If Cancun sound too busy, consider staying in the heart of Mexico's Riviera Maya, and enjoy eco-tourism, history, and fantastic beaches along the Yucatan Peninsula. Families will find dozens of quality resorts, tiny boutique hotels and budget hideaways to meet every vacation interest.
Orientation to the Riviera Maya on Mexico's East Coast
The Riviera Maya is defined as the 87-mile/140-km-long corridor from Playa del Secreto (about 18 miles south of the Cancun Airport) south to Punta Allen. Here, along the Yucatan’s eastern shore, the gems of Mexico’s Caribbean coast are on display. Gorgeous resorts tucked under the swaying palms line miles of beach.
Only accessible by quarter-mile-long driveways from the sole highway, they are screened from each other by clusters of mangrove, virgin coastline pitted by coral outcroppings, and hectares of land awaiting development. In the small fishing villages, descendants of the original peoples, Mayan Indians, live in clusters of thatched-roof cabañas and work as hotel employees and suppliers to the nearby resorts.
For families, these resorts represent an embarrassment of riches. Cheap access through the international gateway of Cancun, excellent infrastructure, gracious and hospitable people, spectacular scenery and pristine seas, fascinating Mayan archeological sites, wonderful food and cheap booze have combined to make the Riviera Maya one of the most sought-after destinations by Americans.
According to the Riviera Maya’s tourist board, there are more than 35,000 rooms in the zone. The largest tourist center is Playa del Carmen, the once sleepy port for the once-undiscovered island of Cozumel. Now, it's a hotbed of small boutique hotels (many are reviewed by FTF).
Playa del Carmen is still a port where high-speed catamarans have allowed the old wooden ferries to retire. With its huge success as a cruise ship port of call, even sleepy Cozumel is a magnet for North American tourists. Outside of Playa del Carmen, most of the Riviera Maya resorts are built on substantial property that allows them a more isolated feel.
Reviews of Top Riviera Maya Hotels & Resorts for Families
FTF has a lot of coverage from staff and freelancers, as well as blogs from other readers, about hotels and resorts all along this coast of Mexico. You can read more about them at these links and look for Related Articles in the righthand margins of each story.
Top 10 Cancun Hotels & Resorts (in case you don't want to travel so far south of the airport)
Playa del Carmen Budget All-Inclusives (reviews of top cheap getaways)
Playa del Carmen Hotels & Resorts (best family resorts in moderate and upscale range)
Paradisus Resort Playa del Carmen (new resort for luxury families)
Isla Mujeres Hotels & Resorts (a quiet oasis of family resorts for laid back fun)
Aventura Cove Palace Resort (big spa resort south of Playa del Carmen)
Iberostar Paraiso Hotels & Resorts, Riviera Maya (top resort group with several choices)
Viva Wyndham All-Inclusive Resorts of Mexico and the Caribbean (budget resort group with two Mexico hotels)
And please, don't forget to share your favorite resorts in the Comments field below.
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