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The Beginner’s Guide to Cancun & the Riviera Maya

Cancun and Riviera Maya are fabulous vacation destinations any time of year for those looking for sun and fun. Most tourists visit between December and April, making right now the best time to take advantage of low prices on vacation packages and a little more elbow room on the beach – just be sure to include travel protection in your vacation package in case a hurricane comes calling. With the Great Mesoamerican Reef right off shore, the region has some of the best scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing in the world.

For new visitors to the region, there are a few things you should know when deciding which area to stay in to ensure you get the experience you’re looking for during your vacation.

HOTEL ZONE, CANCUN

Cancun Hotel Zon

Cancun was literally built for tourists, so you really can’t go wrong with a vacation in the Hotel Zone. Built on a peninsula with a lagoon on one side and Caribbean Sea on the other, it’s got miles of well-maintained beaches and sparkling turquoise water to enjoy. Come here if you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort with world-class amenities and you don’t mind being surrounded by other tourists looking for the same. It’s also a high-energy hotspot, so be ready play all day and party all night.

THE RIVIERA MAYA

Riviera Maya

Named for the ancient Mayan people who built the ruins scattered throughout, the Riviera Maya stretches 100 miles from Puerto Morelos to the ancient ruins of Tulum. Here you’ll find pristine white sand beaches, golf courses, underground jungle pools called cenotes, and Mayan ruins galore. Sprawling all-inclusive resorts give you the feel of a secluded hideaway, while still being close to a variety of activities, including quaint fishing towns and the stunning natural attractions of Xel-Há and Xcaret.

PLAYA DEL CARMEN

5th Avenue, Playa del Carmen

Located in the center of Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen has a more relaxed atmosphere than Cancun, with a distinct colonial flavor. In its pedestrian-friendly downtown, you’ll find Fifth Avenue, lined with trendy shops, delicious restaurants, and boutique hotels. If you’re looking for a luxury experience, stay at one of the all-inclusive resorts on the private beaches of the gated Playacar section of town. Whether staying in Playacar or Playa del Carmen proper, you’ll be perfectly located for day trips to the surrounding Riviera Maya attractions.

Experienced travelers, which is your favorite region to stay in, and why?

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