Don’t just lie there… Six adventure activities in Riviera Maya

My newest addiction...

My newest addiction… Driving this Lamborghini at Exotic Rides Cancun has me ruined. Photo by Christy Woodrow.

Riviera Maya, known for its alabaster beaches and blue water, is also home to a variety of adventure activities. Some are adrenaline packed while others are relaxing forays into the natural side of the region. So when you are sick of just laying there, get up and find adventure.

I recently visited the area on a fast-paced adventure trip with a group of my fellow travel bloggers. We did a lot during our stay, but still only sampled what this area offers adventurers. I can’t wait to return to explore more.

Before I launch into the fun stuff, let’s address the most common question I get when writing about Mexico, “Is it safe?” I’ve visited the country three times in the last six months and felt comfortable in both the Riviera Maya region, where I visited twice, and Puebla.

Yes, Mexico has problems in areas, but not everywhere. Naturally, you should follow the same precautions you would at home, not walking down dark alleys etcetera. The locals are friendly and helpful, and in Riviera Maya, nearly all speak English.

Now on to the adventure. Here are six activities that I really enjoyed in Riviera Maya:

Zip Lining – Granted, zip lines are popping up everywhere. However, the one operated by Alltournative Tours is special. The last leg descends into the mouth of a partially flood cave for a splash down. To see a video of my ride check out my article Feeding my adrenaline addiction in Riviera Maya where I detail my day with Alltournative.

Snorkeling and Diving – Riviera Maya is home to the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere and numerous subterranean rivers and cenotes (open sinkholes often leading to underground water sources), formed by water filtering through the limestone. We snorkeled inside of Nohoch Nah Chiich cavern, swimming over and around stalactites and stalactites formed thousands of years ago when the cave was dry. It was a surreal experience.

Snorkeling inside Nohoch Nah Chiich cavern

Snorkeling inside Nohoch Nah Chiich cavern

Caving – The Yucatan Peninsula is formed of limestone rock. Under the surface lie extensive caverns and rivers connected to the surface via cenotes. Some of the caverns are submerged, only accessible by diving and others are only partially flooded and much easier to explore.

One beautiful cave, Rio Secreto, offers an opportunity to see a cave in its natural state while still being easily accessible to ages 6 and up. I’ve been an avid caver for over 13 years, so I’m a tough audience. I normally abhor commercial caves, but Rio Secreto won me over. It is maintained in a natural state without fixed lights or paths. Guides attentively lead visitors along a route marked with thin string to ensure no one ventures off, damaging the cave.

The cave is stunning. Large formations decorate the rooms and several clear pools invite explorers to swim. If you’ve never experienced wild caving, or even if you have, this is about as close as you can get with a guide. A visit to Rio Secreto does require a reasonable amount of agility and balance to walk over and around irregular terrain.

Rio Secreto Cave

Cave Pool – Photo courtesy Rio Secreto

Driving – Surely, one of the most amazing things I’ve done in a long time was drive at Exotic Rides in Cancun. Do you dream of driving a Lamborghini, or perhaps a Ferrari, with the pedal ALL the way on the floor? This is your place. Prior to visiting Exotic Rides I had never driven a high performance car of any kind, and honestly I didn’t think I’d care if I did. That has changed. After taking a Lamborghini around a track several times, I’m hooked!

Floating in Sian Ka’an – Slowing the pace a little, head down to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere for a float with Community Tours. Beginning at their dock south of Tulum, we boarded a boat to cross two fresh water lagoons connected by a channel dug by the Maya. Upon reaching an archeological site at the head of a second natural channel, we plopped into the water for a float. The channel, lined with saw grass and other vegetation including miniature orchids, was also home to waterfowl who studied us from their perches. Our boat captain followed behind us silently propelling our ride with a pole so as not to disturb the tranquility the special place.

Following our float we had lunch before shuttling to nearby ruins, also in Sian Ka’an. They were impressive, yet un-crowded, and I thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful setting and the unhindered sense of walking through history.

Floating in Sian Ka'an Biosphere

Floating in Sian Ka’an Biosphere

This list is merely a sample of the adventure activities available in Riviera Maya. Although many tourists visit this area solely to lie on the beach, there is so much more to do. What surprised me the most were the wide variety of options, not many places in the world allow for caving in the morning and snorkeling in the afternoon. With the availability of affordable flights and a good exchange rate, I recommend this region of Mexico without hesitation.

Playa Beach

Of course with beaches like this, it would be a shame NOT to lay around some…. Photo courtesy Riviera Maya Tourism Board

 

My trip was sponsored including airfare, food and lodging. However, my opinions are my own and I’m under no obligation to write favorably about the destination. As always, I will only give my honest thoughts.

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    These look like some great activities! I’m currently in Playa del Carmen, and though we are traveling slowly at the moment, I hope to get to some of these you mentioned. The Sian Ka’an trip looked particularly good, and that cave is beautiful! Thanks :)

    • Erika Wiggins says

      Awesome! I love when I can help someone have a good time. The float/ruins tour was my fave thing after driving. It was so relaxing and pretty.

  2. Maranda Woolf says

    NIce car. :) Wow! What fun you had! I can’t wait to zip line in the Riviera Maya. And I am a fool for high performance vehicles. Driving one would be incredible. Great coverage of the area!

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