Mexico’s Riviera Maya: The getaway with the perfect balance of sun, sand and culture

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Last Updated on April 16, 2013 by Jess

We often get asked for our recommendations where to visit in Mexico, and we always give the same answer: The Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. We have traveled to over 30 countries in the past few years, and so to declare the Riviera Maya as one of our top global destinations is certainly saying something!

We love the laid-back Mexican culture, the spicy food, the pristine Caribbean beaches, the charming colonial towns and the majestic Mayan ruins that transport us back to a mystical bygone era with each visit. It is the perfect place to combine the sought-after relaxing beach vacation with realistic contact to the local culture plus there are plenty of adventure activities. Even if you are going for a Mexico all inclusive vacation, here on the Yucatan you can really have it all. Read on to find out our top 5 reasons why we think the Riviera Maya makes for the ideal holiday spot in Mexico.


Gorgeous beach resorts

Along the Riviera Maya, all the way from Cancun to Tulum, you find a number of beautiful beach resorts with world-class facilities and their very own spot of pristine Caribbean beach. Resorts allow for much-needed pampering, lounging by the pool or laying out on the white-sand beaches looking out at the turquoise waters, plus on-site food and entertainment. However, because of the location of the region, there are dozens of indigenous sites and quaint colonial towns that are easy to visit.

Isla Mujeres Beach with hammock

Great attractions

The Yucatan peninsula is filled with sights and activities – more than you can ever fit into a two-week vacation. There is enough to do for everyone: Mayan ruins in Tulum and Copa for the history buffs, zip lining and diving for the adventurous, cenotes (underwater sinkholes) for a unique swimming experience, day trips to nearby towns, snorkel with turtles and sample some of the delicious local dishes, maybe even take a cooking class!

Cenote Xkeken

Safe driving

The Yucatan has some of the best roads in all of Mexico. Most of the way between Tulum und Cancun is an easy-to-drive, well-maintained four-lane highway and rental cars are available everywhere along the Riviera Maya, with most rental car companies offering hotel pick-up and drop-off. While driving in Mexico City would have never crossed our minds, we felt safe enough to pick up a rental in Playa del Carmen to visit some of the beaches and ruins along the coast.

Tulum ruins

Fabulous beaches

No matter where you are along the Riviera Maya, there will be a fabulous white-sand beach. You can enjoy some of the best beaches in Playa Del Carmen, on Isla Mujeres just off the coast of Cancun, below the ancient Maya ruins in Tulum, and in Akumal, a palm tree-lined beach where you can snorkel with turtles.

Riviera Maya

Charming colonial towns

The excellent roads make it easy to travel inland to visit some of the peninsula’s charming colonial towns. If you are not comfortable driving yourself, the public bus network is also very good and brings you just about anywhere in the region. The buses are great quality, like airplanes on the road, we say. If independent travel just isn’t for you, there are plenty of organized tours, bookable through most hotels and resorts. We recommend day trips to the sleepy town of Valladolid, one of our favorite towns in Mexico), the yellow city Izamal, or to bustling Mérida.

Pastel-colored houses Valladolid


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