After an early morning pickup from your hotel in Playa del Carmen, drive to Tulum, a majestic ancient Maya ruin on a cliff overlooking the ocean. As your guide walks you through this 10th century city, gaze at archaeological wonders such as Temple of Frescoes, the Temple of the God of Wind, and El Castillo. Tulum's uniqueness lies in its combination of historic ruins set against the backdrop of the crystal-blue Caribbean.
Next, travel inland 45-minutes to Coba, considered one of the most important cities in Mesoamerican history. During its peak between 500 and 900 A.D., Coba was home to about 50,000 inhabitants, and also the central terminus where the Maya system of roadways interconnected. These raised stone paths, called sacbeob connect the buildings of Coba and also connect it to other Maya cities. The longest one runs 62 miles (100 kilometers) and reaches the city of Yaxuna.
Coba's main pyramid, Nohoch Mul, is the tallest in the Yucatan at 137 feet (42 meters tall). Walk or cycle to the pyramid, then climb to the top for panoramic views of the surrounding jungle. Break for lunch at a restaurant in front of the Coba Lagoon, where you'll enjoy regional dishes and try handmade corn tortillas.
After lunch, move on to Cenote Cho-Ha. Enter the cenote through a spiral staircase, emerging into a cave full of countless stalactites and crystalline water. A cool, refreshing dip in the mineral-rich water is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
The final stop before returning to Playa del Carmen is Playa Paraíso, Tulum's white sand beach, where the Mayan Riviera stretches 75 miles (120 kilometers) to the north and the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve protects the area's prolific aquatic life to the south.