Last updated on June 20th, 2017
Thinking of a holiday in a tropical paradise? You’re on the right page. In this post, I’ll tell you about 10 best hotels in Riviera Maya, Mexico. This guide to the best resorts in Riviera Maya will show you top 10 hotels to stay in Akumal, Tulum, Playa del Carmen and in some other places along the Mayan Riviera.
Want to know the big difference between Cancun or Riviera Maya? Head to this post! Or maybe you’re interested in planning your honeymoon in Mexico? We actually got married in Mexico and our honeymoon was split between Riviera Maya and Cancun.
I’ve been to Riviera Maya twice and my husband and co-founder of this travel blog, Pepe, has been there more than 4 times, which makes him a local expert. In the first part of this post, the guide to the resorts in Riviera Maya, Mexico we will tell you about the zones of Riviera Maya, what are they famous for and how convenient they are for exploring the region. In the second part of the post, best hotels in Riviera Maya, Mexico, we will list 10 amazing hotels so you know, where to go on your next holiday.
So, here is the guide to the resorts in Riviera Maya, Mexico:
We must tell you I’m advance, that Riviera Maya is very different from Cancun, Mexico. If you want to know more about the differences between Riviera Maya and Cancun, in THIS POST, we listed them all. This post, however, will be entirely dedicated to Riviera Maya. Riviera Maya stretches all the way from the North of Playa del Carmen to the South of Tulum and also included the island of Cozumel (which has a separate airport).
So as you see, Riviera Maya is huge! Let’s look at the different zone to stay within the Riviera Maya.
1. Puerto Morelos zone
Puerto Morelos is a town located in the middle between Cancun and Playa del Carmen and it’s very close to the Cancun International Airport (just 20 min away). Puerto Morelos has plenty of mangroves and a decent jungle and is a great option to stay in Riviera Maya.
2. Playa del Carmen zone
Playa del Carmen is actually quite a big city with the access to the beach, plenty of opportunities for partying and cheap hostels in the city. However, Playa del Carmen is surrounded by luxurious resorts, which are demanded because of a) proximity to the airport of Cancun – the drive is around 50 minutes b) connections to the other regions of Mexico from Playa del Carmen c) proximity to the fun parks e.g. Xochimilco, Xcaret and some others.
Cozumel is a very beautiful island, which is often portrayed with the sea turtles swimming in the turquoise sea. Cozumel has its own airport and is also a hub for international Caribbean cruises. Cozumel is a perfect destination for snorkelling and it has pretty impressive reefs.
Akumal is also famous for swimming with sea turtles and also coral reefs. Some of the cheaper resorts might not have the best beaches in Akumal, so be especially careful when choosing a hotel in Akumal. Akumal is located 1h-1h-20 minute drive from the Cancun International airport.
Tulum is famous for its beautiful ruins, the ancient city of Tulum and for amazing white sand beaches. However, Tulum is located very far from the Cancun airport and getting there by taxi could be very expensive – at least $110 per car one way. There is a bus that goes to Tulum from the airport, but its schedule is somewhat strange, so you need to check that in advance. There are also collective shuttles, which you can share with other tourists heading to Cancun, but that won’t be much cheaper. However, if you’re in Mexico on a package holiday, most probably, you have your transfer included. Mexico is one of the few countries, where we actually recommend looking for some package tours because it will end up being much cheaper than booking a hotel on your own, especially if you’re flying from Europe.
6. Punta Allen
There are not many hotels in Punta Allen (since it’s really far from the airport in Cancun), but if you really want to stay there, prepare to spend at least 3 hours in a taxi to Punta Allen. There are some unique activities you can do there, such as Biosphere Safari in Sian Kaan – the second biggest natural reserve in the Caribbean and also a Unesco heritage site. Apart from that – it will be just a very relaxing holiday for you.
If you want to explore Chichen Itza, it doesn’t really matter, where you stay (unless it’s Cozumel or Punta Allen, of course) – the drive from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum is pretty much the same – 2 hours.
Best hotels in Riviera Maya:
1. Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya Adults-Only
The first of the best resorts in Riviera Maya, Mexico is Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya – it is an adult only all-inclusive luxury resort in the heart of Akumal. Every single room of the hotel has a hot tub and the beach of the hotel is one of the best in the entire Riviera Maya (you can even spot the turtles there). The evening shows are also great as well as the alcohol selection – a proper paradise resort for couples who want to relax without kids.
2. Grand Residences Riviera Cancun
Grand Residences Riviera Cancun is almost twice cheaper than Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya, but it’s very well rated to me it looks even a bit nicer than Secrets (design-wise). It has options with or without all-inclusive and it’s located in Puerto Morelos, just a short drive away from Cancun airport. This hotel is perfect for a long weekend getaway, in case you’re short flying distance away from Cancun. The resort is brand new (less than 3 years old) and already has plenty of positive reviews featuring buffet restaurants and the friendly staff.
3. Unico 20N 87W
Unico 20N 87W is a pricey luxurious resort located in Akumal, just like the fist hotel in this list (Secrets). The restaurants and lobbies of the hotel Unico have a pretty impressive and truly unique design and the swimming pools of Unico look exceptional. It’s a very new hotel & doesn’t have many reviews yet, but it looks exceptional in the photos and all the people, who rated it, loved it, which is awesome.
4. Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya – Adults only
Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya is another hotel in the list that accepts only adults to stay there. It’s approximately the same price as the Grand Residences Riviera Cancun and is located really close to it, also in Puerto Morelos. Valentin Imperial is an environmentally friendly property (which is amazing) and the rooms look very impressive too. There’s a dress code at night, so you need to dress up a little bit in order to have a dinner.
5. Hotel Esencia
Another one of the best resorts in Riviera Maya, Mexico is the Hotel Esencia, which is a boutique-style hotel located in Xpu Ha, just a few meters away from the famous natural cave – Cenote Azul. The hotel has an exceptional beach and unique looking rooms. The price is not low at all, but for that, you can experience a really small hotel (unlike giants like Gran Bahia Principe). It’s not all-inclusive, however, so you’ll have to pay extra for the buffet.
5. Aventuras Club Marina
Aventuras Club Marina is a very affordable (less than $100 per night when on sale, watch out for sales on Booking.com ) 4* star hotel located in Puerto Aventuras, not so far away from Akumal. It’s not an all-inclusive hotel, but some rooms have the kitchen facilities included, so you can prepare your own meals. Also, it doesn’t have a private beach, so you need to pay for the beds if you want them. However, all the reviews of the hotel were great – saying that it’s one of the most affordable and yet very nice options in Riviera Maya.
7. Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort and Spa
One of the best hotels in Riviera Maya, Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort and Spa is located in Puerto Morelos. It’s an all-inclusive resort with the exceptional pools and rooms. It’s famous for its foam parties and really friendly and fun staff. Also, it has a great selection of the premium alcohol and 24h buffet. What a paradise!
8. Catalonia Royal Tulum Beach & Spa – Adults only
Catalonia Royal Tulum Beach & Spa is a typical Mexican luxury resort for only adults. It’s located in Xpu Ha, not so far away from Akumal and very close to different natural caves – cenotes, that you can explore. It’s a great hotel for a honeymoon, it’s clean and very quiet and the food is good there. It doesn’t have an exceptional selection of premium alcohol, but if you’re not a big fan of drinking, that won’t matter to you much.
9. Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya – Adults only
One the of the best resorts in Riviera Maya is Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya – a signature hotel located in Puerto Aventuras, not so far away from Playa del Carmen or Akumal. It’s an all-inclusive resort that has 4 restaurants and 4 bars and even a nightclub with a pool. Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya is a perfect place for young professionals, who don’t have kids yet and still want to party (and not a total relaxation on a secluded island). All the rooms are pretty impressive and you get a mojito as a welcome drink (how awesome is that!)
10. Grand Palladium Riviera Maya
We stayed at Grand Palladium Riviera Maya in 2015 (and in 2017 we returned to Grand Bahia Principe, but we didn’t like it as much as Grand Palladium, so we didn’t list Grand Bahia Principe as one of the best resorts in Riviera Maya). Grand Palladium consists of 4 lobbies and technically, it’s 4 different hotels, however, you can use the amenities of all of them (unlike Grand Bahia Principe, where we were not allowed to use the beach of the hotel, which was part of Grand Bahia Principe). We loved Grand Palladium because of its wildlife – the territory of the hotel is like a proper jungle! You can see agoutis, tejones and even crocodiles in the hotel. When we took a tour to Xcaret, I was honestly disappointed, because our hotel had a better beach and almost as many animals as in Xcaret. The food, however, didn’t change much from day to day, so I thought it’s the only thing that I would have improved in the hotel.
Didn’t like any of the hotels here? Or found them too pricey for what they offer? Don’t worry, check these deals for Riviera Maya:
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