Thriving Ecotourism in The Riviera Maya

The Riviera Maya is home to one of the fastest growing cities in Latin America: Playa del Carmen. It also hosts millions of international tourists each year, through its abundance of all-inclusive resorts, luxury hotels and strong vacation rental market. There is so much fun to be had in the bustling tourist scene of the Riviera Maya.

Is this all the Riviera Maya has to offer? Or is there another side to this place? Can you find peace and tranquility? Nature that is unobstructed by man? Beautiful places where one can experience and connect with nature? Well yes, you sure can!

The Riviera Maya literally has so much to offer, even a thriving ecotourism scene. Below is a list of the top 6 ecotourism destinations in the Riviera Maya!

  1. Akumal (Turtle Sanctuary)

This hidden treasure is apart of a small community just 39 km from Playa del Carmen, and 105 km from Cancun. Akumal Bay is home to an array of fish, coral, and sea turtles. It’s a true paradise that allows you to be one with nature and swim amongst the sea life.

They have protective measures in place to protect the marine wildlife, especially the sea turtles. Snorkeling tours are great to learn about the habitat and different species that live there. Or, you can bring your own gear and go out on your own. Make sure to wear a life jacket though, they are mandatory to protect the sea floor from diving destruction. An experience like this is truly special, you can learn about the habitat and connect with marine life.

  1. Cancun, MUSA (Museo Subacuático Del Arte)

Another beautiful eco marine zone is, “The Underwater Museum of Art” in Cancun. This place is a true spectacle of the interaction between environmental science and man-made sculptures. The whole museum shows how beautiful and powerful a marine biosystem is, by creating a complex reef structure with thriving marine life. Experience the beauty by glass bottom boat, snorkeling or scuba diving.

  1. Bacalar (Eco Friendly Escape)

The most secluded, non-touristy, eco friendly place is probably Bacalar, also known as “The 7 Color Lagoon.” You wont find all-inclusive giants here. Accommodations consist of eco friendly hotels and resorts. Many of them utilizing alternative energy sources. It’s a beautiful place to take a boat tour of the lagoon to see the colors, wildlife and thriving ecosystem. Or you can simply rent a kayak or paddle board to explore on your own.

  1. Cozumel (Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park)

This national park is located off the coast of Cozumel and is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is the second largest coral reef system in the world. The park is home to several species of sea life that are under some degree of protection. It’s an amazing place for avid divers and snorkelers. With the crystal-clear waters far away from shore or any man made structures, it makes for a wonderful and clean experience.

  1. Sian Ka’an Biosphere

This place is fully committed to protecting the area and its fragile ecosystems, being a World Heritage Site and the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean. That being said, there are many environmentally friendly tours to bring people into this region’s spectacular wildlife and awe-inspiring Mayan ruins. Here you will be able to find snorkel tours, nature encounters, bird watching, Mayan ruins and fly fishing expeditions.

  1. Isla Holbox

Holbox Island has 21 miles of white sand beaches and is part of the Yum Balam Ecological Reserve. Its a quiet piece of paradise in the north of Quintana Roo and boasts natural beauty through its scenery and wildlife. Here you can experience an array of things, from swimming with whale sharks to bird watching, there is something for everyone.

There you have it, the top 6 ecotourism opportunities in the Riviera Maya. A destination as bustling and busy is this, still has plenty of relaxing and peaceful attractions for the eco-tourist enthusiast.

Cozumel Scuba Fest 2015

Living in the Riviera Maya is such a wonderful experience. You are surrounded by natural beauty, mild weather and with a cool mix of residents from all over the world. Something special about living in the Riviera is the variety of World-class events like music, fashion, movies, and theaters to sports events and specialized forums such as the Cozumel Scuba Fest 2015.

For years Cozumel has been one of the Top 5 Scuba destinations, and it is especially popular among North America due the proximity and low cost. Imagine getting access to places of extraordinary beauty for a fraction of the cost; no one can resist that! Cozumel has experiences for all levels, from introductory level to advanced routes, all in one place.

On this occasion Cozumel is host one of the most anticipated events of the year: Cozumel Scuba Fest 2015. This event brings together the best Scuba specialists, trainers and fans in order to share experiences, learn about new products and techniques and practice scuba diving.

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The event is started on December 8, 2015 and will end on December 13th. There are so many exciting conferences and workshops it´s like a feast for both scuba fanatics and the general public.

Cozumel Scuba Fest 2015: Experience amazing Scuba routes

The Cozumel Scuba Fest 2015 is not only about the keynote speakers and the Expo, there is also the opportunity to experience the best Scuba adventures. These spectacular experiences will make you wonder and make for amazing lifelong memories.

Jean-Michel Cousteau Route

Advanced divers route

Yucatan Peninsula Route:

9 days 4 Days 8 days
9 dives/ 1 night dive 8 dives / 1 sinkhole dive 4 days in Cozumel/ 4 days in the Yucatan Peninsula
429 USD 560 USD 1010 USD
Includes equipment, certification and official logbook. Includes equipment, OWD certification is Required

 Includes: night stays in Valladolid, Merida, Tulum and Cozumel; as well as equipment, certified guides, snacks and drinks.

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Cozumel Scuba Fest 2015: Keynote Speakers

The Cozumel Scuba Fest 2015 has a plethora of world-wide renown specialist, ready to share their expertise and knowledge not only of scuba diving but also about conservation, the experience of diving in underground rivers and sinkholes,  the importance of preserving the environment and the healing power of Scuba.

The Scuba Fest has a multidisciplinary team leaded by: Guillermo de Anda, Sergio Zambrano, Sylvia Earle and Jean-Michel Cousteau. If you want to know more about these experts, have a look at their bios here. This is a great opportunity to hear these professionals speak even if you are not a Scuba fan.

Cozumel Scuba Fest 2015: Expo and Trade Fair

On top of the amazing events programmed for the Cozumel Scuba Fest 2015 there will be an Expo Trade Fair with a complete exhibition of specialized articles, accessories and providers for scuba services. This will give visitors the opportunity to learn more about the latest in technology, diving equipment, underwater photography equipment, materials dive shops, and more.

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The greatest thing about this event is the opportunity to meet like-minded people as well as diving friendly organizations, institutions of environmental protection, specialized hotels and tourist destinations.

So, if you are already living in the area, do not miss the opportunity to see living legends like Jean-Michel Cousteau about talking his favorite topic: the sea. Cozumel is so much more than scuba and cruises: find everything that makes this quaint island an excellent retirement haven.

Contact our Buyer’s representatives or check out the amazing properties on our website to learn more about purchasing Real Estate in Mexico in a safe, legal manner. Here at Top Mexico Real Estate we are with you every step of the way, from dreaming about your new home all the way to helping make it a reality.

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Weekend Getaway to Cozumel

Are you looking forward to packing up for the weekend and heading off on an adventure? Head over to Cozumel! This beautiful Caribbean island is full of wonder, life, and amazing things to discover. While it can get quite packed with tourist during high season, it is still enjoyable…especially if you know where to go!

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How to get there

Transport between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel is reliable, affordable and fun! There are three ferry companies that navigate between the ports: Ultramar, Mexico Waterjets, and now a government-run company. Services run from 5am to 10pm from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel, and from 6am to 11pm from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen.

Expect to pay approximately $10 usd for a one-way trip.

Where to stay

Cozumel offers beautiful bed and breakfasts, hostels and elegant hotels either very close to the beach, or just on it. Prices range depending on what you are searching for and the season you visit. For example, during the Divers Week in Cozumel (usually during summer) you can find some beautiful 5-star resorts with discounts as many people travel just to go scuba diving. Cozumel real estate also offers options as many owners rent out their property to vacationers.

What to do

Cozumel is one of the favorite diving spots around the world. Because the gorgeous Mesoamerican Reef passes right by, there is an array of marine species to observe. If you’re not into diving, you should at least go on one of the many snorkeling tours. You are certainly going to be surprised by the amazing underwater world.

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There is a secluded snorkeling area known as El Cielo (The Sky). It was named like this due to the outstanding number of starfish that lay on the white sand banks. Unfortunately, many of these starfish are gone due to overfishing and overpopulation of visitors, but you can still manage to see a few more than you would normally.

For those looking for an adventure, renting a cheap car at any of the rental agencies to go around Cozumel should be fairly easy. WARNING: at night certain roads are blocked and very largely signaled, so stay away from these roads.

You can visit Isla Pasión, a small island off the coast of Cozumel. Offering breathtaking views, this private island does not have any hotels or restaurants, and it can only be visited via authorized tour operators during the day. There are no overnight stays at Passion Island.

Shopping and eating

Cozumel’s boulevard is quite popular, lined with stores, bars, restaurants, supermarkets and hotels. Shopping options are endless as vendors offering all types of souvenirs and unique items. If you wonder off the main boulevard street you are sure to find local indigenous women selling small hand made turtles and other quirky things.

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If you are looking to enjoy delicious meals in Cozumel, your taste buds are in for a party! Cozumel is lined with cute and cozy seafood restaurants, beach clubs serving everything from shrimp ceviche to octopus tacos, and much more. For those craving a typical American meal (hamburgers, and such), you will find a Hard Rock Café and other similar restaurants throughout the island.


Cozumel is a gorgeous island with many things you can do. Even if you plan a strict itinerary, you are sure to wonder off eventually and find something new or different to do. So we recommend bringing cash – especially Mexican pesos, as prices tend to change from USD to the local currency.

Do some research on scuba diving shops before going to Cozumel. The options are endless as it is one of the most popular activities to do, but that doesn’t mean every shop around has great quality or service. Check online before to see what other tourists are saying about the dive shops and find one that suits your budget and what you want to do! If you’re an avid diver and own equipment, we recommend you bring it with you. It’s worth the hassle of carrying it around, as you will save plenty of money from renting out equipment at the shops.

Eat seafood, talk to locals, engage in fun and unusual activities, and enjoy your weekend getaway in the gorgeous island of Cozumel!

Craving for more Weekend Getaway ideas? Check back next week for another one!

Top Mexico Real Estate is a real estate company based in Playa del Carmen, catering to thousands of Americans and Canadians who are searching for the perfect paradise home. If you are planning on relocating to Mexico, feel free to contact one of our Top Buyer Representatives, who will gladly guide you through the process of becoming a homeowner in Mexico!

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate

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10 Things to Do While Visiting Cozumel

Cozumel is a worldwide famous destination, a heaven for divers that travel from every corner of the planet to explore the second largest reef in the world. However, there are plenty of other things to do in Cozumel; it is more than just a gorgeous diving island. Here is our handy list of 10 things to do while visiting Cozumel.

1. Cozumel has one of the best reefs worldwide, and there are plenty of water activities to partake in such as fishing, diving and snorkeling; the options are endless!

2. Learn to snorkel; this is an easy activity for children and adults. Also, the equipment required is minimal. The water that surrounds Cozumel is crystal clear and there is an abundance of marine life. Don’t forget to take an underwater camera because you will be surprised at what you find.

3. Cozumel offers plenty of shopping opportunities, if watersports are not your cup of tea. You can stroll around and visit the shops. You can find everything from small arts and crafts stalls to top designer shops. You could even shop for real estate. In Cozumel you are sure to find something you like.

4. Take a jungle tour on an ATV; have fun on dirt roads and enjoy the jungle. The tours are about three hours long and take you to the gorgeous beach or cenotes, followed by a delicious meal.

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5. If you’re an adrenaline junkie and love speed, take one of the famous thriller jet speedboat tours. Test your ability to ride a boat and take it to the limit, an activity that will surely pump up your adrenaline.

6. Rent a jeep and drive around Cozumel; this is one of the favorite activities for nature lovers and will allow you to visit different areas of Cozumel Island.

7. Take a ride in the only submarine in the Mexican Caribbean around Cozumel exploring America’s largest reef. This tour will allow you to dive to depths of 100 feet beneath the surface of the water and see the wonders of the underwater world without even getting wet!

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8. Segway through Cozumel. One of the favorite activities for a family looking to explore the island is renting Segway. These can be used by everyone: enjoy the sun and the breeze as well as the magnificent views.

9. Visit the archeological site of San Gervasio, known worldwide as the home of the Ixchel: Goddess of Love and Moon.

10. Parque Punta Sur is a major archeological site as well as a Lighthouse Museum. Do not miss this historic place in Cozumel!

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Top Mexico Real Estate is your one and only stop for everything Riviera Maya, let our real estate experts help you find your dream home! From a small cabana in the jungle to a luxurious beachfront villa: we have something for every budget and taste!

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate…

We make it happen!

Calling all Divers to Cozumel!!!

Among the many possibilities you have here in the Riviera Maya to explore beauty and nature you have diving.


While some prefer to do a small snorkel, there are a ton of die-hard diver fans out there that travel from all over to arrive here to the Riviera Maya and Cozumel where you can experience the second largest coral reef in the world. There are even many expats living here just for this reason along with many tourists who flock here to explore the beauty and magic under the surface of the sea.


If you are one of these people then this may interest you:


June 24th-30th 2013 (that’s NOW!) is Diver’s Week in Cozumel where many hotels, restaurants and merchants will be offering great discounts for you divers out there who are participating in underwater activities during this time.


Along with a great diving experience and a nice vacation to boot, you can be part of some of the ongoing festivities including a special gala dinner, various parties and conferences. Also, you can search some special sales on your diving equipment! If you are already here and you love to dive this can be an incredible excuse to spend a few days in Cozumel, get underwater, meet other fellow divers and take advantage of great deals!


For more details about the event click here.


– by Bea Lozano


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Mexico’s Two Caribbean Islands are Among the Best in the World

There are experiences which are created and planned – like Disney World.  Some of these have their charm, but what you experience is exactly what a team of marketing experts in an office building somewhere (these days perhaps in Hong Kong, or maybe Beijing?) decided you will experience – nothing more, nothing less.


Other experiences are not planned or created – they simply happen.  The place you are, the people your with and what you see and feel while you’re there is well beyond the control of any corporation or travel agency.  Yes, planning is an important part of getting there and making the most of your visit, but the experience itself is defined by your own personal reaction and many random factors shaped by geography, nature and cultures that have developed over centuries.


Isla Mujeres and Cozumel – Top Islands in Mexico and the World

This is the case with two of the world’s favorite islands, Mexico’s two Caribbean islands, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel.  Recently, both have been ranked among the top islands in the world, for example, Isla Mujeres in TripAdvisor and Cozumel by Scuba Diving magazine. (Here is also a nice blog post of a traveler sharing their experience on Cozumel.)


They share the wide, soft white beaches and turquoise water of the Caribbean Sea – some of the most beautiful in the world.  They share the heritage of the ancient Mayan people and the warm, welcoming culture of their descendants.  They share warm, sunny weather all year round, and excellent diving access to the world’s second largest barrier coral reef.


Retire in Mexico - Islands

And, by geographical luck, they are located about an hour away from each other.  Either can be accessed quickly from the Cancun International Airport


Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is a tiny island just of the coast at Cancun.  Coming directly from the bustling city of Cancun (where the ferry leaves) – which is quickly becoming the largest on the Yucatan Peninsula, and a cosmopolitan hub for travel and international events – the difference is like day and night.


You feel like you’re arriving to a different world.  Yes, the climate and the beaches are the same, but suddenly you’re in a quiet place, a sleepy island where time hasn’t seemed to go anywhere in the past few decades.


Retire in Mexico - IslandsCozumel

Cozumel is has ferry access from Playa del Carmen.  In addition to diving in the reef, there is deep-sea fishing, boating, sight-seeing, Mayan pyramids, golf and much more.  One of the ideal ways to spend a day on Cozumel is to rent a scooter or a motorcycle (there are Harley rentals!) and just tour the island enjoying the warmth of the open air.  The freedom to simply explore and discover the jungle, the ancient ruins and relaxing beaches at your own leisure is truly a unique experience.


Cozumel also has a small city (about 80,000 – a bit smaller than Playa del Carmen.)  In this city you can enjoy the shops of knickknacks, artwork and handicrafts.  There are also excellent restaurants, including many that sell the local catch of the day – fried fish is a local specialty.


Experience Life

Yes, on both Isla Mujeres and Cozumel you can buy tours, you can plan your day and decide what you want to see.  But here, these are only tools to make it easier to find a unique experience that is shaped by the place and its culture that you will not find anywhere else.


-by Thomas Lloyd


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Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Bring New Connection Between Cozumel and Texas

When people think about beaches, for many people bikinis come to mind – for some, wearing them, for others seeing them.  When it comes to bikinis, Mexico’s beaches certainly aren’t lacking.  Now, people don’t believe me when I say this, but seeing beautiful young women in bikinis on the beaches in the Riviera Maya is so common that after a while you really just don’t notice anymore.



But here’s something you simply can’t overlook:


Just last week, the Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleaders came to Cozumel (the island across the strait from Playa) to do a few photo shoots!


Besides the pictures, as anyone would guess, these women also enjoyed Cozumel to it’s fullest, scuba diving in the coral reef among other things.


For obvious reasons, Mexico’s tourism board is using the cheerleaders’ visit as a publicity campaign, which includes a 2014 calendar I believe as well as some online promotions.



Now, it’s also worth noting that international, high-profile events with celebrities are becoming more and more common in the Riviera Maya.  Besides the idea of seeing these people around, it’s good for just about every other aspect of choosing to live here – better publicity, more tourism, which leads to more modern services, investment, etc.


I’ve written about the growing connection between Texas and Cozumel a number of times before. I believe Dallas is one of the main U.S. destinations for direct flights from the island, and there have been several international real estate conventions, but you might says this is something a little more “lively.”

You don’t have to wait for the Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleaders to see bikinis on Cozumel’s beaches, but I’m sure most people wouldn’t miss the chance if they got it!


See this gallery from Cozumel Cruise Excursions for more pictures from the 2014 calendar.


– by Thomas Lloyd


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See how Mexico’s Caribbean Island Celebrates Carnival! – Cozumel in Pictures

For the last two days, I posted about the Carnival celebrations in Playa del Carmen.  I also love the carnival in Cozumel. We take full advantage of the carnival to take the ferry across to Cozumel, the largest island in Mexico. It’s about a 40min ferry ride. In Cozumel, the carnival parade travels directly down the main street that is parallel with the oceanfront. So, not only do you get to see the amazing parade, but the breeze and sunset behind you also make for extra special pictures and memories.


During this week in early February, the weather is perfect. Not to hot and not to cool! That makes it perfect for the late afternoon parade.


This is truly a whole family event. People of all ages participate in the parade and it really shows a sense of community. Just a piece of advice if you do decide to take in the carnival in Cozumel, buy a return ticket to Playa del Carmen and try to take the second last ferry back. The last ferry is always jam-packed and the line to board is always long. Or you could just relax and spend the night in one of Cozumel’s beautiful hotels or resorts.


Here are a few pictures:

If you’re not already living here and enjoying Mexico’s colorful and lively festivities, I hope that you will be soon – soon enough to enjoy Carnival in Mexico for 2014.; Mexico’s Leading Network of Specialists for Finding and Purchasing Mexican Properties Safely


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