Mexico’s Riviera Maya represents Caribbean paradise at its finest: white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, ancient ruins and stylish accommodation. The popular area straddles the gorgeous coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula from tourist-filled Cancun down to Tulum, the gateway into the heart of the once mighty Mayan civilization. This 80-mile stretch has more than 23,000 hotel rooms, plus countless restaurants, shops and other tourist facilities that cater to the international clientele, who come from around the world to soak up the sun and dive head-first into the unique Mayan culture. While Playa del Carmen may be known for its raucous and lively ambiance, bespoke and refined resort enclaves are spread out across the Riviera, each with its own breathtaking natural beauty. Unlike other Caribbean getaways, Mexico’s massive Riviera Maya has an isolated feel to it. Outside of Playa del Carmen, hotels are more sporadic and isolated, leaving tourists are spread out and an authentic Mexican charm throughout. At the heart of it all, the Riviera Maya is a treasure-filled tropical fantasy, and it’s no wonder it’s considered one of the world’s great vacation destinations.
Where to Stay
Built along a series of winding lagoons and a mile-long arc of pristine coastline, the Rosewood Mayakoba sits at the heart of a 1,600-acre resort enclave. The surrounding emerald jungle offers guests a feeling of serenity, whereas the unspoiled private beaches can seem like their own slice of heaven. Whether your suite is situated among a winding lagoon or overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Rosewood Mayakoba artfully combines the area’s breathtaking natural beauty with serene luxury interior spaces. Immersed in one of the world’s most immaculate natural environments, this oasis of indulgence puts forth 130 exclusive suites with private plunge pools, rooftop sundecks, garden showers, individual docks and a refined overall design. The resort amenities are rounded out by a signature Greg Norman championship golf course, fine dining at Casa del Lago and Punta Bonita, and Sense, a wellness spa designed around a cenote, one of the sacred water wells of the ancient Mayans. What’s most notable about Rosewood Mayakoba is the impeccable service, with an incredible staff who goes far above the call of duty to deliver an all-around guest experience. For a complete breakdown, check out our Hotel Guide for Mexico’s Riviera Maya.
Where to Dine
Located just steps away from the shore, the Coral Grill & Bar is an open-air restaurant where you can savour every bite with the warm Caribbean breeze and smell of salt-kissed water dazzles your senses. Headed by executive chef Carlos Zamora, the signature eatery of the Viceroy Riviera Maya offers al fresco cuisine with an emphasis on locally-caught and responsibly-caught seafood, local organic produce and homemade pizzas baked in the wood-fire oven. Featuring magnificent views of the Caribbean Sea, the establishment is a culinary adventure immersed in the paradise of the Riviera Maya. The Coral Grill & Bar transforms into an intimate experience at night, where you can prepare a romantic candlelit dinner directly on the sand, or gather with friends over tropical cocktails and delicious ceviche. On top of that, the seaside restaurant also hosts specialty-themed weekly dinners which range from the Antojería of Mexican street foods and the Beach Barbacoa to weddings and banquets. For an expanded list of eats, check out the Restaurant Guide to Mexico’s Riviera Maya.
What to Do
With over 80 miles of gorgeous coastline, it should come as no surprise that the Riviera Maya offers endless amounts of opportunities to soak up the sun. Although the area is no stranger to tourists, the massive region means its population is spread out, and you can find whatever beach experience you’re looking for. Head to Playa del Carmen and Cancun for a lively atmosphere that promises luxurious and fun experiences that range from finding local Mexican treasures at authentic marketplaces to brand-conscious boutiques. If you’re looking for something slightly more relaxing, most resorts have their own private sect of beach with activities that range from scuba diving and snorkeling to surfing. This is especially popular in the nearby Sian Ka’an biosphere, a protected coastline and jungle where you’ll be able to view colorful flora and fauna, and even swim with dolphins. For your dose of culture, there’s no shortage of remnants from the ancient Mayan civilization that are ripe for exploring. The nearby ruins of the ancient city known as the Coba is a great way to uncover the heart of a once mighty society, whereas going for a dip in a cenote for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Tulum is the picturesque beach town that attracts a laid-back clientele. Although the Riviera Maya is just about the perfect beach getaway destination, it also provides fun for just about everybody.
What to Wear
From November until around February, the Riviera drifts off into dry season, the most pleasant time of the year characterized by clear skies, hot weather and an abundance of sun. Considering the unique blend of unspoiled natural scenery, abundance of water activities and upscale clientele, it seems that resort and cruise collections were made for Mexico. When packing your bags for this little slice of Caribbean heaven, don’t be afraid to play around with fun prints, but you’ll definitely want to prioritize comfort at the end of the day. This Zimmermann Corsage Flower 1pc is an all-purpose body suit equipped with a deep V neckline for a versatile and flattering cut that you can rock across the board. Throw on this flattering Heidi Klein Palermo Mini Kaftan over top to take you from place to place. This Frescobol Carioca Linen Button-Up Shirt is the perfect beachwear meets smart-casual that can be worn everywhere from the beach to beachfront bar over tropical cocktails. Take a look at the Style Sheet for Mexico’s Riviera Maya for a complete guide to staying on trend during your stay.