The Riviera Maya has grown into one of the most important tourism destinations anywhere in the Caribbean. Virtually the entire eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula, the riviera is about 80 miles (130 km) of coast beginning with Puerto Morelos, just south of Cancun and extending all the way to the biosphere reserve of Sian Ka’an. Playa del Carmen and Tulum are in between.
Cancun could be rightly described as the crown jewel of the Riviera Maya. It’s a city best known for it’s extensive and exclusive hotel district on the “7” shaped peninsula extending south from the city. The Riviera Maya, on the other hand, is mainland Yucatan peninsula, with much of the same crystal clear sea water and white sand beaches, but very little of the dense development you’ll see in Cancun.
Travelers to the Riviera Maya arrive via the Cancun airport just like visitors to Cancun! A stunningly beautiful drive to Playa del Carmen takes about 45 minutes and Royal Holiday travelers to the Grand Riviera Princess take just a little less.
Playa del Carmen, about ten minutes from the resort, has grown considerably over the past twenty years, but remains a quiet, albeit sophisticated, beach town of shops, restaurants and exclusive shops. The Fifth Avenue shopping promenade is pedestrian only and lined with some exclusive boutiques and plenty of bargains. While it’s not always sleepy, it is still a long way from the extensive shopping and night clubs you’ll find in Cancun.
Royal Holiday members traveling from Cancun to Cozumel also know Playa del Carmen as the launching point for the ferry to the isle of Cozumel. The crossing takes about 35 minutes, and at night, you can just see the lights on the other side.
The Riviera Maya is very often the natural playground to which vistors to Cancun turn. Every bit as beautiful, the riviera includes many of the most popular ruins of the ancient Maya culture including notable sites at Tulum, Coba and El Rey. Much quieter excursions for diving and snorkeling take place everywhere from Akumal to Cozumel.
Unlike in Cancun, where visitors are often concentrated in larger and taller resorts, on the riviera everything spreads out, and bicycling, scooter or Jeep rentals take you into the interior of the peninsula. While forests and jungle are relatively thin, underground through the unique system of rivers and “cenotes” there is a wealth of cool and naturally beautiful places – natural caves forming subteranean pools, and many of which are accessible and open to the public.
While Playa del Carmen is very much a local center of culture, with frequent cultural festivals and events, the area is also peppered with parks, eco-tourism attractions and larger theme parks. Xplor, Xcaret, Xel-ha and Aktun Chen are among the most famous theme parks in the world. They’re not easy to say, but each presents a different and exciting introduction to the region, its wildlife, culture and history.
More Royal Holiday members travel to Cancun than to anywhere else in the world. The Grand Riviera Princess, just minutes from Playa del Carmen, is a welcome addition to a collection that includes the Park Royal Cancun, and just across the water, the Park Royal Cozumel. Speak with your Membership Services representative about which is best for you and your family. All-Inclusive, they’ll be perfect for a vacation that includes all the members of your family.