WHERE IS IT
The area called the Mexican Caribbean is a stretch of coastal Mexico that runs south from Yucatan's Cancun area to Tulum and the island of Cozumel. The area offers something for everyone with resort-style accommodations, rustic bungalows, Mayan ruins, lagoons, jungles, caves, fantastic beaches, eco-tourist activities, hiking and walking trails and of course, fantastic diving.
This area was often overlooked in favor of the more developed and flashy resort town of Cancun, with its exciting nightlife and high-energy vibe. But for those wanting to experience the history and less-crowded side of the Mexican Yucatan, the Mexican Caribbean offeres a close-by alternative.
This area has several parks and Mayan ruins that can be visited on your own or you can hire tour operators to escort you to specific areas of interest. Be prepared, however, for a lot of walking. Many of the ruins have well-traveled walkways and some are accessed via elevated structures, but good comfortable walking shoes are a necessity. This area also has many beautiful beaches and great snorkeling and diving. For an interesting snorkeling experience, try checking out one of the many cenotes fresh-water sinkholes that have filled with crystal-clear water and also contain fascinating limestone formations. To dive in a cenote, you'll have to be at least open-water certified and hire a qualified guide to go with you. Only certified cave divers can dive without a guide, but one is strongly recommended anyway. For more on Riviera Maya, go to the Riviera Maya Tourism Promotion Board at rivieramaya.com.
HOW TO GET THERE
Generally, visitors travel to the airport in Cancun, and either rent a car, hire a taxi, take public transportation or take a puddle-jumper to their desired destination in Riviera Maya. There are also flights into Cozumel, and once there, you can take the regular ferry to Playa del Carmen in the Mexican Caribbean for day trips.
Before you de-plane, you'll be asked to fill out an immigration and customs form. You'll need your immigration form to return to your country of origin.
You can expect lines of about an hour to get through immigration at the Cancun Airport, and at least 30-60 minutes to pick up your rental car. The airport has three terminals, so make sure you are familiar with your arrival terminal and your airline for the return trip.
Some of the airlines flying into Cancun are:
- American Airlines
- Continental Airlines
- Martinair Holland
- Mexicana Airlines
Also try airline discount websites like travelocity.com and cheapflights.com for travel deals to Cancun or Cozumel.