Mexico's largest island sits off of Playa del Carmen, amid some of the most spectacular coral reefs in the Western hemisphere. Most visitors, unlike in other parts of the Riviera Maya (such as Cancun), come here for the great snorkeling and surf. Families also find this destination convenient for the shallow, calm waters of the northern side of the island.
There's only one developed area, San Miguel, which has a pleasant vibe and a charming, lively main square. The area around the waterfront is always the busiest, with tourists going in and out of jewelry and souvenir shops. Cruise ships dock here every day, but passengers normally stay close to the harbor, so finding a secluded beach and a quiet spot is relatively easy.
Nightlife is limited, as are the shopping options, but there's a wide array of hotels, ranging from small, unique properties to larger, all-inclusive resorts.
Hotels of every kind line the beaches north of San Miguel, where the calm, shallow waters attract many families with kids. However, if you’re looking for surfing, head to the eastern side of the island, where you will find the best waves (and rocky beaches). Most all-inclusive resorts are south of San Miguel, and inside the town, you will find smaller, cheaper hotels, a short drive from the beach.
Dec. - Easter
Aug. - Nov.
Varies; U.S., Canadian and European citizens don't need a visa
110 volts AC; 60 cycles
15% in restaurants