Looking as if they were suspended over glass, different types of boats are ready to offer their services for tourists from all over the world.

Originally a small settlement with a dock for ferries making the crossing to the island of Cozumel, in 20 years, Playa del Carmen has become the heart of the Riviera Maya. Stretching from north to south, its beautiful sandy beach is the lifeblood of the community.

A blend of the totally laid-back Mexican Caribbean with a gleam of the United States’ freedom and spiced up by a strong European influence could be a good way to describe Playa del Carmen, also known as “Playa.”

Playacar is a residential area where the jungle surrounds the golf course, the luxurious residences mingle with the Grand Tourism hotels and the Caribbean Sea washes over the white sand.

Playa del Carmen is constantly growing and offers its visitors hotels of all categories, stores, silver shops, international specialty restaurants, entertainment, bars and nightclubs all along its “Fifth Avenue.”

In keeping with the global green conscience and environmental laws, competition is fierce between the city’s hotels in the fields of resort design, architecture and technology. Nature and the tourists visiting the Riviera Maya have benefited from this rivalry.

High-end tourists have begun to demand a strong environmental responsibility from the businesses and services that they enjoy during their vacations, and they can find just that in Mayakoba.

Luxury, comfort, open-air terraces, buildings up to five stories high, extensive green areas, alternative electricity-producing technology, reducing, reusing and recycling are extremely important features of new resorts in the Riviera Maya.

Each stone, each local plant and animal species is important and becomes a key element in new resort projects in the Riviera Maya. The architecture and landscaping are the basis of the destination’s allure.

The tropical jungle, exuberant mangroves, white-sand beaches on the shores of the Caribbean Sea and the greens that are separated by pools and canals make El Camaleón one of the most renowned golf courses for preserving the environment.

The need and obligation to respect the original vegetation brought about creativity, new designs and construction models that were executed in the Riviera Maya proving that development depends on the environment.

In addition to supplying oxygen, sea grass captures carbon dioxide, is a food source for sea turtles, and creates true marine pools for the comfort and relaxation of visitors.

More than 300 species of birds inhabit the Mexican Caribbean. The mangroves offer shelter for the fish and shellfish that feed a group of white egrets in the Riviera Maya.

The Mesoamerican Reef System is considered the second longest reef in the world and is one of the principal attractions in the Riviera Maya. Teeming with life, its biodiversity rivals that of the rain forest.

South of Cancun, placid Puerto Morelos is the northern boundary of the Riviera Maya. It is undoubtedly an ideal spot to relax and to discover the beauty of the sea.

The all-inclusive lodging plan is true to its name: beauty, entertainment, relaxation, comfort and parties… all are included.

South of Playa del Carmen the beauty of the ocean is rivaled by that of the jungle, the reef, the bays and the beaches. It is hard to decide which is more beautiful.

The coasts of the Mexican Caribbean are also whimsical. You can find stretches of beach that are rocky as well as inlets and coves, such as the one that is located in Xpuhá.

Other spots on the coast are a blend of the most spectacular scenery: coves, bays, rocky beaches, natural sinkholes (cenotes), sandy beaches, reef and jungle.

The Tulum National Park is one of the main attractions in the Riviera Maya. 664 hectares (1641 acres) were decreed in 1981 as a Protected Nature Reserve that encompasses jungle, pristine beaches and coastal dune vegetation.

Some of the lodging options in Tulum offer Robinson Crusoe-like experiences with their thatched “palapa” roofs, which are traditional in Caribbean architecture.

When the Spaniards arrived in Tulum in the 16th century, it was still inhabited and had been such an important trade hub that they compared it to Seville, in Spain.

Located on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Tulum had its heyday during the period of Mayan history known as the Post-classic (900–1521 AD) during which its wall was built. Tulum means “wall” in Maya.

The flat roof of the principal building known as “The Castle” is a testimony of the influence of the Toltec culture from central Mexico. Used both as a temple and a viewpoint, the monumental construction crowns the highest point of the Quintana Roo coast.

Due to its amazing beauty, Tulum is visited by more than three million tourists every year who wish to learn about the archaeological sites that are the legacy of one of the most important cultures in the world, the Maya culture.

Just like the Phoenicians, the ancient Maya were great navigators. There is no evidence of their use of sails for navigation, but their maritime watchtowers still remain, defying modern architecture.

As its principal attraction, Tulum offers visitors an encounter with nature, which is why its lodging infrastructure was built with very low density and very high property capital gain.

A lighthouse marks the southern border of the Riviera Maya. This beacon for shipping is located in Punta Allen in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve in the recently created Tulum Municipality.

Ten sandy streets without any sidewalks are where the 500 inhabitants of Punta Allen walk along every day. It is an authentic fishermen’s village which has proven the sustainability of catching lobster and eco-tourism.

In 1987, the UNESCO named the recently-created Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve a World Heritage Site. It was the first protected natural area in Mexico to receive such an accolade.

The coast of the peninsula that was formed between Tulum and Punta Allen in Sian Ka’an reminds us of what Cancun must have looked like about 50 years ago. The Protected Natural Areas Commission and the Tulum Municipality keep a strict watch over the preservation of this “Eden.”

The absence of mountains and surface rivers make the area’s wetlands, coastal lagoons and canals the providers of the nutrients for coastal ecosystems. This is where thousands of fish and shellfish begin their life cycle. They are vital for the economy of the entire coast.

A small cenote or natural sinkhole lies deep in the mangrove forest. The red hue of the water denotes the presence of the red mangrove that saturates it with tannins. In keeping with the rest of the Mexican Caribbean coast, the mangrove forests surrounding the Espiritu Santo Bay are the mainstay of the local economy.

The many colors and shades of the water in the canals and coastal lagoons seem as though they are from another planet. The varied coloration is caused by the decomposition of organic matter and a high concentration of tannins derived from the red mangrove.

A tight curve is formed where the Boca Paila Lagoon meets the San Miguel Lagoon in the north of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere reserve, the 528,000-hectare (1.3 million acres) “lung” in the Riviera Maya.

The Campechen, Boca Paila and San Miguel lagoon systems flow into the sea at Boca Paila. The ebb and flow of the salt water creates ideal conditions for an abundance of plant and animal species.

Sian Ka’an is where pristine habitats of endangered species can be found such as the manatee, crocodiles, jaguar and sea turtles.

Swamps, estuaries and mangroves in coastal areas are ecosystems that are often considered smelly and useless. They, however, offer great benefits to the local population and environmental services for the world.

For tourists who plan to visit Sian Ka’an, the Tulum hotel zone offers lodging options ranging from all-inclusive hotels and campsites to the rustic and comfortable beachfront cabanas that are in the majority.

The variety of textures is just as great as the beautiful landscapes in the Riviera Maya. The freshwater in the cenotes and the salty waters of the ocean blend along the coast in order to create a kaleidoscope of reflections.

Nature is accessible for everyone, from babies to the elderly who can come in close contact with marine and jungle species in the natural aquarium of Xel Ha.

With infrastructure designed to preserve the environment while affording comfort and safety to its visitors, Xel Ha is one of the most popular attractions in the Riviera Maya.

The 275 hotels along the Caribbean coast of the Riviera Maya all have their own personality designed to blend with the natural surroundings. Bahia Principe.

A hotel in Akumal welcomed travelers even before Cancun was founded. In spite of area development, its peaceful, relaxing and tranquil ambience remains intact, due to the actions of its inhabitants who have preserved this greenish-blue gem in the Riviera Maya.

The water is so clear in Akumal, Riviera Maya that the shadow of the boat is visible on the white sand of the seabed. Free diving and scuba trips in this paradise virtually guarantee an encounter with huge sea turtles.

The underground rivers reach the surface through natural sinkholes called “cenotes.” They are entrances to the largest underwater river system in the world, which can be found in the Riviera Maya.

In the Riviera Maya, there are 51 world-class hotels, five-star hotels and other categories which offer at least 18,040 rooms. Eleven of them offer “Palace-style” service. Most are complexes that offer the all-inclusive plan.

Puerto Aventuras is an exclusive resort and residential gated community with top quality services and a welcoming, nautical ambience. The marina is the best equipped in the Yucatan Peninsula and the community also has fine beaches and a 9-hole golf course.

The Mexican flag flying high above the ground reflects the pride of the Mexicans in the knowledge that what is made in Mexico is well made. The tower leads its visitors to a zip line where they can launch themselves into space as their welcome to Xplor Park.

The 100% percent Mexican Grupo Experiencia Xcaret has been able to develop infrastructure to blend in with the environment in the parks of Xel Ha, Xplor and Xcaret. More than just theme parks, they are true tourist destinations. Xcaret means “small inlet” in the Mayan language.

Inaugurated in 1990, Xcaret is now one of the most popular parks in the country. It features underground rivers, caverns, beaches, coves, an orchid nursery, coral reef aquarium, turtle farm, butterfly sanctuary, a Mayan village and a traditional Mexican cemetery.

In Xcaret you can experience all of Mexico’s culture and come face to face with the region’s plant and animal species. For an additional charge, you can book water sports such as diving, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, snuba and sea trek. In addition, Xcaret is a leader in the conservation movement.

Along the coast of the Riviera Maya there are still a number of pristine spots. With tourists which are increasingly discovering the value of nature, the preservation of these little pieces of paradise is a priority for the federal and state governments.

Just like an oasis surrounded by vegetation, the round entrance to a cenote reminds us that there is an underground world of water beneath the feet of all local inhabitants and visitors to the Riviera Maya.

Locals and tourists in Playa del Carmen can witness spectacular sunrises every day when the warm Caribbean waters lure us to enjoy early morning relaxation.