Cancun and Riviera Maya

Though often mixed up, Cancun and Riviera Maya are two different destinations

Their closeness, travel accessibility and turquoise waters has kept them closely related and it’s understandable why they be joined often in the same sentence. For example, if you’re travelling to Playa del Carmen, you must first fly to Cancun International Airport. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy both destinations in a single holiday. Actually, most Riviera Maya excursions can be found while you explore Cancun, and vice versa.

So, what’s the difference?

For starters, two different things are being compared. While Cancun, Mexico is a metropolitan city in the state of Quintana Roo, Riviera Maya is a region that runs through the coastline of the state comprehending different cities and towns. While Cancun International Airport is on the outskirts of the city, that doesn’t make it the end of it. Just a few minutes later down the highway, you’ll still find parks like Xoximilco and Xavage! The road continues and then, the Riviera starts just 15 minutes away from Cancun in the picturesque town of Puerto Morelos, a former fishers port with calm ocean views and many small local restaurants. Then, around 45 minutes away from Cancun airport, is Playa del Carmen, the most popular destination in the Riviera. While keeping its fresh and laid-back vibe, you may still find luxury brands and hotels here. However, small restaurants and crafts are the main event of the city. A few miles later, you’ll find Xplor park, where the freedom begins. Neighboring Xcaret and Xenses, this privileged area of the Riviera Maya is home to some of the most iconic parks. Along the way, Paamul, Puerto Aventuras, Xpu-Há, and Akumal are some of the towns that give life to the region. Wonderful beaches, cenotes, and jungle scenarios surround the path. A little later, almost reaching Tulum, the hidden wonder of Xel-Há can be found. The archaeological site of Tulum and its town are the next along the coast, running all the way to Punta Allen. If it sounds a lot like paradise, that’s because, if it isn’t, then it is probably the closest thing. So that’s the difference, geographically speaking, between Cancun and Riviera Maya. In any case, both visits are a delight, and you might as well visit both on a single trip. So then, vocationally speaking, what’s the difference between the two destinations? Well, maybe a few examples of things you may do in each might help.

Things to do in Cancun

Cancun, on a big scale, can be divided into two areas; the city, and the hotel zone. While many tourists may come and go without ever leaving the hotel zone, they might not know what they’re missing. Of course, a holiday in Cancun means a lot of sunbathing in white sand and pristine beaches, however, it’d be a mistake to leave without exploring Cancun’s downtown. Restaurants, shopping malls, and traditional experiences and adventure parks keep the city lively all through the year. For a taste of typical Mexican cuisine and its spicy fiesta, Xoximilco offers an authentic experience of the country’s culture. If you want to try your adventurous spirit, Xavage comes with very original activities for the whole family. Along with Xplor, and Xplor Fuego, the latter park is a part of Xcaret Adventure, the newest category by Grupo Xcaret that offers fun and adrenaline boosting activities for the whole family with the characteristic seal of excellence in safety, quality and attention to detail that’s constant in each one of their parks and tours.

While staying in Cancun, you’ll find how easy it is to travel to Riviera Maya to take part in their many activities, parks and tours. Actually, tours are offered with transportation leaving from Cancun or even picking you up at the door of your hotel.

Things to do in Riviera Maya

Moving on to Riviera Maya, the list is long and wide. As we, mentioned, we’re no longer talking about a single city. Many cities and towns mean many activities and things to see. Riviera Maya resorts are often too big and have all the comforts we might need. That happens to keep some travelers from discovering the rest of the paradisiac destination we mentioned earlier. Again, a mistake. For example, Hotel Xcaret offers the All Fun Inclusive® concept, which allows the guest to visit every park of the group while also enjoying the beauty and comfort of the resort.

When visiting the Riviera Maya, there’s a choice for everyone. Archaeological zones like Tulum and Cobá, picturesque towns and hidden beaches, natural wonders like Xel-Há, a place to witness the majestic beauty of Mexico’s history, culture and nature in Xcaret, a park to defy logic where nothing is what it seems at Xenses, and of course, an adventure park where the freedom begins at Xplor.

In depth, the Riviera Maya and Cancun can’t be explored in a single day. However, choosing the right things to do, a day escape to any of the two is a must if you’re visiting on holiday. For example, if you’re staying in Cancun, take a day off to visit the Riviera Maya, and if you’re staying in Riviera Maya, take a day off to visit Cancun!