So often, when I mention Cancun or the Riviera Maya to clients interested in a great all inclusive beach vacation or honeymoon, I’ll hear hesitation about Cancun. For years, MTV has been showing the fun times during spring break in Cancun and many of my clients don’t want anything to do with the spring break circus atmosphere. Let me try to explain, first, that Cancun is not only party hearty spring breakers. In fact, many of the more deluxe resorts won’t accept spring break guests. Just last week, during a honeymoon consultation, a bride mentioned that she thought the hotels were seedy, run down and not very nice. Well, that may have been more like the Cancun from a decade ago. When Hurricane Wilma hit Cancun in October of 2005, it did some major damage to many of the resorts and the beach took a major hit, as well, in terms of reducing the size. Almost a decade later, Cancun shows no remnants of the devastation of Wilma and most of the hotels took the insurance money to upgrade their properties— and UPGRADE they did. You’ll be hard pressed to find ratty, outdated and cheap hotels that you might have heard about from years past.
So with luxurious resorts in both Cancun and the Riviera Maya, what are some of the major differences between the 2 destinations?
- High rise vs. low rise buildings- Cancun will definitely have high rise hotels running along the beach. Think Miami Beach, Waikiki or even Las Vegas with a beach in front of the hotels. The Riviera Maya will have low rise hotels (not more than 4 stories tall) spread out among the gardens and mangroves.
- The beach is a different color (just so much more vibrant) and it’s much wider at many of the hotels in Cancun than in the Riviera Maya.
- It definitely feels more crowded and you’ll be able to see other hotels from your room and the beach in Cancun. In the Riviera Maya, they are more spread out.
- Entertainment- in Cancun, just walk out of your hotel and you’re on a strip of shops, restaurants and clubs. There’s always something going on in Cancun, along the hotel zone. In the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen is the place to be for shops, restaurants and clubs. While there is a public bus to get there and while many resorts will offer some kind of shuttle, it was a $25 cab ride from our hotel (El Dorado Casitas) to get to 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen.
- Excursions and things to see and do and experience:
- If you are interested in seeing Mayan Ruins (like Tulum), it is easier and shorter to get there from the Riviera Maya.
- If you want to snorkel in the Underwater Snorkel Museum, it’s easier to get there from Cancun.
- If you’re looking for party cruises or dinner cruises, they are more available from Cancun.
- If you want to go to Xcaret or Xel-Ha or snorkel in some great cenotes (underground pools and rivers), it’s easier to do from the Riviera Maya.
- There is some great golf available in both and there are a couple of resorts that have golf courses right at the hotels.
- If you want to horseback ride or take an ATV tour, it will be in the Riviera Maya, so while you can certainly do these activities from Cancun, it’s just a further ride to get there.
With wonderful resorts in both areas, it may be hard to decide. That’s where we can help. During your honeymoon or vacation consultation, My Vacation Lady will talk about your preference and your dreams and we’ll design a honeymoon package or vacation package that’s right for you. We’ve just been there so we have first hand experience with the pros and cons of each of these great resort areas.