Holidays to Mexico’s Caribbean Coast are about more than sombreros and slammers. Prepare for white-sand beaches, bright blue seas and those mysterious cities of gold.
The beaches on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast are seriously impressive, especially the ones along the Yucatan Peninsula. This whole sweep is quilted in soft white sands and lapped by turquoise waters. Factor in coral reefs and watersports, and you’ve got a beach scene and a half.
Beyond the coast
Inland, the Yucatan Peninsula lines up Spanish colonial towns, rainbow-painted haciendas and steamy jungles. Delve a bit deeper and you’ll unearth cities that long ago surrendered to Mother Nature – vines twist over forgotten pyramids and tree roots curl around great blocks of stone.
Mexico’s age-old cities are the handiwork of the Maya – the country’s ancient people. Along with the Aztecs, they left behind a permanent mark on the country. At last count, archaeologists had unearthed a staggering 14,000-plus historical sites. And this part of Mexico lays claims to some of the biggies, like Chichen Itzá and Tulum.
The main hubs
Leading the way in terms of places to stay is Cancun. It’s packed with hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and nightclubs, all inches from amazing white sands. Then there’s hip Playa del Carmen, which turns things down just a notch. If you’re on the lookout for complete peace and quiet, though, make a beeline for the palm-fringed shores of Playacar and the Riviera Maya.
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As resorts go, Playacar is one exclusive number on Mexico’s Mayan Riviera, about an hour’s drive south of Cancun. What you’ve got here is a gated community with a select group of hotels and condos. The place has its own private beaches and an 18-hole championship golf course – and when you want to get out and about, hip Playa del Carmen is right on the doorstep.
Riviera Maya doesn’t mess about. Set on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, this place has carved itself a big slice of the action with a whopping 30 kilometres of coastline. And it’s staked out its territory well, taking in lively Playa del Carmen and quieter Punta Allen as its own. Whatever patch you’re on, you’ll get world-class beaches and as many Mayan ruins as you can handle.
Cancun is a huge personality on the northeast coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, taking 4 million visitors comfortably in its stride. The place is packed out with bars, restaurants and mega-clubs, but it’s not just a magnet for the 24-hour party crowd. Wrapped all the way round the Hotel Zone, you’ve got a whopping 22-kilometre stretch of sand.
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