The Mayan Riviera, stunningly pristine, worry-free and just a short flight away. While not as adventurous as ideal for most nature photography I did leave with a girlfriend and return with a fiance so believe me when I say there are no complaints here. This article will highlight just a few must see attractions if visiting with intentions of photographing the Mayan Riviera.
One of the most iconic attractions are the ancient Mayan ruins at Tulum. Riviera Maya offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the much more populous nearby Cancun, unfortunately Tulum is one of the exceptions to this. If traveling with the intent to photograph be sure to get there before the 8:00 am open time. The window for quality photography really ends around 10:30 when all of the tour buses reach Tulum. Once that happens there are really two options, go swimming in the ocean or stay dry and swim in tourists on land. The site is small and 30 minutes walking can give you a good feel, the tours should not be considered essential. When shooting the site be sure to bring a soft cloth and lens cleaner. Especially when near the ocean
With such a relaxing environment it may be tempting to confine yourself to the luxurious resort of your choosing. However, when thinking about building a gallery of your trip try to think about what hasn’t been seen before. Rent a car or scooter for a day and visit some of the more authentic areas generally shunned by tourists. Just off of the major artery 307 there are countless street vendors, rundown shacks and even a seemingly abandoned bull right. Take a day and explore!there’s lots of mist and spray which requires lenses to be cleaned frequently. A polarizer should be considered when shooting the Castillo which is arguably the most iconic sight sitting aloft on the cool blue sea. While a wide angle lens can help capture the greater feel for the park I would suggest also taking a telephoto and taking some close ups of details often missed in this heavily shot park.
Another area with infinite potential for shooting is Playa del Carmen. This small city has a commercial district centered around 5th Avenue. A $20 cab ride from most resorts in the area it is certainly worth seeing. I would suggest taking a fast prime lens and potentially an ND filter to counter the sun. Here you’ll see all sorts of restaurants, merchandise (and merchants). Open up and engage the locals and see what you can come up with. Budget at least a good day worth of time to take in all the sights and at least enough money to experience one or two of the fantastic restaurants.
All said and done Riviera Maya is certainly to be considered a main stream vacation site but still provides limitless possibilities for a creative photographer. Be sure to take a tripod and spend some time out on the beach after dark. The sky is crystal clear with the difference between stars and planets apparent to the naked eye. If you have the opportunity to visit there are certainly countless shots waiting to be found but don’t forget to relax.
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