Villa Ixchel
Beachfront Vacation Rental on the Caribbean Sea in Mexico

Area Attractions

Natural Wonders and Parks

Puerto Aventuras is located in the heart of the region of the Mexican Caribbean coast known as the Riviera Maya.  The Riviera Maya begins just north of the city of Playa Del Carmen and extends south to Tulum.  The sea is a bit less treacherous in this region (compared to coast further north up to Cancun) due to the influence of the coral reefs and the island of Cozumel.  The Riviera Maya coast has spectacular beaches each with its own unique appeal.  The region has many other attractions, such as the cenotes, the underground rivers, the cenote caves, and the Mayan archaeological sites.

The Mayan Riviera beaches offer great swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.  Anyone who has vacationed in the Hotel Zone in Cancun in the winter will tell you that the waves and currents at the beach can be very rough.  It is certainly difficult for children to get in.  If you walk along the beach there you see red flag after red flag, but each hotel has a small yellow-flag zone.  (I personally could not see why these yellow-flag zones were any calmer.)  By contrast waves, and currents at the Riviera Maya beaches are not as rough, making it much easier and safer to get into the water, even for children.

One of the unique natural formations in the Mayan region is the system of cenotes (pronounced sĕ-NŌ-tays) -- the underground rivers.  The region has abundant water, but because of the nature of the rock and soil, the fresh-water rivers formed underground, rather than above ground.  Also, beautiful caves have also formed in this geology, some of them underwater.

The Riviera Maya is home to some world-class tourist attractions.  These alone can make your trip to the arXplorea worthwhile.

The biggest of these is Xcaret (pronounced sh-karet).  This huge eco-park has an amazing number of things to offer, and is designed in a spirit of protecting and restoring the environment.  Surprisingly, you don't hear much about Xcaret outside of Mexico.  However, once you arrive in Cancun, you realize that it is the most important point of interest in the entire Yucatan peninsula, except for the major archaeological sites themselves.  As a theme park, Xcaret is as much fun as Disneyland or any other major theme park, but it is far more interesting and educational.  The fun is for all ages!  At Xcaret you can swim the underground rivers (cenotes), go scuba diving, witness the sea turtle rescue, visit an authentic Mayan village, swim with the dolphins, see the black jaguars and other animals and plants of the region.  You can eat at a number of restaurants, and in the evenings you can or go to the Ballet Folklorico de México or go see the Mayan fire drumming and dancing throughout the park.  The park also hosts what may well be the most beautiful butterfly aviary in the world -- which all by itself is worth the price of admission.

Newly opened adjacent to Xcaret and under the same outstanding management is Xplor, an exciting adventure park.  We can't wait to take our 14-year old nephew there.  It has ziplines up to 1.5 miles long, amphibious 4-wheeler tracks over 3 miles long, underground rafting, and swimming in a stalactite river.  It now rivals Xcaret for top billing in the Riviera Maya.

Xel-Ha (pronounced shell-Hah), is another tourist favorite where the emphasis is on water activities of all sorts.  You can explore cenotes, lagoons, and the sea, with snorkel, scuba, snuba, and kayak.

Aktun Chen is a must-see attraction.  It is situated in the jungle, and above ground it has exhibits of the local fauna, including monkeys, snakes, and jaguars.  However, below ground you tour takes you through a series of beautiful caves, with pools that connect to the cenote system.  The tour guides are knowledgeable, and help you appreciate these natural wonders.

Xcaret, Xel-Ha, and Aktun Chen are only 15 minutes from Puerto Aventuras by car or taxi, so they are very easy to add to your itinerary.

The skillful and adventurous can scuba dive into the underwater caves of various cenotes in the area.  Most of these are along Route 307 just south of the entrance to Puerto Aventuras.

Archaeological Sites

Perhaps the most distinct fascination of the Yucatan peninsula is the ancient Mayan culture.  The Mayan people still thrive today, but their ancestors were responsible for some of the true wonders of the ancient world.  Today you can visit some of ancient cities and majestic pyramids of the Maya.

Tulum is the only ancient Mayan city to be built on the coast.  It is only about 30 minutes away from Puerto Aventuras by car or taxi.  The ruins themselves are impressive enough, but their coastal setting makes them truly magnificent.

Other major sites are located some distance inland, and thus are appropriate for a half-day or full-day tour.  These include Coba and Chichen-Itza, homes of huge ancient cities with pyramids, numerous other buildings and structures, and fantastic road systems now buried in the jungle.

Did you know that there are five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula – waiting for you to explore?

City Life

If you want some more excitement, and you want to add some more civilized pleasures to your vacation, the city of Playa Del Carmen is about 20 minutes away by car or taxi.  You can walk Fifth Avenue, just above the beach for many blocks.  Along the avenue and the side streets, you will find gift shops, art galleries, as well as restaurants and night life.  The spontaneous, vernacular design and decor of the interiors and exteriors of the buildings is great fun, and is something you won't find anywhere else.  The line between indoors and outdoors is blurred, and the lush tropical plants and trees weaving through things are part of the beauty and charm.

Playa Del Carmen is where the ferries depart for the island of Cozumel about every hour.  The ride takes only about one-half hour.  Thus an excursion to Cozumel can make for a fun day trip from Puerto Aventuras.

Playa Del Carmen also offers major shopping such as Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Office Depot, and other large stores.  A huge new mall is opening soon.  Most of these are on the main road on the south side of town -- close to Puerto Aventuras -- so they are easy to get to if you don't want to go into town.

Cancun is of course the big city in the region -- about an hour away by car or taxi.  It can make a great a day trip or an evening excursion.  Most of the action for tourists takes place in the Hotel Zone, which is the long strand of land that runs from the airport north along the coast and then back west to downtown.  There you will find fabulous shopping malls catering to tourists who want to shop for some of the finest quality local wares.  There are wonderful restaurants, and the night life is world-famous, if not notorious.  Some of the local bands who play 1960s and 1970s rock music in the bars are really good!