Riviera Maya holidays bang the beach drum with plenty of gusto. And ancient ruins, eco parks and scuba diving trips hum away in the background all the while.

Super sands

The best place to start in Riviera Maya is the beaches. Huge brushstrokes of sand add 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. Just a heads up – the beaches here are sometimes affected by sargassum, a type of seaweed. It’s influenced by things like weather patterns and the currents in the sea. If your hotel’s affected, the staff will do everything they can to clear it.

Tonnes to do

The to-do list here cherry-picks bits and bobs from across the board. Nature fans can get to grips with the region’s trademark eco parks, where limestone caves, tropical animal habitats and scuba diving trips are brought to the table. The marine life at Xel-Ha makes it stand out from the crowd. Google Map your way along the coastline, and you’ll reach the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum. The huge stone castle's one of the best-preserved sites in Quintana Roo, and the views are pretty tidy, too.

Lively nights

Playa del Carmen’s the wild child in this neck of the woods. By day, the town’s glut of hotel guests shop their way along 5th Avenue or hit the fairways in next-door Playacar. And once the sun’s tucked itself in for the night, the party atmosphere starts to bubble away. It’s not in the same ballpark as the region’s biggest-hitter, Cancun, but delivers a bass-pumping middle ground that more than holds its own.

Off-shore neighbours

The islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres go one better than the mainland, by delivering the same sandy beaches without the accompanying tot of tourists. A huge barrier reef coils its way around the first of the two, so snorkelling’s compulsory when you take a dip. Isla Mujeres, on the other hand, is barely more than a slither of land, but it's been served a decent helping of restaurants and spa resorts.

At a Glance

  • Scuba dive off the coast of Cozumel
  • Visit the ruins of Tulum
  • Set up shop on a sandy beach

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