Mexico’s Riviera Maya isn’t exactly a hidden secret. It is, in fact, one of the most popular seaside getaways in all of North America. Yet there are innumerable reasons this short yet spellbinding stretch of coast has become a household name the world over. With its insane array of pristine beaches, kaleidoscope of accommodation options, array of fascinating ancient sites and a wealth of experiences to be enjoyed, this is one glorious stretch of Caribbean coast that truly offers something for everyone.
Looking for a romantic getaway, a wellness escapade, an immersive experience in nature or a party town to unwind and have fun? There’s a unique destination on the Riviera Maya that will tick all your boxes.
First up though, where is the Riviera Maya and how easy is it to reach from Australia and New Zealand?
Where is the Riviera Maya and how to get there?
The Riviera Maya stretches for 140km on the east coast of the Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It starts just south of Cancun and runs all the way south to Tulum, encompassing some of the country’s most idyllic seaside resort towns.
The Maya coast’s only international airport is in Cancun, perhaps the most connected travel hub on the entire continent. You can catch a direct flight from Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland with only one stopover. Qantas, American and United airlines can connect you to Cancun via Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco and Los Angeles International airports.
Where to stay along the Riviera Maya
Mexico’s coveted riviera is perhaps best-known for its many all-inclusive luxury resorts. Yet there are many more options for those who want to experience something else. What is super convenient is the fact that each resort town and community along the coast has managed to carve a ‘scene’ for itself, be it as a party, wellness, luxury, romance and even off-the-beaten-path destination.
Which one is right for you? Let’s dive in and find out!
Playa del Carmen for Luxury Getaways
This vibrant city is renowned for its upscale resorts, exclusive beach clubs, and world-class dining and shopping. If you’d love to chillax on pristine white-sand beaches, indulge in pampering spa treatments and gourmet dining, then Playa del Carmen is your scene. Plenty of adults-only resorts help maintain the ‘upscale’ vibe of this town.
Maroma Beach for Romantic Getaways
Secluded Maroma Beach is nestled between Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen, right at the northern fringe of the riviera. Revered for its private rental villas and luxurious boutique resorts with private beach access, Maroma is favoured by honeymooning couples and anyone who wants to soak up the magic of the Riviera Maya minus the at-times overwhelming crowds.
Cancún's Hotel Zone for Partying Getaways
Young party animals usually prefer to stay in Cancun’s Hotel Zone. This energetic seaside area is renowned for its world-class resorts, lively bars, and non-stop nightclubs. Dance the night away at exclusive beach clubs, catch live music performances, or simply enjoy the electrifying atmosphere that has made Cancún a party paradise for decades. You’ll still have the best of the coast at your fingertips so if you’d love to party hard all night and snooze by the beach all day, Cancun’s the place you’ll want to be.
Puerto Morelos for Blissfully Quiet Getaways
Overlooked in favour of its bigger and much more prominent coastal neighbours, Puerto Morelos has carved a niche tourist market for itself. This enchanting fishing village is one of Riviera Maya’s few remaining hidden gems, and is perfect if you seek tranquillity and a laid-back atmosphere on vacation. The village boasts a blissfully slow and peaceful pace, the beach is insanely gorgeous and the thriving coral reef just off its shores is perfect for SCUBA and snorkelling trips. Morelos is also a great choice for families who prefer a quieter and cozier base.
Akumal for Adventurous Getaways
The Riviera Maya is a magnet for lovers of water sports and marine life. The best place to indulge in all things sea-faring is Akumal. Here, you’ll enjoy world-class snorkelling, diving, kayaking, paddleboarding and underwater cave exploring excursions. If you’d love to experience the wild and adrenalin-pumping side of the Maya coast, then Akumal is the perfect base.
Isla Mujeres for Perfect Island Getaways
If you’d love to sleep away from the hustle of the riviera and enjoy a true island getaway, Isla Mujeres is your choice. It’s just off the coast of the riviera and easy to reach by ferry, but with a distinct lack of raging nightlife it offers quieter getaways for those who come to Mexico to unplug, relax and recharge. With its swaying palm trees, blinding-white sand and sapphire seas, this island’s charm is pretty hard to resist. Isla Mujeres also offers some of the best-value accommodation options on the Riviera Maya.
Tulum for Family Getaway
On the southernmost end of Riviera Maya is the family-friendly hub of Tulum, revered as much for its laid-back beaches and resorts as for its world-renowned Mayan ruins that overlook the turquoise seas. You’ll find oodles of family-friendly resorts and hotels here, alongside a bevy of fun stuff to do for kids and adults alike.
No matter what type of traveller you are, you’re sure to find a stunning nook on the Riviera Maya that’ll scream your name. From luxurious indulgence to immersive cultural experiences, this stunning region in Mexico is a true paradise waiting to be explored.
Have you visited the Riviera Maya before? Tell us about your favourite area to explore, in the comments!