Are you ready to have a magical holiday on Mexico’s paradise coast, the Riviera Maya? White sand beaches, an amazing underwater world, beach parties, Mayan ruins, and those Mexican tacos… I assure you this is going to be an amazing vacation!
Riviera Maya is located on the Yucatan peninsula and has 150 km (90 mi) of epic coastline. For beach bums, history seekers, yogis, and party people, there is something for all kinds of travelers so it is not hard to guess why the Riviera Maya is so famous!
In this blog post on where to stay in Riviera Maya, I will talk about the 6 best areas. Riviera Maya is one of the most popular travel destinations in Mexico and even in the world and it’s a favorite holiday spot all year round. That’s why I highly recommend you make your hotel reservation months in advance to not miss the best hotels that I carefully picked for you.
Many of the hotels have free cancelation, so don’t worry if you change your mind. I also have a super detailed post for you on Things to do in Riviera Maya, it covers all the towns we are going to talk about here and more!
If you are ready like me, let’s get started to discover the amazing Riviera Maya!
If you are in a hurry
Here are the best places to stay in Riviera Maya with hotels from luxury to budget. They are all conveniently located and have great reviews!
Grand Fiesta Americana
Best luxury hotel
Casa Sampi Tulum
An Airbnb with amazing reviews
Renaissance Cancun Resort
Best value for money
Nomads Hotel Cancun
Best affordable accommodation in the center
Here is a map with the 6 best areas where to stay in Riviera Maya that I will be talking about in this blog post so you can easily visualize them:
1. Cancun – where to stay in Riviera Maya for the first time
From stunning white sand beaches to impressive historical sites, Cancun has something for every kind of traveler and it is no surprise that it is the most famous place to stay in Riviera Maya for first-timers.
This impressive city is a tale of two cities. The first one is Zone Hoteliera where you will find epic beaches with attractive hotels (tons of them!), and the second part is the Cancun City Center where you will be discovering Maya culture. Sounds very tempting, right?
Start your day by heading to beautiful beaches to go swimming and snorkeling in the crystal clear water. After a nice sunset drink, check out the beautiful shops in the city center and pick one of the many nice Mexican restaurants.
Now it’s time to discover the colorful nightlife in Cancun. Don’t be hard on yourself because there is still a day ahead of you to explore the impressive archeological sites of El Ray where you will learn about the Mayan Culture!
Thanks to being a very popular destination, Cancun offers a great number of accommodations from all-inclusive 5* resorts to budget ones. In order to not miss the best ones that I handpicked for you, do not forget to make your reservation in advance. But don’t worry if these are booked out, we have another whole post full of hotels in Cancun.
This all-inclusive resort in Cancun offers beachfront accommodation with spacious rooms overlooking the beautiful coastline. You can enjoy their 2 swimming pools, water sport activities, an upscale spa, and fully-equipped fitness center. Thanks to Gran Fiesta Americana Hotels’ all-inclusive package, you can have food in any of 6 restaurants with international cuisine and enjoy drinks from the pool and beach bars, all included in the price! We have personally stayed there and you can read about our experience here.
Other accommodation options in Cancun
Things to do in Cancun
- Have an unforgettable experience at Cancun Underwater Museum
- Visit the Interactive Aquarium Cancún
- Try local Mexican food at Mercado 28
- Spend time at the beautiful beaches Playa Norte and Playa Delfines
- Visit the El Rey Archaeological Zone
- Join a snorkeling tour to discover the spectacular underwater of Cancun
- Have delicious Mexican food with live music at Xoximilco
- Go to the amazing natural park, Xcaret Park
2. Tulum – where to stay in Riviera Maya for the best beaches
Tulum is situated on the south coastline of Riviera Maya and is 2 hours drive from Cancun. Here you will certainly find the most famous beaches with amazing sea color and powdery sand, but this town has a lot more to offer. You will be discovering impressive Mayan ruins, incredible cenotes, and amazing landscapes during your stay in Tulum.
There is no doubt that you should spend time on gorgeous beaches and discover the colorful underwater world by snorkeling or diving. But also, these beautiful beaches are famous for their parties that go all night long! Alternatively, for those who are into yoga, Tulum is one of the most famous places for it so why not take a yoga class by the beach?
In Tulum, you must also allow time for sightseeing to discover the Mayan Ruins and numerous cenotes. There are so many things to do in Tulum so we need to find you a comfortable hotel where you can relax after a busy day. If these 4 incredible options aren’t enough for you, we have an entire post dedicated to the best places to stay in Tulum.
This 5-star resort is one of the best luxury resorts to stay in Tulum. This beautiful resort offers a swimming pool, spacious rooms, free parking, a good breakfast, and a bar. You can rent a bike from the hotel to explore the surroundings of the town and arrange a diving tour. With its family-friendly rooms and kids’ amenities, it is also a great place to stay for families.
Other accommodation options in Tulum
Things to do in Tulum
- Get a suntan and join beach parties at Tulum Beach
- Visit the Punta Laguna Nature Reserve nearby
- Go to the spectacular Parque Nacional Tulum
- Visit the natural beauties Cenote Calavera and Gran Cenote
- Join a yoga class by the beach
- Discover ancient Maya ruins
- Spend time at the beautiful Paradise Beach
- Visit authentic Mayan Beach
3. Playa del Carmen – coolest town to stay in Riviera Maya
Playa del Carmen is located 70 km (40 miles) south of Cancun and just after Puerto Morelos. Here you will be able to find stunning white sand beaches, upscale restaurants, trendy bars, and cool boutiques.
Start your day discovering the famous beaches, joining beach parties, and doing water sports such as parasailing, diving, and snorkeling. I am sure that it will be difficult to leave those beautiful beaches but you have to discover the amazing restaurants and bars in Playa del Carmen! Also, do not forget to allow some time to shop and dive into some amazing coyotes (natural caves below ground that are filled with cool water).
Thanks to its location being between the 2 most popular towns; Tulum and Cancun, Playa del Carmen is also a good base to discover the whole Riviera Maya. Here you will be able to find many accommodations for all kinds of travelers’ tastes and don’t worry I’ve already picked the best ones for you.
This luxury beachfront hotel offers all-inclusive accommodation. You can enjoy meals in any of their 2 international restaurants and have drinks in 3 different bars. Grand Hyatt Resort has spacious rooms, an excellent spa, and a very beautiful sun terrace. It also has easy access to the town center and shops. With its family-friendly rooms and kids’ amenities, it is also a great place to stay for families.
Other accommodation options in Playa del Carmen
Things to do in Playa del Carmen
- Go for a walk at the beautiful Parque Los Fundadores
- Take a golf lesson at Gran Coyote Golf
- Check out the restaurants and bars at Quinta Avenida Norte
- Explore the stunning Cenote Cristalino
- Go to SAYAB Planetario de Playa del Carmen
- Spend time at the white sand beach Playa Punta Esmeralda
- See an exhibition at the Art Gallery by Gastón Charó
- Visit the 3D Museum of Wonders
4. Puerto Morelos – for a local vibe
Puerto Morelos is located 45 km (30 miles) south of Cancun and is a very cute town with beautiful beaches and a local vibe. If you want to stay in an area that is less touristy and less crowded, you will love Puerto Morelos! I also have another good news. In this town, hotels are more affordable compared to Cancun and Tulum!
Being less touristy doesn’t mean that beaches in Puerto Morelos are not attractive. On the contrary, you will be amazed by the color of the water at the powdery white sand beaches. This town is also one of the best spots for snorkeling, diving, and swimming with dolphins so get ready to mingle with sea creatures!
Here you will also find many nice local Mexican restaurants and bars, souvenir shops and more than enough accommodation options. Riviera Maya is visited by travelers all year round so in order to get better deals on hotels and secure your place do not forget to make your booking in advance.
Let’s check out the best places to stay in this lovely town:
This all-inclusive resort has an amazing private beach area, spacious rooms with beautiful views of the Yucatan Peninsula including family-friendly rooms, 3 swimming pools, a unique spa, and a good fitness center. Dreams Jade Resort offers an all-inclusive package that enables you to have everything included so all you have to worry about during your stay is the beautiful views. You can also arrange diving and snorkeling tours at the resort to really get the most out of your trip!
Other accommodation options in Puerto Morelos
Things to do in Puerto Morelos
- Have a walk at Jardín Botánico Dr. Alfredo Barrera Marín
- Visit Croco Cun Zoo to see many different animals
- Swim in the crystal clear water at Playa Puerto Morelos
- Go snorkeling at the National Reef Park Of Puerto Morelos
- Swim with dolphins at Delphinus Puerto Morelos
- Go for a walk and take amazing photos of the Faro Inclinado
5. Akumal – the best town in Riviera Maya for a relaxed holiday
Akumal is located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum and is the perfect place to stay in Riviera Maya if you want to enjoy quiet beaches. These peaceful beaches are some of the best spots for diving and snorkeling and you will be impressed by the color of the water and the abundance of different kinds of fish.
In Akumal, the unique landmarks you shouldn’t miss are Cenote Y Laguna Yalku, Aktun Chen, and Akumal Monkey Sanctuary. Get ready to discover impressive landscapes and to see monkeys in their natural environment. Not to forget, you will also have the chance to swim with turtles at Akumal Beach. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
Even though it is generally a quiet town you will be able to find a great number of restaurants, bars, and hotels, so everything you need is available in Akumal.
This adults-only hotel is one of the best hotels in Akumal city. The all-inclusive hotel offers 3 swimming pools, a private beach, a beautiful sun terrace, a spa, a wellness center, and a great breakfast. Secrets Akumal Hotel has easy access to the city center and the famous Playa del Carmen is just half an hour drive away.
Other accommodation options in Akumal
Things to do in Akumal
- Swim in the crystal clear water at Playa Akumal
- Visit the natural beauty Cenote Y Laguna Yal Ku and Aktun Chen
- See monkeys in their natural environment at Akumal Monkey Sanctuary
- Go snorkeling at Centro Ecológico Akumal
- Swim with turtles at Akumal Turtle Beach
- Have fun with water sport activities at Xel-Há Park nearby
- Take a golf lesson at Riviera Maya Golf Club
6. Puerto Aventuras/Xpu-Ha – for secluded beaches
Puerto Aventuras is located 40 km (25 miles) north of Tulum. If you want to enjoy less crowded beaches that have white sand and turquoise color water this town is just for you. The famous beach here is gorgeous Xpu-Ha Beach.
Imagine yourself spending the whole day on this secluded beach laying under the palm trees, cocktail in hand while watching the epic scenery. Sounds like a dream holiday right?
The best thing about staying in Puerto Aventuras is that even though it is a less touristy area, you will still find everything you need such as beach bars, cafes and nice restaurants. And of course, let’s not forget the many nice beachfront hotels and accommodation with easy access to the beach.
Hard Rock Hotel offers adult-only accommodation and is the best luxury hotel to stay in Puerto Aventuras. You will love this hotel’s large swimming pool, fabulous spa, beautifully decorated spacious rooms, and large garden surrounded by palm trees! You can enjoy getting a suntan and swimming on their private beach during the day and at night there are DJ performances at the hotel’s chic bar. Everything is ready for you to have a pleasant holiday here!
Other options in Puerto Aventuras/Xpu-Ha
Things to do in Puerto Aventuras/Xpu-Ha
- Swim in the crystal clear water at Xpu-Ha Beach
- Visit Dolphin Discovery Dreams Puerto Aventuras
- Discover natural caves at Kantun Chi
- Swim and take photos at Cenote Chikin Ha
- Go snorkeling at Cenote Chac Mool
- Visit the Adoratorio ruinas Chac-hal-al
|👑 Luxury price:||$400|
|💵 Mid-range hotel:||$200|
|💰 Accommodation prices:||Medium|
|📍 Best Area:||Cancun|
|🛎️ Best luxury hotel:||Grand Fiesta Americana|
|👛 Best budget hotel:||Nomads Hotel Cancun|
BONUS 1: The best all-inclusive hotels in Riviera Maya for All Budgets
Riviera Maya is famous for its all-inclusive hotels. These hotels have a bit higher price compared to bed and breakfast or half board hotels but you don’t have to worry about a hefty bill at the end of your stay as all your meals and drinks are included in the accommodation price. These incredible hotels often have countless restaurants, pools, and other activities on offer so you don’t even need to leave the resort!
If you’re looking for a totally stress-free vacation then let’s check out the best All-inclusive hotels in Riviera Maya.
The House of AïA
This luxury all-inclusive hotel is located in Playa Del Carmen and has everything you need in one place. The House of AiA Hotel features large outdoor pools, an upscale spa, 5 restaurants, and beautiful suites with private terraces.
You can enjoy swimming in the crystal clear water of the private white sand beach, take yoga classes, fitness lessons, and tai chi sessions for free, and at night, enjoy beautiful cocktails in the hotel’s bar with entertainment.
All of the spacious rooms are family-friendly and have a terrace overlooking the beach. If you want to have a celebrity treatment I highly recommend staying in the House of AiA Hotel.
The Royal Haciendas Resort
The Royal Haciendas Resort & Spa is located in the area of Playa del Carmen and offers 5-star all-inclusive accommodation. This luxury hotel features a large swimming pool, a gorgeous spa, a private beach, and free parking.
The spacious hotel rooms are family-friendly and have a private balcony with sea views. You can enjoy chilling on their beautiful private beach all day long but if you feel like a changing the scene, you can use their free shuttle to the famous Playa del Carmen.
With its pleasant service and great facilities, I have no doubt that you will have a great time here.
Panama Jack Resort
Panama Jack Resort is satiated in Playa del Carmen and features affordable all-inclusive accommodation. Located right on the beach, this hotel offers 2 swimming pools, a very good spa, a kids club, gourmet restaurants, and a bar.
The famous attractions of Playa del Carmen and shops are within walking distance and the hotel rooms are very comfortable, some with private balconies and nice views. This is a great choice for families who want to keep everyone happy for the whole vacation!
BONUS 2: The 5 best beaches you should not miss in Riviera Maya
Riviera Maya is known for its stunning beaches and of course, there is a reason for it. This beautiful peninsula offers one of the most beautiful beaches with white sand and crystal clear water.
I have already mentioned the best places to stay in Riviera Maya and talked about the famous beaches in each city. However, wherever you decide to stay I highly recommend adding these beautiful beaches to your travel itinerary. The most convenient way to visit them will be by renting a car. Let’s check out what paradise coast has to offer for beach bums.
1. Xpu Ha Beach
Xpu Ha Beach is just south of Puerto Aventuras. It is one of the best beaches in Riviera Maya with its special sand and watercolor. There is a 60 Mexican pesos ($3) entrance fee to the beach. Here you will be able to find restaurants, cocktail bars, and water sport activities. It is also a great place for kayaking and snorkeling.
2. Playa Paraiso (Paradise Beach)
Paradise Beach is just 4 km (2 miles) away from Tulum’s center and just below the famous Mayan ruins. You can pretty much imagine how picturesque the view is. There are restaurants and cafes available around the beach. You should definitely spend some time getting a suntan on the powdery white sand and swimming in the crystal clear water
3. X’cacel Beach
X’cacel Beach is located 25 km (15 miles) north of Tulum. It is a protected natural reserve as sea turtles lay their eggs here. The beach has an 80 Mexican pesos ($4) entry fee which goes towards protecting the turtles and is paid at the gate. There are no restaurants so make sure to bring your snacks with you.
4. Isla Blanca Beach
Situated 30 km (20 miles) north of Cancun, Isla Blanca is on an island and there is a road to drive. It is a very secluded beach where you can also camp for a night if you want to enjoy nature. Isla Blanca Beach is also a famous kitesurfing spot and there are many schools to take lessons.
5. Caleta Tankah Beach
Caleta Tankah Beach is located 10 km (7 miles) north of Tulum Beach. It is an amazing white sand beach where you can spend the entire day. Cafes, sunbeds, and umbrellas are available to rent and the entrance fee to the beach is 180 Mexican pesos ($9).
Frequently asked questions about Riviera Maya
🗺️ Where should I stay in Riviera Maya?
🌴 Is it better to stay in Cancun or Riviera Maya?
🤔 Is it safe to vacation in Riviera Maya?
Thanks to being a very touristy and popular destination Riviera Maya is one of the safest places in Mexico.
🏖️ What is the best beach in Riviera Maya?
Xpu Ha Beach and Akumal Beach are some of the best beaches in Riviera Maya.
🛎️ What are the best all-inclusive resorts in Riviera Maya?
☀️ What is the best time of year to visit Riviera Maya?
The best time to visit Riviera Maya is between November – February when the weather is not too hot or humid and there are fewer rainy days.
✈️ Where do you fly to for Riviera Maya Mexico?
Cancun International Airport is the most convenient airport to fly to Riviera Maya, Mexico.
🚖 How much is a taxi from Cancun airport to Riviera Maya?
The price will depend on your hotel’s location in Riviera Maya. To give you a better idea, from Cancun International Airport to Cancun city center (the shortest trip) costs around $25 and Tulum (longest trip) costs $60.
Here we came to the end of our tour on the beautiful Riviera Maya. I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I did and that I helped you understand the best places to stay in the Riviera Maya as well as find your ideal hotel!
In this post, I covered the best places to stay in Riviera Maya and mentioned the top hotels as well as Airbnbs in each area from luxury to budget. As I said earlier, Cancun is the best city to stay in for first-timers with a vibe that can make all kinds of travelers happy. But, as all towns have a unique atmosphere, you can pick the most suitable one for your taste and rent a car to make day trips between them or, split your holiday between 2 places.
I would also like to remind you of the importance of making a booking in advance as the Riviera Maya is a very popular holiday destination and is visited by travelers all year round. This will help you to get better deals on hotels and guarantee to stay in your favorite hotel.
For those who couldn’t choose among many options, I would like to wrap up. Here are
the 2 best hotels that I can highly recommend you to stay in Riviera Maya. Both are ideally located and have great reviews.
- Grand Fiesta Americana – One of the best luxury places to stay in Cancun that offers an all-inclusive package
- Renaissance Cancun Resort – A great place to stay in Cancun with great facilities and easy access to the city center.
If you have any other suggestions or questions about Riviera Maya and Mexico don’t be shy and leave a comment below. I’ll be happy to leave a reply to them!
Have an amazing holiday,