1200 AD, after which time the city was abandoned for reasons still not understood. At this breathtaking site you can climb the famous Pyramid of Kukulcan, a 30-meter high pyramid that attracts visitors from around the world. You will also see an ancient ball court, a square of a thousand columns, several temples, and a sacred cenote. Chichén Itzá makes a wonderful day trip for your wedding group, and several companies in the area offer day tours to this site.

Approximately 125 kilometers south of Cancun you will find an ancient city perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Tulum, meaning “fence” or “wall,” is the name given to this walled city, which flourished between 1200-1600 AD. Tulum offers a spectacular view of unparalleled turquoise Caribbean waters, and provides a glimpse into the extinct Mayan culture. You will see various structures including the city’s castle, watchtower, several temples, alters, and shrines. If you are staying in the Mayan Riviera, Tulum is an easy half-day trip that cannot be missed.

Deep in the jungle you will find the ancient Mayan city, Cobá. Here stands one of the tallest pyramids in the Yucatan Peninsula, Nohoch Mul, towering 42 meters high. Cobá was not excavated until the 1970s, and many of the structures are still unexcavated today, making it a treasure for archeologists. As this city is quite spread out, you can expect to walk three or four miles through the jungle to see many of the site’s structures. Alternatively, you can rent a bike to explore the city. Many tour companies will arrange day trips to this mysterious ancient city.

Xel-Há is located near Tulum, 60 minutes from Cancun, and makes a fun day trip for families. Visitors can enjoy the local flora and fauna on a nature walk, snorkel with the tropical fish, or even swim with the dolphins! This park offers a fantastic snorkeling experience where you can explore a variety of tropical fish in the river, creeks, lagoons, caves and canyons. The park also offers snuba adventures, which is a combination of snorkeling and scuba diving that allows you to descend deeper without having to hold your breath. The Sea Trek exploration is a type of helmet diving that allows you to walk along the sea bed. For more information, visit their website at

This eco park is located 45 minutes from Cancun, and 5 minutes from Playa del Carmen. There is so much to see and do at Xcaret, you will want to devote a whole day to exploring the park. The park offers water activities, a variety of flora and fauna, a Mayan village, a museum, and the Specatacular Night Show. Some of the park’s attractions include water activities like floating down the ungerground rivers, scuba and snuba diving, Sea Trek exploration, and swimming with the dolphins. The park also has a variety of wildlife including manatees, turtles, wild cats, monkeys, flamingos, a bat cave, a butterfly pavilion, and more! For more information, visit their website at

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