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Riviera Maya Crowned The Most Visited Destination In the Mexican Caribbean

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If you’re a regular reader of the Cancun Sun, it’s no surprise to you that Cancun has been a record-breaking travel destination for the past few years. From welcoming a record number of arrivals at the Cancun International Airport to being the most popular destination in Mexico for U.S. travelers year-round, Cancun is a solid favorite when it comes to tropical vacation destinations.

Aerial bird's eye drone view of a beautiful tropical vacation beach with crystal clear blue water, white sand, palm trees, and a kayak and lifeguard tower in Riviera Maya, Mexico near Cancun.

But, there’s another favorite in town. The latest statistics from 2022 have revealed that of all major destinations in the Mexican Caribbean, the Riviera Maya is actually the most visited in the region. According to the post, the Riviera Maya welcomed 40% of all visitors calculated for all of Quintana Roo state last year. For reference, Cancun, as popular as it is, welcomed 34%, while smaller destinations like Holbox and Bacalar welcomed 2.8% and 1.2%, respectively.

Sunny tropical view of a Tulum resort beach

Riviera Maya Beats Cancun For Most Tourists In 2022

For comparison, Cancun clocked in at 34% of the visitors to Quintana Roo, making it the second most visited place in the Mexican Caribbean state. These tourist numbers are the highest that the region has seen in the past three years, as the amount of visitors to the Mexican Caribbean seems to increase exponentially with each coming season and year.

The report from the Secretary of Tourism of Quintana Roo showed that there were three million more visitors to the region compared to the same period in 2019.

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Beach resort hotels and beach chairs along the Caribbean Sea beach of Playa del Carmen, along the Riviera Maya near Cancun, Mexico.

What’s more is that 60% of tourists are now hailing from the United States, Mexico, and Canada. The report also referenced tourists from Brazil, where they’ve seen a dropped in arrivals over the past three years. So from the looks of it, local North American tourists are filling those gaps for travelers from other destinations and filling up hotels in Cancun and the Riviera Maya as well.

cenote free of tourists in the Riviera Maya during the day.

Holbox And Bacalar Also See An Increase In Tourists

Not to be forgotten are the smaller destinations of Holbox and Bacalar. Isla Holbox, a tiny island in the Gulf of Mexico just north of Cancun, reported over 550,000 visitors in 2022, which is an increase of almost 170,000 tourists from previous years. And Bacalar, pueblo magico in southern Quintana Roo, reported over 243,000 visitors, a huge jump from the previous record of 144,000.

boat docked along the main beach in sunny Isla Holbox, Mexican Caribbean.

Where Is The Riviera Maya?

Contrary to what some may claim, the Riviera Maya (sometimes referred to as the Mayan Riviera) doesn’t include Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Holbox, or even Bacalar). Yes, all of these destinations are in the Mexican Caribbean and in Quintana Roo state, but the Riviera Maya actually begins at Puerto Morelos and ends at the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, just south of Tulum. 

To be fair, the Riviera Maya is a new branding term for this popular vacation destination. Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Akumal, and Puerto Aventuras are all considered the Mayan Riviera. 

Street in Tulum

What Makes The Riviera Maya So Appealing To Travelers?

Major international tourism in the Mexican Caribbean started decades ago in Cancun, so it’s not really surprising that tourist presence has expanded throughout the entire coastline. While busy, destinations like Tulum and Playa del Carmen continue to be idyllic, not to mention welcoming and easy for many travelers looking to escape the cold and get some Mexican sun.

The Riviera Maya is also a destination that mixes what you get in Cancun with lots of nature excursions (including some of the best cenotes) and an amazing food scene due to the region’s diversity, along with the help of many hospitality professionals. With so many destinations along the Mayan Riviera coastline and quick, direct flights to Cancun, it’s an appealing vacation getaway trend that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Blue waters and beach in the Riviera Maya

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