The Riviera Maya is the name given to the pristine stretch of Caribbean coastline between Cancun and Tulum. Playa del Carmen lies at the center of this amazing part of the world which is home to pristine beaches, crystal clear cenotes, ancient ruins and dense tropical jungle.
The Riviera Maya is a special part of the world. Just ask anyone who comes here and they will tell you that there is a unique energy in this natural, cultural and historic paradise that is unrivaled by any other destination.
We want to take it a step further and introduce you to some secret spots in the area, places only discovered by the intrepid and the adventurous.
1. Secret Snorkeling Spot in Puerto Morelos
About 30 minutes north of Playa del Carmen is the sleepy fishing village of Puerto Morelos. Not many people know it, but just off the shore in front of the Ojo del Agua restaurant, is a secret snorkeling spot which includes a reef and an underwater cenote.
Swim right off the beach toward the white market buoys and discover a magical underwater world. It’s one of the area’s best kept secrets!
2. The Secret Cenote of Xcacel Beach
Forty minutes south of Playa del Carmen is Xcacel Beach, the most underdeveloped and ruggedly beautiful beach in all the Riviera Maya. It is also home to a turtle sanctuary which protects this precious species.
The beach itself is delightful. Iguanas roam the shore and there are no resorts or beach clubs in sight. Just miles of white sand flanked by verdant jungle, which makes you feel as though you have stepped back in time.
A well kept secret of this natural paradise is the cenote which is located in a mangrove forest. Follow the small sign which leads you down a sandy path, emerging at a fresh water sinkhole surrounded by jungle.
Birds flit from branch to branch and fish dart between rocks in the crystal clear water. Don your snorkel to discover another well kept secret of the Riviera Maya!
3. The Secret Ruins of Muyil
While most of the tourists flock to the well known Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Coba, why not explore the lesser known ancient city of Muyil, just south of Tulum.
Forget the tour groups and large crowds, this gem of an ancient site is set in a dense jungle and opens out onto a lagoon and canal system which was used as a trade route for the Maya.
You can also access the ruins on a boat tour in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a protected nature reserve containing exceptional biodiversity and historic significance just one hour south of Playa del Carmen.
4. The Secret Tacos of Playa del Carmen
Ssh! Don’t tell anyone about this local gem, located on the corner of 30th Avenue and 20th street. This small stand has been serving up delicious cochinita (marinated pork) tacos to hungry locals for many years, with no signs of stopping. You only need see the crowds of happy customers who line up every day from 7am till 12pm for this delicacy unique to the Yucatan.
We hope you enjoy these secret spots of the Riviera Maya and discover many more of your own!