Daily and nightly entertainment program for kids and adults
Narrow beach area
Some find room decor bland
Fee for in-room Wi-Fi
Pools are cast in shadow during early afternoon due to building's height
Built to resemble a Mayan pyramid, the all-inclusive Riu Caribe is located on the north end of Cancun Island. The bright lobby is filled with natural light, jungle-like trees, and hanging vines. The 506 rooms have a beachy white-and-blue color scheme, with balconies, flat-screen TVs, and liquor dispensers. The resort features a number of pleasant bars and restaurants, three swimming pools, a nightclub, and an outdoor theater, although the height of the building casts the pools in shade in the early afternoon. While the beach is beautiful, it's on the small side, especially for the size of this property. Sun-seekers might prefer the wide stretch of white-sand beach at Grand Oasis Cancun, but they'll need to brace themselves for longer restaurant lines, especially during high season.
All-inclusive with appeal for families and partiers alike
Right on the beach, this upper-middle-range, all-inclusive resort is very similar to other options in the area. There are several on-site restaurants and bars, a few pools, and various activities and entertainment. With a dedicated kids' program, it attracts plenty of families, but young partiers are present and accounted for, as well (after all, rooms have liquor dispensers above the minibars and drinks are served 24 hours a day).
Beachfront location on the north end of Cancun Island
Cancun is located on the northeast coast of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula. Originally a small fishing town, it was developed by the Mexican government in the 1970s to become the ideal modern vacation spot. Today, the city is known as the party capital of the entire country, drawing over three million tourists annually. Especially popular during Spring Break, it boasts beautiful powdery white sand beaches, a number of shopping centers, lots of restaurants, bikini contests left and right, and a popping nightlife scene full of dancing, drinking, and 24/7 fun. It's divided into three districts, though 15-mile long Isla Cancun ("Cancun Island") is the central hotel zone and main area for visitors, particularly Tulum Avenue. Whether it's the Interactive Aquarium or the retail hubs Kukulcan Plaza and Forum-by-the-Sea, there's plenty to do when not basking along the shores or enjoying windsurfing and water skiing. El Rey and Yamil Lu'um are nearby archaeological ruins. There are plenty more in Coba and Chichen Itza, two to three hours away by car.
Rooms here are simple and island-y (specifically, Mykonos-y), with white marble floors and plain white furnishings, accented with blue bedding, pillows, and seat cushions. White walls are largely unadorned except for decorative blue strips behind the beds and a few pieces of beach art. All rooms come with wall-mounted liquor dispensers, minibars, mini-fridges, flat-screen TVs, ceiling fans, and large balconies -- most of which overlook the ocean. Free Wi-Fi is surprisingly absent; guests must pay an extra fee for in-room Wi-Fi. Bathrooms are modern and relatively spacious, with large glass-brick walk-in showers. The selection of hotel-brand toiletries is skimpy (two small soap bars and a shower cap), and the in-shower dispenser with shampoo/shower gel is the sort that you'd find in a dirt-cheap gym.
Daily entertainment, a mediocre fitness center, and several restaurants and bars, all included in the price
Features available here are pretty similar to those offered at nearby hotels in the same category -- expect entertainment for all ages, from a kids' club and daily performance program to live evening shows for families and adults in the clubby on-site theater. The beach is surprisingly narrow, but it offers plenty of watersports equipment, like body boards, snorkeling gear, and kayaks. A free introductory scuba class takes place in one of pools (there are three). The mediocre fitness center has slightly dated machines, plus a steam bath and whirlpool. Meals and snacks are available 24 hours a day at one of the many on-site buffet-style restaurants, many of which feature live cooking stations.