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Travel guide: Cancun and Riviera Maya resort areas

Updated: Jan 16

Map of resort areas of Cancun

Cancun and the Riviera Maya are some of the most popular vacation destinations in Mexico, but here’s a not-so-secret secret – Cancun International Airport is a gateway to several unique resort areas, each with its own vibe. Think of it as six-destinations-in-one. Looking to stay at a luxurious oasis without ever having to leave the resort? No problem. Do you prefer to be close to the action with excursions around every corner? You can do that, too. 

Here’s a quick guide to help you figure out which of the Cancun/Riviera Maya resort areas matches up best with your travel style.

Isla Mujeres

Woman walking along a path on Isla Mujeres, Mexico

As you may have guessed by the name, Isla Mujeres is a small, picturesque island a 25-minute ferry ride off the coast of Cancun. The pace here is slow and tranquil so if you’re someone who appreciates a quieter kind of escape, this is a great option. Just offshore, the Manchones Reef and MUSA Underwater Sculpture Museum offer spectacular views from glass bottom boats, or scuba diving opportunities for beginners and pros alike.

Costa Mujeres
Beach beds on white sand in Costa Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico

Costa Mujeres is another option for travelers seeking a serene retreat. Calm waters, quiet beaches, and fewer hotels make it feel perfectly secluded. This area was designed with luxury travel in mind, making it the perfect place for anyone wanting a Cancun vacation that feels truly exclusive.

Cancun (Hotel Zone)
Man sitting on the sand in Cancun, Mexico

If you want to be in the heart of the action, Cancun’s Hotel Zone is the spot for you. Days can be filled with down time at your resort, shopping, or watersports on the Caribbean. At night, head to Punta Cancun to one of the area’s famous nightclubs like Coco Bongo or Mandala. Here, you’re close to everything, including the airport, so you can get from plane to palapa in no time. 

Puerto Morelos
Boats along the shore of Puerto Morelos, Cancun, Mexico

Once a small fishing village, Puerto Morelos has never lost its old-world charm. It’s a short 20-minute drive south from Cancun and filled with all the quaint shops and eateries a person could hope for. If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to explore small towns in search of hidden gems and Instagram-gold, you’ll want to stay here. Oh, and the beaches are great, too.

Playa del Carmen
Woman in a market in Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Mexico

A little farther to the south, the town of Playa del Carmen is known for its fun-loving personality and enchanting pedestrian-friendly town square. The town is full of cafes, boutiques, and nightclubs, particularly along 5th Avenue which is definitely a stretch worth checking out. You’re also a short ride away from Xcaret – a popular natural adventure park, or a quick ferry ride away from Cozumel.

Tulum/Puerto Aventuras
Mayan ruins along the coast of Tulum, Cancun, Mexico

Tulum and Puerto Aventuras are other options in Riviera Maya, and the farthest area from Cancun on our list. For intrepid travelers looking to get away from it all and experience some of Mexico’s authentic Mayan beauty, it’s well-worth the drive. In contrast to many of the other resort-heavy areas, this is more laid-back with smaller boutique-style hotels. It’s also home to one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Mayans and we highly encourage a visit to the ruins.

Hopefully you’ve found a spot that fits your travel personality perfectly. Why not start planning your next getaway?

Keep that planning process easy and hassle-free by booking one of our air and hotel vacation packages to score the best deals. Get To Going.


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