The official currency of Mexico is the peso, but many
places along the Riviera Maya accept dollars. Credit cards are often
not accepted in small establishments so it is wise to travel with
cash or travelers checks. In Playa del Carmen there are banks, automatic
tellers (where one can withdraw cash from some international credit
cards) and many money exchange offices. The other large towns also
have many money exchange offices.
What Mexican Money
Looks Like. View the Banks in Cancun by Clicking
How much is this costing me? Find out by using
our great currency converter.
Look at the Dollar exchange
not from USA? Check the your currency
per USA dollars
Figure your actual Travel
The region known as the Riviera Maya was an important commercial
and religious center for the ancient Maya during the Post-Classic
Period (1000-1550 A.D.). Tulum, a Mayan fortress that looms over
the Caribbean sea, is the most impressive site from this era, but
there were other important towns such as Xaman-Ha (today Playa del
Carmen), Xcaret (known by the Mayans as the port of Pole) and Xel-Ha,
which was the first European settlement in the peninsula. Further
inland is Coba, a city which had 50,000 inhabitants during the Classic
Period (300-1000 A.D.).
Cozumel island, 45 kilometers (28 miles) long and 16 kilometers (10 miles) wide, lies
quietly on the horizon in front of Playa del Carmen. During the
Post-Classic period, it was a Mayan place of pilgrimage for paying
homage to Ixchel, the goddess of fertility. There are many archaeological
sites along the coast; vestiges of the many outposts which were
established to accommodate the pilgrims.
The Riviera Maya was still a busy trade route when the Spaniards
arrived in the XVI (16th) century, although the great "Classic Cities",
(Chichen Itza and Uxmal in the state of Yucatan, and Coba in Quintana
Roo), had long been abandoned for unknown reasons. During
the next three hundred years, under Spanish colonial rule, the lack
of adequate roads deterred any significant demographic growth in
this region, which suffered a long period of partial abandonment.
average annual temperature of the Riviera Maya is 25.5 degrees Celsius
(78 degrees Fahrenheit), with fluctuations of 5 to 7 degrees. In
July, August and September, visitors can enjoy spectacular views
of the sky, which can change from overcast to clear in minutes.
From November to April, there are usually blue skies and a cool
northern wind. For a great month by month summary of Cancun's
Dress in Cancun and the hotels is very casual with
the accent on comfort. Remember to pack comfortable walking shoes.
The activities at the hotels and the area dictate sporting clothes.
In the evenings you may want to dress up, but not too much. At some
of the best spots and clubs you will feel more comfortable dressing
up. However, black tie or any tie for that matter is rarely required.
The climate changes are minimal in the Riviera Maya,
so visitors should always pack clothes for swimming and warm weather;
light cotton garments and airy sandals are perfect. Rubber soled
shoes are recommended for tours to archaeological sites. Boots,
long sleeve light cotton shirts and Long trousers are best for those
interested in jungle treks. A light jacket, shawl or sweater is
advisable for the evenings of November, December and January.
The standard current in the hotels in Mexico is 110
volts AC. European travelers should bring a converter or check their
electric devices in advance.
Tips and Taxes
In cases where the gratuity is not included or provided
for, 15% is the accepted amount. Most items sold in Mexico have
a "value added tax" or sales tax of 10% that is additional to the
posted price. In Spanish, it is called IVA. You will see it itemized
separately on your receipt.
The original inhabitants of this part of Mexico were Mayan and
although Spanish is the official language, most of the indigenous
population still speaks their native Mayan tongue. In the past few years,
people from all parts of the world have settled here, giving this
region a cosmopolitan atmosphere. It is fairly common to encounter
English, German, Italian and French- speaking people, especially
in hotels and in larger towns.
The over 100 kilometer stretch known as the Riviera Maya is in
the middle of the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in the
state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. It begins 32 kilometers (20 miles) south of
the Cancun International Airport and ends at a quaint fishing village
called Punta Allen, located on a small peninsula within the Sian
Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. Between these two points, there are many
communities, each different in style and size and with its own unique
character, as well as a variety of beautiful bays and solitary beaches.
The largest towns are Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal
This magical region is also surrounded by many interesting places,
such as Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Holbox, Contoy, Palenque, Chichen
Itza, Uxmal, Guatemala, Cuba and Belize. There are numerous travel
agencies and tour operators throughout the Riviera Maya which offer
different tours and travel facilities.
Visitors can enjoy many activities along the Riviera Maya, such
as windsurfing, deep sea fishing, trips in kayaks and horseback
riding, as well as simply becoming one with nature while resting
on a solitary beach.
The Great Maya Reef, a coral reef of unrivaled beauty, is famous
among lovers of scuba diving and snorkeling. There are many specialized
dive shops along the coast; all offering courses for all levels
of expertise, and tours, be it to the reef, the cenotes, or the underground
caverns. Cenotes are sink holes, created when pieces of land above
the subterranean rivers collapsed millions of years ago. The cenotes,
filled with crystal clear, tranquil, cool, and refreshing freshwater (not saltwater, unlike the surrounding ocean),
were considered sacred by the Mayan. They vary tremendously in size,
shape and depth, are usually surrounded by exuberant jungle and
are a great place for swimming and snorkeling.
The entrance and exit of the underground rivers to the cenotes
often lead to caverns, an underwater world which looks like an immense
cathedral or tunnel. They are often filled with stalactites and
stalagmites of different width and height; some are less than a
foot long while others are well over 60 feet in length. Anyone who
ventures into this incredible world will feel as through they are
flying through space: the current is almost imperceptible, there
is no movement, no noise and no sensation of weight, gravity or
resistance. Unlike diving in the ocean, the visibility seems to
be endless; the water is crystal clear and with the light from the
cenote entrance, the surroundings acquire an intense blue color.
There are also two parks along the coast, perfect for a day of
adventure. Xcaret is an eco-archaeological amusement park that offers
a great array of activities, from floating in underground rivers
or swimming with the dolphins to cultural events during the evening.
Xel-Ha, further south is an incredible natural aquarium famous for
snorkeling and swimming.
In the extreme south of the Riviera Maya is Sian Ka'an Biosphere
Reserve, which offers an opportunity to explore mangroves, ancient
Mayan canals and walk through the jungle to observe an almost untouched
This fascinating region is also in the middle of the amazing Maya
World and tours to the major cities of this timeless civilization,
such as Chichen itza, Tulum, Coba, Uxmal and Tikal, are easy to