Discover Riviera Maya's stunning coast, coral reefs and Mayan history
Riviera Maya’s tropical climate means you can take advantage of its sand beaches, ancient ruins and coastal cities at any time of the year, after a flight of around 10 hours.
The rainy season, from July to October, is the ideal time to find a cheap trip, when you’ll get some showers but with plenty of sunshine in between.
With over 32 kilometres of gorgeous sand beaches edged by palm trees, it’s no surprise that reclining on a sunlounger, with a book or drink in hand is one of Riviera Maya’s favourite pastimes. If you prefer a more active getaway, this is a popular location for snorkelling and scuba diving as the huge Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, just off Riviera Maya’s coast, contains some 500 species of fish and over 100 types of coral. You can also cave dive here or swim through cenotes – natural sinkholes, bordered by high cave walls and filled with freshwater.
Cheap days out in Riviera Maya
As well as cheap days lounging on the stunning beaches, step back in time to discover Mayan folklore at the ancient cities of Tulum and Chichen Itza. In the centre of Riviera Maya, Tulum is home to the preserved ruins of an ancient Mayan port city, the only one built on the coast. Clamber up the steep steps of the clifftop castle for stunning views and be sure to visit the Temple of Frescoes, a mural painting by the ancient Mayan community.
A visit to Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also a must. These ruins include Mayan temples and El Castillo – the Pyramid of Kukulkan, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. While you’re there, you can take in the area’s stunning natural flora and fauna with a bus tour or night walk.
Nature lovers can spend a day at the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve where you can see dolphins, manta rays and other exotic species. Or take a boat cruise to Cozumel Island, home to giant sea turtles and a spectacular coral reef just a short distance from the shore, making it a perfect spot for snorkelling.
Other popular holidays in Mexico
Other cheap holiday options in Mexico – the land of adventure – include party destination Cancun, with plenty of bars and nightclubs, some offering live bands and international DJs. Conversely, Playa del Carmen has a laid-back beach culture and is close to Mayan ruins. The city’s small size make it walkable and perfect for those on a budget. Or the bustling city of Puerto Vallarta provides lazy beach days and lively nightlife, plus nature tours to glimpse humpback whales or dolphins.
However, if Riviera Maya has grabbed your attention, check out our travel guide to find out more. And read up on some affordable hotel choices in the area below.
You get plenty for your money at this 4* beachfront hotel. For adults only, Catalonia Royal Tulum has a lagoon pool and a wide choice of dining options across its eight restaurants, including Asian, Italian and Mexican. With a huge range of activities covering beach volleyball, aerobics, water polo, beach football, kayaking and snorkelling, to name a few, this hotel is a smart choice if you want a bargain holiday. Live music and themed nights are also offered in the evenings. And should you want to explore further, there's a bus stop just 500 metres away, so no need to splash out on taxis.
Set right on a sand beach and about five minutes' walk from the bars and restaurants of Puerto Aventuras marina, this 4* hotel lays on everything for a perfect cheap beach holiday. With an extensive dining choice of seven restaurants and plenty of sports and activities, you'll hardly need to leave the hotel grounds. On the beach you can choose from sailboats, kayaks, snorkelling and volleyball and, at the hotel, take advantage of aerobics, tennis, archery, pool volleyball and a full daytime activities programme. Nightly entertainment includes shows and live music, as well as a sports bar and a disco at the nearby sister hotel.