An Adventure Lover's Guide to Mayakoba, Mexico

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Advisor - Dara Schopp
Curated By

Dara Schopp

  • Mexico

  • Adventure Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Barefoot Luxury

  • Beach Town

  • Sports

  • Hiking

A person floating in a body of water in a cave
Curator’s statement

Mayakoba is a luxury destination within Mexico's Riviera Maya that straddles the region's beautiful beaches and natural jungles. This area is home to cenotes, undergrounds rivers, coral reefs, a world-class golf course and nature trails, meaning there's plenty of opportunity for adventure, even for the most active travel-goers! I recently spent a week in Mayakoba and as an thrill-seeker myself, here are my recommendations for the best things to do.

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Where to stay in Mayakoba

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Things to do in Mayakoba

A photo of a person paddle boarding in the water, taken from above

Swimming in Cenotes: Cenotes are a beautiful, natural phenomenon you'll find all over this region of Mexico - they're formed when limestone collapses and exposes the natural groundwater underneath which is most often crystal clear and remains cool and refreshing all year around. Each cenote is different, some are fully exposed while others are partially covered, so I recommend visiting more than one! The easiest way to do this is to visit an ecopark that houses multiple cenotes. Ecopark Kantun-Chi is a bit closer to Mayakoba, and if you're willing to make a longer drive, the cenotes at Casa Tortuga are also spectacular. Whichever cenote you choose, I recommend visiting in the middle of the day when the sun is high in the sky so you get optimal views of the sun rays passing through the bright blue waters. Just note, in the summer time it may be crowded as many people like to cool off in the cenotes!

Rio Secreto: Rio Secreto was the excursion of a lifetime! Without spoiling too much, you’ll explore crystal clear waters in underground caves, surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites that have formed over millions of years. They offer a few different tours scaling up based on the level of adventure you seek. After looking into all of them, and partaking in some myself, I recommend focusing on these two:

  • The Classic tour: This option is easy and accessible for all, you don’t even need to know how to swim! Explore the beautiful underground river by wading through shallow pools for about one and a half hours. They only allow 10 people per group, so you’ll have a great and semi-private experience!

  • The Wild tour: If you’re physically fit and have the ability to mountain bike uphill, this tour was fantastic. We rode through the jungle and various open caves for about an hour of bumpy, exhilarating mountain biking before making our descent into the underground caves, where a true wonderland awaited us. In addition to the wading and swimming you'd experience on the Classic tour, the Wild tour includes some snorkeling and explores a different portion of the cave system. As this option is a bit more physically demanding, you benefit from smaller group sizes (typically only two to six people!)

This was an experience I will never forget, do not pass up the opportunity to explore this hidden gem!

Scuba diving or snorkeling: This region of Mexico is home to the Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world, second in size only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, so take advantage! We booked a scuba tour with Dive Point and loved them. If you're already scuba certified, there are some deeper reefs you can check out, and if you're interested in scuba diving but aren't yet certified, they offer a Discover Scuba Diving experience you can book to take your first dive at lower depths. The staff were all wonderful, our equipment was new and clean, and they made us feel very safe - I highly recommend them if you're interested in diving.

Cenote Diving: For those with ample diving experience, the region also offers incredible cenote diving unlike any other place on earth. The waters here are often only 10-20 feet below sea level, so you can scuba dive the caves without the need for decompression stops! I’ve been told the water is so clear you can forget you’re scuba diving until you see the bubbles leave your regulator. I only started diving a year ago, so I'm going get a few more dives under my belts before trying this out, but it looks incredible for those already very comfortable underwater.

Golfing: El Cameleón is one of the nicest golf courses I've ever seen, in fact LIV Golf was already setting up for their tournament at this course when we played in December 2023. Multiple holes back up to the beach, and one even features a cenote on the fairway! If you or someone in your group is a golfer, this is a bucket list course.

Mayakoba Nature Trail: One of the true gems of Mayakoba is the nature trail that snakes throughout the entire property. Each of the four resorts offers complimentary bikes, so grab some and head off on your adventure. The winding trail is surrounded by natural flora and fauna that will keep you on your toes the whole time, plus you can take it all the way to the beach and unwind after with a cocktail on the water.

Kayaking: Paddle the clear waterways within Mayakoba by kayak. Situated right on property, this is the perfect activity for an early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. Plus, the entry point is right off the Nature Trail, so you can bike there and back.

Day trips

Tulum is just over 1 hour away from Mayakoba. If you've been dying to check out the latest hot spot known for its Mayan ruins, yoga retreats, world-class nightclubs, and even more cenotes, rent a car or hire a driver for the day!

Need to Know

This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Mexico.

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Angela Myers’s guide, Highly Recommended Villas Flamingos - Isla Holbox.

Advisor - Dara Schopp

Travel Advisor

Dara Schopp

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