The Mexican Caribbean is all about beaches and the sea. Just like any Caribbean island, you get powder white sand and a broad turquoise sea. Often it’s so strikingly beautiful that travelers never want to leave. And of course, many more come back to the Mexican Caribbean – every year – than to any other beach and sun spot in the region. In part, that accounts for the broad and thoroughly modern infrastructure that supports the widest possible range of accommodations available.
The Mexican Caribbean includes the entirety of the Yucatan Peninsula – and a number of offshore islands. Cancun, the broad Riviera Maya crowned by Playa del Carmen and then Cozumel, just across the straits, are among the most popular and best developed resort locations anywhere on Earth.
All these favorites are connected by modern highway, plus a ferry to Cozumel, and these same highways lead to the theme parks Xcaret, Xel-Ha, Xplor. There are also a number of underground rivers connecting the cenotes for which the region, and which provide something of a theme for the parks mentioned above.
Continuing down the coast, on the same highway, guests reach the last destination on the Riviera Maya, the magnificent (and ancient) sea-side town of Tulum. Tulum is beloved not just for ancient ruins but for wide, white beaches and a perfect sea. Those ruins are just a taste of what can be had inland at Chichén Itzá and numerous other spectacular and often enormous ancient cities.
Just a few miles across the water from Playa del Carmen is the island of Cozumel. Beloved by divers from the world over for crystal clear water and some of the Caribbean’s most colorful undersea life. It’s also well-regarded for beginning divers and snorklers, as well as for shopping, dining, exploring in rented jeeps and enormous wildlife preserves. The Chankanaab national park welcomes guests and the island even hosts modest archaeological sites at San Gervasio, among others.
While much of the Caribbean is primarily remembered for later colonial cultures, the Mexican Caribbean is host to native, indigenous culture in the Mayan people who still populate the pensinsula. Yucatan culture is rich in tradition that can be seen in the music and dance and especially in the cuisine of the region. Emblematic dishes include papadzules, salbutes, pibil, poc chuc, and more. And no trip to the region is complete without sampling the ample and everyday fresh seafood.
The Mexican Caribbean is also home to – that’s right – the famous marketplaces that can only be found in – Mexico! Cancun’s market “Mercado 28,” is an extraordinary display of artisanal handcrafts and textiles from all over the rest of the country. A similar market reigns from the center of San Miguel de Cozumel, the bustling town in the center of the island and of course, Playa del Carmen is as famous for its shopping scene as anyplace else in the region.