Cancun sign in colorful letters on the beach with the skyline behind
You can find this #Cancun sign on the beach in the South hotel zone. The Cancun hotel zone is in the background.

A seasoned traveler shares her recommendations on places to visit, stay, eat and do on Mexico’s Caribbean coast – from Cancun to Isla Mujeres to Puerto Morelos to Playa del Carmen to Tulum and Akumal.  It’s me. I’m the seasoned traveler. I’ve visited Mexico 27 times over the past 30 years. While I’ve traveled to several areas on the Pacific side of Mexico, it’s Cancun and the Mayan Riviera that’s won my heart.


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See my related Mexico posts.


Where to stay, eat and play in Cancun, Mexico and the Riviera Maya

Turquoise ocean and blue sky

Where you stay, eat or play in Cancun or on the Riviera Maya depends on your personality, your budget, your traveling party and your travel goals. So this post is more reflective of where I am in life right now (and not my party days with the girls 30, 20 or even 10 years ago). So will focus this post on my favorite experiences in Mexico and top places to visit and things to do along Mexico’s Mayan Riviera – from Cancun to Tulum/Akumal area.

If traveling from the U.S., consult the CDC travel advisories for Mexico as well as the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico and the U.S. State Department for any travel updates.


Top places to stay in Mexico – Cancun and Mayan Riviera

Breakfast on a patio overlooking infinity pool
Hotel Secreto, a boutique hotel in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, is one of our favorite places to stay in Mexico. Room service on our patio overlooking the infinity pool deck.

I can honestly tell you in the 28 times I’ve traveled to Mexico, I only had one ok stay at a resort (meaning it wasn’t horrible, but I probably wouldn’t stay there again). So I could recommend a couple of dozen, but will narrow it down to a few of my favorite places to stay along the Caribbean coast of Mexico.

All-inclusive resorts in Mexico are awesome – great food and lots of fun beachy drinks – and with all-inclusive, everything is already budgeted and paid for in advance. Just remember to bring lots of pesos for tips and bring your own pre-insulated bottle (bartenders will fill it up for you so you and they don’t have to make extra trips to the bar).

However, I do like to get out and try new restaurants so I’ve stayed at some of the best boutique hotels and Airbnbs in Mexico. Here are my top places to stay in Mexico on the Caribbean side (Cancun and Riviera Maya).


Best boutique hotel in Mexico: Hotel Secreto, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Open door leading to beach and ocean
Door leading from under the infinity pool deck to the semi-private and secluded beach at Hotel Secreto in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Hotel Secreto is the best boutique hotel to stay in Mexico.

My husband and I stayed on Isla Mujeres, Mexico for the first time a couple of years ago. We were looking for something more lowkey, quiet and smaller than an all-inclusive resort. Fortunately, my friend recommended Hotel Secreto.

Hotel Secreto is perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway. With only 12 rooms, we felt like we had our own private guest house on the Caribbean. I especially love the semi-private beach, beautiful infinity pool, the attentive staff and the walkability factor. We could walk everywhere from Hotel Secreto – and it’s located near the livelier North Beach if you’re looking for a little more action.

Special note: I am a bed and pillow snob. And Hotel Secreto has the most comfortable beds and pillows. That’s high on my criteria filter.

See my blog series about beautiful Isla Mujeres, Mexico – one of the most romantic places to stay in Mexico.


Best all-inclusive resort hotels in Cancun, Mexico and Mayan Riviera

Oversized chest game at hotel
One of my favorite all-inclusive resort hotels in Mexico: Ocean Coral and Turquesa Resort in Puerto Morelos.

We’ve stayed at several all-inclusive resort hotels in Mexico and my all-time favorite is Ocean Coral and Turquesa Resort in Puerto Morelos. Now if you’re looking to spend a lot of time in Cancun or Playa del Carmen, this resort is about the mid-way point. If you take taxis, it can get a little pricey, but there’s so much to do at Ocean Coral and Turquesa, you really don’t need to leave.

I recommend booking one of the Privilege suites as you’ll receive, well, special privileges such as a butler, a private beach, special dining opportunities and more. And the rooms are spacious. Ocean Coral and Turquesa features several pools, bars, restaurants, spa treatments, fun activities (on and off the resort). I’ve stayed here with a group of friends (11 of us!) with my sister and a friend, and solo.


Here are a few other all-inclusive resort hotels we’ve stayed at and loved in Cancun and along the Mayan Riviera.

Oceanview room overlooking swim-up bar and white sand beach and blue ocean
Best all-inclusive resort hotels in Cancun, Mexico: Paradisus Playa Mujeres or Paradisus Cancun (we’ve stayed at both under different names – but still under the Melia brand name).
Boy sitting at a swim-up bar drinking
Best all-inclusive resort hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico: RIU Palace in the gated community of Playacar. Our son from back in the day enjoying the swim-up bar.
Sunrise with beach chairs, thatched umbrellas next to ocean
Best all-inclusive resort hotel in Akumal, Mexico: Luxury Grand Bahia Akumal. We stayed here for our niece’s destination wedding so highly recommend as a venue for that kind of celebration.

Best vacation rental in Mexico: Caribbean Reef Villas, Puerto Morelos, Mexico

Infinity pool overlooking ocean with one palm tree
One of the best vacation rentals in Mexico: Caribbean Reef Villas condo in Puerto Morelos, Mexico.

I’m a big fan of Airbnb and VRBO and have reserved condos and homes with them several times.

My friend and I were looking for a quick and inexpensive getaway to Mexico and I found this Airbnb Caribbean Reef Villas condo in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. Now our only agenda was beach, book, beer and that’s pretty much all we did. Although we did go into town for happy hour and dinner (we were within walking distance). So if you’re looking for nightlife, you’ll want to pass on Caribbean Reef Villas. But if you’re looking for quiet and relaxing, then this condo in Puerto Morelos is your perfect destination in Mexico.

One of my favorite features of this Caribbean Reef Villas condo is that it is oceanfront – like only 100 feet away. So loved falling asleep to the crashing waves. The only downside of this particular vacation rental is that unlike all-inclusive resorts with a large staff, the beaches are not well-groomed and you will find some seaweed. But that was not a deal breaker as I’m content to sit poolside.

Best places to eat in Cancun, Mexico

Gecko with lizard neon sign

My list of the top places to eat in Cancun or along the Mayan Riviera is long. Unfortunately, several of my favorite restaurants have closed temporarily or permanently so I’m hesitant to recommend too many at this time. I’m so disappointed to learn Blue Gecko Cantina closed. They had the most amazing shrimp tacos (however, I read on their Facebook page that they are planning to open up in the Austin area – I’ll need to confirm it’s Austin, Texas).

Since the hospitality industry may still be navigating the effects of the pandemic, I’ll recommend a couple of restaurants that appear to be open at this time.

Best restaurants in Cancun: Navios Cancun Seafood Restaurant


Sunset over lagoon and pier in Mexico

Make a reservation at Navios Cancun Seafood Restaurant on the water and time it so you catch the sunset over Nichupte Lagoon in Cancun.

Fresh seafood platter shrimp, octopus, catch of the day

Lobster tail and rice dinner

We ordered Navios’ seafood feast special for two. And it was an amazing seafood feast – expensive, but so worth it!  Especially since our trip to Mexico in January 2020 was the last trip we took before the pandemic. Can’t wait to return – and we will order a celebratory seafood feast special for two again for sure!

Couple standing on pier at sunset

Best restaurants in Cancun: Captain’s Cove

Colorful lights to entrance of restaraunt with steps

We first discovered Captain’s Cove during our first visit to Mexico 30 years ago. So this seafood and steak restaurant in Cancun holds a special place in our hearts. And the food and waterfront ambiance at Captain’s Cove is pretty special also. I especially love their coconut shrimp, breaded and served with a sweet-spicy orange sauce and tropical guacamole. Editor’s note: I did read recently that Captain’s Cove may have closed.

coconut shrimp foodie platter

I also recommend making a reservation at Captain’s Cove to sit near the water with a view of the marina at sunset.

Sunset over lagoon and marina

Best restaurants in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

My husband and I ate at several of the street and sidewalk cafes when we stayed in Isla Mujeres, Mexico – all of them are amazing – and some come with a dinner show. Here are two that stood out for us as the best restaurants in Isla Mujeres during our first visit. We recently returned from another stay in Isla Mujeres, so now have several top restaurants to recommend. See related post: Best places to eat in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Best Caribbean Restaurant in Isla Mujeres, Mexico: Javi’s Cantina Restaurant and Bar

Two guitar players in restaurant courtyard with customers looking on from tables

I recommend making a reservation at Javi’s Cantina Restaurant and Bar in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. We were a walk-in, but they were able to seat us in the front of the restaurant. Still great ambiance and we also had live music – a guitar soloist. Pictured above is the courtyard area of Javi’s Cantina.

Two frozen cocktails with candlelight

Our pre-dinner cocktails (where we ordered seconds and maybe thirds) at Javi’s Cantina Restaurant and Bar were pretty amazing. My husband ordered a grilled pineapple margarita and I enjoyed a refreshing strawberry daiquiri by candlelight.

snapper in a mushroom cream sauce with a side of veggies

For dinner, I devoured the fabulous jumbo shrimp special and took a bite or two of my husband’s fresh catch of the day, snapper, in a mushroom cream sauce. They were both amazing. We will definitely eat at Javi’s Cantina Restaurant and Bar in Isla Mujeres again – one of the best restaurants on the island.

Hallway street art mural in Mexico
Hallway leading from the front of the restaurant to the courtyard of Javi’s Cantina Restaurant and Bar – one of the best restaurants in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

Best Restaurants in Isla Mujeres, Mexico: North Garden Café Restaurant and Bar

Night shot of two-level outdoor restaurant in Mexico

North Garden Café Restaurant and Bar is one of the best restaurants in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. It was within walking distance of our hotel (Hotel Secreto) and near North Beach. We enjoyed happy hour, breakfast and dinner. Note that North Garden Cafe is currently only open for breakfast and lunch until 3 p.m. For our latest dinner recommendations in Isla Mujeres (like Fuego de Mar, Rosa Sirena, Olivia), see our related post: Best restaurants in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

I especially loved North Garden Cafe’s tableside flamed salmon entrée: citrus-flavored salmon cooked over coals and marinated with Grand Marnier on a bed of grilled grapefruit and vegetables. Grilled grapefruit is pretty amazing!

Woman cooking dinner next to a table with a large flame

flamed salmon and grilled grapefruit and veggies

And my husband enjoyed North Garden Café’s homemade pasta with seafood (fruiti de mar) with pesto cream sauce, roasted jumbo shrimp, fish of the day and octopus sauteed with white wine.


Top things to do in Cancun, Mexico and the Mayan Riviera

Best books to read on vacation
My favorite thing to do in Mexico: Read a book and watch the ocean do its thing.

Now, I’ve been to Mexico so many times I’m usually visiting for the sole purpose to rest, relax and recharge – or what I call my beach, book, beverage vacation. Meaning I don’t make any plans other than to watch the ocean do its thing and work on my current reading challenge.

And drink.

Also eat.

And if I wake up and feel like doing something, then I just do it.

However, if you are visiting Mexico for the first time or looking for some fun activities to do solo, as a couple or with your family, here are our family’s favorite top things to do in Mexico.

Note: Always check with the attraction’s website, your hotel concierge or tour operator for the latest updates.

Top things to do in Mexico: Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins

Mayan ruins aerial shot of Chichen Itza

While it’s a long road trip that will take all day and into the night, the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza are worth investing the time to experience history. It’s been more than 10 years since we’ve visited (I’ve toured twice). I’ve heard from other travelers that Chichen Itza has become pretty commercialized, which is unfortunate. Since I haven’t experienced that myself, I would still recommend taking a tour of Chichen Itza if you get the opportunity – exploring the Mayan ruins is one of the best things to do in Mexico.

Top places to visit in Mexico: Tulum Mayan Ruins

Mayan ruins next to Caribbean in Tulum Mexico

The Tulum Mayan ruins are considerably smaller than what you’ll find at Chichen Itza; however, they hold a special place in our hearts. My husband and I visited the Mayan ruins in Tulum during our first visit to Mexico in 1990. Nothing compares to seeing all that history with the blue-green waters of the Caribbean as the backdrop. The setting of the Tulum Mayan ruins is simply stunning! These images are 30 years old and don’t do the place justice. Guess where I’ll be revisiting the next time I travel to Mexico.

View of Mayan ruins along the Caribbean at Tulum Mexico

Best places to visit in Mexico: Xcaret eco-archeological park in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Two colorful parrots in Mexican jungle Xcaret park

With more than 50 natural and cultural attractions, you’ll find something for everyone at Xcaret in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We especially loved the underground rivers and caves you can float in and through, Mayan ruins, cenotes, aquarium, butterfly garden, lots of colorful and exotic birds, beautiful flora and fauna gardens, a Mayan dinner show and much more.

Mexican dinner show at Xcaret

Best things to do in Mexico: Swimming and snorkeling with turtles

One of our family’s favorite experiences was swimming and snorkeling with the turtles in Akumal, Mexico. And fair warning, even though we had life jackets and are in fairly good physical condition, we were exhausted afterwards.


Best things to do in Mexico: Swimming and snorkeling in cenotes

What’s a cenote? Cenotes are gorgeous; that’s what they are! Essentially, cenotes are underground swimming holes in limestone rock with water so clear you can see fish and other marine life swimming around you.

And you don’t have to limit snorkeling to cenotes. The Great Mayan Reef near Cancun (Punta Nizuc) offers some of the best snorkeling (and scuba diving) experiences in the world. Cozumel (an island across from Playa del Carmen, Mexico) offers numerous snorkeling and diving sites along the Mesoamerican Reef – also considered one of the best diving spots in the world.

Woman in snorkel gear with jazz hands
Came across this old photo recently and made me laugh. I’m fairly certain I do not have my life jacket fastened correctly. Yeesh!

Best things to do near Cancun and Mayan Riviera: Explore Cozumel and/or Isla Mujeres

Boat in blue ocean with blue sky and clouds
View from the ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

If you’re not staying on one of the nearby islands of Cozumel or Isla Mujeres, then I highly recommend taking a day trip. You can book day cruises, snorkeling trips, or take a public ferry (you can also find private boat operators). See my related post: How to get to Isla Mujeres from Cancun, Mexico. You catch the ferry to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen.

You can spend the day on the Mexican islands snorkeling, shopping at local merchants and flea markets or renting a motorized vehicle to take your own island tour. Golf carts are popular modes of transportation on Isla Mujeres and plenty of places where you can rent them. When we visited Cozumel, we rented mopeds and Jeeps. Lots of fun and a great way to see the island!

On my next visit to Mexico, I want to check out another island – Isla Holbox. This car-free island is about 60 km northwest of Cancun and only accessible by ferry.

Mérida, Mexico is also on my list. Check out this insider’s guide on what to do in Mérida, Mexico. This beautiful destination is located 4.5 hours from Cancun.

Best free things to do in Mexico

Sun over ocean and beach with blue sky

Some of the best things to do in Mexico are free! And some of my favorite ways to spend my day on the Caribbean include:

  • Get up early for a beach walk and take in the sunrise.
  • Make a dinner reservation on the lagoon in Cancun and watch the sunset.
  • Take in some of the beautiful and colorful street art. See my related post: Best street art in Isla Mujeres
  • Do as I do and simply sit and watch the ocean do its thing.

Man in a ball in pool in Mexico

Of course, this is a very limited list of places to stay, visit and things to do in Mexico – but a good start to make your trip to Mexico memorable. Your resort will also offer fun activities on and off the hotel grounds such as salsa dancing lessons, margarita classes, cooking lessons, tequila tastings, swim with the dolphins, jet ski rentals, parasailing, jungle tours, glass-bottom cruises, sunset dinner cruises, bar crawls and more.

Is it safe to travel to Mexico?

When people asked me this question a year ago, they were referring to their physical safety. And I could answer without a doubt, yes, it is safe to travel to Mexico. Check out my full video post on why I believe Mexico is safe as well as all my safety tips (which are really safety tips for anywhere you travel in the world.).

Today, many people are wondering if it is safe to travel to Mexico due to Covid (as well as some recent cartel violence). I can’t answer that for you. However, I would recommend that you consult the CDC travel advisories for Mexico as well as the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico and the U.S. State Department. CDC focuses on public health advisories and the U.S. State Department also considers other risk indicators such as crime and kidnapping.


Safety travel tip to Mexico or any foreign country

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). It’s a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Helps you and your family stay informed, connected and safe in the event of an emergency.

Other frequently asked questions and tips about traveling to Cancun, Mexico and the Mayan Riviera

If you have any other questions or looking for tips or recommendations not addressed in this post, simple leave me a note in the comments or contact me directly. I hope you enjoy and grow to love Mexico as much as we do.

Purple eco friendly beach towel at Lake Marion
Pack a Microfiber towel like this super absorbant (and super cute) Akumal 2.0 beach towel from Wildhorn Outfitters. I was gifted this ecofriendly towel and love it especially since it dries so quickly! And this eco-friendly beach towel is made of 75% recycled bottles! It also comes with a convenient drawstring bag that does double duty as a beach bag .

Pin it for later: Best places to stay, eat, play in Cancun, Mexico and the Mayan Riviera


Collage of photos of Cancun sign on a beach, a sunset in a marina and Chichen Itza Mayan ruins

Author

Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller

78 comments

  1. I got so many Isla Mujeres tips from this blog! I’m going to check out Secreto for sure, and also North Garden Café looks like such a fun beach bar. Hoping to make it to Isla Mujeres soon!

    1. I can’t wait to read about your Isla experience! You’ve inspired me to check out so many new places in Mexico. Can’t wait to visit again!

  2. I think Mexico is a big plan of mine this year as long as things go smoothly, so this is super helpful as I’ve never been, but was interested in the Cancun side. Love the hotel recommendations, looks like I’ve got some reading and planning to do

    1. I hope you get the opportunity to visit Mexico this year. Let me know if you have any questions about your upcoming trip to Cancun. Happy to share recommendations and tips!

  3. I’ve been to Cancun once and I loved every minute of it. The food, the accommodation, the weather and Chichen Itza was so interesting. Looking forward to going back one day.

  4. What a great guide! I have been to Cancun but very briefly, I spent my time between Puerto Morelos and Tulum. There are definitely a lot of things I missed doing, but that’s always a reason to come back to this beautiful part of the world.

  5. Awesome, thanks for sharing your advice. Do you think I should book more than one resort, one near playa del Carmen and one closer to Cancun?

    1. It will depend on how long you’ll be in Mexico. If going for a week or longer (which I recommend), I’d stay in both so you can experience what Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Mayan Riviera offer. Cancun is a city now so I prefer to stay in the south hotel zone. It’s closer to the airport – you’ll be on the beach within a half-hour after you get through customs. And you can always take a cab, walk or take the bus (super cheap) to other areas in Cancun. The centro hotel zone is close to shopping and restaurants. The north hotel zone is more on the bay side so the waters are calmer. I love crashing waves so that’s why I stay in the south zone. Make sure you reserve a hotel on the ocean and not the lagoon and many hotels do not allow spring breakers so check for those (I prefer adult-only hotels). Playa del Carmen is a beautiful area to explore. When reserving your resort, check to make sure how close it is to Playa del Carmen. I’ve learned that several say they are in Playa del Carmen, but they’re really on the Mayan Riviera, which could be a 15- to 30-minute drive. Not convenient if you’re planning to spend a lot of time in Playa. Personally, I prefer hotels in the Playacar region – quieter and still walkable. I also love the Akumal area (which is further south). It will take you at least an hour if not more to get to Playa del Carmen from the airport. And if you are hiring a shuttle, they will pick you up 3-4 hours before your departure. So that’s why I don’t stay there if I’m only going to Mexico for just a few days (drive time and airport wait takes a day of travel total).

  6. Wow! This truly is a comprehensive guide to the best places to stay and things to do in Cancun and the Mayan Riviera! I’m ready to go. It’s so snowy and cold there that those bright blue colors are super inviting right now!

    1. Thank you so much! So happy to hear you found my guide to Cancun and the Riviera Maya helpful and inspiring. It’s snowy and cold here in Minnesota so would love to be on the beaches of Mexico myself.

  7. I adore Mexico both the coast and interior. These resorts sound awesome. I so want to get to Isla Mujeres someday. I’m still a bit skeptical about travel in Mexico, but hoepfully soon

    1. I love Mexico, but waiting to travel myself until the travel restrictions are reduced. Can’t wait to see Cancun and the Mayan Riviera again!

  8. I’m not a big fan of large resorts so I would love to check out the boutique hotel in Mexico that you suggested. And those restaurants look fantastic!

    1. We absolutely loved the boutique hotel, Hotel Secreto, in Isla Mujeres. We will definitely return there and the restaurants on the island and Cancun.

  9. WOW… you’ve been to Mexico 27 times?! That’s fantastic! You’ve definitely got some great info here on things to do in Cancun and the Mayan Rivera. And that seafood…YUM!!

    1. I’m amazed that I’ve been to Mexico so many times myself. I absolutely adore Cancun and the Mayan Riviera. And they do have amazing seafood.

    1. Thank you so much! Cancun has changed a lot of the past 30 years – it was only a fishing village when we first visited. But still love their beaches the best!

  10. What wonderful places to explore! We have not been to Mexico but it looks very inviting! I have also wondered about an all-inclusive and you answered all my questions! Thanks for the great tour!

    1. My pleasure…so happy to hear I answered your questions about all-inclusives in Mexico. I hope you get the opportunity to visit – especially Cancun and the entire Mayan Riviera – so many beautiful and fun things to do and see.

  11. Some great recommendations here, Karen. Areally informative article. And thank you for addressing the safety question. I had wondered about taking our RV into Mexico, but actually reading this, I think I might prefer to pick one of your accommodation options.

    1. Thank you so much, Jane! We’ve never driven in Mexico. We always hire drivers or shuttles or take a cab or the bus. It’s one less thing I need to stress about especially on vacation.

  12. This is a great resource for Cancun and the Mayan Riviera! I am definitely saving this for my next trip to Mexico! Thanks!

    1. We loved our extended family stay at Luxury Grand Bahia Akumal – one of our favorite all-inclusive hotel resorts in Mexic. The wedding was so beautiful right on the beach overlooking the Caribbean.

  13. Hotel Secreto sounds like the perfect place for us! I’ve been to Cancun/Playa del Carmen about 3 times, but haven’t made it to Akumal or Isla Mujeres. Now that we live in Mexico, I think another trip (away from the tourists locations) is in our future!

    1. We love Isla Mujeres and Akumal as they are not as touristy and much quieter. And Hotel Secreto is the best boutique hotel on Isla Mujeres!

    1. Thanks so much, Lannie! Cancun and the Mayan Riviera are my happy places and love to share my recommendations on the best places to visit.

  14. Wow! What a comprehensive guide! While I personally wouldn’t travel far from home right now, my 20 yr old daughter visited the area in November, and I was very impressed with all the safety measures she told me about. It actually sounded like they were taking COVID more seriously in this part of Mexico than at home.

    1. Thank you! We’re not traveling right now either, but have heard the same thing from two different friends that Mexico is going above and beyond with COVID safety guidelines in place.

  15. Such a detailed and informative guide on where to stay and things to do in Cancun. I’d enjoy dinner at Navios Cancun Seafood Restaurant for sunset and seeing Chichen Itza would be incredible, despite the long drive.

    1. Thanks so much, Wendy! I highly recommend both Navios Cancun Seafood Restaurant for a sunset dinner on the water and a trip to Chichen Itza Mayan ruins – it is worth the trip.

  16. Wow, the food at Navios looks so good! I’ll definitely look up the place if I ever visit Cancun one day. Who wouldn’t want to see the sunset as they eat??

  17. I’ve only been to Cancun one time right before hitting a cruise, a was only a couple of days but I totally enjoyed it and would absolutely go back. I had a boss who went 3 or 4 times a year, I swore by it!

    1. I’m a huge fan of Cancun, Mexico. If I could go 3-4 times a year, I would also. I’m ready for a month sabbatical after a year of no travel.

  18. This is awesome – my boyfriend and I are hoping to head to Mexico in the near-future and this has inspired me. I totally agree – sitting and watching the ocean is the perfect way to spend a long afternoon. Off to read about the street art in Isla Mujeres now 🙂

    1. So happy this travel guide to the best places in Cancun and the Mayan Riviera will help with your planning! I would love to be watching the ocean do its thing right about now.

  19. I’ve been to Cancun once, and that was about 18.5 years ago! We really loved staying at the Sun Palace all inclusive resort and got to tour the XIU Palace as well. It was incredible!

    1. My friend has a timeshare at one of the Palaces so we’ve stayed there a few times. So many gorgeous places to stay in Cancun and the Mayan Riviera.

  20. Your guide to the Mayan Riviera and Cancun is so extensive! Thank you. I’ve stayed in the hotel zone of Cancun, and on the Yucatan before. But, your description makes me want to try Isla Mujeres next.
    I’ve heard that Holbox is also pretty special.

    1. Thank you! I highly recommend Isla Mujeres – my husband and I fell in love with this island in Mexico. And I can’t wait to visit Holbox.

  21. Such a helpful post, Karen! I’ve never been to Mexico so I’m pinning this for ideas when I’m able to plan a trip. I’d love to explore the cenotes and see the Mayan ruins, in particular. Swimming with turtles is also high on my list!

  22. Ah! I’m debating if I want to plan a trip to Mexico this year or keep it more local. If I decide on Mexico, I’m really debating between Cancun and Tulum – this post was so helpful! I was leaning towards an all inclusive, but that Hotel Secreto on Isla de Mujeres looks like a dream!

    1. I hear ya! I do have a paid reservation already for Mexico (that I made a year ago), but thinking I’m going to stay stateside for a bit. All-inclusives and boutiques are both equally great…just depends on the type of experience you want.

  23. I haven’t realized how much I miss the sun, ocean and heat till reading this post! Hopefully, I can get to experience it this year!