Cancun is poised to break all tourism records this year, as the beginning of the high season brings more and more travelers seeking to enjoy its stunning beaches and luxurious all-inclusives.
But Cancun is not the only Mexican Caribbean destination that is trending among travelers, as the Riviera Maya region, located south of Cancun and encompassing destinations like Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos and Tulum, is also witnessing a significant influx of visitors.
Expectations are high in the region for this winter season, as hotel occupancy rates are anticipated to potentially hit an impressive 100% by year-end.
Hotel reservations in the Riviera Maya have been on the rise since mid-November, according to Adán Toledo Lucero, president of the National Chamber Of Commerce, Service and Tourism.
Toledo also highlighted two significant factors that contributed to this surge. Firstly, the recent inauguration of the Tulum Airport, which promises improved regional connectivity and enhanced accessibility to the Mexican Caribbean.
The second reason is a rather less cheerful one: a significant portion of Acapulco’s tourists are choosing to reserve December dates for the Riviera Maya instead, as the city is still recovering from the devastation brought by hurricane Otis.
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Beyond these developments, there are a few more reasons behind the Riviera Maya’s skyrocketing popularity that are worth exploring.
Puerto Morelos, once humorously dubbed ‘Muerto (Dead) Morelos’ by locals due to its lack of tourist appeal, has evolved into a Mexican Caribbean hotspot in recent times, mainly thanks to the development of hotels and revitalization of public spaces.
Situated about 20 minutes from Cancun Airport, this charming fishing village offers a relaxed and authentic beach town atmosphere while still being conveniently close to the larger cities.
While the town’s resorts are small, with around 40 rooms or less, you can find luxurious all-inclusives on the outskirts.
@nicolestraveldiary 📍Puerto Morelos Escape from the hotel zones and immerse yourself into a small fisherman town near Cancun, Quintana Roo. 🐠 Home to the second largest barrier reef in the world! I recommend booking an excusion in the town center for snorkling to experience all of the beauty up close. This city has many restaurants with fresh locally caught seafood. As well as relaxing beaches, with a beautiful and clear ocean! Find many AI resorts in this area, we stayed at El Cid. Send this to someone you want to plan your next trip to Mexico with! 🇲🇽 #puertomorelos #quintanaroo #allinclusiveresort #cancun #tulum #holboxmexico #bestbeaches #worldtraveler #mexicovacation #travelideas #nontouristyplaces ♬ original sound – LOUD LUXURY
As you explore the town, you’ll find quaint arts and crafts shops, boutiques, bars, cafés, and restaurants like El Pirata and El Merkadito, serving some of the best seafood in the Mexican Caribbean.
However, where Puerto Morelos truly shines is in its natural attractions, a feature that has earned the town a reputation as one of the top Mexican Caribbean ecotourism destinations.
Its impressive coral reef, brimming with marine life, not only offers the perfect opportunity for snorkeling and diving but also acts as a natural barrier, creating a safe beach experience.
The town is also home to the famous Cenote Route, which consists of over 60 interconnected cenotes through the Grand Mayan Aquifer, where you can enjoy activities like biking, ATV rides, zip-lining, and more.
Playa del Carmen
Located right in the heart of the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen is best known for its perfect combination of luxury and a delightful beach town vibe.
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Its iconic ‘Quinta Avenida,’ parallel to the beach and spanning 5 kilometers, is lined with hotels, cafes, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and even a cenote.
While dining options along Quinta and boutique hotels are abundant, you’ll find some of the locals’ favorite taquerias and seafood joints on nearby streets.
If you’re seeking an exclusive getaway away from the crowds, you can’t go wrong with Playa del Carmen, as some of the Mexican Caribbean’s most lavish resorts can be found here.
Award-winning resorts such as Secrets Moxché, Banyan Tree Mayakoba and Grand Velas, are known as some of the most luxurious not only in the Mexican Caribbean but the whole country.
With the introduction of the Tulum International Airport and the Maya Train, getting to Playa del Carmen will be easier than ever, something that will undoubtedly boost this enchanting destination’s already massive popularity.
A trip to the southern region of the Riviera Maya, about a two-hour drive from Cancun International Airport, will take you to Tulum, one of the trendiest Mexican Caribbean destinations right now.
Known for its bohemian vibe and a thriving wellness scene, this beautiful beach town promises a Mexican Caribbean experience like none other.
Fascinating Mayan ruins, natural wonders, world-class spas and eco-resorts, electronic music festivals – Tulum has it all.
Accommodation choices in Tulum are ever-expanding, ranging from beachfront glamping like IKAL glamping to exclusive boutiques with private pools like Be Tulum.
The inauguration of Tulum’s International Airport on December 1, with a capacity of 5 million passengers annually, is a testament to the town’s significance as a tourist hotspot.
Though international flights won’t be available until March next year, the enhanced connectivity, added to the introduction of the Maya Train on December 15th, will undoubtedly take Tulum’s tourism scene to new heights.
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