[Smackdown] Cancun vs Riviera Maya


You’ve wisely chosen all inclusive, and the destination is Mexico. Good decision! But which area will suit you best? Will it be Cancun, or Riviera Maya? Let’s take a look at the two, and help you decide.

Final destination


Two popular resort destinations, both perfect vacation choices for different reasons. What are those reasons? Are there benefits for one over the other?

The good news is, there’s loads of choice in all inclusive resorts between the two. It’s simply a case of what makes your vacation tick. Do you like lots of people around, great nightlife and plenty of shopping opportunities? Or the quieter, more laid-back vacation lifestyle? The qualities that make a vacation perfect for you will be the tipping point.

Let’s start with Riviera Maya, and somewhere to stay, then explore the possibilities and positive reasons to book your next vacation there.

Why Riviera Maya?

Mayan Ruins

So, why choose a Riviera Maya all-inclusive resort over one in Cancun? Well, most travelers love the Riviera Maya region for its abundance of local activities and attractions – such as nearby Mayan ruins, Jungle tours, horseback riding, and ecological parks (such as the amazing parks included in a stay at Check PricesHotel Xcaret)… or you can easily head into nearby Playa del Carmen for a day of shopping and exploring local restaurants and various festivals. Riviera Maya is less densely populated than Cancun, more spread out. It’s perfect for family holidays too, as you’re further south where the sea is calmer (ideal for little ones splashing in the ocean, and also for snorkeling).

A place to stay in Riviera Maya


There’s a huge choice of all inclusive resorts in Riviera Maya…if you’re looking for somewhere that is adults-only and romantic then the Check PricesUNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya is sure to please. It’s a unique all inclusive, adults-only vacation spot, determined to bust all the false myths about “all inclusive”. So, what’s in a name – what’s unique, specifically?

“We’re putting an emphasis on cultural exploration and love of the arts through both on-property and off-property experiences,” says Frank Maduro, vice president of marketing for the hotel’s parent group. “And we’re including select spa treatments, golf, and tours in the guest’s stay—departing from the traditional and preconceived notions of an all-inclusive.”

For families there’s Check PricesGenerations Riviera Maya, designed with all ages in mind, offering plenty of fun for young and not-so-young, Family Suites that can accommodate larger families, fabulous pools that can tempt you away from the beach, and so much more.

Like to see some more resorts in this superb destination? Then check out our list of 10 best Riviera Maya resorts.

Let’s head north now, and discover Cancun as an alternative.

Unpack and unwind


You know when you need a vacation? Just a vacation. You want to be somewhere close to the airport – no long transfers please – you want to unpack, and go lie on that white beach. That’s Cancun. Just fifteen minutes in a taxi from the airport and you can order up that cocktail, lying horizontally beneath a beach umbrella. How does that sound? Hold on, we’ll just get the door for you…Yes, Cancun is compact. Shopping and local restaurants are a few steps away. Nightlife is full-on and there’s a busier vibe than further south. Opportunities for adventure are plentiful, but easily ignored when you want to stay and soak up your fabulous all-inclusive resort as well as the much needed rays. Forget schlepping around to see the sights – unless you really want to – and just relax and rejuvenate with a well deserved vacay to Cancun.

Cancun resorts


So, where are the best places to stay in Cancun? There’s a wealth of the very best all-inclusives in Cancun…here are just two to whet your appetite, whether you’re traveling as a family, or looking for an adults-only resort.

Check PricesHard Rock Cancun is a favorite family-friendly resort, with lots of activities for all ages and a terrific Spa for some serious rejevenation.

Check PricesSecrets The Vine is an uber-hip adults-only haven of chic, seductive luxury.

Want to see some more? Then browse our list of 10 best all inclusive resorts in Cancun.

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About Carol Byrne 30 Articles
Originally from Dublin, Carol has also lived in London and Wales before settling in Spain with her husband and family in 2006, and is published regularly on travel and more from her mountain-top home in the picturesque foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Driven by a passion for travel, history, other cultures, and sustainable living, she enjoys life with her family in a traditional and tiny village. She also blogs about her traditional village life, sparked by a passion for the diverse culture and history of Spain.

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