The best of the Riviera lies beyond wristband tourism and all-inclusive resorts. The Mexican Caribbean and its interiors offer a breathtaking landscape and geographical richness.
We reveal to you some essential steps in a paradise that dazzles and to which we always want to return.
The coolest beaches on the planet
If you can only choose one Riviera destination, choose Tulum. It offers the most appealing of a tropical destination, yet away from the masses. It’s a fashionable celebrity hideaway, ideal for complete disconnection with endless views of the Caribbean Sea. The atmosphere is a jungle, eco-responsible and relaxed, but very chic. Nearby you will find archaeological sites and the jungle just a few meters from the coast. No shortage of restaurants offers excellent cuisine such as Arca (with a former Noma chef), Hartwood, La Rosa Negra or Banana., international fashion, local crafts, quaint cafes under palapas, fairytale gardens, nightlife and accommodation specials: luxury cabins by the turquoise waters, because here there are no hotels or vertical constructions.
La Zebra (belonging to small luxury hotels) is highly recommended. Spacious cabins — some with private plunge pools — rise above the golden sands. You sleep listening to the murmur of the waves; you can watch the sunrise from your bed and even see the turtles laying their eggs right outside your door. Another excellent option is KAI: a boutique hotel where exclusivity meets natural beauty. It is located on Pescadores Beach, just eleven villas in a prime location, next to the imposing Mayan ruins. Its villas are bright, elegant and spacious; Its cooking is delicious and at a very good price. The best sunset takes place on the elevated nests of Azulik, with a 360º panoramic view of the jungle and the Caribbean Sea.
The gate of paradise
Paradise begins where the Tulum region ends: a protected space catalogued as a biosphere reserve. After two hours in 4×4 crossing territories of impenetrable vegetation (there is no asphalt), crossing a multitude of birds, snakes and even crocodiles in the lagoons, unforgettable natural swimming pools, coral reefs and crystalline beaches are achieved. You have to go to Punta Allen, a small fishing village in a virgin space not very frequented by tourists.
Located opposite Playa del Carmen and permanently connected to the mainland by ferry in fifty minutes, this island is an exceptional destination for diving enthusiasts. It is the second largest coral reef in the world, after Australia. Novice divers should dive at Chankanaab, intermediate divers choose Santa Rosa, the virtual dive for advanced divers is Palancar, and Punta Sur is a perfect enclave for night diving.
The area of the island facing the Atlantic is very charming. Less crowded, with strong, choppy waves and pristine areas. You’ll also find quaint beach bars along the coast, like Coconuts.
The popularly known Laguna de Siete Colores extends like a dreamlike setting next to the town of Bacalar. It is a natural swimming pool with crystal clear waters that shows the whole palette of colors blue: from light blue to emerald, passing through indigo, sapphire or lapis lazuli. These colors are formed because of the minerals that make up the soil sediments, and depth differences also play a role in the intensity and reflections of the sun’s rays. The ideal plan is to sail in the lagoon and eat fish at Kai Pez, the reference restaurant on the shore near the Cocalitos cenote.
One of the least exploited coastal areas is Mahahual. Its beaches also offer a multitude of blues in a calm and authentic atmosphere. Plus, the locals brag about cooking the best lobsters in the Caribbean. Swinging in colorful hammocks, postcard-perfect sunsets, and alfresco dining under starry skies round out its appeal. Mahahual is the gateway to Banco Chinchorro, the enclave where Mexicans choose to practice diving. Its coral atoll is immense, its seabed fabulous, and it is also home to centuries-old sunken ships. It would help if you enjoyed the region’s gastronomy with dishes such as seafood stuffed peppers and fruit bat bread.
The pink beach
In Las Coloradas, near the small fishing village of Rio Lagartos, there is an entirely pink lake. It is located between the saltworks and its color is due to a micro-organism whose purple membranes give it this hue. Visually, the environment is impressive and the photographs obtained are surprising. But you can’t swim and there are no other attractions around. The nearest hotels are in Río Lagartos and are modest.
You have to leave for a few days to visit the neighboring state of Yucatán and get to know its haciendas. Symbol of a glamorous and extinct era, the one that brought with it the flourishing industry of henequen cultivation at the end of the 19th century – also known as green gold-, these marvelous constructions spanned thousands of acres, had their transportation systems, and even minted coins with the owners’ family crests. They are now rehabilitated into ultra-luxurious accommodation. They are usually located near the colonial city of Mérida. The route of the henequen haciendas is worth a trip in itself.