As someone who is looking for the best beaches in the world, you already know about Cancun. Cancun is a great destination, but it just isn’t for everyone. The crowds can get rather big and the relaxing vacation that you were looking for disappears before your eyes. Another thing that people who are not all too satisfied with their trip complain about is that though the resorts are luxurious, they are a mirage. They do not give you a glimpse of the country itself unless you are willing to travel a bit. If you have decided that Cancun is not for you, then here are some of the other great options in the Mayan Riviera.
TulumCredit: S Friedman
Tulum is about 2 hours south of Cancun and while it is one of the top destinations in the Mayan Riviera, it does not get the amount of tourists that the city to the north does. It is not that Tulum does not have the luxurious resorts that you will find in the “Big C”, but there are just not as many. If you want luxury however you should not feel disappointed as Tulum has several 5 star resorts right on the beach.
People who cannot afford such luxury on the other hand will be better in Tulum because the town is not far from the beach so you can get a decent room for a very affordable price. Your walk to the beach will not take more than 5 minutes and in some cases even less.
Though the hotels are a good enough reason to visit, you will also get the only Mayan ruins on the beach. The Mayan ruins of “El Castillo” or "The Castle" is in plain sight right from the sand, making this beach town one of the best photo opportunities you will ever have. You can get a closer look of El Castillo by going into the site, but you will get a great view right from the sand.
Playa Del CarmenCredit: W Fonseca
Playa del Carmen is between Tulum and Cancun and it is becoming more popular with the tourists every day. Resorts at Playa are as good as any, and you will have the fun of downtown nearby. In Playa del Carmen you get 5th Avenue which is full of hotels, restaurants, night clubs, souvenir shops, live entertainment and anything to keep you entertained. Walk one block to the east and you will get on the sand with one of the most beautiful white sand beaches that you will ever see.
Playa del Carmen is a great destination because it is in the middle of the Mayan Riviera so you will not have to go that far to get anywhere else. It is also a more affordable option when compared to Cancun and just like Tulum you will be able to get a glimpse of everyday life in this region of the country.
CozumelCredit: W Fonseca
Cozumel is known as one of the top cruise destinations in the Caribbean, but you do not have to visit only if you are traveling with a cruise line. Cozumel has its own international airport, but not too many flights go there. The island will give you everything and anything that you could want in a beach vacation. There are great resorts which get packed by tourists, and there are quiet beaches where you will feel as if you are the only soul for miles. There are several Mayan ruins with San Gervasio being the most important of them. Another great reason to visit Cozumel is that it is one of the best spots for scuba diving in the region. Boats take divers to the best spots from the west of the island.
The one problem with Cozumel is that it is an island and that means that seeing other spots in the main land takes a bit longer. There are ferries that take you to Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos and that will make traveling easier, but remember that a ferry ride can take up to an hour depending on where you are going and how long the wait is.
Isla HolboxCredit: L Karvonen
If you feel of the crowds and you want a more laid back spot, then you should look into taking a trip to Isla Holbox. Isla does not have nearly as many visitors as the other spots on the list, but it is not due to a lack of beauty. Most people who visit the spot and who are looking for a place to relax agree that Holbox is one of their favorite destinations in the world. Most people in the Island move around on foot, golf carts or bikes. There are not many cars in the island. The paved area of the island is not even that big, so you will see mud when it rains. One of the biggest attractions is the opportunity to swim with whale sharks.
Do not let the mud stop you. If you really want to relax on a beautiful beach then it will be hard to find a better spot in the Caribbean. To get to Isla Holbox you need to take a bus to Chiquilá. From there a ferry will take you to the island.
Isla Mujeres is a popular destination for people visiting Cancun. It is easy to get to from the main land and it also gives you a great chance to go scuba diving. There are great hotels where you can stay and some more affordable options. Isla Mujeres is a mix of a great tourist destination and the former fishing island it still is. You can get the freshest meals from the ocean and you will always be treated like a family member.
This is a laid back spot and that is what attracts many tourists. It is better to rent a bike or a moped to see the island than to do it any other way. The beaches are incredible but they are better on the east of the island. Sports fishing boats are available if you wish to rent one, or you can simply stay on the sand and enjoy yourself.