Whether you plump for the Caribbean Coast and its ancient Mayan ruins, or the green mountains of the Pacific Coast, all holidays to Mexico serve up first-rate beaches and year-round sun.
Busking mariachi bands. Jungle-clad ruins. Chilli-fuelled enchiladas. Mexico’s Caribbean Coast serves up a concentrated hit of the lot, with a side-order of white-sand beaches. The big name here is Cancun, where the nightlife is legendary.
Things are a bit calmer further down the coast on the hip beaches of Playa del Carmen, and in the exclusive beach resort of Playacar. Running from Playacar down to laid-back town of Tulum is the Riviera Maya – home to the must-see Mayan ruins.
The pick of the beaches on Mexico’s Pacific Coast are backed by green mountains and curved around Banderas Bay – a giant pool of blue-tinted water with Puerto Vallarta city at its heart. The city has one of the country’s best restaurant scenes, plus chic boutiques and a promenade made for strolling.
North of Puerto Vallarta city is Nuevo Vallarta, where a cluster of plush beachside hotels serve up solitude and snorkelling. Trace the bay’s coastline further and you’ll find the pretty and peaceful beachfront village, Punta de Mita.
Last but not least, there’s the Riviera Maya, which runs from Playacar down to laid-back town of Tulum. This part of the coast lures holidaymakers with its luxe hotels, silky sands and must-see Mayan ruins.
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Cancun is a huge personality on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, taking four 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 around the Hotel Zone, you’ve got a whopping 22-kilometre stretch of sand.
If you’re not on the list, you’re not coming in. That’s the bottom line in Playacar, which is set up as an exclusive area for a select group of hotel guests. The gated community means you can make the most of private beaches, where crowds are about as uncommon as cloudy days. The whole resort’s set further down the coast from lively Cancun, and plies its trade as a specialist for explorers and easygoing types.
The best place to start in Riviera Maya is the beaches. Huge brushstrokes of sand add a belt of dove white to the green and blue coastline, and sunbathers pepper the shore from Cancun right the way down to Tulum. The hotels are all from a high-end mould, and feel more like little villages than just somewhere to catch 40 winks. Take the luxury El Dorado Royale, with its palm-lined pools and open-air bars which hug the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.