How the Riviera Maya got its name

Posted By on September 10, 2015

For many years, the tourist area of Cancun was simply referred to as that…Cancun. However, over the years, tourists visiting Cancun began to take an interest in the unspoiled areas south of the popular city.

cancun hotel zone in 1982

The Cancun Hotel Zone in 1982

Small fishing villages such as Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen and Tulum began seeing their share of curious visitors. As the decades past and tourism grew, more and more people took an interest to what Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula really had to offer. In due time, local tourism officials named that stretch of area the Cancun-Tulum corridor. A name that stuck until 1999.

puerto morelos fishing village

The fishing village of Puerto Morelos quickly earned its share of visitors

Although Cancun remains one of the top 10 destinations globally, the small towns south of the city continued to draw tourists. With turquoise waters, pure sand beaches, marine life and general natural beauty of the area, it didn’t take long for the area to become well-known. The Mexican Caribbean coastline suddenly began drawing as many visitors as Cancun.

The Cancun-Tulum corridor grew exponentially as a tourism and resort district in Mexico and in 1999, was renamed Riviera Maya with the aid of Lic. Miguel Ramón Martín Azueta who, at the time, was the municipal president of Solidaridad, Quintana Roo.

riviera maya mexico beaches

Mexico’s spectacular Riviera Maya stretches more than 120 kms

Historically the district now known as Riviera Maya began with the city of Playa del Carmen and ended at the village of Tulum, but the towns of Puerto Morelos north of Playa del Carmen, and Felipe Carrillo Puerto south of Tulum, have grown to be included as part of the Riviera Maya tourist corridor. For all events and purposes, Cancun remained a separate tourist destination. Although some people do lump it in as part of the Riviera Maya tourist corridor, it is not technically included.

The Riviera Maya has earned a name for having large-scale all-inclusive resorts and a base of small boutique hotels as well as endless fine-dining and entertaining activities. It has grown to be known as a luxury travel destination with extravagant villa rentals, exotic car and yacht charters and brand-name shopping.


Government development plans include establishing several medium-sized cities of about 200,000 inhabitants along the Riviera Maya. Initial planning is to take place over the next 20 years with target areas being Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, Chemuyil and Tulum.

Even with urbanization, the towns that make up the Riviera Maya have managed to maintain their small town charm and appeal that keep people returning year after year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.