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  • Coastline Crystal-clear Caribbean
  • Coast life Back-to-nature sensuality

When the Spanish conquistadors arrived off Mexico’s Riviera Maya in the 16th century, they found an idyllic Caribbean coast of white sand beaches and turquoise waters…

Beneath these glistening bays, a barrier reef runs almost the length, from the Belizean border in the south to the Yucatan peninsula’s north-east tip. Some of the world’s finest dive sites are found around these tropical shores, where you’ll also find majestic Maya ruins at Tulum and inland at Cobá. The Riviera Maya has a whole network of underground cenotes (limestone sinkholes), which you can dive, swim and snorkel in. Playa del Carmen has seen new visitors in recent decades as people have been drawn in by the laid-back lifestyle, perfect climate and beautiful beaches. Cancún was hand-picked in the Seventies as Mexico’s new holiday hotspot, touted as an alternative to loco Acapulco. The one-time undeveloped sand spit now welcomes more than two million people a year to its dazzling shores.

Do go/Don’t go

The climate is normally excellent all year round. August and Christmas are very busy, so spring generally provides the best combination in terms of good weather and fewer crowds. Easter is a popular holiday all over Mexico, so book hotel rooms as early as possible if you’re planning to go then. August to October is hurricane season in the Caribbean, so be aware that this is a potential hazard.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Cancún International is the main regional airport, with direct flights to and from the UK. Alternatively, you could fly via Miami, which is only an hour away by plane. The taxi ride to Playa del Carmen takes around 45 minutes and will cost around $60; Tulum is about 90 minutes away and will cost around $100.
  • Boats There are ferries almost every hour from Playa del Carmen to the coral cay island of Cozumel – the trip takes 55 minutes, and you can buy tickets at the ferry pier. You can hire a boat from any of the small-boat owners along the beach.
  • Automobiles It’s worth hiring a car to explore further afield, but taxis are very reasonably priced.
  • Taxis Hail them in the Playa del Carmen for shorter journeys, or ask your hotel to call one for you. Make sure you establish a price for your trip before you set off as few taxis have meters.