The Riviera Maya is an adventurer’s dream; that rare location whose name alone evokes magic and mysticism. This 130km stretch of Caribbean coastline has so much to discover, from white sandy beaches and authentic fishing villages to ancient ruins and buzzing nightlife. It’s a wonder waiting to be explored.
GIVEN that Maroma, A Belmond Hotel contains a unique combination of natural beauty and authentic Mexican charm, it might be hard to tear yourself away from the resort. But those who choose to explore the Riviera Maya are richly rewarded as they unearth a region replete with treasures.
The Riviera Maya’s simple layout makes adventuring easy. A single main road—Highway 307—runs the length of the region, from Cancun to Tulum. Branching eastwards are small roads leading to undeveloped beaches and turquoise lagoons, while westward takes you inland to rural towns and ancient ruins. So why not hire a classic convertible and follow your nose as the wind ruffles your hair? It’s nigh impossible to get lost and you never know what you may find…
Puerto Morelos is a charming little fishing village north of Maroma. The National Park—just a ten minute boat ride away—is the world’s second largest barrier reef. It’s a snorkeler's paradise, with eagle rays, sea turtles and giant groupers. Former Mayan village Coba is equally unmissable. The intrepid explorer will want to climb Nohoch Mul, the region’s tallest pyramid with stunning views across Yucatan. But navigating the steep descent is no mean feat, so you may prefer to hire a bike and cycle the area’s extensive trails.
Muyil is relatively unexplored, near to the magnificent Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve, a corner of Mexico renowned for its natural beauty. Local guide Pastor Camaal can show you around the ruins, before an unforgettable journey across the jungles and lagoons of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The world famous remains at Chichen Itza are also UNESCO recognized. Tulum—a former Mayan seaport—has stunning beaches, well preserved Mayan ruins and breathtaking cenotes.
In unspoiled Labnaha—just outside of Tulum—guests can make the most of these underwater caves with magnificent guided snorkel tours. Small fish swim in water below, while fruit bats populate stalactites above. Back in town, the Mexican Folk Art Store has a wonderful selection of handicrafts. There are many spots to enjoy a drink or two as well. Damajuana Mezcaleria serves bespoke, small batch mezcals and authentic regional street food (spicy grasshoppers are a must-try). It has a great rooftop, too, where local DJs play laid-back house grooves. Batey Mojito and Guarapo Bar has a sugarpress inside a VW beetle. Here, fresh cane-juice forms the base for some of Mexico’s finest mojitos.
But should you want to dance until dawn, Playa del Carmen is your evening destination. It has an abundance of chic beach bars and rooftop terraces to explore. Head to bustling Quinta Avenida, at the heart of town, and hop from bar to bar.
PLANK (Playa del Carmen): Tradition meets innovation for true haute cuisine. Stunning seafood and grilled meats are served on natural wood or Himalayan salt planks.
CENACOLO (Playa del Carmen): The best natural ingredients are worked into sensational Italian cuisine. Savor hand-made pasta, some dishes prepared at your table.
LA CUEVA DEL CHANGO (Playa del Carmen): A charming restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Chilaquiles are a great way to start the day.
EL PESQUERO (Puerto Morelos): A must for those who love seafood. Warm service, a casual atmosphere and freshly caught fish.
CATCH (Playa del Carmen): This open kitchen and sushi bar is one of the most buzzing spots in Playa del Carmen, thanks to its expansive roof terrace, 360 degree views live DJ mixes.
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