Top 5 Adventures in the Riviera Maya and Cancun (Must Do's)

Swimming with Whale Sharks

This was definitely number one in my books last year, my whale shark adventure was “off the hook” as the kids say (do they still say that?) On a perfect day in July, some friends and I headed out to the area between Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy to meet the biggest animals in the sea. Surrounded by about 200 of these incredible creatures, everywhere we turned we came face to face with gentle domino giants, it seemed too good to be true, a surreal moment in time. There are very few places in the world where the whale sharks congregate with regularity and in such large numbers, the annual appearance near Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula make this a “must do” experience for anyone travelling to this region between May and September.

Visiting the Mayan Ruins
Of course everyone knows Chichen Itza, one of the “new” seven wonders of

the world, its importance in history and its incredible architecture make it a vital part of a visit to the Yucatan. I was thrilled to be able to bring my young son for the first time (he loved shocking the tour guide with a few phrases in Maya). I visited the Tulum Ruins a couple of times this year too, the beautiful site set on a cliff on the Caribbean Sea always brings me peace. If I must pick a fave for 2010, I’ll have to go with Coba. It was my first time there and it really knocked my socks off! Climbing the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan and seeing the world spread out below was an unforgettable
experience.
 
 

Scuba diving with Dolphins
This year I had the opportunity to visit the island, explore Chankanaab Park and don the tank and mask for a unique underwater experience. I’ve swam with dolphins many times, I always enjoy the experience but this was extra special. Playing with “Titan” the dolphin in his undersea home was an honour and a privilege, seeing him dance, gettting a kiss and hearing him sing put a smile on my face for days.
Eco-Parks in Cancun and the Riviera Maya

Ok, I am cheating again, going to put a few items under one heading (this whole top 5 thing is too hard!). There are several “eco-adventure” parks in the Riviera Maya, places to enjoy nature, discover history and culture and get an adrenaline fix all in one day. Xplor Park is one of the newest in the region and this year my co-workers and I had an absolute blast zooming down the zip lines, discovering the underground rivers and cruising through the jungles and caves in the amphibious vehicles. To fulfill my need for snorkeling (yes, it is aneed), Xel Ha fit the bill, a luscious lagoon teeming with undersea life. I made the trip to Xcaret a few times this year, always fantastic, the highlight being the “Festival de Vida y Muerte” (”Festival of Life and Death”) celebrating the Day of the Dead.

 

Cenotes and more Cenotes The limestone “sinkholes” (isn’t “cenote” a much nicer word?) of the Riviera Maya call to me almost every weekend. When I ask my son what he would like to do, “Cenote!!!!” is generally his first answer (followed closely by “Beach!” or “Zip lines!”). Set in the jungle,cenotescan be dry but are usually filled with crystal clear waters, perfect for a refreshing swim on a hot day. Some are “open” cenotes while others are only found by entering a small hole in the earth, descending to the underground world and discovering stalactites and stalagmites that are millions of years old. I’ve lost track of how many cenotes we visited this year, we loved Gran Cenote, Cenote Cristallino, and Cenote Azul among others, I absolutely recommend a cenote experience to visitors.

Playa del Carmen