The Riviera Maya is located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, on the Yucatan Peninsula.
For a relatively small geographic area, the mostly dry-forested Yucatán Peninsula has an amazing variety of ecosystems that nurture a multiplicity of plant and animal life. Major tracts of wilderness are now dedicated for preservation: In the state of Quintana Roo there's Sian Ka'an Biosphere, south of Tulum; Cozumel offers the Chankanaab Lagoon National Park; and near Cancún you'll find the Isla Contoy Bird Sanctuary. The state of Yucatán boasts Rio Lagartos and Celestún National Parks. These are bird sanctuaries renowned for their fabulous flamingos.
In the north, the flat Yucatecan landscape grows a scrub mixture of thorny leguminous trees and cactus. Greenery is subdued in the dry season (winter), but the landscape comes alive in spring and summer. If you are visiting during this lush season, you'll see a display of flaming orange-red flowering trees lining many sidewalks. These are the beautiful flamboyantes (royal poinciana). The profusion of flowers encourages domesticated bee-keeping. If you have a sweet tooth, don't go home without a bottle of Yucatecan honey.
The southern part of the peninsula, along the Belize and Guatemala borders, sports a wilderness of seasonal rainforest. Thankfully, the value of the staggering biodiversity in the southern rainforest is no longer being ignored and conservation efforts are now making inroads. In addition to the biospheres of Sian Ka'an (1.5 million acres), Rio Lagartos (118,000 acres) and Celestún (15,000 acres), nearly two million acres of evergreen jungle forest were set aside in the extreme south of Quintana Roo and Campeche as the new Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. Flowing into neighboring Guatemala, it's the largest rainforest park in all North America.
It's hard to imagine a destination more richly endowed with cultural and natural wonders - or better weather. Plus, you don't have to speak Spanish to enjoy the superb delights of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula - English is welcome everywhere! That alone may explain why Cancún is now the number one foreign destination for North Americans, with over 2 1/2 million visitors a year.
We know of few places that provide more all-around pleasure. Whether your definition of holiday fun is lying on a beach sipping margaritas, dancing the night away, snorkeling among brilliantly colored schools of fish, or exploring the spectacular ruins of the lost Maya civilization - the the Mayan Riviera area has it all!
This region has a very different culture than the rest of Mexico. It's very safe - there's less crime in the Mayan Riviera, Cancún and Cozumel than in most small cities across the United States.
Useful links to the Riviera Maya: