Stretching from Cancún in the north to Tulum in the south, Riviera Maya is an alluring blend of heavenly beaches, warm Caribbean waters, historic Maya ruins and wondrous ecological parks, making it the ideal location for beachside relaxation, boat trips, cultural tours, as well as numerous water and marine activities.
For those lovers of marine and beach life, the glorious coastline of Mexico’s Riviera Maya is the perfect playground for a fabulous holiday. The 120-kilometre shoreline from Cancún to Tulum was made for relaxation and road trips, so whether you want to enjoy the white sands and turquoise waters of the fabulous beaches, visit scenic Maya ruins or enjoy the jaw-dropping natural wonders of the ecological parks, Riviera Maya will not disappoint. The main gateway to the Riviera is Cancún, which is a two-hour 20-minute flight from Mexico City or just over a 10-hour flight from London.
Back in the mid-1970s, Cancún was a desert island of silky sands, lofty palms and turquoise waters. Picked for development by the Mexican Tourist Board to bring in much needed foreign currency, today it is the Riviera’s main resort, connected to the mainland by a series of bridges. With a wide range of accommodation, plenty of restaurants and bars and lots of opportunity for water activities, diving and snorkelling, Cancún is a large commercial resort which will appeal to families and couples looking for a relaxed holiday, with good facilities and amenities within easy reach.
Cancún is also a good base for visiting other attractions along Riviera Maya, including the picturesque Isla Mujeres, an hour’s boat trip away, the family-friendly Playa del Carmen, an hour’s drive south and the historic Maya ruins at Tulum, under a two-hour journey by car. Tulum itself is a lovely small town with gorgeous beaches overlooked by the Maya ruins, which were built as a defensive fort on the clifftop. Another Maya highlight is the archaeological site at Coba, around 44-kilometres northwest of Tulum. Famous for the giant pyramid, which dominates the site and can still be climbed, we’d recommend taking a guided tour or hiring a bike at the entrance to explore these only partly-excavated ruins. For lovers of the natural world, just 15-minutes from Tulum is the UNESCO World Heritage Site Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, an incredible place to explore by boat, full of freshwater canals, mangrove wetlands, tropical rainforest and coral reef.
With everything from small rustic hotels, stylish boutique and luxury resorts, there is also accommodation to suit most tastes and budgets along this lovely stretch of coastline. Owing to the popularity of the Riviera, certain places can feel busy and crowded, which is why we have carefully chosen our hotels in some of the more peaceful locations. With so much to offer in terms of fabulous beaches, natural beauty and historic ruins, we think a holiday on Riviera Maya is a great choice for both couples and families.