Riviera Maya Travel Guide
Riviera Maya Summary
- Beautiful white-sand beaches and turquoise waters
- Some of the most stunning Mayan ruins in Mexico (Chichen Itza, and Tulum)
- Great snorkeling and scuba diving, and the world’s second largest coral reef
- Lots to do: spas, horseback riding, golf, tennis, turtle-spotting…
- Excellent shopping in Playa del Carmen
- Great international restaurants, especially in Cancun and Playa del Carmen
- Hopping nightlife in Cancun
- Puerto Morelos and Tulum are quiet and laid-back
- Year-round crowds, especially in Cancun and Playa del Carmen
- Cancun can be a tourist trap, and can feel like an entertainment park
- Local culture partially lost to tourism and development
- All-inclusive culture dominant (mostly in Cancun), with drunken guests filling the hotel beaches
- Hurricane season runs from August through November
- Low crime rates, but some rapes have been reported in Cancun
- Cancun: Mega-resorts and year-round crowds, but also beautiful beaches and proximity to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum
- Playa del Carmen: Laid-back and bustling, with great shopping and a well-heeled crowd
- Puerto Morelos: Located half-way between Cancun and Puerto del Carmen, this small, quiet town remains has beautiful beaches and great snorkeling spots.
- Tulum: Small and somewhat exclusive, with a wonderful beach; it is the best gateway to the Mayan ruins nearby
What It's Like
Many automatically think “tourist trap” and “drunken pink-skinned tourists on the beach” when they hear the words Riviera Maya, and though this can be true depending on where you go and the time of the year, it can also be a quiet, luxurious destination.
Riviera Maya is the section of Caribbean coastline stretching between Cancun in the north and Tulum in the south. The beaches and the nightlife are the main draws here, and though some visitors never leave their mega-resort, some of Mexico’s best Mayan ruins are a short drive away.
Here, you can sunbathe and swim at beautiful beaches, snorkel in the world’s second largest coral reef, visit archaeological sites dating back to the 7th century A.D., go shopping, dine in great international restaurants, and party like a spring breaker -- all in one day.
Where to Stay
Those looking for great beaches and a party atmosphere might want to stay an one of the beachside mega-resorts in Cancun. Playa del Carmen is a great place for shopping, dining and going out at night. Those who prefer a quieter vacation might want to head to Puerto Morelos, or south to Tulum.