With turquoise water, palm trees, beautiful beaches, and incredible Mexican cuisine, the Riviera Maya on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is an amazing place to visit. Nestled on Mexico’s east coast, the Riviera Maya is situated on the Caribbean Sea and is easily accessible by flying into the Cancun International Airport. And most importantly, the best resorts are not more than a 45 minute shuttle ride from the airport. Many are even closer. My suitcase sister, Andie and I have been to this tropical location many times and therefore, we are going to share with you our top 8 of the best beach resorts in Riviera Maya.
Our list of 8 of the best beach resorts in Riviera Maya are in no particular order. And the first one on our list has some of the best views of the best beaches. The Ritz-Carlton lies right on the hotel zone of Cancun. In fact, it will take you about twenty minutes to get from the airport to one of the best hotels in Cancun.
The hotel has a classic vibe with a European feeling throughout. The pool is stunning and the food is delicious. Also, being right in the middle of the Cancun hotel zone allows plenty of advantages as well. For example, there are spectacular restaurants nearby like Lorenzillos, which is known for live lobster. It is incredibly romantic to sit on the outdoor patio on the water at Lorenzillos. You may even catch a glimpse of a crocodile that likes to swim in the water. He likes to wait for tasty morsels thrown to it by staff or patrons.
It is also easy to catch a ferry to the nearby Isla Mujeres. So you can swim with the dolphins or snorkel in the coral reefs where you can also see tropical fish in the clear water. Or you can simply relax all day on the white sand beaches while drinking some tropical drinks and soaking in the rays till the sun goes down.
The Royal Hideaway
The Royal Hideaway is a beautiful all-inclusive resort in an area called “Playacar”. This area is minutes from Playa del Carmen. It is surrounded by lush tropical gardens and I recall telling my husband how much I enjoyed the fragrances around the resort that came from the incredible plants growing everywhere.
This boutique hotel experience only has 201 rooms and is arranged by villas, each with its own personal concierge. So you and your partner will feel spoiled at this adults only romantic resort.
My husband and I also enjoyed the spa treatments that we received. He got a message while I got a mani/pedi. And the infinity pool looks right onto the ocean while there are also a couple tranquil pools nestled throughout the area as well. We were impressed with the a la carte restaurants around the property. To start with, I was particularly fond of the Italian restaurant called the Palazzo that is situated at the top floor of the main building and has stunning views of the ocean. Secondly, Ventanas is the hotel’s gourmet restaurant that features an a la carte menu of dishes based on the traditional cuisine of Southern Spain. Finally, we were also impressed with the rooms that had a quaint colonial era vibe to them. The Royal Hideaway is one of those beach resorts in Riviera Maya that I dream about returning to.
Any trip to the Riviera Maya should include an excursion to the Mayan Ruins. For example, nearby is Tulum which is right on the Ocean. I, however, highly recommend a day trip to Chichen Itza which is the largest of the Mayan ruins. In the center is the temple of Kukulcan which stands 78 feet tall. When my husband and I visited on our honeymoon years ago, we were able to climb to the top of the temple. It was quite scary as the ascent seems nearly vertical with only a rope going up the center to guide you. Sadly since a woman fell to her death in 2006, the temple is no longer open for tourists to climb. It is still incredible to see this UNESCO World Heritage site.
One of the best things about the Hilton in Playa del Carmen is that it is literally steps from the hustle and bustle of Fifth Avenue. That puts this beautiful resort right in the center of the main entertainment district of Playa. There is an abundance of shops, restaurants, bars and clubs within steps of this resort so if your goal is to have easy access to lots of entertainment then the Hilton, Playa del Carmen is the beach resort in Riviera Maya that you are looking for.
The rooms have large hot tubs for two so this is one of the best adults only all-inclusive resorts you will find on the Riviera Maya. And if you stay on the ground floor, there is direct access to the pool and beach.
The main building has a great lounge and bar, the majority of the rooms have a great ocean view, and the main pool is striking so this is a fun place to come and relax on your beach vacation.
There are also plenty of water sports and entertainment on the property as well so even though the town is steps from the front door, you literally don’t have to leave the resort if you don’t want to.
Vidanta is a sprawling luxury resort complex that encompasses 1000 acres of lush paradise. It features 5 distinct resort hotels, more than 15 bars and on-site restaurants, a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course and even live shows like a Cirque du Soleil show called “Joya” on property.
Andie and Kelly recently spent a week at this exquisite resort while celebrating their anniversary and despite a category 1 hurricane coming through the area during their stay, they had an amazing time. The white sand beach is incredibly relaxing, the food and drinks were top notch, and the grounds are lush and exotic.
It should be noted that Vidanta is a member’s -only resort. If you follow the guidance on their website, you can request rooms during their off-season.
Mayakoba is a luxurious resort destination that seeks to blend seamlessly into the lush jungle landscape of the surrounding area. There are four distinct luxury hotels that each have their own unique feel while blending in harmony into the Mayakoba experience. We stayed at Andaz Mayakoba, but there is also the Fairmont Mayakoba, Banyan Tre Mayakoba, and the premier resort, Rosewood Mayakoba.
You will find pristine beaches with calm waters that are perfect for floating in the warm Caribbean waters. There are a variety of room categories and many rooms include plunge pools right on your balcony.
When you stay in one of the Mayakoba resorts, you are free to take the golf carts, bikes, or boats as transportation to all the different parts of the complex. Keep your eyes open for the wildlife in the area. We were fortunate enough to spot a crocodile swimming in the lagoon during a golf cart ride to the beach. There are also a variety of different restaurants on property. Saffron at Banyan Tree, Mayakoba, which specializes in exquisite Thai cuisine, was the best place for dinner in our opinion. The ambiance on the lagoon was romantic. Also, the food was exceptional and our nighttime boat ride back to our hotel room was memorable.
We were at Mayakoba for a large corporate event and the resort put on a spectacular show for us. There were acrobats, fire twirlers, jugglers and my favorite, a delectable dessert table. And I would imagine that a wedding here would be absolutely stunning!
I truly felt like I was immersed in the natural habitat of the Mayan Riviera here. Therefore, if you are looking for more of a natural feel, Mayakoba is the beach resort in Riviera Maya for you.
Iberostar Paraiso Maya
For a great family vacation where everyone can have a great time, I would choose the Iberostar Selection Paraiso Maya. This is an all-inclusive, kid friendly resort. It features 8 pools, including a lazy river, a wave pool and a brand new water park. There are several restaurants on property to choose from including a steak house, several buffets, and a Japanese hibachi grill. My kids had a great time getting all the ice cream they could eat from various points around the hotel. The main pool has a fantastic swim up bar where adults can get all the beverages they want too! ;).
This is one of the few beach resorts in the Riviera Maya that accommodates connecting rooms. So this was nice for my family of five because we were able to have plenty of room. The kids all slept in one room while my husband and I had a room to ourselves. We also enjoyed our own balconies where one of the resident peacocks on property made himself at home.
Iberostar is close to other sources of family entertainment as well. One day we hopped a shuttle to go to Xcaret. This is a water/eco park that is one of the top family attractions in the area.
At Xcaret you and your family can have a lot of unique experiences including a swim in underground rivers, snorkeling and observing a lot of wildlife, including sea turtles, in their natural habitat. It is definitely a great place to spend the day as a family while in the Riviera Maya.
El Dorado Maroma
My husband and I enjoyed a romantic stay at El Dorado, on playa Maroma a couple of years ago. This is one of our favorite boutique hotels. It has intimate guest rooms with private terraces with plunge pools that look out at the resort. Therefore, Playa Maroma is one of the best areas on the Mayan Riviera. It is nether too far from the airport and quite close to the entertainment district of Playa del Carmen.
El Dorado Maroma is an adults-only, all-inclusive experience. We thought that the food was exquisite. And the tropical drinks were some of the best I have had at any resort on the Mayan Riviera. Also, their dining experience revolves around their concept that they call “gourmet inclusive”. The food is honestly the most exquisite we have ever had at an all-inclusive resort. It goes beyond the traditional buffets and bland food that is often offered at all-inclusives. Our favorite restaurant on property that we found ourselves returning to several times was Lima-Limon. This beachside restaurant features Peruvian cuisine and my husband and I couldn’t get enough. The pool feels incredibly private and I loved the swim-up bar.
As another benefit, the marina is steps from the property so my husband had no problem catching a fishing charter. He even caught a couple of mahi-mahi.
The last time my husband and I stayed here, they were building some ‘over the water’ bungalows. These bungalows, called Palafitos, are now available for booking. They look amazing so you can be sure that we look forward to staying here again one day.
The property is lush and the grounds felt very private. So, El Dorado Maroma is definitely one of the best beach resorts in Riviera Maya.
One of the best beach resorts in Riviera Maya is Moon Palace. My husband and I have stayed at this all-inclusive resort a couple of times. In fact, we even stayed here on our honeymoon so it has a special place in our hearts. We always have the best time here! Moon Palace has a fun vibe with a couple amazing pools that feature swim-up bars. There are technically two sides to Moon Palace. Sunrise has the bigger pool and is more lively while Nizuc has a more cozy atmosphere. However, I have only ever stayed on the Sunrise side.
There are always activities going on and the sprawling resort just oozes energy. There is also plenty of night time entertainment, including live music. It is an easy resort to meet people. In fact, my husband and I met a British couple who were also on their honeymoon. We have stayed friends ever since.
Most rooms have ocean views with large private balconies. And these luxury suites are large and feature hot tubs for two in the rooms. There are also several dining options and plenty of water activities.
Moon Palace is close to Cancun. It’s so easy to grab a quick ride and head into town for some dinner or a night out!
With its white-sand beaches, the Riviera Maya is the perfect place to spend time in a beach resort. There is plenty of variety to enjoy a fun-filled family vacation or a romantic getaway with your significant other. Therefore, with our list of the best beach resorts in Riviera Maya, you are sure to find one that will meet all your vacation dreams!
Have you ever been to Riviera Maya? Which of our recommendations have you done? Which of our recommendations are you going to try? Do you disagree with any of our suggestions? What are we missing? Join the conversation and share any tips, questions or additional thoughts in the comments!
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