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Mexico Vacation Planning

Cancun Riviera Maya Destination Guide

Take advantage of activity-packed All-Inclusive resorts in Cancun and the Riviera Maya area, intimate villas along the beach and historical sightseeing adventures along the beaches of Cancun, Riviera Maya, and nearby Playacar, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum and Xcaret.  Whether you're planning a last-minute vacation, honeymoon or your yearly family vacation, this truly is the ultimate vacationer's paradise. Popular activities in Cancun and Riviera Maya include diving, fishing and snorkeling in the Caribbean, enjoying the warmth of the beach under the tropical sun, historical sightseeing and dancing the night away at World-famous bars and night clubs in Downtown Cancun.

When planning a vacation to Cancun or planning a vacation to the Riviera Maya, it's important to remember that resorts on the Yucatan's Caribbean coast are largely divided between the two areas. Each offers high quality resorts, but with vastly different surroundings and atmospheres.  By consulting with a travel agent specializing in Mexico vacations, you'll be sure to choose the most fitting vacation destination for your interests.

TIP:  Ask about our seasonal non stop charter flights to Cancun, available with our featured partners Funjet Vacations and Apple Vacations

For the most convenient option, packed with value, our travel agents will work with you to customize a complete All-Inclusive package.  This will include your non stop airfare, hotel accommodations, transfers from the airport to your resort, and your meals, drinks and non motorized sports!  These are are BEST SELLERS!  Not all resorts are equal.  On you'll find hotels rated on a scale of 1-5 stars, 5 being the best.  We typically recommend 3.5-star experiences and up for the best value for your vacation dollar.


Below is an overview of each area to determine which is best suited for you.


Known as being on the "7", Cancun is a bustling, modern city. High-rise hotels stand side-by-side along  the beaches, and jet skis buzz across the sparkling aqua water. New hotels are being built each year.

Staying at resorts directly in Cancun (or along Cancun's hotel district) is great for vacationers who want to explore outside of the resort, try different restaurants, walk to shops and experience the vibrant nightlife at nearby clubs. There are countless activities to try both day and night, and it's impossible not to pick up on the air of excitement.  Intersted in a Cancun destination wedding? No problem!

In Cancun you'll have the chance to walk along the white sand beaches for miles.  Tips: Taking a walk along the beach at sunrise is great opportunity to take in the natural beauty of the Caribbean and you'll have the best views of the bright aqua ocean and city of Cancun from top floors of your hotel.

Key areas of interest:

    • The Hotel Zone of Cancun, located along the world-famous "seven" shaped peninsula at the eastern tip of Mexico, is truly a shoppers' paradise, with everything from lively street markets to the world's most exclusive boutiques within walking distance of fantastic resorts.
    • Cancun's array of dining choices will entice every palate, ranging from local specialties to five star restaurants.
    • The glittering nightlife still reigns in Cancun, with all-night discos, live music, piano bars and even jazz clubs open year round.

Riviera Maya/Playa del Carmen

Just south of Cancun is the beautiful Riviera Maya and the town of Playa del Carmen. This area is a remote oasis away from the active city. Rising no more than three stories high, most resorts along the lush Riviera Maya are All-Inclusive with a wider variety of restaurants and bars than their Cancun counterparts. This area is better for travelers who prefer to stay right at the resort for dining and nightlife during the majority of their stay. The pristine beaches offer opportunities for relaxing or trying various water sports. You will also find more historical parks and ancient ruins in the Riviera Maya.

Key areas of interest:
    • Relax all day on at remote resorts in a hammock beside the Caribbean Sea or walk the powder-white sand beaches that stay cool as they reflect the heat of the tropical sun.
    • Visit the nearby town of Playa del Carmen, with shops featuring local art and handicrafts, where you can take the ferry across to the island of Cozumel.

    • Uncover the ancient culture of the Mayans and visit ruins that reveal their lives and beliefs. Afterwards, cool off with a swim in a cenote, a freshwater pool bringing water from underground limestone caverns to the surface.

    • Romantic All-Inclusive resorts that cater to destination weddings in Riviera Maya and to couples in love.

Cancun and Riviera Maya Travel Tips

When you are in Cancun use the bus system to get around very easy and in expensive, runs 24 hours a day and you can just ask the hotel front desk to convert your US dollar into bus change.
-Terri Norquist, Travel Specialist

Purchase all optional tours via a reputable tour company with a credit card so that the charge may be disputed if you do not receive all of the features promised.  Also check the cancellation policy prior to booking the excursions as most require a 72 hour cancel notice for refund.
-Debbi Haney, Travel Specialist

Having visited this area well over 10 times, I can offer a variety of tips! But to narrow them down, if you like fun and adventure, a great place to spend the day is at Marina Maroma located north of Playa del Carmen.   Maroma Beach is considered one of the best beaches in all of Mexico.   Beautiful sand, crystal clear water and lots of fun awaits you.    There is an array of activities you can partake in throughout the day such as a 3 hour catamaran snorkel tour out on the reef, jet boats, atvs, horseback riding, jet skiing, parasailing or just being lazy on the beautiful beach, whatever is your pleasure!
-Barb Dahl, Travel Specialist

In Cancun, you can walk along the white sand beaches for miles. Taking a walk along the beach at sunrise is great opportunity to take in the natural beauty of the Caribbean. You'll also have the best views of the bright aqua ocean and city of Cancun from top floors of your hotel.
-Jody Piotter, Travel Specialist

It's important to remember that the "Riviera Maya" is actually a long region along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and you're going to find resorts that offer a variety of different beaches and landscapes. Not all resorts in this area will have beaches that cater to "beach-lovers". It's important to discuss how important the beach is to you with your travel specialist, so you're not disappointed when you get there. Beaches vary by area and resort.
-Katy School, E-Marketing Coordinator

There really are amazing 5-star resorts in this area that are more affordable than even 4-stars in other areas. At times, a 5-star, adults-only luxury resort may only be an extra $20-$50 extra per night and in the end well worth the value when you factor in top notch service, premium meals and drink and more! It's always something worth looking into, especially if you're interested in a care-free, relaxing vacation.
-Judy Schuh, Travel Specialist

A couple of our preferred tour operators run seasonal, nonstop charter flights to Cancun and we are able to offer extra sale discounts on complete All-Inclusive packages with airfare. These also typically include your baggage fees! Charters run on select days from select departure cities.
-Carri Kersten, Travel Specialist

I recommend visiting Cancun's newest attraction, the Underwater Museum. They will be working on phase three this July. A must see for both snorkelers and divers!
-Cindy Brill, Training Development Manager

Planning a Riviera Maya Vacation

Weather in Cancun / Riviera Maya

The average temperature is 27° C (80° F) with more than 240 days of sunshine, and rain is rare. In summer the temperature goes higher, but an onshore breeze makes the climate enjoyable throughout the day.

Tipping in Cancun / Riviera Maya

Tips in Mexico are generally 15%, tipping cab drivers is not expected, and tipping the maid in the hotel a couple of dollars a day (per room) is greatly appreciated.

Wedding Requirements for Cancun / Riviera Maya

There is a two day waiting period, and couples require a passport/driver's license, birth certificate, certified copies of both parents' birth certificates or valid passports, four witnesses, and blood tests not older than 15 days.

Airport Information for Cancun / Riviera Maya

Travel to and from Cancun uses the Cancun International Airport.

Rental Cars in Cancun / Riviera Maya

A dozen rental car companies operate at the airport and at many hotel locations (including Advantage Rent-A-Car, Advant Rent-A-Car, Avis, and Budget Rent-a-Car). Note that car rental is relatively expensive, and often does not include unlimited mileage. You must be 25 years old, hold a driver's license and major credit card. Road signs are in Spanish.