The Mayan Riviera - Mexican Caribbean

The Riviera Maya is a breathtaking beautiful coastline in the Caribbean, beginning at Cancun in the north and ending in Tulum in the south. White sandy beaches with palms, tourquoise sea, mayan ruins, cenotes, quite a lot of nature parks and a huge flora and fauna. More in the south lays Sian Kaan, the biosphere reserve on the Yucatán peninsula. More in the south after Sian Kaan is the lagoon of Bacalar and the harbor of Costa Maya as well as the capital of Quintana Roo - Chetumal. This entire region is called Costa Maya and houses the new and same named crusader harbor near by Mahahual.

After the arise of the tourist stronghold Cancun in the 1970s, the coastline in the south was settled. Playa del Carmen, once a small fishing village, is now one of the most important touristic centers at the Mexican Riviera. Many huge hotel chains are settled along the coastline in direction to Tulum, in most cases for package tours for upper classes.  In Playa del Carmen itself are many big and small hotels, hostels and apartments. Tulum is target for many backpackers and campers, but also for "glamping" (glamorous camping). Also very expensive boutique hotels can be finde here.


This region is the most visited region in Mexiko. Next to the long beautiful beaches and the crystal clear water, can you find many interesting cultural and natural aspects. Upstream the coast lays the worldwide second largest reef - the meso american reef. Divers all over the world come here to dive along the reef or the see the underwater world of the cenotes or lagoons. The flat landscape is covered by jungle and lush vegetation. Mangroves, plams, flowers and trees offer protection for animals of any kind. The Mexican Carribean is perfect for beach vacation but too good for just that. The Mayan temple, the miles of underground cave systems (cenotes), many amusement parks, nature reserves, the tropical warm climate with sunshine nearly all over the year and a mean temperature of 25°C are popular for many vacationers.

Puerto Morelos:


A small fishing village circa 20 km in the south from Cancun, on the way to Playa del Carmen.It seems like time is going more slowly here. Puerto Morelos develops very slow and just because of increasing numbers of tourists. One part of the village directly lays at the highway and is home of the locals. At the other part at the beach (Antiguo Puerto Morelos) you can find restaurants, bars and accommodations.



In Maya language "place of turtles", is still a little hidden secret. Approx. 30 minutes south of  Playa del Carmen with a nice white, sandy beach and normally not so crowded, except the bay of turtles by itself.  Between May and September the sea turtles nests and eat the sea grass on the seabed. Snorkelers come here to admire these giant sea creatures. Some times there are big rays, too. Because of the crowds of tourists, visiting the bay, it is closed for tour agencies. Private you are able to snorkel here but a guide and a life jacket is obligatory, because of people chasing the animals with selfie sticks and harassing them. The animals became sick because of the stress.

On the other side of the highway lays the small, dozy village Akumal, seperated by a colorful painted highway bridge. Many artists immortalized themselves in creative, caribbean graffitis. In the center is a tiny vegetable market, a tortilleria, a small super market and not so much more to explore. Here, the locals from Akumal live, while expensive villas from emigrated Americans, Canadiens ans Swiss are located at the beach side.


Sian Kaan:


Fährt man von Tulum auf der Küstenstraße weiter südlich, kommt man an den Eingang des UNESCO Biosphärenreservats Sian Kaan - in Maya-Sprache "Geschenk des Himmels" oder "Wo der Himmel geboren wurde". Raus aus der Zivilisation und rein in die atemberaubend schöne Natur. Je weiter man südlich fährt, desto karibischer wird es. Wir empfehlen definitiv eine Tour hierhin zu machen, die Straße ist nicht befestigt und für private PKW oftmals ungeeignet. Im Fischerdorf Punta Allen angekommen, fühlt man sich in eine andere Welt versetzt. Hier gibt es außer ein paar kleinen Restaurants und sehr ärmlichen Fischerhütten sowie Palmen, Strand und unendlicher Natur kaum etwas. 



Mahahual is a tiny little town with white sandy beaches and lots of little shops. The little walkway along the coastline offers lots of restaurants, Bars, Hotels and shops with souvenirs. The beach has lots of beach clubs where you can relax and eat. Here you will not find mass tourism and big resorts, lots of inhabitants live from fishing. But 2 km more north, you will find a big pier for cruise ships from all over the world called "Costa Maya" with duty free shops and outlet stores. The difference cannot be bigger. If there is no cruise ship by the pier, Mahahual is almost empty. But if there are cruise ships, it can get crowdy very fast and thousands of tourist will come into the little town. 

Playa del Carmen:


70 km south of Cancun lays the former cozy fishing village Playa del Carmen. Nowadays many restaurants, bars, discos and uncountable shops for shopping and souvenirs are located here. Along the beach you can find many beach clubs and live music in the evening. The ferry to the island Cozumel is just a few minutes away from the center. Playa del Carmen offers its guests many options to enjoy their time. The region was called "Xaman-Ha" by the Maya, what means holy place at the water. The city has developed to the city with the highest growth of population in Mexiko. The Caribbean climate and the beaches entice tourists all over the world - divers, water sports enthusiasts, spring breaker, wedding parties and vacationers. You can easily explore the center my feet and scout the main shopping mile, the 5. Avenida. Playa is the city which never sleeps.  There is intense celebrations, pure holiday atomsphere - beach bars with salsa and reggae music, hip clubs with shows and discos.



Mystic Maya town on the Caribbean coastline - they could not find a more majestic place than this.High above the cliffs sit in state the archeological temple of the native people of the region and every stone tells its own story. Tulum is becoming more and more popular and is next to Playa del Carmen and Cancun one of the most important holiday destination. Located 130 km south of Cancun, Tulum only offered small, very simple cabañas (bungalows) a few years ago. There is now everything from camping to luxury hotels - but still much smaller than Playa del Carmen. Picture-book sandy beaches, Caribbean palm streets, souvenirs - everything is strongly reminiscent of the hippie era with many colorful tunics, dream catchers and bars. The atmosphere is relaxed - but in the meantime, due to the wide variety of photo motifs, more and more "influencers, stars and starlets" have discovered the region around Tulum.



Approx. 3.5 hours south of Playa del Carmen is Bacalar - the lagoon of the seven colors and the pirate channel. In Mayan language "Bakhalal" (surrounded by reeds). Bacalar is about 40 km north of the capital Chetumal. The city has been awarded the so-calles "Pueblo Magico" (magical place) by the SECTUR (Secretariat for Tourism). In 1543 it was the first city in the region to be conquered and taken by spanish conquistadores. The lagoon is about 55 km long and consists totally of fresh water.



Once an important place for smugglers was Chetumal, today the most important city by the border to Belize and also capital of the state Quintana Roo. The city is more rustic than Playa del Carmen or Cancun, was built in 1898 and has almost nothing historical. Main attractions are the museum of the Mayan, the zoo and some modern monuments. The hammocks of Chetumal are very famous souvenirs! 

Hotels in and around Playa del Carmen

In the center of Playa del Carmen

Here you will find lots of smaller hotels, saddled by the beach or in the middle of the center. If you like the hustle and bustle on the streets and a bit of crowd, this is the place for you. Playa never sleeps, you will find bars and discos of all kinds, beach clubs and a lot of shopping - almost around the clock. But be careful: a loudspeaker roars from almost every pharmacy and shop. The windows of the small hotels are often hardly sealed and you have to be prepared for sleepless and noisy nights. You can find all types of accommodation via booking platforms. In the center, it is definitely worth to book a accommodation with breakfast only or without board. There are restaurants of all nationalities on every corner and if you do not go to the 5th Avenida, then at absolutely fair prices. Try the little Mexican breakfast restaurants, there is lots of fresh made juices and typical Mexican restaurants with a big variety. Also private rooms and apartments can be found easily on the main online booking systems. 



Here you will find many known hotels and hotel chains, for example the Viva Azteca or Viva Maya, many Riu hotels, Sandos Playacar, Allegro Playacar, Iberostar Tucan and Quetzal. Playacar is a separated region with hotels and private villas. On the entrance and exit are many securities, inside a golf course, tennis courses, Starbucks, a shopping mall and many more. The beaches of Playacar are long and carribean and most of the hotels lay directly at the beach. Some hotels have a shuttle service to get to the beach. You can easily walk to Playa del Carmen (depending on which hotel you stay in) or take a taxi to the center for small money.


South of Playa del Carmen

Here you can find many 5 stars hotels of the region. The "Riviera Maya", so called the complete coast, offers nearly the total repertory of hotels and hotel chains. The beaches in the south are beautiful and here are known hotels like the Barcelo, the Grand Palladium, Akumal Bay, Sirenis, Grand Bahia Principe, Secrets Akumal, Hard Rock Hotel etc. You can get to Playa del Carmen or Tulum easily by colectivos. Just wait at the highway until one stops. Have a look to our report about colectivos, taxis and rental cars for more information.

For our tours we pick up every hotel up to the Grand Bahia. Every guest living in a hotel more in the south, we collect at a meeting point in Akumal. Except of tours into the south (Tulum, Coba, Sian Kaan, Bacalar). For them, we let you know where we can pick you up exactly.


North of Playa del Carmen

In the north of Playa del Carmen lays the region of Puerto Morelos and soon behind it Cancun. Well-known hotels as the Sandos Caracol, Grand Riviera Princess, Ocean Maya, Vidanta, Valentin, Iberostar Paraiso lay in this direction. We will pick you up for tours up to the Iberostar Paraiso. Everything behind it in the direction of Cancun is out of our pick-up zone. You will either come to our meeting point in Playa del Carmen or we can often offer you an extra transfer. Please talk to us about it.

From here you can easily take a colectivo or taxi to Playa del Carmen and also to Cancun.


In Cancun 

Here are laying many huge hotel chains, which are mostly very big and have many floors. In contrast to Playa del Carmen, where the hotels are in most cases not higher than three floors. Cancun is big and often noisy, much traffic and in the center it is not that easy to find your way. Will you stay in Cancun, the way to our tours are very long, but possible..