Riviera Maya is one of the most popular travel destinations in Cancun, but all that sand and surf doesn't mean you can't enjoy a trip on a budget. You'll find quite a few exciting things to see and do that won't break the bank, making it easier than ever to get the most out of your trip.

    Among the attractions here, you'll find a variety of sights you won't want to miss out on, including historic sites dating back centuries. The natural features of the area are spectacular as well whether you're looking at beaches, bays, or the vibrant greenery. Check out the best things to do in Riviera Maya on a small budget.

    1

    Soliman Bay

    Relax in peaceful tranquility

    • Photo
    • Budget

    Soliman Bay is a region known for its quiet isolation from the more popular areas of Cancun, making it the perfect retreat for travellers looking to escape the crowds. It's home to several high-end residential homes and rentals, but you don't have to pay anything to enjoy the soft sands of the beachfront.

    When you visit this bay, you'll find picturesque surroundings perfect for photos or just taking in the ambience with a relaxing afternoon in the sun complemented by the soothing sounds of the water. You'll find it all in the heart of the riviera, just north of Tulum.

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    2

    Puerto Aventuras Marina

    See fascinating marine life

    • Families
    • Budget

    Puerto Aventuras Marina is a lovely destination known for its population of marine life that you can see for free from the local walking path. Dolphins, sea lions, and manatees are the most popular and widely seen of the local animals. You may even be able to catch a glimpse of a dolphin show from the walking path.

    The area is packed full of fun little shops and restaurants, but the walking path itself offers a relaxing opportunity to take in your surroundings both on and off the shore. You can experience it all for yourself on the northern side of the riviera in between Paamul and Xpu Ha.

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    3

    Akumal Beach

    Enjoy swimming and snorkelling

    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Akumal Beach is an iconic shore along the riviera with calm waters perfect for swimming and snorkelling, and it's home to a population of local turtles. You'll find crystal-clear waters here, so it's easy to take a look under the surface and see a world of tropical wildlife.

    The turtles are the most prominent feature of the local ecosystem here, as the name of the beach itself comes from the Mayan language term for "Place of the Turtle." Just make sure you look and don't touch the turtles. You'll find it all in the middle of Akumal, between Grand Sirenis and Chacalal.

    Location: Carretera Tulum, Yodzonot, 77776 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico

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    4

    Cenote Arco Maya Tulum

    Venture to a free cenote

    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Cenote Arco Maya Tulum is one of the only free cenotes in the entire riviera area that offers tranquil seclusion with nature walking paths and calming waters. The cenote is surrounded by vibrant greenery, but the treeline is relatively low, making it an ideal spot for watching the sunset.

    The path to the cenote can be quite the adventure in its own right. The walk happens on a winding line of wooden stumps through the local mangroves, making for a unique nature-oriented experience. You can see it for yourself just south of Tulum.

    Location: Carretera Tulum Coba Km 1.7, 77796 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +52 984 216 4641

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    5

    Tulum Pueblo

    Explore a local village

    Tulum Pueblo, or Tulum Village, is a bustling community with shops, restaurants, and historic streets among which you'll find a seemingly endless array of things to do. The local restaurants are relatively affordable and offer a variety of cuisines, including Mexican and more international options.

    Local shops here feature artists offering handicrafts more often than anything else, letting you get a sample of Tulum to take home. Additionally, you'll find quite a few historic ruins in the village. All of it is available to explore on the south side of the riviera a few miles south of Akumal.

    Location: Quintana Roo, Mexico

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    photo by P199 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    6

    Punta Allen

    Kick back in a coastal paradise

    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Punta Allen is a relatively secluded piece of beachfront where you'll find pristine, welcoming beaches with calm waters perfect for relaxing among nature. The area is mostly untouched and has just 1 small town by the beach, so it's a great place to immerse yourself in the natural world of the riviera.

    Around the town here, you'll find a handful of stores without any serious traffic or noise. Instead, you'll find yourself met with a small and friendly population that makes it easy to explore the surrounding nature. It's all available just 2 hours away from Tulum on the eastern side of Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Ka'an.

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    7

    El Fogon

    Check out an open-air taqueria

    El Fogon is a popular taqueria that offers authentic Mexican food and drinks at budget-friendly prices in a welcoming atmosphere. On the menu here, you'll find an array of genuine Mexican dishes such as steak, chicken tacos, chorizo, and even items like nopales, which is pickled cactus.

    This is generally a destination people visit at night, but it's open for a fair amount of the afternoon as well. Some dishes, however, like tacos al pastor, are only served at night. You'll find plenty of Micheladas as well, which is beer with lime juice. It's all located in Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun.

    Location: 30 Avenida Norte s/n, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

    Open: Daily from 1 pm to 12.30 am

    Phone: +52 984 803 0885

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    photo by City Foodsters (CC BY 2.0) modified

    8

    Esplanade de Cozumel

    Spend some time on the boardwalk

    • Budget
    • History

    Esplanade de Cozumel is the local boardwalk on the island of Cozumel where you'll find scenic sites, landmarks, buildings, and picturesque natural surroundings. A lot of the buildings by the boardwalk have some serious age to them, so you can glimpse into the past of the local area.

    The proximity of the boardwalk to the water makes the air crisp with the sea breeze, which makes it a popular destination on especially hot days. It's also located on the western shoreline, making it a top spot for watching the sunset. You'll find it in San Miguel de Cozumel, across the water from Playa del Carmen.

    Location: Av. Rafael E. Melgar, Centro, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico

    Open: 24/7

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    photo by Sharon Hahn Darlin (CC BY 2.0) modified

    9

    Tulum Ruins

    Step into the past

    • Budget
    • History

    The Tulum Ruins are among the most popular attractions in the riviera and boast incredibly well-preserved ruins originally built by the Mayans centuries ago. You'll find it perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea, offering stunning views of the ruins and natural features of the peninsula.

    When you visit these ancient ruins, you may want to go during the morning hours. The Maya name of Tulum, Zama, translates to "place of the dawning sun," and that's no accident. It's a stunning spot to catch the sunrise. It's all located just a few miles east of Tulum village.

    Location: Carretera Federal, Cancun - Chetumal Km 230, 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +52 984 802 5405

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    10

    Puerto Morelos

    Visit a bohemian fishing village

    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Puerto Morelos is a laid-back fishing village with a bohemian vibe where you'll find mangroves, a jungle, cenotes, and other natural features that are free to access. If you love spending time in the water, you'll find cenotes and beaches in equal measure, with plenty of trails in between.

    The town features easy access to the surrounding nature, as it's been integrated seamlessly within it. You'll find activities here like zip-lining and quad-bike rides through the jungle. It's all available about halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen on the coast.

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