By No Vacation Required, on June 22, 2015

Things to do in Riviera Maya

We covered a lot of ground on our trip to the sunny Riviera Maya region of Mexico. Thanks to a robust list of activities available from Expedia, we were able to plan and book our airport transfers, a visit to the ancient Mayan city of Tulum, and a full-day pass to explore one of the region’s biggest draws, Xcaret cultural park—all without ever leaving the Expedia site.

Transfers to and from the airport

Airport transfers may not sound like a sexy topic, but they can make or break a vacation. Pick a bad (read: unreliable or unsafe) transfer and your few days of much-deserved bliss can get off to a very bad start. That’s why we were so pleased by our experience booking a round-trip airport transfer to our Riviera Maya hotel through Expedia.

Let’s face it: Transportation to and from the airport always is a challenge. In many cities around the world, taxis are just too much of a gamble. Also, navigating a new metro system after a long flight can be a nightmare. That’s why we are such big fans of having transfer arrangements figured out ahead of time; there are few things more satisfying than knowing your ride will be waiting when you arrive.

Our experience in Riviera Maya did not disappoint. Before leaving for our Riviera Maya vacation, we booked shared airport transfers to and from our hotel. So when we arrived—bleary eyed from a day of travel—we were able to march confidently through the gauntlet of taxi hawkers right to the smiling person holding the big Expedia sign. No hassle, no bargaining, and no safety concerns.

On our final day, our driver arrived a few minutes early, so we didn’t even have that “I sure hope our transfer shows up” moment. We also appreciated that our driver educated us on airport protocols and ensured we had the documentation we needed to get through customs as quickly as possible. That kind of personal service makes a huge difference and helps to remove some of the anxiety associated with travel.

Viewfinder Tip: While you can book a private transfer, consider a shared shuttle. Not only will it save you some money, it provides a great opportunity to see several properties in an area.

Tulum Express Tour

Expedia offers several tours to Tulum, an impressive archeological site perched on a cliff overlooking the aquamarine waters and white-sand beaches of Riviera Maya. We were eager to check out the site, but wanted to be back to the resort in the early evening so we could enjoy the benefits of our all-inclusive resort (in other words, so we could eat and drink). We opted for the Tulum Express Tour. 

Because our hotel was quite a way north of Tulum, our driver picked us up from the hotel early. The trip down took about 90 minutes with a quick transfer to another van in Playa del Carmen to meet our fellow tour mates. On the way, our tour guide provided quite a bit of information on how the day would flow. He also shared some interesting facts about the site we would soon be exploring. 

The guided aspects of the tour only lasted about 45 minutes, more than enough time to learn some remarkable facts about the culture of the ancient Mayans and the resilient city that they built. We gathered in the shade of the ruins and learned about Mayan customs, culture, and spiritual beliefs before getting some free time to wander the expansive grounds 

Xcaret Park

Xcaret Park 

We’re not theme-park guys, but the overwhelmingly great ratings on Expedia and buzz around Xcaret had us too intrigued to pass up the opportunity to visit. And we are so glad we did. The massive cultural/adventure park is unlike any place we’ve ever visited; we were taken with the exciting activities centered on Riviera Maya’s natural wonders, opportunities to experience regional culture, and numerous environmental/educational programs. 

One of our greatest and most pleasant surprises of this excursion was the outstanding quality of the food. Leave it to us to breeze past the snorkeling and underground river, right by the lagoons filed with manatees and stingrays, and head right to the Mexican buffet.

As we are happy to share with anyone who will listen, we love authentic Mexican food. Imagine our excitement, then, to have access to more than 100 dishes, allowing us to dive into the rich flavors—deep moles, spicy braised meats, and complex soups—common to the country. 

If you love food as much as we do, here is a tip: Make sure to book the Xcaret Plus package, which includes a meal. Since the upgraded package also covers snorkeling equipment and other perks, it is a much better value than booking just the park admission alone. 

You can read more about our experience on No Vacation Required. 

What Riviera Maya activities are most interesting to you?