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Eco Tours in the Riviera Maya's insider take:

Mayan villages, pristine jungles, and lagoons still exist in the Riviera Maya, despite the rampant development along the coast. One of the first companies to offer nature tours in the region, Alltournative has created mini eco-parks near Mayan communities and archeological sites and offers a combination of adventures including rappelling, zip-lining, and canoeing with lunch and time among the Maya (Carretera Federal Chetumal-Puerto Juarez, Km 287, Playa del Carmen; 52-984-803-9999, 877-437-4990). Combining culture and nature, local guides lead visitors through a series of caverns and cenotes at Río Secreto (Carretera 307, five minutes south of Playa del Carmen; 52-984-877-2377, 877-357-4242). Discovered just a few years ago, this cave system includes rock formations dating back 2.5 million years. It's now part of a community-based nature reserve emphasizing the Mayan beliefs in the underworld during underground tours. At Aktunchen (Carretera 307, Km 107; 52-984-806-4962), a local community has developed a nature park around an enormous cave system. Guides lead tours through underground passages into a cave where sunlight spotlights stalactites and stalagmites framing a deep green cenote. There's also a tree-canopy zip line and cenote-diving, and a troop of hungry monkeys quite adept at spotting snacks.—Maribeth Mellin

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