These are 8 must do activities in Cancun and Riviera Maya:
Cenotes are a natural swimming hole or flooded cavern in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. A Cenote is a pit, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes crystal-clear groundwater. The term is commonly used in the Yucatan Peninsula, where Cenotes are used as tourist attractions, also as fresh water supply, and occasionally for rituals and sacred related practices by the ancient Maya culture. The largest underground river system in the world runs underneath the limestone crust of Quintana Roo and Yucatan States. Scuba diving, free diving, snorkeling, cliff jumping or just chilling in the Cenotes, are activities many tourists and locals enjoy all year round. This is a fragile ecosystem which connects underground all the way to the reefs in the sea.
A Custom private tour is a better option because it provides you with far more room for flexibility and changes to your personal itinerary at every step of the way. The flexibility and freedom to make the most of your time are the main reason why most seasoned travelers choose Custom private tours over groups or shared bus tours. Also, the level of service and personal attention is second to none. During our Custom private tours any itinerary tweaks are easier to manage, you will travel at your own pace, and we will focus purely on maximizing your experience, making sure you stop and soak in every single place before moving on, without having to rush or wait for a larger group.
No, the famous Nohoch Mul temple in Coba is no longer climbable since 2020. Visitors are allowed to partially climb some of the smaller structures and one of the best thing to do here is riding bicycles around the jungle. The archaeological site of Coba is open to the public in 2023. Coba is definitely a fascinating site, you should consider visiting!
If you are looking to climb some exciting Mayan temples in 2023, Ek Balam is your best option. We have a great Ek Balam Private Tour!
No, you cannot climb El Castillo de Kukulcan in Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, therefore the National Institute of Archaeology and History (INAH Mexico) is protecting this ancient temples for future generations. The best way to visit Chichen Itza is to arrive early and avoid the big tour buses, a private tour is strongly recommended if you are trying to maximize your vacation time or if you are traveling with kids.
Yes, there is a time difference between Cancun and Chichen-Itza: Cancun, Quintana Roo is 1 hour ahead of Chichen-Itza, Yucatan.
Chichen-Itza and Ek-Balam are one hour behind of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
The State of Quintana Roo, operates on Eastern Standard Time (EST). Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum are located in Quintana Roo State.
The State of Yucatan, operates on Central Standard Time (CST).
This time difference will be used as and advantage for you when touring Chichen-Itza or Ek-Balam Ruins with us. This means you will start your private tour at 6:00 AM instead of 5:00 AM. This is our suggested pick-up time, for travelers willing to arrive at 8:00 AM at Chichen-Itza (at opening time there’s less crowds and it is better for your photos).
9:00 AM in Cancun (Quintana Roo) means it is 8:00 AM at Chichen-Itza (Yucatan).
Yes! Some of the best snorkeling in the world is located near the shores of Cancun and the Riviera Maya!
You can snorkel with Whale Sharks and Manta rays. Their natural habitat is located near Isla Mujeres, Holbox and Isla Contoy.
Snorkel the reefs at the Marine National Park in Puerto Morelos (recommended for advanced snorkelers staying in Cancun or Puerto Morelos).
Freediving courses are available all around Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
You can also practice Spearfishing and become a sustainable hunter.
Scuba Diving is also a very popular activity around Cancun, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen.
The Whale Shark season officially starts on May 15th, and ends on September 17th, every year. July and August are usually the best months to see these gentle giants near the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican Caribbean. If you want to spend more time in the water with the Whale Sharks seasoned travelers recommend booking a Custom private tour, where you will have more flexibility and plenty of time in the water with these majestic creatures, without rushing or having to wait for other parties.
Summer of 2023 Sargasso Update: The coast of Cancun is looking wonderful and clean. The waters are looking transparent and pristine. Sargasso levels are very low in the majority of the Mexican Caribbean including the main beaches of Playa del Carmen and Tulum. This is a great year to plan your next vacation to Cancun and the Riviera Maya!
Yes, climbing the main ruins of Ek-Balam is still possible, in 2023. This is a fascinating ancient Mayan site open to the public, located in the Yucatan State. The best way to visit Ek-Balam Ruins is to arrive early and avoid the big tour buses, a private tour is strongly recommended if you are trying to maximize your vacation time or if you are traveling with kids.
The Hotel Zone in Cancun is a common choice as it is conveniently located just a few minutes away from the Cancun International Airport (CUN).
Travelers also stay in towns nearby such as: Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal or Tulum. Other popular destinations are the islands around the area, like Isla Mujeres, Cozumel or Holbox. Luxury hotels are easy to book online before arrival. Small hotels, vacation rentals and hostels are also available in every Caribbean town of Mexico. Seasoned travelers recommend to stay in a well situated town like Playa del Carmen, especially if your goal is to explore the Yucatan Peninsula and the natural wonders of the Riviera Maya and its beautiful surroundings. Playa del Carmen has great restaurants, shopping and nightlife scene, and it is well connected with all the main attractions. Playa is located just 45 minutes south of Cancun Airport. All the towns mentioned above are located in the Mexican State of Quintana Roo (Eastern Standard Time).
Yes, the ruins at Tulum are open to the public. The facilities around the archaeological site are under construction during the summer of 2023. The main archaeological site remains intact and open to the public. Tickets are available at the main gate. Climbing the temples or structures at Tulum is not allowed. The staircase from the ruins to the beach is not open anymore. You can still enjoy the beaches at Tulum by walking a few minutes south from the archaeological site. The best way to visit Tulum Ruins is to arrive early and avoid the big tour buses, a private tour is strongly recommended if you are trying to maximize your vacation time or if you are traveling with kids.
Yes. We only offer private tours.
This is the only way we can provide you with a Customized Tour 100% tailored to your needs.
If you wish to lower the prices by adding more participants to your group, feel free to invite other like minded travelers from your hotel or maybe the couple sitting next to you on the plane? We are happy to add more participants to your group only if you invite them.
When you cancel with a 48 hour notice or more, we will keep the deposit as an administrative fee.
When you cancel within less than 48 hours or last minute, we would need you to cover a cancellation fee of $250 US dollars on top of the deposit, to cover the arrangements booked in advance such as the transportation service, private guide, driver and other services we are required to pay in advance.
Please let us know as soon as possible if you wish to cancel. The transportation service asks for a 48 hour notice for all cancellations. A private guide is also booked in advance; therefore your guide will reject all other work opportunities for that date.
We always wish the best for you and your vacation! We are looking forward to meeting you and hope you feel the same way.
We do not cancel our tours due to rainy weather: all tours go rain or shine. Rest assured you will be able to have an amazing tour! Most of the time the showers are very local and it’s only raining at your resort.
There are really rare occasions where we will suggest you changing the day of the tour if we know that really bad weather is coming, but this rarely ever happens.
A deposit refund is possible when we have to cancel your tour for safety reasons: extremely rare cases such as a hurricane alert.
We require a small Deposit to secure your spot.
The remining balance is due in cash preferably, as we will use your payment as our budget for the day.
We could accept a full payment in advance, at the time of booking via PayPal ,with a small fee of 5%.
PayPal payments are not accepted on the day of your tour.
We only accept cash payments in Mexican Pesos (preferred) and US Dollars, according to the exchange rate shown on your booking confirmation. Our exchange rates are based on google exchange rates, so it is fair both ways.
The deposit can be paid with credit card through PayPal. The balance is due the day of your tour, and should be paid in cash, either USD or Mexican Pesos. If you want to pay the balance with credit card, you should let us know at the time of booking, and we will send you an additional PayPal link for the indicated amount plus 5% PayPal fees. Please note we can not accept credit cards the day of the tour itself.
Yes, we accept Mexican pesos or US Dollars. Please note that our exchange rate is a bit higher (but more accurate) than the exchange rates offered at your resort or at the money exchange offices in the street.
Tipping is a widely practiced social custom in Mexico as it is in the United States. Tipping by definition is voluntary. The amount you tip is at your discretion and should be based on the quality of service you received. Our tour guides will split tips with the Driver too. You may choose to tip extra for superior service, optional 10 to 20% when you are pleased with your tour.
In All-Inclusive hotels you do have the option to slip some bills to those resort workers that go out of their way, most hotel staff are happy to receive tips. Tips at restaurants go from 10 to 20%.
We are a small team of highly organized people, so we always suggest to book a few weeks or even months in advance to avoid disappointment. Our tour services are limited and subject to availability.
The best way to book and get in touch with us is by filling out the Contact & Booking Form on this website.
Rod Ratner is the founder of The Custom Tour. He is in charge of organizing and planning your adventures. In 2008 he started The Custom Tour, sharing his passion for the local culture, flora and fauna with customers from all over the world. Rod now has retired from the daily operations and no longer is aboard as a tour guide. Rod spends his days at the office designing tours and answering emails.
Canoes and zip-lines are suitable for all ages.
Weight limit is 290 pounds or 130 kg. Safety gear is provided up to XXL size.
The 3 different zip-lines are 240, 120 and 110-yard long galvanized aircraft wires. They are totally safe!
We recommend wearing comfortable light-colored clothing, hats and sunglasses.
Comfortable walking shoes if you are visiting the Mayan ruins.
If your tour includes water activities please do not forget to bring your swimming suits and towels.
Water shoes or flip-flops.
Highly recommended SPF rash-guard or long-sleeve snorkel shirt, as most swimming places do not allow the use of sunscreen.
Organic sunblock & natural mosquito repellent.
Extra cash for gratuity, souvenirs or other personal expenses.
Booking a Custom Tour is very simple!
Just send us a Booking Form with your traveling information.
We will confirm the cost and tour details with a clear and easy to understand email.
We will request a small PayPal deposit to secure your spot. Upon receiving your deposit we will email you a confirmation letter. The total balance of the tour will be due on the day of the tour.
Expert tour guide for the day.
All entrance fees: admissions without lines.
A cooler with ice-cold bottled water, welcome snacks and granola bars.
Comfortable A/C touring vehicle (parking fees, fuel and round trip from your hotel).
Most full-day tours include an authentic Mexican lunch. Half-day tours do not include lunch.
We do not have an age limit! Our custom tours are suitable for most ages, however, it is a must to be able to swim (with a floating device) and walk. We have organized family-friendly tours with toddlers and 85 year old grandparents and they loved it!
We want to help you create memories that last a lifetime! We are happy to take pictures of your party during your tour as a special bonus. We will prepare a digital album in less than a week, and send you a link so you can share and download your pictures with your family and friends!
We provide high-quality experiences with newer touring vehicles and your very own knowledgeable tour guide, in the friendliest way and in a relaxing atmosphere.
We are passionate about our job! We are simply the best at what we do!
We know how to deliver the highlight of your trip: best value for money and your precious vacation time.
We care about our natural resources: no animals kept in captivity, we take you to their natural habitats.
We focus on quality, not quantity.
We love to share our authentic food made by real locals.
Absolutely not! We provide life jackets or flotation aid. Remember this is a private tour and your personal tour guide will give you a full detailed briefing about how to use the equipment. We are happy to share some comfortable snorkeling techniques with you. We are always there to ensure you feel safe at all times. Some swimming skills are required and a good health condition.
You can contact us through the contact form on our booking webpage. Please include your preferred date and any special requests you might have. In case the contact form does not work, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org including all the info that is asked for in our contact form. We will get back to you with the details of your booking, availability and send you a PayPal link for a small deposit. Please note you don’t need to have a PayPal account in order to process the deposit. The PayPal link comes with clear instructions, and you should be able to pay with your debit or credit card. Upon receipt of your deposit, we will send you a confirmation email.
In case you didn’t make reservations ahead of time, you can always check with us upon arrival for availability. We strongly recommend that you book your spot in advance.
Please check that the email address you provided is spelled correctly.
If you have not heard back from us after 12 hours, please check your spam folder and make sure we are on your safe list.
We operate 7 days a week from 7 AM to 7 PM.
All reservations are made online and by email. We do not have a shop or office open to the public.
Departure time from Playa del Carmen, for most tours, is around 7:00 AM.
Timing is vital for your tour experience, we really try to beat the busiest times you visit these fascinating sites when it’s quieter and more peaceful. It all depends on the tour you choose. Our tours starts around 6, 7 or 8 AM depending on hotel location and itinerary, as we want to be the first ones getting to the sites and beat the heat and the traffic.
If you desire a different pick up time we can adjust it to your personal preferences. Tour itineraries without visiting Mayan ruins may start up to 7:30 AM depending on resort location. We will send you a confirmation email with the exact pick up time.
We pick you up right at your hotel, resort, villa or vacation rental.
Just make sure you give us the exact name and location in advance.
If you are staying in a resort please remember to share your room numbers with us upon arrival so we can arrange the logistics of your pickup.
Pick ups inside the Playa del Carmen area are included.
Additional transportation charges may apply per vehicle depending on hotel location.
Some resorts do not allow external vans to enter the property. The Princess resort and Bahia Principe Hotels are some examples. In these cases the pick up will be at the main gate. We will confirm these details when we send you your confirmation email.
We do our best to take care of your dietary needs! Please let us know at the time of booking so we can arrange everything accordingly. Any special dietary requirements may imply additional costs.
As snorkelers we always recommend to swim with a SPF rash-guard or snorkel shirt instead of using sunscreen. Wearing a long sleeve shirt will protect your skin from the sun and will help us maintain the environment and the Cenotes pristine and healthy.
Our second option is to use a mineral based organic sunblock. The base ingredients that are allowed are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Please notice that buying “bio” sunscreen from the commercial brands is not an option. Thank you for your understanding and support.
Of course it is! That’s why millions of people come down to the Riviera Maya & Cancun area every year!
All of the locations we will visit are considered very safe.