All About Mexico’s Riviera Maya

Posted By on December 29, 2016

Similar in name to places such as the French Riviera, France’s Mediterranean playground, and the Italian Riviera or Ligurian Riviera is also Mexico’s Riviera Maya. One could likely equate this region of sun and sand to being called Mexico’s Caribbean playground and for good reason, yet many people remain confused about the region. 

Top questions about the area include Where is the Riviera Maya?, Is Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya?, What is the Mexican Riviera? and How long does it take from Cancun to Riviera Maya?

The region commonly referred to as the Riviera Maya extends 120 kilometers along the coast in the center of the eastern Yucatan Peninsula. The once sleepy fishing village of Playa del Carmen remains the heart of the Riviera Maya, providing tourists with a unique (and different) holiday experience from that of surrounding areas such as Cozumel or Cancun.

The district known as the Riviera Maya historically began with Playa del Carmen, which until 1999, was called the Cancun-Tulum Corridor. It was in 1999 that the then municipal president of Solidaridad, Lic. Miguel Ramón Martín Azueta, termed the region, centering Playa del Carmen as the heart and extending the Riviera Maya district some 40 kilometers inland toward the border of the Yucatan state.

Since then, the Riviera Maya has been extended to include neighboring places such as Puerto Morelos and Tulum, which are now promoted as part of the Riviera Maya corridor but, contrary to popular belief, does not include places such as Cozumel or Cancun. Over the years, the Riviera Maya has become popular for its large-scale all-inclusive hotel resorts mixed with historical tourism and boutique shopping. Aside from pristine beaches and incredible weather, the region has also become well-known for luxury travel entities and fine-dining options.

Tourists from around the globe remain attracted to the area for its aquatic activities. Being within close proximity to the Mesoamerican Reef, which is the second longest in the world, the waters of the Riviera Maya are bursting with tropical life, making it ideal for scuba and snorkeling not to mention seasonal activities such as swimming with whale sharks. The abundance of cenotes also separate Cancun and the Riviera Maya, with this region having more than 130 freshwater options alone. 

It’s approximately 68 kms from Cancun to Playa del Carmen, a region that averages 275 days of sunshine per year. The Riviera Maya consists of a warm semi-tropical climate with an annual temperature of 26C (79F) with the hottest days coming in at 35C (95F) during the months of May to August.

Millions of people make their way to the Riviera Maya each year, with the largest concentration of visitors landing at the Cancun International Airport. Others, however, arrive by sea and land, driving from Canada and the United States to trade in their normally cool winters for that warm semi-tropical climate we all love.