As generations go by, Mexico is becoming more and more gay-friendly. The Riviera Maya is slowly but surely setting itself up to be a prime location for LGBTQ+ travelers. With its vast coastline of white sandy beaches, located just south of Cancun, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the Riviera Maya is a lesser-known alternative to the dense crowds of the exhilarating city of Cancun.
Although the Riviera Maya lends itself to being a resort destination, the gay scene is definitely growing. It offers many gay-friendly beach havens, such as Tulum, Puerto Morelos, Cozumel, and Playa Del Carmen. Since same-sex marriage in Quintana Roo was legalized in 2012, the Riviera Maya also makes for the perfect wedding hotspot for LGBTQ+ couples wishing to tie the knot in paradise.
While officially gay hotels or resorts are sparce here in Riviera Maya, it still offers a huge amount of LGBTQ+ friendly and gay-owned hotels. In terms of booking double beds in hotels or even guesthouses run by families, you won’t have any issues and will be welcomed without any concerns.
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Here are a couple of ideas for your next vacation:
Playa Del Carmen
Many LGBTQ+ travelers are flocking to Playa Del Carmen at the moment for a more upmarket option to gay-friendly Puerto Vallarta in the west. With the Riviera Maya at your fingertips, just a short drive from Cancun Airport and regular flights from most major US cities. With younger crowds in this city, people are more progressive and open, and it won’t phase anyone when coming across gay singles or couples.
Playa Del Carmen’s LGBTQ+ community is thriving with locals and also visitors from North America, Europe, and around the world, definitely making it a place of interest, most certainly an up-and-coming and fun hotspot for gay travelers. They also host their annual Pride festival in June, which sees rainbow flags popping up all over the town, featuring parades, parties, and events attracting LGBTQ+ tourists from around the globe; also download the Playa Pride app to keep up with all the happenings in the area.
Activity-wise, you can relax at Mamitas Beach, which is seemingly the most popular beach with the LGBTQ+ crowd, with nearby Mamitas Beach Club, which is popular among locals and tourists too, or even Playacar beach. Either way, you’re definitely in for a good time wherever you are along the coast – Sundays can be busier, so make sure to plan accordingly.
There are gay bars, gay-friendly restaurants, and hotels. You also have the main drag. Quinta Avenida is a vibrant, bustling pedestrian area that is filled with entertainment and nightlife.
If you visit Playa Del Carmen, you will be thrust into an exciting whirlwind of high energy and passion, colliding with like-minded free-spirited people. It’s such an exciting atmosphere, with loud music, performances, and parties for you to enjoy.
Due to PDC being a stone’s throw from Cancun, it’s worth mentioning that in June, Cancun also hosts its own pride, with a large parade through the city, with so many parties and celebrations that you’ll definitely be wanting to join if you missed Playa Del Carmen’s pride! Hotel-wise, there is a myriad of options, but why not check out Mayakoba’s gay-friendly Rosewood and Banyan Tree hotels?
You have Tulum, an hour south of PDC, which is renowned for its Mayan ruins, cenotes, boho-chic relaxed vibe, and vibrant nightlife – it is very open to the LGBTQ+ community and currently has a gay bar called Fruity Cocktail Bar, located in the downtown area. You can also stay at ‘Loba Tulum’, Tulum’s male-only hotel, boasting excellent reviews.
An island, just off the coast of Playa Del Carmen, by a 20-40 minute ferry journey, is often a stop on one of the biggest gay cruises in the world ‘Atlantis’. Home to beautiful beaches, adventurous activities, and amazing food. Cozumel also hosts its very own Mardi Gras, typically every February, and is also home to its share of gay-friendly hotels. Check out hotel ‘B Unique’, one of Cozumels most gay-friendly and idyllic hotel spots.
Additionally, there’s Chetumal, on the border of Belize, the capital of Quintana Roo – offering several gay nightlife options and also a significant LGBTQ+ community presence, plus you have the paradisical and tranquil town of Bacalar around the corner. Puerto Morelos, a hidden gem of a beach town, also has many gay-owned accommodations for you to stay at – with nearby Akumal also being a less crowded destination. These two locations both make for an indulgent and relaxing getaway.
From Chetumal to the south, through Tulum, Playa Del Carmen, Cancun, and all the way up to Holbox – the Riviera Maya and surrounding areas certainly welcome LGBTQ+ travelers with open arms!
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Saturday 25th of February 2023
Re: "plus the annual Arena festival, typically a 4-day electro/house music festival, usually in February"...
No longer in Playa. It has moved to Cozumel.
Last year, despite organizers supposedly clearing everything with police representatives beforehand, police shut everything down in the middle of the days-long festival, citing COVID. Instead of preventing things from getting started that evening, police waited until the middle of the night during a performance, when there was no transportation available.
All of the attendees (at least hundreds, maybe thousands) were left stranded in the middle of the night. They had to walk an hour along a road with no street lighting to get back to the outskirts of Playa, and then another 20-30 minutes to the center.
It was a very unsafe situation, and it was not a good look for Playa del Carmen. After that incident, I seriously doubt this festival will ever be back in Playa. Very unprofessional policing, because it was days into the festival, and the police could have notified people/organizers during the day instead of shutting things down in the middle of the night and forcing everyone out into an unlit, dirt road in the middle of nowhere with no transportation.
Anyway, this year it moved over to Cozumel, where it has the full support of the local government.