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Savory with a side of sunshine. This is Azul Sensatori
Azul Sensatori appeals to a range of guests, from families and couples to girlfriends on a getaway.
Craving some culinary creativity with your Cancun vacation? With their emphasis on epicurean delights, Azul Sensatori stands out from the crowd of Riviera Maya resorts. Azul Sensatori kicks all-inclusive up a notch by infusing their eight restaurants and bars with their signature Gourmet Inclusive™ service.
Begin your day at Zocalo with a Mexican coffee tasting and bagels baked fresh in a wood-fired oven. Dine on small plates of succulent food at Tapaz. The gem in this gastronomic crown is Le Chique, an award-winning, avant-garde restaurant.
Chef Jonatán Gómez-Luna dazzles with dishes that incorporate Mexican ingredients with modern technique. Think chicken skin tacos stuffed with pumpkin seed purée and oysters doused in lemon foam and smoke. A meal of this caliber would cost hundreds elsewhere, but a 6-course, 12-dish tasting at Le Chique is included in the price of your hotel room. An even more elaborate 12-course meal with more than 20 dishes is available for only $110 per person for hotel guests and $150 for non-hotel guests. The tastings both include wine pairings.
In between meals, unwind in a poolside cabana or at an outdoor “Sky” massage. Work up an appetite on the tennis courts or at beachside yoga. Cool off with cocktails from the swim-up bars — don’t miss the “Iceberg,” a frozen margarita-topped beer. Enjoy a private soak in your in-room Jacuzzi, a feature in all of Azul Sensatori’s luxurious rooms.
Azul Sensatori appeals to a range of guests, from families and couples to girlfriends on a getaway, with rooms ranging from $164 to $1000 per person, per night. Opt for the Premium Section, which is chock-full of perks like Champagne on arrival, poolside butlers, even a welcome towel embroidered with your name — a personal touch that makes you feel right at home.
One of the first things I heard when I arrived to the Riviera Maya was that it was a place, literally speaking, to get engaged with your loved one: a place to start a new life together. So, a bit shocked by this random comment, a little bug traveler grew inside me to search for those landscapes that irradiate love. All these to have to throw everything away and live the most romantic escape weekend ever.
Retreat to a Mexican Resort Along the Rivieras – Nuevo Vallarta or Riviera Maya, Mexico
Golden sand and crystalline water await in Nuevo Vallarta or Riviera Maya, Mexico, for eight days & seven nights at either the Grand Luxxe Nuevo Vallarta or the Grand Luxxe Riviera Maya with air for two
Toss your cares to the wind for an incredible vacation in a hot destination! Immerse yourself in the natural wonders, scenic ancient ruins, soaring cliffs, charming people, inspired art, superb food, tangy tequila, and parties along the playa in Mexico! Regardless of the destination you choose, you’ll stay in a four- or five-star luxury hotel, replete with convenient amenities to make your stay everything you desire.
Mexico is brimming with wonders, from the golden shoreline of the Pacific to the reefs and snorkeling nirvana of the Atlantic. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre Mountains, Nuevo Vallarta is a tropical beach paradise destination that features multiple luxury hotels, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, pristine pools, world class spas, and miles of wooden pathways. Nuevo Vallarta is one of the most visited and exclusive beach destinations in all of Mexico, luring visitors with its sultry combination of luxury and natural abundance, which make for an enchanting escape with excellent hospitality, comfort, and entertainment. And, as the sun sinks below the horizon and paints the skies with luminous tones of orange, pink and purple, the festive nightlife beckons visitors to dance to the rhythms of Latin classics or pop music as you sip a delicious drink or enjoy friendly conversation with your friends and family. One of the area’s most appealing treasures is nature itself. With a warm, sub-humid tropical climate, Nuevo Vallarta is located where the fresh water of the Ameca River meets the salty waves of the Pacific Ocean, thus providing the ideal environment for a variety of bird species such as herons, ducks, pelicans and seagulls as well as numerous impressive reptiles that choose to make this their home.
Across the country you’ll find the natural beauty of the Yucatan Peninsula along the Riviera Maya, a place where the days are meant for adventure and relaxation, and the nights are ideal for excitement! You’ll find luxury hotels, world-class spas, a Cirque du Soleil show (JOYA), three sanctuaries for flamingoes, crocodiles and sea turtles, and refreshing pools perfect for a dip under the hotel Mexican sun. This is the destination to visit if you want to soak up the warmest sun, the waves, the reefs and the natural wells on the Caribbean coast! Here, you will find world-class restaurants, a nightlife that keeps you dancing till the morning, exclusive spas, shopping centers, and some of the world’s best golf courses. The Riviera Maya is also one of the best destinations for diving and snorkeling. On its shores lies an extensive coral reef, home to a vast variety of marine species. If you are lucky enough to submerge in the Caribbean waters, you will find yourself surrounded by tropical fish, stingrays, and even the fascinating whale sharks. And if you are really into aquatic activities, you will love to practice them in the sea, but also in the natural pools formed in underground rivers along the Riviera Maya.
On the Riviera Maya, lost in a land of Nod
People say they come to the Riviera Maya on the Caribbean coast of Mexico for the beaches, reefs and ruins. What many really mean to do is snooze in hammocks, books collapsed on their chests. Never mind touring Maya archeological sites, snorkeling and scuba. On this 70-mile stretch of coast south of Cancún, there’s world-class sleeping.
Of course, all beds and bedrooms aren’t created equal, which is why I came to the Riviera Maya in November. I wanted to test their charms in three hotels. I started by spending two nights in a canvas “tentalapa” at Kailuum II, just north of Playa del Carmen, for $95 a night, including breakfast and dinner. Then I moved to Cabañas Ana y José, one of a string of funky little places south of the stunning Maya coastal ruins of Tulum, where I stayed for two nights in a $75 room. I finished my visit with a one-night splurge for $480 at Maroma Resort and Spa, one of the most luxurious enclaves on this coast.
In effect, four nights total at modest Kailuum II and Ana y José cost me $140 less than one night at Maroma. But sampling such diverse accommodations gave me a chance to reconsider a crucial question: Can a traveler be as happy in a tent on the beach as at a fancy resort? What are the real experiential differences — including but not limited to sleeping — between high- and low-end hotels?
It was a controlled experiment, in a sense, because the coastline south of Cancún is uniformly lovely, bordered by palm trees, pillowy sand, an ocean usually as benign as a bathtub and one of the world’s longest reefs, stretching all the way to Honduras. I visited here 10 years ago and had seen the sights along Highway 307, which connects Cancún to the Mexico-Belize border, so I already knew that nature doled out its blessings evenly.
At Cancún International Airport, I rented a convertible VW bug. It had so many dents and deficiencies — no seat belts, a nonfunctioning parking brake and big gaps between the canvas top and doors — that I should have declined it. But darkness was coming, and I wanted to get to Kailuum II for dinner.
Fortunately, Highway 307 had been upgraded since my last visit to the Yucatán. It’s well lighted and has four lanes all the way to Playa del Carmen, with plenty of Pemex gas stations for succor.
Even in the twilight I could tell things had changed since I’d last driven the road to Tulum. What is now called the Riviera Maya used to be where people went to get away from Cancún. Highway 307 is still bordered by the scrubby Yucatecan jungle, but this time I also saw gates to all-inclusive resorts with architecture that apes things as diverse as Maya temples and Versailles. The state of Quintana Roo hopes to build a new air terminal on the Riviera Maya, the number of hotel rooms in the area is expected to increase more than 20% in the next few years and Carnival Cruise Lines is negotiating construction of a port that could bring in 750,000 more tourists annually.
It was raining, and I overshot the exit for Kailuum II, ending up in the suburbs of Playa del Carmen, about 40 miles south of the Cancún airport. Playa del Carmen used to be a slow-lane Mexican village with little more than quesadillas and ferry service to Cozumel, but now it’s bursting at the seams, all fast food, factories and sprawl.
Kailuum II shares an entrance with La Posada del Capitán Lafitte, the tent enclave’s more traditional sister resort next door. From the front gate, a bumpy, unpaved road heads east about a mile through the low, buggy jungle, finally arriving at Lafitte, a pleasant complex of one- and two-story casitas with a swimming pool, favored by families.
With a little help from a Lafitte staff member, I found my way to Kailuum II, where there’s no electricity and the reception desk is in a palapa hut. The clerk welcomed me with the news that dinner featured piña coladas as the drink of the day in the honor bar, Kailuum II’s special coconut-fried shrimp and chocolate cake for dessert.
When the original Kailuum opened in 1979, no one thought to bill it as an eco-resort, because the concept of rustic, environmentally conscious getaways didn’t exist just yet. The gently-go-native ambience and low rates, which included bed and board, appealed to contrarians who couldn’t see the charms of Cancún’s pricey, high-rise concrete blocks.
A string of vicious hurricanes and lethal yellowing disease, which struck the area’s regal palms, forced Kailuum to close. Happily, Kailuum II, which opened in 1999, is like its predecessor, a collection of tidy canvas tents — at 10 by 14 feet, as big as some hotel rooms — scattered across a lovely and still largely undeveloped stretch of beach.
At dinner in the Polynesian peak-roofed restaurant, I sat at a big round table with vacationers from Colorado and California. One couple told me they had vacationed at Kailuum II seven times in the last two years. I would certainly return for a set-menu, family-style meal like the one served that night. It was followed by two beloved traditions: hot chocolate with cinnamon but not too sweet, and refreshing moist, warm towels.
Kailuum II is ravishing at night, illuminated by torches that reveal little more than the wavering shadows of palm fronds. After the yellowing blight, a disease-resistant strain of palms was imported to the Yucatán, now strapping 20-foot trees that have taken root all along the coast.
A staff member took me to my beige tentalapa, entered through a zippered flap. Like the window flaps, the “door” had a canvas layer for protection from wind and rain and one of mesh for air circulation. There was a platform double bed with inviting clean sheets, bedside crates supporting oil lanterns and a sand-floored patio area furnished with chunky wooden chairs and a hammock. I could hear the waves and see the distant lights of Cozumel.
The one thing my tent didn’t have was a bathroom. Two bathhouses, with toilets, showers and Mexican tile sinks, are close to the resort’s 31 tentalapas and are kept as clean as communal facilities can be. But none of that helps in the wee hours of the morning.
All night long, the wind roared, shaking the tent like something out of “The Three Little Pigs.” I had come to the Yucatán at the tail end of rainy season, which usually lasts from September to October but had lingered through November. It showered intermittently. I eventually realized I needed to zipper the tent flaps. It was an eventful night, but I slept between gusts and visits to the loo.
Frankly, it hardly matters if you sleep at night because there’s plenty of opportunity for that during the day. One guest told me that while she was reading in a hammock, she had been awakened three times in succession by the thud of her book dropping onto her chest.
After breakfast, I started out strong by walking the beach north to La Posada del Capitán Lafitte, where I swam in the pool and looked into classes at the dive shop. A one-hour $50 massage at Kailuum II sounded better to me. My masseuse, who said I was good at relaxing, was as accomplished as any at fancy spas.
The next morning, I moved about 45 miles south to Cabañas Ana y José, knowing what to expect because I had stayed in the simple, comfy mom-and-pop hotel on my last visit.
I hadn’t, however, seen Xcaret, a 198-acre Yucatecan theme park near Playa del Carmen that, next to Tulum, is the most popular attraction on the coast south of Cancún. It hadn’t been built a decade ago, and even if it had, I’m seldom keen on such packaged-for-tourist places. But, as I discovered , this one is different — part zoo, botanical garden, aquarium and Maya culture museum, with a sheltered lagoon for snorkeling and an underground river that people float along in life jackets.
I had come too early for the evening show, and it was pouring, punctuated by periods of intense sunshine that made me forget it ever rained, so I didn’t float the river. But I saw fascinating scale models of all the major Maya ruins in Mexico, a puma, the heavenly butterfly pavilion and a rest area strung with row upon row of hammocks, far superior to benches for siestas.
Then it was on to Tulum, little more than a bus stop at the threshold of the ruins when I was last there. Now it has two stoplights and a big grocery store.
Boca Paila Road leads from the village to a backpackers’ beach haven south of Tulum, made up of a rag-tag collection of small, idiosyncratic cabana resorts that is my favorite Mexican- Caribbean nowhere. I was a little worried about what I would find after a decade of development.
Thankfully, nothing much had changed. This stretch of beach couldn’t be called a Riviera by any stretch of a travel agent’s imagination. The pavement still yields to rock, mud and potholes several miles short of Ana y José, giving it an end-of-the-world air, although Boca Paila Road carries on to the tip of a skinny peninsula in the heart of the remote Sian Ka’an World Biosphere Reserve.
The few changes that had come to 15-room Cabañas Ana y José since my last visit were all to the good, including a little swimming pool between three two-story motel blocks and twin low-rise casitas close to the beach, all brightly painted. I stayed in a second-floor double in the building farthest from the water. But it was spacious, with a high, thatched roof, two ceiling fans and a prettily tiled shower in the bathroom. There was a balcony at the front with a white plastic chair and another at the back with a hammock.
Right away, the silence was broken by barking dogs, and I started getting bitten by mosquitoes, touches of authentic ambience you don’t get in high-toned places.
The bar at Ana y José makes excellent, big margaritas, though the food in the restaurant isn’t anything special. I had white fish steamed in foil the first night and huevos rancheros for breakfast. The next morning, I found better fare and morning java at Maya Tulum, a resort down the beach.
At Ana y José, you can rent a car or book a tour into Sian Ka’an. The Tulum ruins are close and easy to see, showcasing post-classic Maya architecture from the 10th to the 16th century, set on a dramatic cliff overlooking the Caribbean. You can even take a day trip to the graceful colonial city of Mérida about 150 miles west. Or you can just stay put and walk the beach, swim way out and let the waves carry you, like flotsam, back in.
Off-shore pollution leaves a litter of plastic jugs and spark plugs on the beach every morning. Staff members at Ana y José clean the sand in front of the hotel so guests don’t have to encounter such dispiriting riff-raff, unless they walk the beach, with seabirds and stranded mollusks, at sunrise.
By the time I left Ana y José, I had big itchy welts on my arms and legs, compliments of the mosquitoes, and all the T-shirts and underwear I’d packed were dirty.
In this condition, I made a fairly scruffy entrance at Maroma Resort and Spa, a 60-minute drive back up Highway 307, reached through an unmarked gate that looks as though it leads to a private estate.
That’s precisely the impression intended by the creators of Maroma, architect José Luis Moreno and his wife, Sally Shaw. They bought the 500-acre coconut plantation in 1976 and built a house here, then opened it as a hotel in 1995.
The main building, fronted by a hand-hewn stone door frame from an 18th century hacienda near Mérida and a rectangular pool fed by a waterfall, looks like some magnate’s Caribbean hideaway. It’s fashioned of concrete blocks coated in white plaster and stucco and is all Moorish curves, arches and towers, evocative of Morocco. But the details — tiled staircases, fountains, thatched roofs, ironwood pillars, reproduction Maya statuary, white stone conchuela flooring with embedded fossil shells — are Mexican, made largely of materials from the plantation.
Two years ago, Orient-Express Hotels Ltd., owners of five tourist trains, including the Venice Simplon-Orient- Express, and a collection of top-drawer hotels, such as the Windsor Court in New Orleans, bought into the business. Thus, guests — who have included British Prime Minister Tony Blair and family — can expect a high level of service, only the best amenities and utter discretion, even if they arrive in a beat-up bug.
I was greeted at reception by Elsa, a pretty young Colombian woman educated in England, dressed in the flowing white muslin Maroma uniform. She didn’t bat an eyelash at my disarray, gave me a tour of the resort and then showed me to my room, reached by a curving staircase on the second floor of the main building. I entrusted her with my dirty clothes as she left and was assured they would be returned clean the next morning.
The room was big, with a terra-cotta tile floor, covered choc-a-bloc by natural-fiber, hand-loomed area rugs. There was a sliding glass door leading to a balcony, a walk-in closet offering a white cotton Maroma caftan suspended from a satin-padded hanger and a priceless bathroom with a shallow, semi-oval tub lined in colorful Mexican tiles.
The king-size platform bed abutted a stone ledge that supported a clock, telephone, welcome platter of tropical fruit and ensconced candles.
After the tent and mosquitoes, I was reluctant to leave my room at Maroma. But it was lunchtime and I was hungry, so I took a table at El Sol, the resort’s beachfront restaurant, where I ordered a seafood club of lobster, shrimp and salmon on homemade wheat bread. It was altogether delicious, better than the room-temperature martini and unspectacular fajita dinner I had later, though they were followed by a tasty flute of coconut sorbet.
With 24 hours to spend at Maroma, I couldn’t sample all its charms. But I lazed by the beach on a thickly cushioned wooden chaise longue, underneath my private thatch-roofed cabana, while attendants proffered tall drinks and towels. I had a massage in a beachfront palapa hut, but it felt to me as though the masseuse was in a hurry to get home and was phoning it in.
A snorkeling trip to the reef is included with a one-night stay at Maroma, but the ocean was too rough to hazard the next morning.
Just before it was time to leave, I sprawled back in bed and ruminated. I’d be nuts to claim I didn’t like Maroma best, but Kailuum II and Ana y José pleased me perfectly, in their own more modest ways. When you come right down to it, the sun shines, the wind blows and the waves break evenly along the Riviera Maya. And you can have a triple book-drop day, no matter where you stay.
From LAX, nonstop service to Cancún is available on Mexicana and Alaska, and connecting service is offered on Aeromexico, Continental, American, America West and Frontier. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $399.
Highway 307 provides access to the Riviera Maya, which lies roughly between Cancún and Tulum on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Playa del Carmen is about 30 miles south of Cancún International Airport Tulum is 40 more miles south of Playa del Carmen.
Many major U.S. car rental companies have offices at the Cancún International Airport, and all of the three hotels listed below can arrange airport transfers for guests.
To call the Mexico numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 52 (country code for Mexico) and the local number.
Cabañas Ana y José, Plaza Portales, Suite No. 35, SM 28, Cancún, Quintana Roo 77509 998-887-5470, fax 998-887-5469, https://www.anayjose.com , has a restaurant, small pool, car rental agency and 15 spacious rooms on the beach about five miles south of the Tulum ruins 12 are in three ranks of two-story buildings back from the beach two are oceanfront cabañas, and there’s one extremely appealing second-floor suite above the bar. Rates for doubles start at $95 through April 30.
Kailuum II, c/o Turquoise Reef Group, P.O. Box 2664, Evergreen, CO 80437, (800) 538-6802, fax (303) 674-8735, https://www.mexicoholiday.com , is a beachfront enclave that consists of a peak-roofed dining room and honor bar, two bathhouses and 31 canvas tents with palapa-roofed, sand-floored terraces. The little resort offers tourist excursions and car rental. It is six miles north of Playa del Carmen, next door to La Posada del Capitán Lafitte, which has a pool, dive shop and other amenities Kailuum II guests can use. Rates for doubles are $120 to $140 to April 15, including breakfast and dinner. The resort is closed in September and October.
Maroma Resort and Spa, Highway 307, Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo 77710 (866) 454-9351, fax 998-872-8220, https://www.orient-expresshotels.com , is one of the most upscale retreats on the Riviera Maya, with 58 rooms and suites set on a 500-acre coconut plantation north of Playa del Carmen. It has myriad swimming pools, a lovely beach, spa, gourmet restaurant, attentive staff and excursion options that include tours of Maya ruins and scuba diving lessons. Rates for doubles start at $400 to May 15.
The resorts listed above have at least one restaurant.
Near Cabañas Ana y José is a string of small hotels with modest eateries, including those at Zamas Beach Bungalows and Maya Tulum, where the coffee is excellent.
La Posada del Capitán Lafitte, next door to Kailuum II, has a restaurant and bar, but the food at Kailuum II is better.
The stunning Playa del Carmen has all the brilliance of its neighbor Cancun up north, but without the hordes of tourists. The main drag in Playa de Carmen is Quinta Avenida, which is a colorful, mostly pedestrian zone that fills every evening with people patronizing the many venues that line the avenue.
This unique restaurant bar serves Mexican cuisine with a focus on fresh, natural ingredients. Al fresco dining in a natural setting makes this a great place for groups, singles and casual couples. Grab a healthy and delicious Mexican breakfast with fresh fruit juice, or start out your evening with dinner and drinks at this affordable spot.
Aldea Corazón is a hidden Playa del Carmen gem serving mouth-watering Mexican cuisine. Enjoy a margarita in their jungle garden atmosphere or start out your day with a Mexican coffee and huevos rancheros.
10 Best All Inclusive Resorts in… Riviera Maya
Here is what YOU loved about the top 10 Best All Inclusive Resorts in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Your opinions were collected and tabulated from sources such as Forbes, Conde Nast, USAToday Travel, USNews, TripAdvisor, Oyster, Expedia, Booking.com, and Hotels.com (to just name a few).
When the smoke cleared and the ink dried, these best all inclusive resorts floated to the top…..
#10 Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso
Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso is home to the famous Paradise Beach Resort Spa that offers massages, Jacuzzis, solarium, sauna and much more in a gorgeous 9,843 sq ft setting. This adults-only escape is remarkable in every all-inclusive aspect. (http://www.thegrandcollection.com/en/hotels/riviera-maya/iberostar-grand-hotel-paraiso)
#9 Hard Rock Riviera Maya
Hard Rock Riviera Maya is where I don’t wanna work, I just wanna bang on the drum all day! Epic suites, world-class dining, non-stop parties and adults who learn that excess and indulgence can get bumped up a notch … you soon realize this is where fun takes a vacation. (http://www.hrhrivieramaya.com/)
#8 Royal Hideaway Playacar Resort
Royal Hideaway Playacar even hosts a popular PADI Scuba Dive Center. Guests may enjoy private villa concierge perks, the wellness Spa, awesome dining or 24-hour room service. You can even trade your bed for a bed on the beach … how cool is that? (http://www.lhw.com/hotel/The-Royal-Hideaway-Playacar-Playa-del-Carmen-Mexico)
#7 Barcelo Maya Beach
Barcelo Maya Beach knows how to split up a family … sports bar for the adults, teen club and Barcy Club for the 12 and under. Awesome pools and beach with the whole gang reunited over a delicious meal to share their adventures. (http://www.barcelomayabeach.com/)
#6 Barcelo Tropical
Barcelo Tropical Riviera Maya is a hit with families. The kids have a blast at the Pirates Island water park and surf pool, the teens have their own nightclub and that means Mom and Dad are free for romance and fun at this stay at one, play at 4 resort. (https://www.barcelo-maya-tropical.com)
#5 Barcelo Colonial
Barcelo Colonial Rivera Maya comes in at #5 with its stunning beach, 18-hole mini-golf course, 4 amazing restaurants plus the lure of “stay at one hotel and enjoy four”. Spa, entertainment and water sports are terrific diversions from your real life. (https://www.barcelo.com/barcelohotels/en_us/hotels/mexico/riviera-maya/hotel-barcelo-maya-colonial/)
#4 El Dorado Casitas Royale by Karisma
El Dorado Casitas Royale by Karisma brags 13 pools plus visitors on the second floor have personal pools. This water crazy resort is the full Monty with gourmet dishes, first class drinks and bursting with choices to relax or rev it up. (http://www.eldoradosparesorts.com/hotels-and-resorts/el-dorado-casitas-royal)
#3 Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita
Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita bundles wellness, calm and romance better than most. This Triple A, 5-Diamond resort is a favorite for Brides with the lavish suites, gourmet meals and fabulous ocean views. (http://www.zoetryresorts.com/paraiso)
#2 Paradisus de Playa Del Carmen
Paradisus de Playa Del Carmen is a favorite among adults-only travelers with sustained superior service in a luxurious resort hidden in a private bay of blue water. No surprise it took the Travelers’ Choice Award in 2014 from TripAdvisor. (http://www.melia.com/en/hotels/mexico/playa-del-carmen/paradisus-playa-del-carmen-la-perla/index.html)
#1 Grand Velas Riviera Maya
Grand Velas Riviera Maya won the hearts of young, old, teens and kids hands down. The unique water sports, dreamy suites, exotic to bistro fare, colorful drinks from friendly staff and the postcard setting is unmatched. (http://rivieramaya.grandvelas.com/)
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A Delicious Escape along the Riviera Maya - Recipes
Welcome to Riviera Maya Revealed, your go-to source for living in or visiting the Riviera Maya. Here you will find news and information, recommendations, reviews, and more to help you make the most of your time here.
The Riviera Maya straddles Hwy. 307 along the eastern coastline of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula from Puerto Morelos to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. Originally called the “Cancun-Tulum corridor”, it was renamed in 1999 as the Riviera Maya. This beautiful area, known internationally as a tourism and resort destination, attracts thousands of tourists as well as people from around the world looking to permanently relocate here. In fact, this spectacular stretch of bleached-white coastline has become the Caribbean’s most popular vacation destination. With year-round daytime temperatures typically around 27-32 °C (81-90 °F), plenty of sunshine, modern infrastructure, and first-class healthcare, the Riviera Maya has also become home to many ex-pats who consider the Riviera Maya to be their retirement paradise.
Gran Cenote near Tulum
Famous for its large resorts, fine white sand beaches with turquoise waters, and historical and eco-tourism, the Riviera Maya is located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Some of the major allures in the area are coastal and reef water activities that depend on the enticing coastal water and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, also known as the Belize Barrier Reef. This reef system is the second longest in the world and attracts international tourists that enjoy jet-skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming with dolphins and sea turtles, and sailing. Other favored activities in the Riviera Maya include swimming in cenotes, zip-lining, horseback riding, and guided jungle tours. In addition, the archaeology in the area entices throngs of tourists. Popular archaeological sites include Tulum, Chichen Itza, and Coba. Natural water parks such as Xcaret and Xel-Ha also include smaller archaeological ruins, however, most of the allure of these privately owned parks are due to the range of activities provided, such as swimming with captive dolphins and swimming in the natural cenotes.
A gastronomical adventure tantalizes the foodie in you in the Riviera Maya with a dizzying array of international cuisines as well national and local staples and favorites. Local ingredients like maize, chilies, tomatoes, herbs like achiote and chaya, and local fish and shellfish have helped shape a local culinary style that’s as distinctive as it is delicious. Many cultures, including Mayan, Mexican, Spanish, Caribbean, Cuban, Swiss, German, and Italian have contributed to the culinary scene. Immigrants often opened up small restaurants that brought the flavors and recipes of their homeland. From street foods to beach-side establishments to Michelin-starred restaurants, there are near-infinite options to satisfy your taste-buds.
When the sun goes down, restaurants, beach bars, and nightclubs come alive with fabulous music, dancing, and entertainment. From local bands, DJs, and entertainers to internationally renowned acts, there is always something for everyone.
5. Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya
How to get there: Playa del Carmen is an hour&rsquos drive from Cancun along Highway 307.
Playa del Carmen&rsquos cosmopolitan and relaxed atmosphere make this one of the most popular beach destinations in the Riviera Maya. It has over four miles of glorious and beautiful beaches, but what pulls in the tourists is La Quinta Avenida.
The pedestrian road is teeming with cafes, restaurants, stores, and bars. Spend a day lying on the beach, riding a bike or a scooter around. You can relax in a hammock or generate a little adrenaline on a jet ski or parasail.
Playa del Carmen is also considered being one of the best places for All-Inclusive Holidays.
Included in the 7-Night Trip
- 5 nights accommodation at Chef Ale’s Casita or at a hotel in Puerto Morelos
- 2 nights at the rancho Palchalhal in Valladolid
Food & Beverages
Classes & Instructors
Your 4 hands-on classes will be with Chef Alejandra or one of her chef collaborators. Chef Ale loves the culture, food, fiestas, holidays, and celebrations of Mexico. She believes she was born in a kitchen because cooking comes naturally for her! Her two grandmothers were amazing cooks who taught her all about Mexican traditions, and she grew up cooking with them and learning about spices, scents, and amazing flavors. She has been a part of every aspect of the the food industry, but after studying the Culianry Arts in Mexico City she decided to teach others the secrets of her native cuisine. Your classes will focus on a variety of authentic Mexican dishes according to the them of the day: such as tamales of the countryside, coastal cuisine, corn masas, the cuisine of central Mexico, Yucatecan recipes, and more. One class will be a special cooking experience with a Mayan cook featuring traditional Mayan recipes.
- Excursion to Valladolid with stop at Cenote Zasil Tunich
- Visit of Chichen Itzá
- Beach day
Included in the 4-Night Trip
4 nights accommodation Chef’s private guesthouse “casita” or at the boutique Hacienda Morelos hotel in Puerto Morelos
Food & Beverages
Classes & Instructors
Your 2 hands-on classes will be with Chef Alejandra or one of her partner chefs. Chef Ale loves the culture, food, fiestas, holidays, and celebrations of Mexico. She believes she was born in a kitchen because cooking comes naturally for her! Her two grandmothers were amazing cooks who taught her all about Mexican traditions, and she grew up cooking with them and learning about spices, scents, and amazing flavors. She has been a part of every aspect of the the food industry, but after studying the Culianry Arts in Mexico City she decided to teach others the secrets of her native cuisine. Your classes will focus on a variety of authentic Mexican dishes according to the them of the day: such as tamales of the countryside, coastal cuisine, corn masas, the cuisine of central Mexico, Yucatecan recipes, and more.
10| Swim with Whale Sharks in Isla Holbox
If you are looking to see one of the most majestic creatures of the sea, then head to the stunning tropical island of Isla Holbox, Mexico, and book yourself a whale shark experience. While they have the name &lsquoshark&rsquo in their title, they are in no way scary and are stunning gentle creatures that eat only krill. It&rsquos also best to know that Mexico has a limited season when the whale sharks are migrating, which is from May to September, so this is the best time to book. As always, remember that they are wild creatures and that sightings can take time. Be patient, it&rsquos worth it!
Photo by Michael Liao on Unsplash
Once a whale is spotted in the water, it&rsquos time to suit up with your life jacket, snorkel, and don&rsquot forget your underwater camera &ndash you&rsquore going to want it for this experience! The thing we really appreciated was the fact that the whole boat doesn&rsquot jump overboard at once and bombard the poor creature. You are only allowed off the boat two at a time and you are given about 5 minutes to swim alongside the whale sharks. Then it&rsquos someone else&rsquos turn. This repeats over again (so you can get a couple of swims with the whale sharks) until the whale shark disappears or everyone gets tired and hungry.
And that&rsquos it. It might seem simple and rushed, but it&rsquos not at all. It will leave you feeling exhilarated to have had the chance to swim alongside these peaceful creatures. I have never heard a single person complain about their experience swimming with whale sharks. They are just that awesome!
You can learn more about the whale sharks experience in her post on Isla Holbox.
Have you been to Riviera Maya in Mexico? Let us know in the comment what your favorite activity was!
Disclaimer: This post is written in partnership with Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach and The Dining Experience Tulum.As always, all opinions on For Two, Please are my own and I only recommend brands that I 100% stand behind.