Tulum Travel Videos

MexicoTulum › Travel Videos
Updated: November 30, 2022

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Where to Stay in Guadalajara

Mexico Guadalajara › Best Places to Stay
Updated: November 28, 2022

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Staying in Guadalajara – Tips & Info

  • Guadalajara is the cultural center of Mexico and considered by most to be the home of Mariachi music. Guadalajara is Mexico‘s second-largest city and is located in the state of Jalisco. The city is located in the center of Mexico, 350 miles west of Mexico City and 200 miles east of Puerto Vallarta.
  • Guadalajara was founded in 1542 and its historic center (centro) houses some of the most familiar landmarks including colonial plazas, the neoclassical Teatro Degollado, and the Roman Catholic cathedral and basilica Catedral de la Asunción de María Santísima.
  • The city is named after the Spanish city of Guadalajara, meaning “river/valley of stones”. Guadalajara is known by the nicknames La Perla de Occidente (pearl of the West), City of Fountains, Jalisco Bride, and The City of Roses.

Best Areas to Stay in Guadalajara

The state of Jalisco is home to the town of Tequila (where the spirit was created and the only place it can be produced in the world), which is just an hour by car from Guadalajara. One of the most popular day trips from Guadalajara is taking a Tequila train to the town of Tequila to visit the distilleries of Jose Cuervo, Don Julio, Herradura, and several more.

Guadalajara is a city that is filled with great food, beautiful colonial architecture, history, street art, galleries, and museums. It is close to small towns like Tlaquepaque and Tonalá with exquisite crafts, live music, and artwork.

Guadalajara is also a foodie town with everything from traditional Mexican to fusion cuisine as well as international specialties. A few dishes that were invented in Guadalajara are Tortas Ahogadas (pork carnitas sandwich), Birria (meat stew), and Jericalla (a cross between flan and creme brûlée).

Museums include the Hospicio Cabañas, the Regional Museum of Guadalajara, and the Museum of Arts of the University of Guadalajara (MUSA), to name just a few.

Guadalajara offers great options for families such as the Nuestros Dulces candy factory tour in Tlaquepaque. There are 2 museums specifically for kids and families: Guadalajara Museo Trompo Magico and Globo Museo de la Niñez. Another fun museum for kids is the Museo de Paleontologia. There is also a Zoo (ZooLogico Y Safari) in the city. A bit outside the city is Natural Adventure Fun Park, an amusement park with thrill rides, kids’ rides, zip lines, go-karts, and a climbing wall. Beyond this, there are lots of parks and fountains throughout the city for fun family time.

For outdoor activities, Lake Chapala is about one hour from the city. It is Mexico’s largest freshwater lake. At the lake there are several boardwalks and pathways, waterfalls, thermal springs, mud baths, hiking and biking trails, and activities such as horseback riding, jet skiing, kayaking, and much more.

Guadalajara has an incredible restaurant, bar, and tequila scene. It also has an up-and-coming craft beer culture. Some of the most popular breweries are the UMHO, San Lupulo, and Cucapa.

The metropolitan area of Guadalajara consists of 4 urban districts – Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque, Tonala, and Zapopan – and 3 suburban districts, Tlajomulco, El Salto, and Tequila. Within Guadalajara there are several neighborhoods including downtown (centro), Zona Expo, Colonia Americana, Minerva, and Providencia to name just a few.

Downtown offers the most for travelers. It is the heart of the city and you can easily walk to the cathedral, center fountain, museums, shops, restaurants, and bars.

Colonia Americana is Guadalajara’s trendiest neighborhood and Avenida Chapultepec is the heart of the area. Staying in Colonia Americana, particularly near Av Chapultepec offers a lot of great restaurants and bars and proximity to museums, galleries, shops, and more.

Zapopan is located northwest of downtown. Its biggest tourist attraction is the Basilica of Zapopan, home to the Virgin of Zapopan. It has been accredited with a series of miracles and visited by Pope John Paul II.

Zona Expo is the location of the largest fairground in the city and the convention center. It is located southeast of downtown Guadalajara in Colonia Valle Verde. Because of the convention center, the Zona Expo has a large number of hotels of all types, especially business chains, and is a popular area for business travelers.

Tlaquepaque is located south of the city and is a colorful town with a colonial character and historic center. It is the best place to experience live Mariachi music and is also the location where many artists have open working studios for painting, pottery, textiles, and blown glass crafts.

Zapopan and Tlaquepaque are located in the metropolitan area of ​​Guadalajara, but are their own cities.

The best hotels in Guadalajara are mostly focused in the downtown center, although you’ll find hotels in most neighborhoods within the city and its outskirts. There are several hotels, boutique hotels, hostels, as well as hacienda stays.

Villa Ganz was the first luxury boutique hotel to open in Guadalajara. Gran Casa Xalisco is one of the older hotels in Guadalajara and originally opened in 1895. It’s located across the street from Jardín Mexicaltzingo, just over a mile from the city center.

Haciendas are a way to get a more intimate Mexico experience. Most of the hacienda properties are outside of the city center. Hacienda Labor De Rivera is about an hour outside of the city in the town of Teuchitlán and dates back to 1560. Today it operates as a luxurious spa hotel, surrounded by dozens of tequila distilleries and is a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide.

Popular luxury hotels within the city of Guadalajara include Quinta Real, Demetria, and Casa Habita.

Best Places to Stay in Guadalajara

Good hotel in central Guadalajara.
The view from the great-value DoubleTree Centro Historico.

Best Time to Visit Guadalajara

The best times to visit Guadalajara is between October and December when the weather is dry and temperatures are in the lower 80s. During these months there tend to be a lot of festivals. January through May tend to have the lowest hotel prices.

Guadalajara’s driest months are January, February, March, April, November, and December. August is the wettest month. The warmest month is May with an average maximum temperature of 90°. The coldest month is January with an average maximum temperature of 77°.

Travel to Guadalajara is best to/from the Miguel Hidalgo International Airport (GDL), which is located 24 miles from the city center of Guadalajara, with non-stop daily flights from the United States and Canada.

Fun Fact: Tapatío is a Mexican Spanish colloquial term for someone from Guadalajara. It is also used as an adjective for anything associated with Guadalajara.

Best Areas in Guadalajara for…

  • Best Neighborhood in Guadalajara to Stay for First Timers: Centro Historico (Downtown)
    If it’s your first time in Guadalajara, Centro is a great choice. The center square of Guadalajara, known as Plaza de Armas, is the location of Guadalajara Cathedral (Catedral de Guadalajara) that began construction in 1558. In front of the cathedral is Plaza de los Laureles, a smaller square with a beautiful fountain. Centro is the heart of the city and the main tourist area. From here you can easily walk to museums, shops, restaurants, and bars. Guadalajara is a foodie town with lots of history, art, culture, and great museums; all of these can be found in and around downtown. One of the many things that makes this area special are the street murals painted by the famous artist, José Clemente Orozco. From downtown, you can easily board the Herradura Express, Tequila Express, and Jose Cuervo Express trains to the town of Tequila. Accommodations are a combination of midrange, luxury, boutique, and budget hotels.
  • Best Neighborhood in Guadalajara for Sightseeing: Downtown or Tlaquepaque
    When it comes to sightseeing, Downtown (Centro) Guadalajara is packed with historic landmarks because it’s where the city’s history began. It’s a very walkable neighborhood, with the most important landmarks within a radius of just a few blocks. Among the must-sees locations: Teatro Degollado, a neoclassical theater that dates to 1856 and still hosts live performances, Hospicio Cabañas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and museum which is the best place to see masterpiece murals by Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco and the Guadalajara Cathedral. The best shopping is located in and around Calle Juarez. The center square downtown has many restaurants such as Las Sombrillas which is located in Plaza Guadalajara in front of the cathedral.

    Tlaquepaque is another great neighborhood for sightseeing, especially if you love art, galleries, shopping, and Mariachi music. Tlaquepaque is known in Mexico as an important pottery town where artisans make beautiful, hand-painted creations. The town is located about 8 miles south of the city center and there are numerous galleries and artist working spaces that can be visited by the public. Important tourist attractions include the Refugio Cultural Center, the Regional Museum of Ceramics, the Plaza del Jardín Hidalgo, and the church of San Pedro Apóstol. The best shopping is located in and around Calle Independencia. For live music head to El Parían pavillion or Casa Fuerte.

  • Best Neighborhood in Guadalajara for Nightlife: Avenida Chapultepec and Zapopan
    Zapopan is a large region located northwest of downtown where you can find shopping malls, fresh seafood restaurants such as Mercado del Mar, and great options for bars and nightclubs. Célebre Music Bar offers live ’80s and ’90s rock music in an Irish bar setting. Beer lovers should head to La Malta Bar in Zapopan for their selection of more than 120 beers from around the world. For a true nightclub experience, head to Bossé for bottle service and music by DJ’s.

    The Chapultepec/Americana neighborhood is where you’ll find trendy restaurants, cool bars, and nightclubs featuring DJs and live bands. One of the most popular bars in the neighborhood is Pare de Sufrir Mezcalería, known for its vast selection of mezcal and tequila. Bar Américas is another popular venue in the neighborhood and famous for electronic and techno music parties. If you enjoy beer, head to La Humadera, where they have more than 350 different craft beers as well as some amazing vacío & arrachera tacos.

  • Best Neighborhood in Guadalajara for Food and Restaurants: Colonia Americana & Throughout the City
    Guadalajara is a great city for foodies, with everything from traditional Mexican to fusion cuisine as well as international specialties. The best restaurants are scattered throughout the city.

    The Chapultepec/Americana neighborhood is a favorite foodie spot for locals. Santo Coyote is a great choice for Mexican cuisine and tequila cocktails. For brunch, Café Sinónimo is excellent and known for their HotCakes Americanos and burrito Sonora. Other favorites in the neighborhood are Chulada Cocina with specialities of Lonche de Cachete, and for a more traditional dish, their Cowboy a las brasas is always delicious.

    For upscale modern French cuisine, Magno Brasserie is a good bet and favorites here are the fried chicken sandwich and Agnolotti de elote. For a more upscale experience, the tasting menu at Teté Cocina de Barrio can’t be beat (you need a reservation because they only serve 14 people a day). Casa Luna is a great choice in Tlaquepaque.

  • Best Neighborhood in Guadalajara for Families: Downtown (Centro)
    If you are visiting Guadalajara with your family, downtown is a great choice. It’s centrally located and there is an abundance of things to keep the whole family happy. For a first time family visit, there are many sites you’ll want to see in the downtown area, making it quite convenient. Many of the hotels are just steps to the center square where you’ll find the cathedral, fountain, and many restaurants. Just a mile from Centro is a great kid-friendly museum, the Museo de Paleontologia. Other family fun spots that are outside of the downtown area include Nuestros Dulces candy factory in Tlaquepaque, Guadalajara Museo Trompo Magico (The Magic Top Museum), Globo Museo de la Niñez, and the Zoo (ZooLogico Y Safari).
  • Most Romantic Neighborhood in Guadalajara: Downtown or Tlaquepaque
    The Zona Central is especially beautiful and romantic at night with the fountain and cathedral lit. One of the most romantic things to do is enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride around the city center. They are especially charming at night, when many buildings are lit by twinkling lights.

    Visiting Casa Colomos with its romantic Japanese park and Buddhist garden is a great way to spend an afternoon. You can also go horseback riding in the park.

    The nearby quaint colonial town of Tlaquepaque can be quite romantic. Stroll around the streets filled with art installations, art studios, wonderful restaurants, shops, and a beautiful cathedral.

  • Best Neighborhood in Guadalajara for a Local Vibe: Colonia Americana
    Colonia Americana is Guadalajara’s Trendiest Neighborhood. Avenida Chapultepec is the heart of the area where you’ll find restaurants, cool bars, and nightclubs. The neighborhood has a great atmosphere and is safe to walk around and explore. From Colonia Americana it’s a quick and easy walk to Centro, so you still feel like you are in the middle of things. Walking to Colonia Santa Tere provides a more local experience. The Chapultepec / Americana neighborhood is a favorite foodie spot for locals. You can find everything from cheap tacos to sushi, thai, and pizza. Nearby, the Museo de las Artes Universidad de Guadalajara has murals by José Clemente Orozco, plus paintings and sculptures by other Mexican artists.
  • Best Neighborhood in Guadalajara for Shopping: Tlaquepaque & Downtown Mercado
    Tlaquepaque is the arts and crafts center of Guadalajara and a perfect place to experience Guadalajaran culture at its most authentic. This old town neighborhood offers authentic Mexican food within a square filled with restaurants called The Parian. Calle Independencia, a pedestrian street lined with shops, restaurants, galleries, and leather artisans is the best place to shop. Leather goods are an especially good purchase.

    Mercado Libertad in the centro downtown offers thousands of stalls selling everything from food to handicrafts, souvenirs, cooking utensils, jewelry, saddlery, and clothing to electronics. It is easy to spend several hours wandering around all the interesting market stalls.

    Exploring the streets surrounding centro downtown you’ll find all kinds of markets and shops selling artisanal Mexican crafts, clothes, perfumeries, and much more. The best shopping is in a concentrated area on Calle Juarez.

  • Safest Areas of Guadalajara
    Guadalajara is a big city and it is normal to have some crime. As Mexico’s second biggest city, it somehow offers a big city feel without the chaos. All of the tourist areas including Centro, Zapopan, Tlaquepaque, and the Financial District are mostly safe during the day. Keep your eye on purses, backpacks, and cameras at all times. Standard precautions apply at night, as they do in any city.
  • Unsafe Areas of Guadalajara
    As a whole, the tourist areas of Guadalajara are safe, especially during the daylight hours. Petty crimes such as theft are the biggest issue you will most likely find in the tourist areas. Guadalajara is a city that was divided historically into east and west. The east was always considered the domain of the lower classes, while the west was the residence of the upper classes. This division is still maintained today. As with any city, there are a few areas that you may want to avoid such as the eastside of the Calzada and Oblatos. It’s best not to wander anywhere after dark on your own.

5 Best Neighborhoods in Guadalajara for Tourists

1. Downtown (Centro)

If it’s your first time in Guadalajara, staying in the downtown “Centro” district is your best bet. The center square of Guadalajara is the heart of the city and you can easily walk to museums, Guadalajara Cathedral, art galleries, shops, restaurants, and bars. The most popular attraction beyond the Cathedral is the World Heritage-listed Instituto Cultural Cabañas. The museum is built in the Neoclassical style and is a former hospital and orphanage. The main highlight here is the collection of 57 magnificent frescoes painted by José Clemente Orozco. If you are into shopping, Mercado Libertad (also known as Mercado San Juan de Dios) is the largest indoor market in Latin America. There are thousands of stalls selling everything from food to handicrafts, souvenirs, cooking utensils, jewelry, and leather goods. Most vendors in the market allow for and expect haggling. For a great overview of downtown Guadalajara, sign up for the free walking tour which covers the history, culture, and many highlights. Tours start every day at 10 am near the Gazebo located in Plaza de Armas next to the Guadalajara Cathedral. Centro restaurants are plentiful. Local favorites include Cafe Madoka and Cafe Benito Sala Juárez (which also is a book store and has live music on occasion). There are many choices for hotels Zona Centro including the Doubletree, Hotel de Mendoza, and Hotel Morales.

2. Colonia Americana

Colonia Americana in a trendy and hip neighborhood within walking distance to Zona Centro. Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento, a soaring neo-Gothic church with stained-glass windows and a clock tower, sits on a small square and is worth a visit. From this neighborhood, it’s a quick and easy walk to the historic center, cathedral, and the theater. There are 2 great art museums within walking distance of the neighborhood: the Museum of Arts of the University of Guadalajara (MUSA) and the Museo de Arte Raúl Anguiano (MURA). Galería Guadalajart in Colonia Americana has over 130 works (paintings, sculptures, and more) by over 30 local artists. Avenida Chapultepec is the main street in the neighborhood where you will find shops, bars, and restaurants. Staying in Colonia Americana, particularly near Av Chapultapec offers a great vibe and is safe to walk around and explore. Favorite restaurants close to Av Chapultepec are Pig’s Pearls for fancy hamburgers, TaCorea for the best Korean bulgogi, Siam Thai Kitchen for great Thai fusion, UmaUma for ramen, Momotabi for gyozas, Il Diavolo or La Dolce Vida for Italian, and Suehiro for sushi. Colonia Americana is very central and it’s a very convenient jumping-off point to explore additional areas in Guadalajara like Zapopan and Tlaquepaque. You’ll find a great selection of hotels in a variety of prices, quality, and styles.

3. Zapopan

Zapopan is located northwest of downtown. Its biggest tourist attraction is the Basilica of Zapopan, which is home to the Virgin of Zapopan. You can find La Gran Plaza Fashion Mall, fresh seafood restaurants, and great options for bars and nightclubs. Museums in the area include the Zapopan Art Museum which houses contemporary works by Mexican and international artists as well as the Huichol Wixarika Museum that showcases crafts and art by a local indigenous group. Kid-friendly activities in Zapopan include Guadalajara Museo Trompo Magico (The Magic Top Museum) and taking in a baseball game at the stadium for the Charros de Jalisco professional team. Restaurants worth a visit are Tacos de Barbacoa con Queso for an authentic Mexican experience as well as El Almacén and Sonora Prime for the best steaks in Guadalajara. Bars worth a visit are Célebre Music Bar and La Malta. For a true nightclub experience head to Bossé.

4. Tlaquepaque

Where to stay in Tlaquepaque.
Tlaquepaque is a quaint town with colonial character and a historical center. The town is most famous for its pottery and live Mariachi performances. Head to El Parían, an area with more than a dozen restaurants that surround a gazebo where mariachi performers entertain daily from 3pm onward. Two other top tourist attractions are the umbrellas hanging along the pedestrian street Calle Independencia (near Jardin Hidalgo) as well as The Tlaquepaque sign which is just outside the visitor’s center. The most popular street for visitors is Calle Independencia, a pedestrian street lined with shops, restaurants, galleries, leather artisans, art installations, and sculptures. This is the most visited and most beautiful area of Tlaquepaque. Other important tourist attractions include the Refugio Cultural Center, the Regional Museum of Ceramics, the Plaza del Jardín Hidalgo, and church of San Pedro Apóstol. At the ceramic museum ask for a map of local artists who have open working studios. One of the most popular restaurants in Tlaquepaque is Restaurante Casa Luna which is known as much for its food as its quirky and whimsical atmosphere.

5. Zona Expo

This neighborhood is home to the largest fairground in the city and Expo Guadalajara Convention Center. It is located southeast of downtown Guadalajara in Colonia Valle Verde. Zona Expo has a large number of hotels of all types, especially business chains and is a popular area for business travelers. Because it’s a favored location for business travelers, there is a wide variety of cafes, restaurants, shopping centers, entertainment venues, and more. A few favorite restaurants in the area are Fornino and La Moresca for Italian, El Tango and La Bocha for steaks and Los Arcos and El Pargo for seafood. Mexican restaurants such as La Tequila and El Abajeño are popular and for those looking for a great cocktail and some nightlife, Barezzito, La Chupitería, or the 33 Piano Bar are great choices. On Sundays, in the gazebo in nearby Colonia Chapalita are local arts and crafts exhibitors and food vendors. For the family, head to Natural Adventure Fun Park, an amusement park with thrill rides, kids’ rides, zip lines, go-karts, and a climbing wall. There is also an ice rink in Plaza Bugambilias.

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Where To Stay in Mexico City

MexicoMexico City › Best Places to Stay
Updated: November 25, 2022

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Staying in Mexico City – Tips & Info

  • Mexico City is an endlessly amazing metropolis. Expect a thrilling visit.
  • The largest city in the Western Hemisphere, Mexico City has to be experienced to be believed.
  • This vast metropolis of over 21 million people occupies a bowl-shaped valley sitting between two Sierra Madre mountain ranges, and even at its lowest point, Mexico City will take your breath away (it’s located at an altitude of 2,250m).
  • Built on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the great city of the Aztecs, Mexico City can be a little bewildering, made up as it is of dozens of distinctive colonias. From the residential enclaves of the well-heeled, shiny business districts and emerging arty enclaves to traditional neighborhoods where time seems to stand still, gritty working-class barrios and crime-afflicted urban slums.
  • There is no place in Mexico quite like it, and you could spend a lifetime exploring it.
  • The good news is, the most interesting neighborhoods can be explored within days, and many attractions are confined to two or three key areas.
  • The city is easy enough to navigate, with an excellent metro system and inexpensive and prolific taxis.

Best Places to Stay in Mexico City

Best hotel in downtown Mexico City.
The iconic Hotel Histórico Central.

Best Areas to Stay in Mexico City

The heart of the Mexico City is the Centro Histórico, a very walkable grid of streets surrounding the Zócalo, the main square, overlooked by the Grand Cathedral and the Palacio Nacional with its government offices. Besides the handsome colonial architecture, great street food, excellent traditional Mexican restaurants and two good markets on its western fringes – the Mercado de San Juan (for food) and the Mercado Artesanías (for crafts), this neighborhood is rich in cultural attractions. One not to be missed, particularly if you’re into art, include the Museo Mural Diego Rivera and the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Accommodations in the center tend to fall mostly into the budget and midrange categories.

Mexico City zocalo cathedral
The Metropolitan Cathedral in Zocalo Square.

Adjoining the Centro Histórico to the west is compact, wedge-shaped Juárez, largely residential, with a good mix of young hipster population, and traditional Mexican cantinas and businesses, as well as contemporary restaurants and cafes. Its northern part is the famous, gay-friendly Zona Rosa – one of the city’s biggest nightlife districts, dotted with bars and nightclubs. Hotels are mostly mid-range, with some boutique options.

Just north of the Zona Rosa, across the busy Avenida Paseo de la Reforma, is Cuahtémoc, a triangle-shaped, skyscraper-studded neighborhood whose lifeblood is commerce and business. An outdoor art gallery and a historic mansion-museum aside, there are few sights to speak of, but the international dining scene here is excellent and the bars here are popular with office workers. Here you’ll find a good concentration of international hotel chains, largely aimed at business travellers.

Adjoining Cuahtémoc to the north are two largely residential, arty neighborhoods with a very local feel: San Rafael and Santa Maria La Ribera, separated from San Rafael by the Avenida Ribera de San Cosme. Both are very walkable, and dotted with an interesting mix of fin de siècle mansions and modernist apartment buildings. Between them, the two neighborhoods have the lion’s share of contemporary art galleries, and San Rafael is dotted with vintage theatres. Street food is terrific here, and accommodations consist largely of small boutique and midrange hotels.

South of Juárez, across the main Avenida Chapultepec, is Roma, a large neighborhood divided into Roma Norte and Roma Sur. Rapidly gentrifying, it’s a curious mix of traditional Mexican life and youth culture, reflected both in its architecture and mix of low-key and gourmet dining and contemporary art galleries. Roma Norte in particular is easily walkable both to the Centro Histórico, to the northeast, and to the city’s best museum in the Bosque de Chapultepec, just to the west, making it a popular neighborhood for tourists.

Adjoining Roma to the west is Condesa, one of Mexico City’s more upscale residential neighborhoods. It’s compact, quiet, walkable, has a good international dining scene, and is also close to the Bosque de Chapultepec and its stellar museums. Boutique hotels dominate its accommodations.

Bordering Condesa to the west is San Miguel Chapultepec, a small, triangle-shaped residential neighborhood with a contemporary art gallery, very low-key dining scene and just a handful of budget accommodations. Its main attraction is its proximality to the Bosque de Chapultepec, the huge urban forest it adjoins – not just Mexico City’s most popular green space, but also home to the country’s best anthropology museum and a handful of other, family-friendly attractions.

Just north of the Bosque de Chapultepec is Polanco, Mexico City’s most exclusive neighborhood, complete with the best fine dining (including several Michelin-starred restaurants), designer boutiques, and the city’s biggest concentration of 5-star hotels.

Coyoacán, far to the south of the city, is a very traditional residential neighborhood, complete with colonial architecture, cobbled streets and attractive twin plazas. It’s pretty far from the city’s other attractions, but great for experiencing a slice of local life. There are low-key accommodations in the form of family-run guesthouses and small boutique hotels, and equally low-key dining, as well as one massive attraction – the Frida Kahlo Museum, and one smaller one – the Leon Trotsky House-Museum.

Other neighborhoods worth mentioning include the edgy, working-class enclave of Xochimilco, also to the south of the city, with its centuries-old canals that go back to Aztec rule. Foodies may wish to check out the taco stands of Colonia Navarte, to the south of Roma Sur, and the Mercado La Merced in Merced, adjoining the Centro Histórico to the east. Finally, sketchy Colonia Doctores, just south of the Centro Histórico, is home to the lucha libre (Mexican freestyle wrestling).

Best Neighborhoods in Mexico City for Sightseeing: Centro Histórico, San Miguel Chapultepec, Coyoacán, Teotihuacan, San Rafael, Santa Maria La Ribera

The Centro Histórico is studded with historical sights, as well as some of the city’s most important art museums. San Miguel Chapultepec (or, more specifically, the Bosque de Chapultepec) is home to the best archaeological museum in the whole country. If you’re interested in pre-Columbian history, then a day trip to the archaeological site of Teotihuacan is an absolute must; ditto: a visit to Xochimilco and its Aztec-era canals. Coyoacán in the place to head to if you’re a fan of Frida Kahlo and her art, whereas if it’s contemporary art that you’re after, then your visit to Mexico City isn’t really complete without checking out the contemporary art galleries in San Rafael and Santa Maria La Ribera.

Best Neighborhoods in Mexico City for nightlife: Juárez, Polanco, Centro Histórico, Roma, La Condesa
There is something in Mexico City to sate every taste, and it’s no different when it comes to nightlife. The Zona Rosa in Juárez is famous for its LGBT-friendly nightclubs and bars; Polanco has a more exclusive clubbing scene and upscale wine and cocktail bars; Roma is the epicentre of hipster culture, with some of the most cutting-edge bars and clubs in town; La Condesa’s scene is more mellow, and popular with young professionals, and ranges from craft beer pubs and whiskey bars to rooftop cocktail patios and traditional cantinas. Centro Histórico has some wonderful bars with a view, as well as dedicated mezcalerias (mezcal bars) for serious connoisseurs of mezcal.

Best Neighborhoods in Mexico City for Food and Restaurants: Centro Histórico, Polanco, Roma, La Condesa, Chapultepec, Juárez, San Rafael, Santa Maria La Ribera, Colonia Narvarte
The Centro Histórico is known for its decades-old restaurants specialising in traditional Mexican food, as well as its street food. Speaking of street food, it’s a genre than both San Rafael and Santa Maria La Ribera excel at, whereas Colonia Narvarte is particularly renowned for its taco stalls. Chapultepec and Juárez are both good bets for international dining, and so are Roma, La Condesa and Polanco, with the latter particularly well known for its high-end dining and proliferation of Michelin-starred restaurants, and the former two dotted with trendy cafes.

Best Neighborhoods in Mexico City for Families: Polanco, Juárez, Cuahtemoc, La Condesa

If you’re travelling with kids and looking to minimise culture shock, then Polanco is a good neighborhood to base yourself; its advantages include its proliferation of family-friendly high end hotels and an international dining scene and its proximity to the Bosque de Chapultepec with its family-friendly attractions, such as the zoo, Children’s Museum and Natural History Museum. Juárez and Cuahtemoc also have the advantage of numerous international dining options, and high-end and mid-range hotels with ample facilities, and are also close to Bosque de Chapultepec, as is Condesa. While Condesa leans more towards boutique lodgings with fewer family-friendly facilities, it does have an attractive park of its own, popular with local families.

Best Neighborhoods in Mexico City to Stay for First Timers: Centro Histórico, Polanco
If you want to get a real sense of the city, its history, its architecture, its culture and traditional (street) food, then the historic center is the best place to start. Plus, you’ll be within easy walking distance of several heavyweight attractions and markets, and near excellent public transportation connections to other parts of the city. If you have your heart set on Mexico City’s best dining (bear in mind that the Michelin-starred restaurants need to be booked weeks in advance), then glitzy Polanco is your best bet. As a bonus, Polanco is also within walking distance of the Bosque de Chapultepec and its stellar Museo Arqueológico – by far the best museum in the country, devoted to Mexico’s Pre-Columbian cultures.

centro historico Mexico City
The historic center of Mexico City, as seen from the Latin American Tower. The large plaza in the center is the zocalo.

Most Romantic Neighborhoods in Mexico City: Centro Histórico, Polanco, Coyoacán
It’s hard to beat the historic center, with its beautiful colonial architecture, intimate boutique hotels and white-linen traditional dining if you’re on a romantic vacation. If you’re looking for something more upscale, the 5-star hotels in Michelin-star dining in Polanco may be just the ticket. Or perhaps you prefer the idea of wandering the subtly-lit cobbled streets and checking out the art of Frida Kahlo in historic Coyoacán before returning to a snug boutique guesthouse.

Best Neighborhood in Mexico City for a Local Vibe: San Rafael, Santa Maria La Ribera, Roma, Coyoacán, Xochimilco
It rather depends what you’re looking for. If you want to stay in a refreshingly untouristy neighborhood with terrific street food, unpretentious mom-and-pop restaurants, and an interesting mix of architecture, then both San Rafael and Santa Maria La Ribera fit the bill. If you’re looking for something with more of a hipster edge, then Roma is a great place to stay, with its unique vibe, plenty going on, and a melange of traditional and contemporary Mexican culture. Coyoacán is less convenient in terms of proximity to the city center, but it’s a unique neighborhood with striking colonial buildings, cobbled streets and very local dining scene. Finally Xochimilco is a place to visit rather than to stay, but its tiny alleyways and ancient canals distinguish it from dozens of neighborhoods that make up Mexico City.

Best Neighborhoods in Mexico City for Shopping: Centro Histórico, Polanco, San Rafael, Roma, Coyoacán, Cuauhtemoc
If you’re looking for quality handicrafts from all over Mexico, the Mercado Artesanias la Ciutadella on the western fringes of the Centro Histórico is an excellent place to start. The nearby Mercado San Jose sells an excellent range of Mexican cooking ingredients, including those hard to find back home, while Fábrica Social works with several women’s collectives across the country and sells textiles of excellent quality. For fashion by international and Mexican designers and concept shopping, look no further than the boutiques along Avenida President Masaryk in Polanco. Contemporary art for sale can be found in the small art galleries of San Rafael. In Roma, Chic by Accident is a good source of 20th century Mexican design items, while Casa de Luna in Coyoacán is a fair trade store specialising in jewellery, ceramics and textiles. Finally, FONART in Cuauhtemoc specialises in folk art from various indigenous communities across the country.

Safest Areas of Mexico City

While Mexico City may have a bit of a sketchy reputation, the neighborhoods frequented by visitors are generally safe, though it pays to be aware of your surroundings and be cautious after dark. Safest neighborhoods include Polanco, Condesa, Roma, Juárez, Zona Rosa, Coyoacán, San Rafael and Centro Histórico. That said, opportunistic pickpocketing does happen, particularly in the downtown area around the Zócalo, the markets, etc. Standard precautions apply: avoid using your easily accessible pockets for phone or valuables, don’t flash lots of cash, expensive jewellery or electronic gear, and avoid deserted, poorly-lit streets at night; take a taxi back to your hotel if you’ve stayed out till late.

Unsafe Areas of Mexico City

As a rule of thumb, steer clear of neighborhoods to the very north or very south of Mexico City, particularly after dark. Avoid dicey Tepito, Mexico City’s black market area just north of Centro, Iztapalpa, a huge southern neighborhood with high assault rates, and Ciudad Neza, a large urban sprawl to the east of the airport with high levels of poverty and violent crime. Then there are neighborhoods that are okay during the day, as long as you take standard precautions. Explore Mercado La Sonora in the Merced neighborhood adjoining Centro, but watch out for pickpockets, both there and around the Centro Histórico. If you go to Colonia Doctores’ Arena México to watch a lucha libre (costumed fight), don’t hang around afterwards, and take a taxi back. Avoid Tlalpan, Xochimilco and Tlatelolco after dark.

The Best Neighborhoods in Mexico City for Tourists

Staying in Centro Histórico

Mexico City hotel with pool.
The rooftop pool at the Hilton Reforma Hotel.

A great neighborhood for first-timers to Mexico City. Built upon the ruins of the Mexica city of Tenochtitlan, the oldest part of present-day Mexico City is the expansive Centro Histórico – the closest Mexico City comes to having a downtown. It’s centered on the large, historic Zócalo square, busy with souvenir sellers and street performers. The surrounding grid of streets is lined with handsome colonial architecture dating from the 16th century onwards, a number of must-see landmarks, such as the Museo Nacional de Arte, Casa de los Azulejos, Palacio de Bellas Artes, and Templo Mayor, as well as some excellent restaurants, specialising in traditional Mexican cuisine. Good public transport connections via the Zócalo and Allende metro stations.

Best Hotels in Centro Histórico

Staying in Polanco

Museo Soumaya in the Polanco neighborhood
Mexico City’s most affluent neighborhood, upscale Polanco is where you’ll find the bulk of the city’s luxury hotels, as well as Presidente Masaryk, the city’s answer to Rodeo Drive, lined with designer boutiques. The smart, well-kept streets are also home to the city’s best fine dining; this is where you’ll find Michelin-starred Pujol – one of the world’s top restaurants, among other stellar options. The heavyweight museums of the Bosque de Chapultepec are an easy walk south of Polanco. Polanco is the only metro stop in the neighborhood. (Along with Centro Histórico, Polanco is the best area of Mexico City for first time visitors.)

Best Hotels in Polanco

Staying in Condesa

fountain in Condesa neighborhood
In the southwest of the city, this compact neighborhood used to be a quiet, residential, middle-class enclave. While it’s still largely residential, it’s rather upscale, with appealing art deco and modern buildings, and has one of the best dining scenes, with global cuisines and Mexican fine dining well represented. One of the most popular neighborhoods for tourists, as it minimizes the culture shock, it’s adjoined by the vast Bosque de Chapultepec Park and has a beautiful park of its own, Parque Mexico, complete with street food vendors and promenading families. While it’s light on attractions, Condesa makes a good base for exploring the city. Chapultepec and Juanacatlán are the closest metro stops.

Best Hotels in Condesa

Staying in Roma

This large neighborhood, divided into Roma Norte and Roma Sur, has also been mostly residential for most of its existence. Still gritty around the edges, a bit down-at-heel compared to neighboring Condesa, and with a reputation as a bohemian enclave, Roma has been undergoing gentrification in recent years. It’s one of the most interesting parts of the city, with a mix of old-time residents and youth culture, reflected in its melange of 19th century mansions, quirky art galleries, busy markets and hip cocktail bars and specialty coffee shops. It’s a walkable neighborhood, and a popular base for tourists due to its relative proximity to attractions in nearby parts of the city, plus good transport connections. Chapultepec, Sevilla and Cuahtémoc are Roma Norte’s metro stops, while Roma Sur is served by Chilpacingo and Centro Médico.

Best Hotels in Roma

Staying in Juárez / Zona Rosa

Best luxury hotel in Mexico City.
The Four Seasons is the best 5-star hotel in Mexico City.

This compact, triangle-shaped neighborhood was one of Mexico City’s most exclusive before WWII; afterwards, many of the beautiful buildings were left in a state of genteel decay until a young, bohemian population injected some new life into the place after being forced out by rising rent prices in Roma and Condesa. The result is a neat collection of quiet, tree-lined streets dotted with fin de siècle mansions, with a small-town feel to the place and multiple generations of traditional Mexican families mixing with young hipsters amidst vintage luncheonettes, buzzy cafes and speakeasys serving cocktails. The northern fringe of Juárez is where you’ll find a decent concentration of bars and nightclubs, collectively known as the Zona Rosa, as well as a few boutique hotels. Juárez is well-located for the exploration of Roma, Centro Histórico, Chapultepec, La Condesa and Cuauhtémoc on foot, and connected to the rest of the city via the Sevilla and Cuauhtémoc metro stops.

Best Hotels in Juarez / Zona Rosa

Staying in San Miguel Chapultepec

Chapultepec Castle
Chapultepec Castle in the center of a large urban forest.

Another arty neighborhood in the making, triangle-shaped San Miguel Chapultepec sits next to the Bosque de Chapultepec, a vast urban forest with running and cycling paths. Bosque de Chapultepec is home to Mexico’s City most important museums, including the show-stopping Museo National de Antropología, devoted to the wealth of Mexico’s pre-Hispanic cultures, plus a zoo, a Children’s Museum, and a Museum of Natural History, also popular with families. The neighborhood itself is pretty low-key, with a contemporary art gallery, a handful of unpretentious eateries and several inexpensive accommodations. Constituyentes, Tacubaya and Juanacatlán are the metro stops here.

Best Hotels in San Miguel Chapultepec

Staying in Cuauhtémoc

There’s some spillover from Zona Rosa to the south, with a few bars found in this wedge-shaped neighborhood, across the main Avenida Paseo de la Reforma. Largely an office and commerce district, Cuauhtémoc benefits from a lively international dining scene, its restaurants spanning the globe and located mostly along Calle Rio Lerma and the parallel Calle Panuco.

Best Hotels in Cuauhtémoc

Staying in Coyoacán

Coyoacan Neighborhood gates and doors
Colorful walls and gates in the historic, tree-lined streets of the Coyoacan neighborhood.

Before Mexico City expanded and incorporated outlying settlements into one big whole, Coyoacán was a colonial-era town and remains a rather quiet and traditional part of the city, far to the south. It’s centred on the twin squares od Jardín Centenario and Plaza Hidalgo, popular with local families on weekends, while its cobbled streets and vintage architecture are a pleasure to explore, as is the Mercado de Coyoacán with its food stalls. The neighborhood is best known as the birthplace of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, and her childhood-home-turned-museum attracts massive crowds of visitors. Nearby is another offbeat attraction: the Leon Trotsky House Museum where the Soviet revolutionary leader lived in exile and was assassinated by one of Stalin’s assassins. Dining is a mix of traditional Mexican restaurants and stalls, and a few international options, and accommodations mostly consist of family-run guesthouses and a few boutique hotels. Coyoacán is the nearest metro stop.

Best Hotels in Coyoacán

Staying in San Rafael

If you’re looking for a largely untouristy experience while being within walking distance of Centro Histórico’s attractions, the artsy residential neighborhood of San Rafael has much to recommend it. The university campus gives San Rafael a youthful vibe, and the streets are dotted with vintage theatres, late 19th century houses, and small mom-and-pop restaurants. You won’t find gourmet cuisine here or much of a nightlife here, but you will find lots of excellent street food, particularly around Mercado San Cosme. There are a couple of art galleries worth your time, including the contemporary art museum, Museo Experimental el Eco. Gentrification is slowly creeping in in the form of specialty coffee shops, but overall San Rafael feels like a refreshingly ‘local’ part of the city. San Cosme is the main metro stop.

Best Hotels in San Rafael

Staying in Santa Maria la Ribera

This compact, mostly residential neighborhood bordering San Rafael is centred on a tree-lined plaza, the Alameda, surrounded by food stalls with a loyal local following. The architecture is an interesting mix of down-at-heel, fin de siècle mansions, and modernist and art deco apartment blocks. It’s an arty, up-and-coming place with a unique vibe. Low-key attractions include a geology/dinosaur museum and the National University’s El Chopo Museum that showcases edgy installations by local artists. Other sights include small contemporary arts galleries and the Kiosko Morisco – a Moorish-style gazebo that hosts everything from rock gigs and poetry slams to ballroom dancing. Buenavista and San Cosme metro stops connect Santa Maria la Ribera to the rest of the city, and Centro’s attractions are within walking distance.

Best Hotels in Santa Maria la Ribera

Staying in Greater Mexico City

There are several outlying neighborhoods in Mexico City that are worth a daytime visit but can be sketchy at night or not worth staying overnight in. To the northeast of Mexico City (though not technically part of the city) is the vast archaeological complex of Teotihuacan, one of the county’s top Pre-Hispanic sights, complete with intact pyramids; it’s well worth setting a day aside to go and see. At the very south of the city, head for Xochimilco, a gritty working-class neighborhood with a village feel and tiny alleyways, to take a flat-bottomed boat tour of the centuries-old canals, once used by the Aztecs as a means of transportation. South of Roma Sur, the residential Colonia Narvarte is known for its superb street food – particularly its taco stands. Adjacent to the southern border of the Centro Histórico, Colonia Doctores has a bit of a bad rep, but its Arena México is well worth a visit if you want to attend a lucha libre – Mexican freestyle wrestling – a unique and very local pastime. Mercado La Merced, just to the east of the Centro Histórico, is Mexico City’s largest produce market for traditional food; it’s also a red light district later on in the day.

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Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

Mexico Puerto Vallarta › Best Places to Stay
Updated: November 23, 2022

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Best Areas to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

Beach resort in Puerto Vallarta.
The Secrets Vallarta Bay beach resort in the Zona Hotelera area of Puerto Vallarta.

Stretching for miles along the Bahía de Banderas and surrounded by mountains covered in lush greenery, Puerto Vallarta (or just ‘Vallarta’ to locals) is one of Mexico’s most vibrant beach destinations along the Pacific coast. Vallarta’s been attracting tourists since the 60s, when Hollywood royalty starred in Tennessee Williams’ Night of the Iguana at a nearby cove. Today, millions of vacationers come every year to sun themselves on the string of attractive white-sand beaches, take in the fantastic dining scene, peruse the local art in quirky galleries and stores, and to wander the attractive malecón (beach promenade) and the cobbled streets of the historic center. More active travelers seek out adventure activities such as boat trips, horseback rides, scuba diving, and day trips to the interior. When the sun goes down, the pumping nightlife reminds you why Vallarta is the LGBT capital of Mexico. While Vallarta is rather spread out, the proliferation of local transport and taxis makes it easy to get around, and the central neighborhoods are very walkable.

Puerto Vallarta stretches for around 10 miles along the coast, from the international airport in the north to hilly Amapas at the very south of the town. In the southern part of the city, El Centro is Vallarta’s historic heart, consisting of a compact grid of narrow streets and centuries-old plazas, with colorful architecture and some hilly cobbled lanes. It’s fringed by the malecón (waterfront promenade) and is known for its waterfront bars and restaurants, art galleries, and craft markets, and is extremely popular with visitors.

Just south of El Centro, across the Rio Cuale is the Zona Romántica, another historic neighborhood with cobbled streets and traditional shops. The streets closest to the beach have a hipster vibe about them and are dotted with craft beer breweries, bars, and restaurants, while the streets east of Calle Insurgentes have a more local feel to them. Zona Romántica is home to the Playa Los Muertos, one of Vallarta’s most popular beaches, lined with (mostly) midrange hotels, and the bustling nightlife makes this neighborhood a favourite with LGBT travelers.

South of the Zona Romántica and overlooking the southern end of Playa Los Muertos, Vallarta becomes a narrow squiggle of quiet, hilly streets known as Amapas, peppered with luxury villas and a handful of decent hotels. Even farther south is Conchas Chinas, a spread-out, affluent residential neighborhood with villas high up on the hillside.

In the northern half of the city, stretching between the north end of the malecón in El Centro and the sporting complex at the southern end of the Zona Hotelera, the largely residential neighborhood of 5 de Diciembre is quieter than Centro or the Zona Romántica, but easily walkable to the former and a short hop on a bus from the latter. It features the same Old-World architecture as Centro as well as some of the best taco stands in Vallarta, great bars and restaurants, and quality craft stores.

The Zona Hotelera is a rather spread-out neighborhood that straddles both banks of the River Pitillal and consists of a long stretch of beach dotted with hotels, many of them all-inclusive. At the name suggests, this is a popular part of town for visitors. There are a handful of restaurants here, but the dining scene is otherwise limited to hotel dining.

Near the international airport at the very north of the city and just north of the Zona Hotelera is the Marina Vallarta – one of Vallarta’s most upscale neighborhoods that encircles the yacht marina. It’s the newest part of the city, with a brand new cruise ship terminal, plenty of luxury accommodations, and an international dining scene.

Farther north, beyond the airport, Nuevo Vallarta is home to Vallarta’s second cruise ship terminal, a clean yacht marina that attracts wildlife, 2 golf courses, and a mix of beachfront hotels and luxury condos.

Best Places to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

Best luxury hotel in Puerto Vallarta.
The pool and ocean views at Hotel Mousai.

Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta for…

  • Best Neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta for Sightseeing/Activities: El Centro, Zona Romántica, Zona Hotelera, Marina Vallarta
    Puerto Vallarta is not huge on sights, though its landmark Nuestra Señora de Guadelupe church in El Centro is worth a look, and if you’re interested in regional history, it’s worth checking out the Museo del Cuale. El Centro’s most popular sight is the malecón, the renovated, pedestrianized waterfront promenade compete with sculptures; at the north end, you’re likely to catch a daily performance by some Voladores de Papantla (“Aztec bungee jumping” probably describes it best!). Vallarta is mostly known for its beaches and outdoor pursuits – world-class golfing in Marina Vallarta, deep-sea fishing (arranged dockside in Marina Vallarta or through hotels and agencies), plus all manner of watersports (snorkeling, whale-watching, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, waterskiing, windsurfing, sailing, and parasailing) that you can arrange on the beach in the Zona Hotelera or Zona Romántica or through your hotel. Finally, the Zona Romántica pier is the departure point for popular cruises (daytime, sunset, and evening), the most popular going to Yelapa and Las Ánimas beaches, or else Islas Marietas); some are family-oriented, whereas others are adults-only and include bottomless cocktails in the price.
  • Best Neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta for Nightlife: Zona Romántica, El Centro, Marina Vallarta
    Vallarta’s Zona Romántica is internationally renowned for its nightlife and its LGBT+ nightclubs and bars in particular that attract a young crowd of locals and visitors alike. Aside from clubbing, this is also the part of town where you’ll find Vallarta’s excellent craft beer breweries and brewpubs such as Los Muertos Brewing and Panchöfurter. In El Centro, there’s a string of bars either overlooking or near the malecón, ranging from sports bars (The Redneck Sombrero, Murphy’s Irish Pub) to bona fide cocktail bars (El Colibiri) and even dedicated mezcalerias (bars specializing in mezcal) such as Bar Morelos. Finally, the Marina Vallarta has a handful of cocktail and sports bars overlooking the marina, popular with international yachties and well-heeled locals.
  • Best Neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta for Food and Restaurants: El Centro, 5 de Diciembre, Zona Hotelera, Marina Vallarta, Zona Romántica
    You’re likely to eat well wherever you stay in Vallarta. In the north of the city, Marina Vallarta boasts an international dining scene with standout options including Sonora Prime and Portobello. While the Zona Hotelera’s dining scene is largely limited to hotel restaurants, there are 2 Michelin-starred restaurants in the neighborhood as well: La Leche and Icu. Just north of Vallarta’s center, 5 de Diciembre particularly stands out for its legendary taco stands (Pepe’s Taco, El Carboncito, Mariscos La Tia) and mid-range traditional restaurants (La Traviata, Meño’s Place). El Centro has a good mix of speciality coffee shops (Puerto Café), hole-in-the-wall taco joints (El Banquito) and a wide range of Mexican and international cafes and restaurants in all budget ranges: Café des Artistes, Chez Elena, and Planeta Vegetariano are all excellent choices. Finally, the Zona Romántica has probably the most diverse dining in Vallarta, ranging from independent coffee shops (A Page in the Sun) and locally famous taco stands that each do one or two things really, really well (Pancho’s Takos, Tacos de Birria Chanfay, Marisma Fish Taco) to traditional Mexican restaurants (Mole de Jovita, Red Cabbage Café) and international joints (La Palapa, Joe Jack’s Fish Shack).
  • Best Neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta for Families: Zona Hotelera, El Centro, Zona Romántica, Marina Vallarta
    If you’re looking for a beach holiday with all the conveniences and facilities of an upmarket or midrange, all-inclusive, family-friendly oceanfront hotel with a choice of water sports, then the accommodations of the Zona Hotelera overlooking either the Playa del Oro or Playa del Holi are a good bet. The high-end beach hotels of Marina Vallarta are another good option. Zona Romántica also makes a good base if you have older kids and enjoy exploring on foot; a number of family-friendly hotels sit right on the excellent Playa de Los Muertos, which is also the jumping-off point for a variety of boat trips. Finally, El Centro is good for travelers on a budget and the waterfront promenade with its street performers and sculptures is popular with families.
  • Best Neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta to Stay for First Timer: El Centro, Zona Romántica
    We recommend either El Centro or the Zona Romántica. The former is the most atmospheric part of Vallarta and very walkable, with an excellent mix of dining, quality shopping, an attractive waterfront promenade and a super-central location. The Zona Romántica is also part of Vallarta’s historical center and makes up for what it lacks in atmosphere with an excellent beach, several watersports, a thriving nightlife scene, and a diverse dining scene. And since the 2 neighborhoods are next door to each other, you can easily stay in one and visit the attractions of the other on foot.
  • Zona Romantica in Puerto Vallarta.
    Boat tours and water taxis to southern beaches depart from the Los Muertos pier in the Zona Romántica.
  • Most Romantic Neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta: El Centro, Amapas
    Its name notwithstanding, the Zona Romántica is actually not Vallarta’s most romantic neighborhood (though it does retain some of its historic cobbled streets and is a popular part of the city with vacationing couples). El Centro is much more atmospheric, with its narrow cobbled streets, leafy plaza overlooked by a landmark church, handsome colonial buildings, and a sensitively revamped waterfront promenade that’s subtly lit in the evenings. Some of the city’s best boutique hotels occupy the houses and mansions that are drowning in greenery on the hilly streets several blocks inland from the malecón, though if you’re after greater luxury and even loftier views, then Amapas is a better bet. The upside (or downside) is that Amapas is much more secluded.
  • Best Neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta for a Local Vibe: 5 de Diciembre
    Just north of El Centro, easily walkable, and well-connected to Vallarta’s areas of interest by public transport, 5 de Diciembre has a low-key, bohemian vibe. It’s quieter than the historic center but still boasts a clutch of good, low-key bars and restaurants, and its tight grid of streets is lined with colorful, one-story buildings. The taco stands here are among the best in the city, but accommodations are limited to several inexpensive beachfront hotels and a handful of family-run guesthouses.
  • Best Neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta for Shopping: El Centro, Zona Romántica
    Mexico produces an astounding range of regional handicrafts, from exquisite ceramics and vibrant artwork to intricate jewelry and fine textiles, and in Puerto Vallarta you’ll see a lot of psychedelic Huichol beadwork and yarn art of varying quality, as well as arts and crafts from farther afield. El Centro has around a dozen galleries where you can buy high-quality art; standouts include Galeria Colectika (psychedelic Huichol beadwork and yarn art), metalwork from Chiapas and ceramics from Oaxaca and Chihuahua, Galeria de Ollas (one-of-a-kind ceramics from Mata Ortiz in Chihuahua), Peyote People (Huichol beadwork, silver jewelry, Day of the Dead figurines, and Oaxacan wood carvings), and Caballito de Mar (hand-woven textiles from Oaxaca, Michoacán, and Chihuahua, hand-painted folk art masks, Oaxacan black clay ceramics, silver jewelry). In the Zona Romántica, look out for Tierra Huichol (Huichol beadwork of superb quality, plus skeletal figures from Michoacán), Mundo de Azulejos (locally-produced, colorful Talavera tilework), and the Manyana lifestyle store (Mexican-made ceramics, stylish linen wear, funky glasses, Mollusc Hemp t-shirts). If you’re looking for cheap souvenirs such as mass-produced crafts and spring break T-shirts with cheesy slogans, head for the Mercado Isla Río Cuale on an island in the river that separates El Centro from the Zona Romántica.
  • Safest Areas of Puerto Vallarta
    Puerto Vallarta has a low crime rate and all neighborhoods popular with tourists such as El Centro, Zona Romántica, Dorada, Olas Altas, Playa Norte, Sábalo, etc, tend to be fine to walk around. Zona Hotelera and Marina Vallarta are safe, particularly during the day. Standard precautions apply: don’t flash lots of cash, expensive jewelry, or electronic gear, and avoid deserted, poorly-lit streets at night; take a taxi back to your hotel if you’re not within easy walking distance and the streets are deserted. Also, watch out for opportunistic pickpocketing in crowded areas.
  • Unsafe Areas of Puerto Vallarta
    There are no specific neighborhoods in Vallarta that visitors should actively avoid. Of course, use common sense late at night, on unlit and quiet streets. Do not buy or sell drugs no matter how small the amount or innocuous the setting.

The Best Areas in Puerto Vallarta for Tourists

1. El Centro

Boutique hotel in downtown Puerto Vallarta.
Hacienda San Angel

Stretching from the Rio Cuale in the south to the northern end of the palm tree-dotted malecón (oceanfront walk), El Centro is Vallarta’s downtown – a busy, relatively compact, walkable neighborhood where you’ll find everything from a diverse clutch of restaurants to art galleries, shops, nightclubs, and the historic plaza with a landmark church. The further you get from the sea, the hillier the streets get, with the profusion of vegetation hiding intimate boutique hotels and high-end restaurants. Refurbished and beautified in recent years, the malecón features contemporary sculptures, creations made of sand, street musicians, and other performers. Towards the north end, the Voladores de Papantla perform a breathtaking spectacle involving a very tall pole and costumed dancers launching themselves from the top, precariously attached with a rope tied to one foot. If you’re in search of Mexican arts and crafts of superb quality, El Centro has the lion’s share of galleries and shops, and during high season, the galleries put on a free weekly Art Walk. Cheaper souvenirs are found at the big market next to the Rio Cuale, as well as on the island market in the river. El Centro is quite a busy, noisy neighborhood that attracts both younger locals and visitors with its nightlife, but there are quieter pockets with inexpensive accommodations that appeal to families who enjoy being close to the action.

2. Zona Romántica

Hotel with view in Puerto Vallarta.
Pinnacle Resorts 180

Bordered by the Rio Cuale to the north and east, and the cliffs of Amapas to the south, the Zona Romántica is one of Vallarta’s most popular neighborhoods for visitors and justifiably so. It’s part of the historic center, so you get some cobbled street charm alongside two great beaches (Olas Altas and Los Muertos), a thriving night scene year-round (since the Zona Romántica is popular with locals and expats as well as spring breakers and LGBT visitors), a varied dining scene, and accommodations to suit all budgets. The sail-shaped Los Muertos pier is the departure point for all manner of boat cruises and the beachfront hotels offer several water sports. The western half of the neighborhood is trendy and dotted with boutiques, art galleries, craft beer bars, and clubs, whereas the blocks between Hwy 200 and the Rio Cuale are much more of a local scene with bustling produce markets, locally famous taco stands, and busy local businesses.

3. Amapas & Conchas Chinas

Beach resort in Puerto Vallarta.
Garza Blanca, just south of Puerto Vallarta.

Just south of the Zona Romántica, Vallarta tapers to a point and the Playa de Los Muertos gives way to jungle-covered cliffs and quiet, affluent, mostly residential neighborhoods of Amapas and, farther south, Conchas Chinas. Amapas is a mix of beachfront and hillside villas, and several beachfront hotels – all within an easy (if hilly) stroll from the attractions of the Zona Romántica. Conchas Chinas, dubbed the “Beverly Hills of Puerto Vallarta” is even more exclusive; accommodations here tend to be luxury villas for rent, plus several luxury hotels, with fantastic views of the coast from their lofty heights. South of Conchas Chinas, a string of hotels and villas dots the coast for miles, right up to the Playa Mismaloya, the beach and fishing village which featured in the movie The Night of the Iguana that originally put Vallarta on the map.

4. 5 De Diciembre

Beachfront hotel with pool.
Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel

A compact grid of streets hemmed in between the Playa Camarones and the busy Av. Libramiento thoroughfare, the neighborhood of 5 de Diciembre sits between El Centro and the Zona Hotelera. This up-and-coming neighborhood has a bohemian vibe to it and comprises Vallarta’s famous Old-World architecture – narrow cobbled streets and brightly painted one and two-story houses, and the hillier parts of 5 de Diciembre offer fantastic views of the coast. It’s quieter and less touristy than El Centro and the Zona Romántica, yet still close enough on foot to enjoy the best that the historical center has to offer. There’s a decent beach here, as well as terrific street food and a lively fish market with food stalls. The handful of accommodations comprises several midrange beach hotels as well as intimate AirBnb options.

5. Zona Hotelera

Puerto Vallarta resort with activities.
Secrets Vallarta Bay

Stretching along five golden sand beaches between 5 de Diciembre and the Marina Vallarta, the Zona Hotelera is a spread-out neighborhood with the lion’s share of beach hotels in Vallarta. Created in the mid-20th century in order to attract beach tourism to Vallarta while preserving the colonial architecture of the historic center, the hotels and condos of the Zona Hotelera offer fantasic views over Banderas Bay. Superb beaches and water sports aside, the Zona Hotelera also features two of Vallarta’s Michelin-starred restaurants, though on the whole, much of the neighborhood dining scene is limited to hotel restaurants.

6. Nuevo Vallarta & Marina Vallarta

Beach hotel near Puerto Vallarta airport.
Casa Velas

At the very north of the city, and just south of to the international airport, Marina Vallarta is one of the city’s fanciest neighborhoods. Besides the cruise ship terminal and a large yacht marina, there’s a state-of-the-art 18-hole golf course, two excellent beaches, high-end beach hotels, and a slew of international restaurants and bars. North of the airport, Nuevo Vallarta is the city’s fastest-growing neighborhood popular with well-heeled expats. There’s another cruise ship terminal here, 2 world-class golf courses, luxury condos, a clutch of midrange beach hotels, and arguably Mexico’s cleanest marina, where you can spot wildlife like pelicans, herons, and the occasional crocodile. Water sports are a big attraction in Nuevo Vallarta, with scuba diving, paddle boarding, surfing, kayaking, and kite surfing instruction and equipment available. The downside is that Nuevo Vallarta is quite far from the historic center and Vallarta’s cultural attractions; while Marina Vallarta is well-served by public transport, for Nuevo Vallarta you need your own wheels.

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Tulum Hotels

MexicoTulum › Best Hotels
Updated: November 23, 2022

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Tulum Hotels – Tips & Info

  • Tulum is my favorite beach town in Mexico. Great beach, food, nightlife, local vibe, and wonderful nearby sights.
  • There are two main areas to stay in Tulum: The pueblo (the town center with a local vibe, great restaurants, boutique and budget hotels; located about a 15-minute bike ride to the start of the beaches). And the beach (a long strip of luxury boutique beach hotels, trendy restaurants, and a relaxed touristy vibe).
  • – The best site (and best prices) for booking hotels in Tulum.
  • Best Hotels on Tulum Beach: La Valise (pictured above) • MezzanineJashitaCasa Malca – all of these are absolutely wonderful places to stay.
  • Best Boutique Hotel in Tulum: pretty much all hotels in Tulum are boutiques (there aren’t any large resorts) but if I had to pick one as the best it would be Mezzanine.
  • The best cheap hotel in the Tulum Beach area Las Palmas Maya, but it is located across the road from the water.
  • Tulum has the best beaches along the Yucatan coast. Great sand and swimmable surf.
  • December to April is the best time of the year to visit Tulum – but Tulum is a year-round destination and you can have a great visit any month of the year. September and October are the rainiest months but otherwise, I wouldn’t let the time of year dictate if you should come.
  • Book very early for the best hotels on the Tulum beach. Six months in advance is good, nine months is better.
  • High season is January, February, July, August, and late December, when it’s even more important to find hotels early.
  • Tulum does not have any mega-resorts or all-inclusives. The places listed below are small to medium-sized boutique-style hotels with lots of character.
  • My top tips for visiting Tulum are to eat some tacos al pastor, swim in a cenote, and rent a bike for geting around.
  • The food in and around Tulum is amazing and one of the highlights of the town. These are my favorite restaurants in Tulum.
  • If you’re worried about the seaweed on the Yucatan coast, then Tulum is a better choice than Cancun because there’s so much more to do here (swim in cenotes, boat tours of Sian Ka’an Biosphere, swim with turtles in nearby Akumal, great Mexican food in Tulum Pueblo). And the adventure parks Xplor, Xcaret, and Xel-Ha are much closer to Tulum than Cancun.
  • Tulum is great for families. These are the best hotels for families in Tulum.

The 25 Best Hotels in Tulum

Most of these hotels are walking distance to several restaurants and biking distance to town.

1. Mezzanine – luxury

Mezzanine Hotel in Tulum
Superb, oceanfront, boutique hotel with refined, economical ‘non-view’ rooms, sea view rooms, and master suites, all with mini bars, yoga mats, and coffee/tea baskets (delivered daily). The 2 master suites add coffee makers, soaking tubs, bluetooth speakers, lounge areas and large private terraces overlooking the beach. Mezzanine has a pool, Thai restaurant, bar, lovely long beach (steps from the hotel), and is a short bike ride from the Tulum ruins.
Hotel phone: +52 1 984 131 1596
Hotel websiteCheck prices for Mezzanine

2. Jashita – luxury

Jashita Hotel in Tulum
Family-friendly, luxury boutique hotel with 3 pools (kids’, adults’, and rooftop adults’ pools), beachfront service, daily yoga, and a spa with shaman ceremonies. Their wide range of rooms and suites all include king-sized beds, welcome wine and chocolates, and private terraces; honeymoon suites and the penthouse suite add private pools. Their all-day restaurant Pandano offers a delicious Mexican-Italian menu with especially great lobster and handmade pasta along with creative and classic cocktails. Located on an absolutely stunning, semi-private beach in Soliman Bay near Casa Cenote and about 10 km north of the Tulum ruins.
Hotel phone: +52 1 984 875 4158
Hotel websiteCheck prices for Jashita

3. Casa Malca – luxury

Casa Malca Hotel in Tulum
Stylish, art-focused hotel with 3 outstanding restaurants, a creative bar, a beach club, 2 pools (1 is underground), complimentary bicycles, and free sunset yoga on the rooftop terrace. Each design-forward suite features an eclectic mix of antique and contemporary décor and original artwork from owner Lio Malca’s extensive private collection. The hotel is kid-friendly all year long, except for the weeks surrounding New Year’s Eve when it becomes an adults-only spot during Tulum’s EDM festivals. Located on a white, sandy beach within a 10-minute walk of Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve and several of Tulum’s best restaurants and bars.
Hotel phone: +52 1 984 167 7154
Hotel websiteCheck prices for Casa Malca

4. La Valise – luxury

La Valise Hotel in Tulum
Luxurious, boutique hotel with spacious rooms and a suite, 24 hour air conditioning, 2 heated plunge pools, and a gorgeous stretch of beach. Service is impeccable and highly personalized. Their onsite restaurant serves breakfast and lunch indoors or on the beach, while their sister restaurant Nü serves creative Mexican fine dining under the stars. Located on the southern end of Tulum’s hotel zone in a quiet beach stretch within walking distance of several fantastic restaurants.
Hotel phone: +1 305 999 1540
Hotel websiteCheck prices for La Valise

5. La Zebra – luxury

La Zebra Hotel in Tulum
Beach-chic, luxury hotel on a wide stretch of white, sandy beach with a long rooftop pool, playground, and free, weekly salsa dancing lessons. All family-friendly, open-plan suites are designed for up to 4 with a king-sized bed and a double twin trundle bed, a dual shower, and dual vanities; many suites include private plunge pools. Amazing food and drinks, a small spa, and friendly, attentive service round out the experience here.
Hotel phone: +52 1 984 115 4726
Hotel websiteCheck prices for La Zebra

6. Tago – luxury

Tago Hotel in Tulum
Stunning, beachfront luxury hotel. Rooms are huge with large glass sliding doors opening to their own private plunge pools. The onsite restaurant offers a Mexican-Mediterranean fusion menu with indoor or outdoor, beachfront dining. The beach is well-maintained with an abundance of sun chairs and fantastic beach service.
Hotel phone: +52 1 984 871 1310
Hotel websiteCheck prices for Tago

7. Ahau – luxury

Ahau Hotel in Tulum
Wellness-focused, pet-friendly, beachfront hotel with outstanding food, eclectic rooms, and an extensive program of yoga, meditation, and healing rituals. Their onsite restaurants use fresh, organic, local ingredients in partnership with Mayan farmers and offer top-notch menus for vegans and meat-eaters alike. The beach here is amazing: sandy and swimmable, well-organized with beach beds and hammocks, well-served by the beach bar and grill, and with their own kite surfing school. Ahau is in the heart of Tulum’s beach zone, walking distance to amazing restaurants and nightlife.
Hotel phone: +52 984 147 5225
Hotel websiteCheck prices for Ahau

8. Nômade – luxury

Nomâde Hotel in Tulum
Family-friendly, wellness-centered hotel with a gorgeous pool, free daily yoga, and a well-kept beach about a 10-minute walk from Sian Ka’an biosphere. Luxury tents, suites, and villas fuse boho style with modern perks, including air conditioning in all units (even the tents), private pools, and outdoor showers. Dining is fantastic at their vegan/vegetarian restaurant Macondo and at their super fresh seafood restaurant La Popular. What sets this hotel apart, though, is its focus on incorporating Mayan culture into all aspects of the hotel, including the menus, healing rituals, ceremonies, and ever-changing events program.
Hotel phone: +52 984 803 2243
Hotel websiteCheck prices for Nômade

9. Cabañas La Luna – luxury

Cabañas La Luna Hotel in Tulum
Rustic boutique hotel with spacious, family-friendly suites and a fantastic Mexican-Mediterranean fusion restaurant on a wide stretch of white sand beach. Spacious rooms offer up to 2 bedrooms and sleep 4 to 6 guests, while the villa features 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a private pool.
Hotel phone: +52 1 984 146 7737
Hotel websiteCheck prices for Cabañas La Luna

10. Una Vida – luxury

Una Vida Hotel in Tulum
Family-friendly, luxury hotel in the Pueblo (downtown) offering studios and 1- to 3- bedroom suites sleeping up to 8, all with stocked kitchenettes and outdoor showers, some with outdoor bathtubs. Facilities and amenities include a gorgeous pool, in-room yoga and massage, free bicycles, and a cozy breakfast and lunch restaurant. Private dinners and tequila and mezcal tastings are available on request.
Hotel phone: +52 984 240 5231
Hotel websiteCheck prices for Una Vida

11. Mi Amor – luxury

Mi Amor Hotel in Tulum
Adults-only, luxury boutique hotel with an infinity pool, upscale restaurant and bar, and a cozy 2-room spa. Rooms and suites are designed with couples in mind, all with king-sized beds, 24-hour air conditioning, and private terraces; ground floor rooms feature private plunge pools. Mi Amor is located in the Tulum Ruins national park at the north end of the hotel zone, walking distance to the ruins, a beach club, and a handful of restaurants. The beach here is rocky, but it’s just a 5 minute walk to sandy Playa Paraiso at their sister property Mezzanine.
Hotel phone: +52 1 984 188 4273
Hotel websiteCheck prices for Mi Amor

12. Encantada – luxury

Encantada Hotel in Tulum
Romantic hotel with 8 spacious rooms, all with king-sized canopy beds and private terraces with hammocks. Dining is exceptional at their onsite restaurant and bar and at their sister restaurant Nü across the street (they share the restaurant with La Valise). Encantada is located on a wide stretch of white sandy beach at the quiet, south end of the hotel zone within walking distance of several amazing restaurants and bars.
Hotel phone: +1 650 212 6782
Hotel websiteCheck prices for Encantada

13. Sueños – luxury

Sueños Hotel in Tulum
Chilled-out, beachfront, artsy eco-hotel with Mayan-themed, beautifully decorated suites featuring hand-painted tiles, outdoor sitting decks, hammocks, porthole windows, and solar powered electricity. The lone penthouse has sofa beds, a stone hydromassage jacuzzi, a terrace, and 360˚ views of the ocean, jungle and lagoon of the Sian Kaan Biosphere. Sueños Tulum also offers complimentary breakfast, a yoga studio, fire pit, pool, and restaurant.
Hotel phone: +52 984 119 3484
Hotel websiteCheck prices for Sueños

14. Dune – luxury

Dune Hotel in Tulum
Adults-only, boutique hotel with an amazing Mexican-Mediterranean fusion restaurant, beach club, a pampering spa, and daily yoga. Romantic rooms and suites include 24-hour air conditioning and private terraces, some with private plunge pools. The beach here is one of the best in Tulum: sandy, swimmable, and protected by a reef, which makes for gentle waves.
Hotel phone: +52 984 238 9529
Hotel websiteCheck prices for Dune

15. El Pez – luxury

El Pez Hotel in Tulum
Family-friendly, luxury hotel with a pool, an excellent bar and restaurant, a shared kitchen area for guest use, and well-appointed rooms and suites on a small beach in a quiet bay. Most suites are 1-bedroom units that sleep up to 4 with a king-sized bed and a separate living area with a sofa bed and private pool. The beach itself is rocky, more popular for sunbathing and fishing than for swimming, but guests of El Pez have access to the beach at their sister property La Zebra.
Hotel phone: +52 1 984 116 3357
Hotel websiteCheck prices for El Pez

16. Coco Tulum – luxury

Coco Tulum Hotel in Tulum
Cozy cabanas, rooms/tower rooms with ocean/garden views in a laid-back, beachfront, eco-hotel. Has budget cabanas with shared bathrooms, high-end tower rooms with splendid views with terraces, and a lone suite with jacuzzi. Has a beach bar, temazcal, yoga classes, Mexican-Italian restaurant and many good restaurants within walking distance.
Hotel phone: +52 984 688 8592
Hotel websiteCheck prices for Coco Tulum

17. The Beach Tulum – moderate

The Beach Hotel in Tulum
Adults-only hotel with a river pool, jacuzzi, full-service spa, and 2 restaurants, including the well-loved Ziggy’s Restaurant and Beach Club. Rooms are minimalistic yet elegant, and all include a private jacuzzi or plunge pool. Perks include 24-hour air conditioning, free bikes, free yoga, live music nightly, and tequila, mezcal, and wine tastings throughout the week. The beach here boasts powdery, soft, white sand, and there is a little cenote onsite, too.
Hotel phone: +52 984 157 9645
Hotel website Check prices for The Beach Tulum

18. Cabañas Tulum – moderate

Cabañas Hotel in Tulum
Beachfront hotel offering a pool and a holistic spa. Its spacious rooms and suites feature up to 3 bedrooms; many include private jacuzzis. The sister property of The Beach Tulum, Cabañas Tulum shares the same fantastic swimming beach and Ziggy’s Restaurant and Beach Club, along with its own restaurant and beach bar Frescoes. Minimum age for hotel guests is 14.
Hotel phone: +52 984 871 1132
Hotel website Check prices for Cabañas Tulum

19. Alaya – luxury

Alaya Hotel in Tulum
Beautiful, beachfront boutique hotel with airy, light-filled beach cabanas/apartments, villas and suites having wooden floors, floor-to-ceiling windows with bi-folding doors and terraces. Apartments add small kitchens. Has a Latin American restaurant, outdoor eco gym, yoga lessons, kitesurfing and paddle surfing. The beach is a hotspot for sea turtles/nesting sites (during the season).
Hotel phone: +52 984 159 1696
Hotel website Check prices for Alaya

20. Naay – luxury

Naay Boutique Hotel in Tulum
Stylish boutique hotel in the brand new Aldea Zama neighborhood, halfway between the Pueblo and the beach. Family-friendly 1 and 2-bedroom suites sleep up to 6 guests. The main highlight is the hotel’s rooftop, which boasts an infinity pool, kids’ pool, infinity jacuzzi, and an outstanding bar and restaurant with sunset views over the jungle.
Hotel phone: +52 984 231 1241
Hotel website Check prices for Naay

21. O’ Tulum – luxury

O'Tulum Hotel in Tulum
Adults-only hideaway north of Tulum with only 12 rooms sharing 3 pools, rooftop yoga, and a wonderful restaurant overlooking the beach. All rooms include king-size beds, 24-hour air conditioning, private terraces, and swim outs or jetted plunge pools; half of the rooms add indoor soaking tubs. The beach here is rocky, but the hotel is just a 10-minute walk (or a 2-minute ride on one of their free bikes) to the gorgeous, sandy, swimmable beach at Soliman Bay and about a 20-minute walk (5-minute bike ride) to Casa Cenote, one of the best cenotes in the Tulum area.
Hotel phone: +52 984 231 1241
Hotel website Check prices for O’ Tulum

22. Coco Hacienda – luxury

Coco Hacienda Hotel in Tulum
Charming boutique hotel in the Pueblo with 2 pools, a jacuzzi, a small spa, and a wonderful all-day Mexican restaurant serving an especially great brunch. Rooms all include 24-hour air conditioning and king-sized beds; Casitas add jetted baths and private patios with hammocks. Guests here have access to free bikes and discounted entrance to the beach club at their sister property Coco Tulum.
Hotel phone: +52 884 688 8592
Hotel website Check prices for Coco Hacienda

23. Hotel Tiki Tiki – luxury

Hotel Tiki Tiki in Tulum
Trendy boutique hotel with a pool, bar, and in-room massage. Tiki Tiki is located in the Pueblo, walking distance to Tulum’s vibrant restaurant and bar scene. A design-forward hotel, the decor blends Art Deco, retro ’60s, and beach-chic styles in its 15 unique rooms. This hotel tends to attract a younger crowd, especially honeymooners, couples, and bachelorette parties.
Hotel phone: +52 884 688 5005
Hotel website Check prices for Hotel Tiki Tiki

24. Be Tulum – luxury

Be Tulum Hotel in Tulum
Super-stylish, beachfront, spa resort with 2 pools having a lineup of fantastic designer suites with cowhide rugs, leather chairs, and private balconies. Depending on the type, suites may have private plunge pools, indoor copper tubs, roof top solariums/terraces with pools, private gardens/pools, and small kitchens. Be Tulum also boasts two restaurants, a raw food bar, beach bar, yoga studio, meditation classes, and a spa.
Hotel phone: +521 984 132 6215
Hotel website Check prices for Be Tulum

25. Bardo – luxury

Bardo Hotel in Tulum
Elegant boutique hotel of contemporary luxury surrounded by lush greenery on the outskirts of the Tulum Pueblo. A large pool, excellent Milum restaurant and Kinky Room bar with lounge, temazcal and large yoga and meditation practice space. Villas are large and private, with semi-outdoor showers and splash pools.
Hotel phone: +52 984 807 1433
Hotel website Check prices for Bardo

Tulum Hotel Map

Map of Tulum Best Hotels.
Hotels on Map: JashitaO’ TulumBardo • Una VidaCoco HaciendaHotel Tiki TikiNaayMezzanineMi AmorEl PezTagoCoco TulumDuneCabañas La LunaThe Beach TulumCabañas TulumAhauLa ZebraAlayaSueñosEncantadaLa ValiseBe TulumNômadeCasa Malca

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Where to Stay in Tulum

MexicoTulum › Best Places to Stay
Updated: November 23, 2022

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Best Places to Stay in Tulum

  • Best new hotel in Tulum is the fabulous La Valise (incredible, luxury hotel at the south end of the beach, pictured above).
  • Best luxury hotel on the beach is the Mezzanine hotel (romantic boutique hotel on the beach near the Tulum ruins).
  • Best luxury hotel in the Pueblo is Una Vida (urban oasis with a wonderful pool, spacious rooms).
  • Best cheap/midrange hotel in Tulum is Casa Don Diego (amazing, small hotel with a jungle garden, pool, and great food).
Best 5-star hotel on Tulum beach.
The fantastic Mezzanine hotel. Great setting and steps from the best swimming beach in Tulum.

Best Areas to Stay in Tulum

The big decision first-time visitors need to make is whether to stay in the Pueblo (affordable hotels, delicious restaurants, fun bars, and dance clubs) or on the beach (posh hotels, stylish party scene, fine dining restaurants, and boutique shopping). The beach itself is made up of 4 areas all with unique feels: the Beach Town and the North, Middle, and South Beach Zones. It takes about 15 to 45 minutes to cycle from the heart of the Pueblo to the Beach, depending on your destination (if walking, this can take an hour or 2). Most hotels offer free or cheap bicycles to guests, making it simple to stay in one spot and enjoy the other (about a 10-minute bike ride from the Pueblo to the beach). There are no street lights or bike lanes on the road that runs alongside the beach, so cycling there is best during the day.

The best places to stay in Tulum for partying are the Pueblo, Beach Town, or the Middle Beach Zone, for families, it’s the South Beach Zone or Aldea Zama, and for romance and honeymoons stay in the North or South Beach Zone (though pretty much every part of Tulum is perfect for a honeymoon holiday).

Where to stay in Tulum? Beach or town?

  • Most travelers to Tulum stay in one of two main areas: the Pueblo (downtown or the town) or the beach. It’s about 5 km from the Pueblo to the nearest stretch of beach.
  • The best luxury hotels, fine dining restaurants, outdoor nightlife (beach and jungle parties), and boutique shops are on the beach. Most hotels on the beach have limited air conditioning.
  • The beach is wide and mostly sandy, though there are a few rocky patches here and there. The beach hotel zone is roughly divided into 4 areas: the North (quiet, romantic, near the ruins), the Beach Town (the most affordable beach area), the Middle (restaurants, beach clubs, and nightlife), and the South (family-friendly, lots of yoga, wide sandy beach, near Sian Ka’an bio-reserve)
  • The Pueblo offers a mix of midrange and affordable hotels with a walkable center, offering authentic Mexican restaurants and fantastic nightlife (all-night dance clubs, fun bars, and street parties). All hotels in the Pueblo have 24-hour air conditioning.
  • Just south of the Pueblo is a new luxury development called Aldea Zama (about halfway between the heart of the Pueblo and the beach). This is a quiet neighborhood with a suburban feel and a couple of boutique hotels and restaurants. Much of Aldea Zama is still under construction.

Staying in the North Beach Zone

Tulum beach near ruins, restaurants, and beach clubs.
The beach just north of Mezzanine hotel.

The North Beach Zone is the strip of beach running along the edge of Tulum National Park, where the Mayan ruins are. This generally means from the ruins in the north down 4 km south along Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila (the beach road) to its intersection with Avenida Coba (the road to the Pueblo) at the tourist police station. Unofficially, the North Beach Zone extends a little farther north to the Tankah neighborhood. This is the quietest area in Tulum, with just a few boutique hotels, restaurants, and beach clubs. Most hotels are on white sandy beaches, though there are a few areas of rocky coastline. Among the best beaches here are Playa Paraiso and Playa Pescadores (picturesque, soft, sandy beaches), Playa Maya (lots of cheap snorkeling trips here), Santa Fe (Tulum’s original hippie hangout – strong swimmers can swim the 500 meters to the ruins from here), and Ruins Beach (the beach right underneath the Tulum ruins). Just north of the beach zone, there are several gorgeous cenotes (natural swimming holes connected to underground river systems) with especially great swimming at Casa Cenote and Dos Ojos.

The Best Hotels in the North Beach Zone

  • Mezzanine(Hotel phone: +52 984 115 4728)
  • Jashita (In Soliman Bay, north of the North Hotel Zone) • (Hotel phone: +52 984 875 4158)
  • Mi Amor(Hotel phone: +52 984 188 4273)
  • O’ Tulum(Hotel phone: +52 984 231 1241)

Staying in Beach Town

Hotel near bars and restaurants in Tulum
The Punta Piedra Beach Posada hotel.

Beach Town is a cluster of hotels, restaurants, and shops from kilometer 4 to about kilometer 5.5 between the North and Middle Beach Zones. The beach is sandy and swimmable in the north end, with rocky patches for the southern 500 or so meters. In general, dining, drinking, and shopping are more affordable here than in the other beach areas. Most of the restaurants and shops are on the jungle side of the road, including Mateos, a fun 3-story restaurant with hammocks, and Tunich, a fantastic breakfast spot. Beachside dining is best at Zamas and Mina. Across from Zamas are 3 boutiques featuring Mexican clothing, crafts, and gifts: Mixik, Hilo Rojo, and Shalom. A little bit north of the Beach Town, you’ll find Kin Toh (a treetop restaurant/lounge) and Zak Ik (fashion boutique), both at stylish Azulik Resort. North of Azulik is Papaya Playa Project, the which hosts the wildest late night beach parties.

The Best Hotels in Beach Town

Staying in the Middle Beach Zone

Best boutique beach hotel in Tulum.
El Pez is wonderful boutique hotel on a nice stretch of sand.

The Middle Beach Zone is the heart of Tulum’s beach area, with upscale dining, high-end boutiques, and stylish open-air nightclubs, especially chic Casa Jaguar and Gitano. Outside of the party scene, there is a plethora of ambitious restaurants serving fine-dining and creative menus. Among the best restaurants here are Hartwood, Arca, and Safari. Plenty of yoga studios and casual beach clubs also dot the strip. The Middle Beach Zone sits roughly between kilometers 5.5 and 8 on Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila, from the narrow, rocky Sunset Beach at the north end to just past Arca restaurant in the south end. The beach is long, wide, and mostly sandy though there are some rocky patches between km 5.5 and 6. There are no street lights, sidewalks, or bike paths, but even still most people get around this area by walking or cycling, and it’s fairly easy to flag down a taxi here.

The Best Hotels in the Middle Beach Zone

  • Tago(Hotel phone: +52 984 871 1310)
  • Ahau(Hotel phone: +52 984 147 5225)
  • Dune(Hotel phone: +52 984 238 9529)
  • El Pez(Hotel phone: +52 984 116 3357)
  • Cabanas La Luna(Hotel phone: +52 984 146 7737)
  • Coco Zen Zone(Hotel phone: +52 984 688 8592)
  • The Beach Hotel(Hotel phone: +52 984 157 9645)
  • Cabanas(Hotel phone: +52 984 871 1132)

Staying in the South Beach Zone

Luxury beach hotel in Tulum.
The luxurious Sueños hotel in the quieter South Beach area of Tulum – though still walking distance to many bars and restaurants.

The South Beach Zone is great for kids with a long, wide stretch of sandy beach with no rocky parts. Located near the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, hotels in the south end tend to be more eco-conscious than hotels to the north, which is reflected in the bohemian vibe and abundance of yoga and wellness studios here. The South Beach Zone tends to be quiet, away from the central party zone but still within walking/cycling distance to fantastic restaurants and nightlife. This is a great place to stay for active families and couples who want to explore more of Tulum’s natural wonders, from beaches to jungles to cenotes. Amazing restaurants in the South Beach Zone include Nü, Charly’s Vegan Tacos, and Taqueria La Eufemia. The best yoga studios here are at Yäan Wellness, Sanara (beachfront yoga), Alaya, and SUP Yoga Tulum, with classes held in various locations in and near Sian Ka’an.

The Best Hotels in the South Beach Zone

Staying in the Pueblo

Best hotel in Tulum town.
Una Vida is the best hotel in the Pueblo.

The Pueblo is the lively downtown area of Tulum, brimming with wonderful restaurants, bars, and clubs. Hotels tend to be in the budget or moderate range, though there are a handful of luxury hotels at a fraction of the cost of the beach resorts. The Pueblo is easily walkable and bikable with a grid layout, sidewalks, and street lamps in most parts. Food in the Pueblo is more authentic and affordable than what you’ll find at the beach; among the best are Taqueria El Carboncito, Antojitos la Chiapaneca, and La Gloria de Don Pepe, though there are many amazing spots to try. The nightlife is anchored by Batey Mojito Bar, with several great bars and clubs on that same block or along the main street, including Pasito Tun Tun and Kiki. Two of Tulum’s best yoga studios are here: Yoga Dicha (yoga with puppies every Monday morning) and Tribal Tulum (a yoga studio/dive shop). Though the Pueblo is a vibrant, urban area, it is completely surrounded by jungle, with lots of nature to explore just a short bike ride away. Several amazing cenotes are within a 5 to 25-minute bike ride north along Avenida Coba, including Cenote Calavera, Gran Cenote, Cenote Santa Cruz, and Cenote Zacil-Ha (with a zip line).

The Best Hotels in the Pueblo

Staying in Aldea Zama

Aldea Zama in Tulum
Aldea Zama is a new luxury development in between the Pueblo and the Beach Zone. This neighborhood is primarily high-end homes, condos and Airbnbs, though there are a couple of boutique hotels, restaurants, and a playground – all connected by walking and cycling paths. Much of the development is still under construction, but there are plans to add luxury boutiques, restaurants, and bars. At the moment, this area has a bit of a sterile feel and hasn’t found its own personality yet. However, the location is perfect, offering easy access to the Pueblo and beach, while remaining calm and quiet at night.

The Best Hotel in Aldea Zama

  • Naay(Hotel phone: +52 984 231 1241)

Tulum Map

Tulum Where To Stay Map and Where To Stay on Tulum Beach
Hotels on Map: 1. Jashita 2. O’ Tulum 3. Bardo 4. Una Vida 5. Casa Don Diego 6. Coco Hacienda 7. Hotel Tiki Tiki 8. Naay 9. Mezzanine 10. Mi Amor 11. Papaya Playa Project 12. Azulik 13. Punta Piedra Beach Posada Hotel 14. Zamas 15. El Pez 16. Tago 17. Coco Tulum 18. Dune 19. Cabañas La Luna 20. Cabañas Tulum 20. The Beach Tulum 21. Ahau 22. La Zebra 23. Alaya 23. Playa Mambo Eco Cabanas 24. Las Palmas Maya 25. Sueños 26. Encantada 27. La Valise 28. Be Tulum 29. Nômade 30. Casa Malca

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Where to Stay in Cancún

Mexico › Best Areas to Stay in Cancun
Updated: November 23, 2022

See Also

Best Areas to Stay in Cancún

A pool at The Grand at Moon Palace in Cancun
One of two pools at Moon Palace The Grand in Riviera Cancún.

Once a tiny fishing village with a population of 3 in 1970, Cancún is now the most popular beach destination in Mexico. And for good reason. Cancún boasts year-round warm weather; 22 km of white sand beach in its hotel zone alone; sunrise sea views over the Caribbean; a stunning location on the Mesoamerican Reef for snorkeling and diving; seemingly unlimited entertainment from theme parks, to nightclubs, to golfing; as well as a central location for visiting Maya ruins, colonial villages, and tropical islands.

This bustling oceanfront city offers accommodations of all types and in all price ranges. The majority of resorts are luxury and midrange all-inclusive properties, though there are plenty of luxury, midrange, and budget hotels and resorts that operate on a European-plan (room only, no food included), and self-catering apartment hotels.

Many of the best hotels in Cancún and best family hotels in Cancún are located in the aptly named Hotel Zone. Several others are in Riviera Cancún, Playa Mujeres, and El Centro.

The Hotel Zone or Zona Hotelera is where the majority of accommodations are. Running most of the length of Boulevard Kukulkan, the 22-km-long Hotel Zone is a strip of high-rise hotels, resorts, nightclubs, shops, and restaurants. Shaped like a number “7,” the Hotel Zone can be roughly divided into three areas: the North Hotel Zone (the top, horizontal part of the “7”) has the softest sand and gentlest surf and is near great dining and nightlife, the Middle Hotel Zone (the upper half of the vertical part of the “7”) offers great beaches, family-friendly attractions, and Cancun’s best nightlife, while the South Hotel Zone (the bottom half of the 7) is the most peaceful area with the quietest beaches and only a handful of restaurants and attractions.

From the North Hotel Zone, follow Boulevard Kukulkan westward to get to El Centro, aka Downtown Cancún, the best place in Cancún for a local vibe, fantastic dining, the large Mercado 28 outdoor market, and plenty of budget-friendly hotels and hostels. North along the coast is Playa Mujeres, the newest development in Cancún with pristine beaches, a remote feel, and calm waters with waves blocked by the island of Isla Mujeres due east. Heading south from the Hotel Zone leads to Riviera Cancún, a long stretch of coastline where Cancún’s largest resorts are found, boasting white sand beaches, eco-adventure parks, and cenotes (natural swimming holes) peppering the mangrove jungles.

Best Places to Stay in Cancún

An Ocean Suite at Nizuc Resort and Spa in Cancun
An Ocean Suite at sophisticated Nizuc Resort & Spa, Cancún’s top luxury hotel located in the South Hotel Zone.
Beachfront pool at Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach in Cancun
The amazing freeform pool at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Resort.

Best Areas in Cancún for…

  • Best Neighborhoods in Cancún for First Timers: North, Middle, and South Hotel Zone
    Anywhere in the Hotel Zone makes a great home base for first-time visitors to Cancún. This 22-km-long stretch of beach offers a little of everything for any kind of traveler. This is where to find the bulk of Cancún’s restaurants, nightlife, attractions, and shopping, though most resorts here are like their own mini-cities with dining, nightclubs, enormous pools, and even a few with water parks – a lot of guests never leave their resorts. Within the Hotel Zone, the Middle is the busiest, with nightclubs, an aquarium, water sports centers, and a handful of malls. The North has gentler waves, softer sand, excellent nightlife, and easy access to the local flavor of El Centro. The South is the quietest stretch with less crowded beaches and close proximity to the Maya ruins of El Rey.
  • Best Neighborhoods in Cancún for Sightseeing: Middle Hotel Zone, El Centro
    For local sightseeing, including the aquarium, the Maya museum, the San Miguelito and El Rey ruins, and snorkel and scuba tours, staying in the Middle Hotel Zone is the best, as everything is easily accessible on foot or by a short bus ride. Even for visiting Isla Mujeres, ferries leave the Middle Hotel Zone for the island more frequently here than from the port at Playa Mujeres. For visiting local markets, seeing lucha libre (Mexican wrestling), or for self-guided tours of farther-flung destinations, like the Chichén Itzá ruins, colonial Valladolid, contemporary Playa del Carmen, or bohemian Tulum, staying in El Centro is best for easy access to bus routes connecting downtown Cancún to the most visited Yucatecan destinations. However, if visiting Chichén Itzá or Vallodolid on a guided tour, most tour operators offer free or cheap pickup from anywhere in Hotel Zone, so where exactly you stay in that case is less important.
  • Best Neighborhoods in Cancún for Partying and Nightlife: Middle Hotel Zone, El Centro
    Though many resorts have their own nightclubs onsite, Cancun’s main party zone is found in the Middle Hotel Zone at its juncture with the North Hotel Zone (the bend in the “7”), known as Punta Cancún or Uptown. This 500-meter strip is lined on both sides of the road with lively bars and nightclubs including popular chains like Coco Bongo, Señor Frog’s, Mandala, and La Vaquita. Most clubs here are multi-level mega-parties with live music and DJs, some with acrobats, gogo dancers, showgirls, and more. These clubs get incredibly crowded, especially during American and Canadian Spring Break times, usually from mid-March to mid-April. The largest club here, The City, has a capacity of 5000. Though there will be a few locals at the Punta Cancún area clubs, most of the partiers will be tourists. For a more local vibe, a wider range of music styles, and better cocktails, visit the casual bars and smaller dance clubs in El Centro, including Antique, Mambocafe, Amarula, Han Club, or Kaan Brewpub.
  • Best Neighborhoods in Cancún for Food and Restaurants: El Centro, Middle Hotel Zone
    The best restaurants in Cancún are mostly found in El Centro. Cancún’s busy downtown core is filled with a number of outstanding dining options, from local Yucatecan fare to authentic Mexican favorites to fine French dining at a fraction of what you’ll pay in the Hotel Zone. And though the hotel zone is packed with overpriced, Americanized versions of Mexican foods, there are still a fair number of high-quality restaurants outside of the resorts, mostly in the Middle Hotel Zone between La Isla Mall and Aquaworld water sports center.
  • Best Neighborhoods in Cancún for Families: North and Middle Hotel Zone, Riviera Cancún
    Cancún is a very family-friendly destination with a variety of activities to keep children of all ages entertained; most resorts here have kids’ clubs and excellent pools, many with water slides or small water parks on site. Families with younger children just learning to swim should consider the North Hotel Zone; due to its geographic location, the beach here is partially protected from the winds, making for gentler waves and easier swimming. The Middle Hotel Zone is great for families with older kids and teens with its easy access to local attractions, water sports centers, snorkeling tours, and shopping malls. Riviera Cancún is great for active families; here you’ll find the largest resorts with the most kid-friendly amenities plus close proximity to adventure parks, Croco Cun Zoo, and a handful of cenotes at the south end near Puerto Morelos.
  • Most Romantic Neighborhoods in Cancún: South Hotel Zone, Riviera Cancún, Playa Mujeres
    Cancun is a top destination for honeymoons, weddings, and romantic getaways. Its long, white sand beaches are ideal for sunset strolls and toes-in-the-sand dining. Several luxury hotels are entirely adults-only and many others have adults-only wings and pools, or rooms and suites with private pools. The top romantic destinations are the South Hotel Zone, a quiet stretch of beach with easy access to Cancúns biggest attractions; Playa Mujeres, the newest development just north of the Hotel Zone with the most contemporary hotels, pristine beaches, and gentle surf; and Riviera Cancún, the most remote and natural area of Cancún with protected mangrove jungles, a botanical garden, and the most relaxing beaches.
  • Best Neighborhoods in Cancún for a Local Vibe: El Centro, Riviera Cancún
    There are no residential areas in the Hotel Zone. All of the locals live in El Centro, which is where you’ll find the most authentic restaurants, nightlife, outdoor markets, and affordable shopping. The south end of Riviera Cancún as another great spot for a local feel, especially near the small village of Puerto Morelos. Though tourism has changed this village, there still remains plenty of good, cheap restaurants and local bars, especially in the inland pueblo away from the beachfront resorts and dolphinarium.
  • Safest Areas of Cancún
    As a whole Cancún is a fairly safe city, and the safest parts are the beaches where the vast majority of resorts are located. Almost all resorts have gated entries staffed with guards around the clock; each hotel also employs guards to patrol their beaches. When outside the resorts, standard precautions apply as they do in all major tourist destinations: watch your bags, purses, and wallets; if clubbing, keep an eye on your drink; and stick to the main, well-lit roads when walking at night, preferably with a friend or group.
  • Unsafe Areas of Cancún
    Cancún is among Mexico’s safest cities. But crime does happen, especially in El Centro north of Avenida Chichén Itzá. If you are heading downtown for dinner, it’s best to take a taxi to and from to avoid walking long distances in the dark to avoid petty crimes.
View of the Hotel Zone in Cancun
Cancún’s Hotel Zone offers long stretches of unbroken white sand lined with beachfront hotels and backed by nearby dining, shopping, and nightlife.

The Best Neighborhoods in Cancún for Tourists

1. North Hotel Zone

Paddleboarding in the North Hotel Zone, Cancun
The North Hotel Zone makes up the top of the “7” between El Centro and the Middle Hotel Zone. Unlike the rest of the Hotel Zone or Riviera Cancún, the beach here is partially shielded from hurricane winds by Isla Mujeres and the horn of Punta Cancún. Its unique geography give it three perks: the gentlest waves in Cancún, the least amount of seaweed in the Hotel Zone, and the softest sand (this is the original Cancún sand; the other beaches here lost their sand in a major storm and had to truck in replacement sand). The North is a great spot for a mix of relaxation, exploration, and nightlife with its sunny beach, proximity to local life in El Centro, and easy access to the nightlife in Punta Cancún (AKA Uptown, the bend in the “7”). If opting for a European-plan hotel, this area offers a good selection of dining and bars within a short walk or easy bus ride.

2. Middle Hotel Zone

Hotel zone on Cancun Beach.
The Middle is the busiest stretch of the Hotel Zone, with Uptown at its northernmost tip, jam-packed with nightclubs, bars, upscale restaurants, and casual cantinas. Heading southward leads past a string of beaches, restaurants, malls, and water sports centers to finish up with two sets of ruins at its southernmost end: San Miguelito (at the Maya museum) and El Rey (where the South Hotel Zone begins). The sand is slightly coarser and the waves are bigger at this beach than in the North, but it is still very swimmable. Despite its lively atmosphere, sea turtles have made this strip of beach their nesting site, returning every year to lay eggs nightly from May through October. The babies hatch from July through December and make their way to the ocean under the moonlight.

3. South Hotel Zone

A quiet beach in the South Hotel Zone, Cancun
The South begins with the archaeological site of the Maya ruins at El Rey and continues southwest to end at Punta Nizuc. This area is the best spot in the Hotel Zone for a quiet getaway while still offering easy access to local attractions and a handful of excelent restaurants. The beach is similar to that of the Middle (white sand, sea turtles, and moderate surf). The South is the best part of the Hotel Zone for snorkeling, especially at the far end near Punta Nizuc, where the reef is being revived by one of the three galleries of MUSA, the underwater sculpture museum designed to encourage coral growth.

4. Playa Mujeres

The beach of Playa Mujeres, Cancun
The newest resort development, Playa Mujeres sits north of Cancún’s established Hotel Zone, immediately west of the island Isla Mujeres. A contemporary, leisure retreat, this area is almost entirely made up of large, all-inclusive resorts and golf courses. On the main beach, there is a dolphinarium as well as scuba and sailing excursions leaving from the marina. The Punta Sam ferry to Isla Mujeres is here, offering several trips throughout the day. Since the area is so new and designed around the all-inclusives, there are few dining options outside of the resorts. The beaches here have soft sand and gentle waves as Isla Mujeres shields Playa Mujeres from the strongest winds, but seaweed tends to collect here (the hotels are excellent at keeping it at bay with twice daily sweepers).

5. Riviera Cancún

A beach in Riviera Cancun
Part of the larger Riviera Maya, Riviera Cancún extends from Punta Nizuc (the end of the South Hotel Zone) south to the seaport village of Puerto Morelos. This area is where to find some of Cancún’s largest all-inclusive resorts, several adventure parks, freshwater cenotes, the Croco Cun Zoo, and botanical gardens. Beaches here are a mix of mostly white sand with rocky patches and moderate waves toned down by the Mesoamerican Reef which runs the entire length of the Riviera down to Guatamala. The sandy beach areas offer great swimming and body surfing, while the rocky and coral-heavy areas offer spectacular snorkeling and diving with a huge variety of colorful fish.

6. El Centro

A street in El Centro, Cancun
El Centro is the best spot in Cancún for living like a local, with outstanding restaurants, hole in the wall taco shops, vibrant nightclubs, trendy cocktail bars, shopping malls, and outdoor markets – all at a fraction of the prices you’ll pay anywhere else in the city. There are a couple of luxury resorts on the beach near Puerto Cancún, but most of El Centro’s lodging is made up of midrange, boutique, and budget hotels and hostels. This is an excellent home base for adventurous travelers who plan on exploring the Yucatan beyond just hitting the beaches and clubs. The ADO bus station here offers routes to Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and even Chichén Itzá, while the Puerto Juárez ferry terminal connects El Centro to Isla Mujeres.

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Where to Stay in Cabo San Lucas

MexicoLos Cabos › Best Places to Stay
Updated: November 23, 2022

See Also

Staying in Cabo San Lucas – Tips & Info

Best beach hotels in Cabo San Lucas.
Wonderful Medano beach in front of the Hacienda Beach Club & Residences and Casa Dorada Resort & Spa.
  • Best Places to Stay in Cabo San Lucas: Hacienda Beach Club & ResidencesCasa Dorada Resort & SpaVilla La EstanciaBahia Hotel & Beach HouseSandos FinisterraMontecristo VillasPueblo Bonito PacificaPueblo Bonito Sunset Beach
  • Best Hotel for Families in Cabo San Lucas: Casa Dorada
  • Best Honeymoon Hotel: Esperanza Resort (Los Cabos Corridor)
  • Stretching east for 20 miles from Cabo San Lucas to San José del Cabo, the Los Cabos Corridor is a stretch of coastline that’s still spectacular in places, though much of it has now been built up with all-inclusive resorts and golf courses.
  • At the east end of the Los Cabos Corridor, San José de Cabo is Cabo San Lucas’ quieter, classier twin, with an attractive historic center, fantastic dining scene, and some excellent hotels lining the white-sand beaches of the Zona Hotelera.
  • If heading north take the quieter coastal road. It’s some 60 miles from San José del Cabo to Cabo Pulmo, a tiny village that’s the gateway to the world-class marine park of the same name. The scuba diving and snorkeling is the best in Baja.
  • Northwest of Cabo Pulmo, the coastal road rejoins the Carretera Transpeninsular and passes through the appealing little town of Los Barriles, some 65 miles south of La Paz. It’s one of Baja Sur’s top spots for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
  • Rules of the road are similar to the U.S. Highways are well-maintained, and streets are well-mapped (though often not well-marked) and easy to follow via GPS. Two things that are different are topes and left turns. Topes (pronounced TOH-pays) are speed bumps, but there are no regulations on their height, steepness, or visibility; some are nearly impossible to see until it’s too late. Standard left turns are usually OK in downtown but not on highways. To make a left, drivers will often need to use a retorno, which is a U-turn overpass. To use a retorno, drive past the road you want to make a left onto, get into the far right lane to take the retorno exit, make the left onto the overpass, and finally merge with traffic going the opposite direction. You can then make a right at the desired street or destination.

Best Places to Stay in Cabo Area

Best beach resort near Cabo San Lucas.
The fantastic Esperanza Hotel, on the Los Cabos Corridor, 4 miles east of downtown Cabo San Lucas.

Best Places to Stay in Baja California

Framed by the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortéz, and dotted with cordon cacti and boojum trees, the southern tip of Baja California is a place of considerable natural beauty. Arid landscapes aside, it’s been well and truly discovered by winter sun seekers, water sports enthusiasts, and spring breakers: Cabo San Lucas is renowned throughout Mexico for its spring break but sports fishing, scuba diving, and wind surfing off Baja’s southern shores is also world-class. Add some spectacular white-sand beaches, old-world colonial towns, breezy fishing villages, popular resorts, and a generous collection of hotels to suit every budget, and it’s easy to see why Baja California Sur is an all-round superb destination.

If you’re driving south from California via the Carretera Transpeninsular – the scenic highway that stretches the length of Baja – you will invariably pass through La Paz, the largest town in Baja Sur. A former colonial settlement with a beautiful historic center, waterfront malecón, and some excellent bars and restaurants, it warrants more than just a pit stop to fill up on gas. It makes a good base for visiting attractions in the surrounding area, too.

Facing Isla Ceralvo, a short detour southeast of La Paz along Route 286, La Ventana is a one-street village that draws kitesurfers from around the world between November and March with its steady winds. Other draws include scuba diving and wildlife watching.

If you drive the clockwise loop south of La Paz along the Carretera Transpeninsular, the first place you reach along the west coast is Todos Santos, Baja Sur’s most picturesque little town, some 50 miles farther south. Its cobblestone streets are dotted with galleries, good restaurants, and appealing adobe architecture, while the beaches and the surf breaks appeal to outdoor enthusiasts.

Continue south along the Carretera Transpeninsular for another 47 miles and you’ll get to Baja Sur’s premier party town, Cabo San Lucas. Here you can party all night at the raucous bars and clubs, hop on a cruise to the arching stone cliffs at Land’s End, sun yourself on one of the white-sand beaches, or partake in a huge array of water sports: banana boating, parasailing, and diving. Just up the corridor is the hip and trendy town of San José del Cabo.

The Best of Cabo & Baja

Best Places for Sightseeing: Todos Santos, San José del Cabo, Cabo San Lucas, La Paz
Let’s face it: few visitors come to Baja Sur primarily for sightseeing. But if you’re into colonial architecture, then the towns of San José del Cabo, Todos Santos, and La Paz all have plenty to offer: adobe houses, appealing centuries-old churches, and narrow cobbled streets that are a joy to wander. And while Cabo San Lucas may lack the colonial charm of its neighbor towns, it features Baja Sur’s biggest natural attraction: the natural stone arch at Land’s End, walkable from town and very popular at sunset.

Best Place for Nightlife: Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas is Baja Sur’s undisputed party town, with bottomless margaritas fuelling the revelry all day (and all night) long. The nightlife kicks up a notch when the spring breakers get into town, with dancing on table tops, jello shooters, and tequila conga lines. Some of the most popular bars and nightspots include the legendary El Squid Roe, Cabo Wabo, The Giggling Marlin, and the Happy Ending Cantina, with many of the watering holes clustered near the marina.

Best hotel for Cabo San Lucas nightlife and party clubs.
The friendly and affordable Casa Bella Hotel in the heart of downtown Cabo San Lucas.

Best Places for Food and Restaurants: Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos, San José del Cabo
Baja Sur has come a long way as a foodie destination in recent years, with dining hotspots being Todos Santos, Cabo San Lucas, and San José del Cabo. In all 3 locations, you’ll find anything from Mexican standards and taco stands to superb fusion and international dining. Standout restaurants include Sur Beach House and Baja Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Flora’s Field Kitchen and La Lupita Taco & Mezcal in San José del Cabo, and Hierbabuena and Carnitas Machin Pescadero in Todos Santos.

Best Places for Families: Cabo San Lucas, Los Cabos Corridor
Cabo San Lucas may be a party town, but it also has some excellent beaches on the its outskirts and a large number of family-friendly hotels. Hence, if traveling with kids, then all-inclusive options with kids’ clubs, plenty of water sports on offer, and other activities are an excellent bet. Los Cabos Corridor also features numerous high-end all-inclusive hotels, many with plenty to keep kids occupied and white-sand beaches out front.

Best Places to Stay for First Timers: Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos, San José Los Cabos, Los Cabos Corridor
First-time visitors to Cabo can’t go wrong with these 3 destinations. If you wish to combine a raucous nightlife with some quality beach time, then Cabo San Lucas would naturally be your first choice. If you’re looking for a hassle-free location away from Cabo San Lucas’ crowds but close enough to enjoy the nightlife and with access to world-class golfing, then Los Cabo Corridor is a good bet. Finally, if you’re after a more local vibe and excellent dining while staying within easy driving distance from Land’s End, then either Todos Santos or San José del Cabo make excellent bases.

Best Honeymoon Destinations: Los Cabos Corridor, Todos Santos, Cabo Pulmo
It entirely depends on what you want from your honeymoon. If you’re looking for an exclusive, adults-only, high-end hotel with a world-class spa and private beach access, then there are several excellent options along the Los Cabos Corridor (Esperanza Resort and The Cape are particular standouts). If appealing colonial architecture and romantic dinners are more your thing, then Todos Santos is an excellent place to stay. And if you want to get away from the crowds and enjoy sunset strolls along wind-swept beaches, then you could do worse than tiny Cabo Pulmo.

Best place to stay for couples and honeymoon.
The Cape Hotel on the Los Cabos Corridor.

Best Places for a Local Vibe: San José del Cabo, Todos Santos
Baja Sur has been well and truly discovered by visitors, and crowds of sun-seekers converge on the likes of Cabo San Lucas, particularly during the winter months and during spring break. However, both Todos Santos, and San José del Cabo have managed to retain a relatively low-key charm and feel like proper Mexican towns.

Best Places for Water Sports: La Ventana, Los Barriles, Todos Santos, Cabo Pulmo, Cabo San Lucas
Cabo Pulmo is a world-class diving destination, with excellent access to the only Pacific reef in the Sea of Cortez. Visibility is best in October and November, and sightings include whale sharks. La Ventana and Los Barriles both attract windsurfers and kitesurfers; conditions are best between November and March. El Pescadero, a small village just south of Todos Santos, is a surfing hotspot. As for sea kayaking, banana boating, parasailing, and other activities, hotels in Cabo San Lucas, Los Cabos Corridor, Todos Santos, and other vacation hotspots can organize those. Cabo San Lucas is also renowned for its deep-see fishing charters.

Best Places for Wildlife Watching: La Paz, Todos Santos, Cabo San Lucas
Baja California is particularly well-known for whale watching, with grey whales regularly sighted from December to April. While the 3 best spots to see whales – Laguna San Ignacio, Laguna Ojo de Liebre, and Bahía Magdalena – are all located farther north than Baja Sur’s holiday towns, numerous boat operators in Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, and Todos Los Santos organize day trips to the whale watching hotspots. Sea lions and dolphins are frequently spotted en route.

Safest Areas: Baja California Sur is generally safe for visitors, particularly compared to other parts of Mexico. Tourist hotspots such as Todos Santos, San José del Cabo, La Paz, etc. are generally safe to walk around at any time of day, though standard precautions apply.

Unsafe Areas: There are no specifically unsafe places in Baja California Sur, though driving outside the towns at night is generally not recommended. Bag snatching and pickpocketing does occasionally happen in the likes of La Paz and Cabo San Lucas, so be on guard. Alcohol-related misbehavior is fairly common in Cabo San Lucas.

The Best Places in Baja California for Tourists

Staying in Cabo San Lucas

Best beach hotel near Cabo nightlife.
The Casa Dorada Resort & Spa is great for families, couples, and beach lovers.

Sitting between a desert hinterland and a rugged cape after which it takes its name, Cabo San Lucas was a sleepy tuna canning village until tourism exploded in the 1980s. Now it feels more like part of the United States, with ‘snowbirds’ spending the winter here in their second homes, a popular cruise ship port, and spring breakers flocking here for the tequila-fuelled nightlife. Besides the natural stone arch at Land’s End, Cabo San Lucas is known for its beaches lined with luxury resorts, lively bars, and pretty much all water sports, including some excellent scuba diving.

Best Hotels in Cabo San Lucas

Staying in Los Cabos Corridor

Best hotel for honeymoon on Cabo Beach.
The Cabo Surf Hotel in the Los Cabos Corridor.

The twenty-mile stretch of coastal highway between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo is lined with exclusive luxury resorts and features several golf courses. The former natural beauty of the area has been rather blighted by the uncontrolled development, but there are still some wonderful beaches here (though access to many can be tricky unless you’re staying at one of the beachfront resorts), including Playa El Médano near Cabo San Lucas and Playa Palmilla near San José del Cabo. Of the beaches, Bahía Santa María is best for snorkeling and diving, Bahía Chileno is great for families, while Costa Azul is the best surfing beach in the area.

Best Hotels in Los Cabos Corridor

Staying in San José del Cabo

Best hotel in San Jose del Cabo.
The Hyatt Ziva is both luxurious and good value, and has a fantastic beachfront location.

The quieter antidote to Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo is a former Jesuit mission turned port and agricultural center, centered on the attractive Plaza Mijares and dotted with some eye-catching 19th-century buildings. From the main square, Bulevar Mijares leads to the Zona Hotelera, where the majority of the town’s beach resorts are located. San José’s highlights include high-end boutiques and art galleries, an excellent dining scene, and a more low-key vibe than Cabo.

Best Hotels in San José del Cabo

Staying in Todos Santos

5-star hotel in Todos Santos.
The idyllic Hotel San Cristóbal on a clean, wide beach with lots of privacy.

Halfway between La Paz and Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos is a beautiful colonial town with sensitively restored, centuries-old architecture. Its population is a lively mix of Mexicans and artistically-inclined expats, reflected in the relatively low-key vibe and a clutch of offbeat art galleries. Palm-fringed Plaza Todos Santos aside, attractions include the local cultural center and the white-sand beaches, though they tend to be better for surfing than for swimming. Todos Santos also features an excellent dining scene and some fine boutique hotels.

Best Hotels in Todos Santos

Staying in Cabo Pulmo

One of the highlights of the East Cape – some 80 miles of wild coastline, including some stunning, unpeopled beaches – is Cabo Pulmo, an off-the-grid village that’s the gateway to the Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, renowned for its Pacific reef and excellent scuba diving. There is good snorkeling at Playa Los Arbolites near the village, but for even better marine life, head for the Playa Los Frailes cove, some 20 minutes’ drive south of the village.

Best Hotel in Cabo Pulmo

Staying in Los Barriles

5-Star Beach Resort in Los Cabos.
The Four Seasons Resort looking out on the Sea of Cortez, about 15 km south of Los Barriles.

The East Cape’s largest town, Los Barriles is renowned in windsurfing and kitesurfing circles (conditions are best for experienced surfers rather than beginners). There’s a low-key hotel scene and some decent local dining, ranging from taco joints to gourmet restaurants. Sport-fishing is another big attraction here.

Best Hotels near Los Barriles

Staying in La Ventana

A worthwhile detour to the east coast from La Paz, La Ventana is a blink-and-you-miss-it village. One of several windsurfing and kitesurfing hotspots in Baja Sur, it attracts visitors from all over the world between November and March.

Best Hotels in La Ventana

Staying in La Paz

The largest town in Baja California, La Paz boasts an attractive colonial center and a particularly attractive malecón (seafront promenade). It’s a busy working town, but there are enough attractions to keep visitors busy for a few days, from the cultural center and Museum of Anthropology to the string of beaches stretching to the port of Pichilingue, the best of which is Playa de Balandra, with calm, shallow waters suitable for kids. La Paz is also a jumping-off point for wildlife watching trips, from all-day whale watching to half-day trips to the nearby Isla Espírutu Santo, where one can spot manta rays, sea lions, and occasional whale sharks.

Best Hotels in La Paz

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Cancun Hotels

Mexico › Cancun Hotels
Updated: October 17, 2022

See Also

Cancun Hotels – Tips & Advice

  • Cancun has some wonderful 5-star resorts. For smaller boutique hotels check out Tulum and Isla Mujeres – two of my favorite beach destinations in Mexico.
  • – the best website (and best prices) for booking Cancun hotels.
  • Best Luxury Hotels in Cancun: Le Blanc (best adults-only) • Moon Palace The Grand (best family all-inclusive) • Grand Hotel Cancun (best family European-plan, best food of any Cancun resort)
  • Best Boutique Hotel in Cancun: Nizuc – not a true boutique hotel, more like a boutique resort, but very luxurious and as intimate as any Cancun hotel.
  • Best Cancun Hotels for Honeymoon: Le BlancNizuc
  • Best Cancun Hotels for Families: Grand Fiesta AmericanaHard Rock Hotel Cancun • Moon Palace The GrandKrystal CancunRoyal Islander.
  • The best places to stay in Cancun are the Playa Mujeres (newest resorts on pristine beaches), Riviera Cancun (great beaches, family attractions, and cenotes – located just south of Cancun), and the Hotel Zone. The Hotel Zone is shaped like a number 7, running the length of Boulevard Kukulkan, and is divided into three areas: North (softest sand and gentlest surf, near nightlife), Middle (great beaches, near nightlife and aquatic activities), and South (quietest beaches, furthest from the nightlife and bars).
  • Most activities, attractions, and tour operators in Cancun are located in the Hotel Zone. The best way to get around within the Hotel Zone or to get into Downtown from there is by bus. There are two bus lines serving the Hotel Zone, the R-1 and R-2, both with buses running every 1-2 minutes all day every day. Bus stops along the main drag are abundant and clearly marked. To catch a bus, simply flag it down from the bus stop. Bus fare is 12 pesos (about $0.60 USD). Passengers are issued tickets for proof of purchase in the odd chance of inspection, but the tickets cannot be used to transfer to another bus. If you exit one bus and catch another, you must purchase an additional ticket. Bus drivers carry change for those paying in pesos. Passengers may also pay in US dollars, but the rate is higher at $1 per person, rather than $0.60, and no change is given. Bus stops do not have names and are not announced. Keep an eye out for your destination, or follow along on your phone’s GPS. To request a stop, move to the rear of the bus and press the red button near the exit or simply shout “Alto!”

The 29 Best Luxury Hotels in Cancun

1. Nizuc Resort and Spa – South Hotel Zone

Nizuc Resort & Spa in Cancun
The most stylish resort in Cancun, Nizuc features five pools, sumptuous dining, and a Maya-inspired hydrotherapy spa. Rooms, suites, and villas are all generously-sized with private balconies; some add outdoor showers, soaking tubs, or private plunge pools. Ocean Junior Suites are adults-only (there’s also an adults-only pool and restaurant). Dining and drinks are top tier, with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and a wide range of cuisines from contemporary Mexican to Mediterranean to pan-Asian. La Havana features cigars hand-rolled onsite and paired with Caribbean rums. The kids’ club is well-loved with a caring staff, crafts, activities, beach toys, and its own pool. Located on Nizuc Beach, the quietest beach at the tail end of the Hotel Zone, with tame water, white sand, and a reef filled with colorful fish, perfect for first-time snorkelers.
Hotel phone: +52 998 891 5700
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2. Le Blanc Spa Resort – Middle Hotel Zone

Le Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun
Wellness-focused, adults-only, all-inclusive Le Blanc offers three pools, indulgent suites, and exceptional dining. Its grand spa showcases a comprehensive hydrotherapy circuit (free for all guests), couples packages, and holistic body treatments. The relaxation theme continues with double whirlpool tubs, aromatherapy, pillow menus, and butler service included in all rooms and suites. Restaurants are truly superb with fine and casual dining spotlighting a variety of world cuisines, along with creative cocktails at the bars and onsite nightclub, and an extensive wine selection. Its resort credits program allows guests to customize their all-inclusive experience with excursions, romantic beach dinners, spa services, and more. Though only a ten-minute walk to Cancun’s famous nightlife, their particular stretch of beach is tranquil and well cared for, raked and cleaned daily, with ideal swimming and turquoise water.
Hotel phone: +52 800 262 9008
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3. Moon Palace The Grand – Riviera Cancun

Moon Palace The Grand Hotel in Cancun
Huge, all-inclusive, family-centric resort featuring an awesome water park, kids’ and teens’ clubs, and comprehensive kid and family amenities. All suites include a two-person jetted tub, private balcony, and hammock; Grand Family suites are double sized with one king and two double beds, a kids’ minibar, and an Xbox 360. Grounds feature two pools, a lazy river, flowrider, and bowling alley. The kids’ club is expansive with a splash pad, black light mini-golf, bumper cars, and much more. Parents will find plenty of adults-only areas, too, including a nightclub, day club, pool, and a French restaurant. Their resort credits program covers amazing family excursions, dolphin swims, spa days, and more. The beach has recently been renovated with excellent views and service, but it is not swimmable; for a more traditional beach experience, guests may use their all-inclusive privileges at their sister property Beach Palace.
Hotel phone: +52 998 193 2010
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4. Grand Hotel Cancun – Middle Hotel Zone

Grand Hotel in Cancun
Refined, family-friendly, beach resort boasting some of Cancun’s best restaurants, along with two oceanfront pools and a tranquil spa. Dining is at the forefront with a five-diamond restaurant serving sophisticated dishes with local flair, as well as romantic beachfront dining in private cabanas. An immersive kids clubs offer a range of cultural, crafty, and culinary activities all day, with night safari activities on Fridays and Saturdays. A teens club and game room serves older kids. Rooms and suites all include balconies, soaking tubs, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Some add private pools, outdoor Jacuzzis, or club level perks. The Grand sits on a glorious stretch of white sand, with crystal blue waters perfect for swimming.
Hotel phone: +52 998 881 0808
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5. Hyatt Ziva – North Hotel Zone

Hyatt Ziva Hotel in Cancun
Contemporary, family-friendly, all-inclusive hotel with dolphins, three infinity pools, and a microbrewery. Hyatt Ziva has a range of room and suite types, whether oceanfront, dolphin view, or swim up, some with soaking tubs or club level perks. The new Turquoize wing is adults-only, with outdoor Jacuzzis, butler service, and free access to the spa hydrocircuit. Family amenities include a kids’ club with a mini-water park, climbing pyramid in the ocean, and dolphin swims. Restaurants and bars offer international flavors and creative cocktails with a 24-hour lounge and room service. Located in a protected cove next to the Punta Cancun lighthouse, the sand is super soft here and the surf is particularly mild, ideal for beginning swimmers.
Hotel phone: +52 998 848 7000
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6. Grand Residences – Riviera Cancun

Grand Residences Riviera Hotel in Cancun
Luxury, family-friendly, all-suite resort on a white sand beach with an oceanfront infinity pool, customized service, and thoughtful amenities, such as round-trip airport transfer included in the rates. Especially great for larger families, their spacious suites can have up to four bedrooms and sleep up to thirteen guests, with a combination of king, double, and murphy beds. All units come with kitchenettes and whirlpool tubs, while many others add washers and dryers, outdoor Jacuzzis, private pools, and butler service. Family amenities include an amazing kids’ club with sports, activities, and crafts; plus bike tours, craft workshops, and adult amenities like mixology classes and full-service spa. Guests can choose the all-inclusive, daily breakfast, or European plan to customize their stay. The beach is gorgeous, though rocky and coral-y in some spots, and swimmable, though surf is sometimes strong.
Hotel phone: +52 998 872 8148
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7. Live Aqua Beach Resort – Middle Hotel Zone

Live Aqua Beach Resort in Cancun
Lavish, adults-only, all-inclusive resort with a focus on re-awakening the senses through gorgeous views, bold dining, music, massage, and aromatherapy throughout the resort. Water has the spotlight here, with a tranquil beach, seven shimmering pools, and hydro-reflexology in the spa. Gastronomy is a close second, with regionally-inspired cocktails and indulgent dining in a range of styles and flavors, from molecular gastronomy served al fresco to Asian fusion served in a shady jungle garden. Guests are greeted with a welcome hand massage, and pool cabana rates include a foot massage. Daily live music is performed poolside and throughout the resort, with DJs every night at Egos Bar. Live Aqua sits on a broad stretch of white sand beach with warm, clear water and moderate waves.
Hotel phone: +52 998 881 7600
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8. Hard Rock Hotel – Middle Hotel Zone

Hard Rock Hotel in Cancun
Flashy, all-inclusive, rock-themed resort with fun amenities for families and couples. This lively property shows off with huge cascading infinity pools, three whirlpools, and a comprehensive spa. Their signature Sound of Your Stay experience offers loaner guitars, mixing stations, record players, and access to a recording studio, all complimentary. Anyone over 12 years has access to the Music Lab, with professional instrument, DJ, and vocal lessons; culminating in a live performance at the end of their stay. All rooms have a private balcony and two-person Jacuzzi tub; suites are all two-bedroom, and Family Suites add a kids’ minibar and Xbox. Couples should consider upgrading to Rock Royalty level to gain access to the adults-only pool on the third floor, complimentary couples’ massage, and a personal assistant. The beach here is gorgeous with brilliant blue water and attentive service.
Hotel phone: +52 998 881 3600
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9. Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach – North Hotel Zone

Grand Fiesta Americana Hotel in Cancun
Located on one of Cancun’s best beaches, this upscale, family-friendly, all-suite resort boasts an enormous, free-form pool, extensive spa, and award-winning dining. Most suites are junior or master suites, all with balconies and ocean views; masters add jetted tubs and more space. Presidential and Governor Suites are the largest, with one and two bedrooms; the Presidential suite features a rooftop plunge pool and full kitchen. Five-diamond Le Basilic and four-diamond La Joya, serving French and Mexican fine dining, are the culinary highlights, though all restaurants here are superb. The spa is a palatial, three-story haven with expert massage and a hydrocircuit that’s complimentary for hotel guests. Open for ages three through twelve, the kids club here offers unique amenities like a water park, theater with costumes, a game room, and a night camp. The Grand Fiesta sits in a protected cove just to the inside of Punta Cancun, with the finest white sand and calm, turquoise water nearly as flat as a pool.
Hotel phone: +52 998 881 3200
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10. JW Marriott Resort & Spa – Middle of Hotel Zone

JW Marriott Resort & Spa Hotel in Cancun
Posh, family-friendly, beachfront resort with three interconnected pools, including a scuba pool with a built in reef and dive lessons onsite. Rooms and one-bedroom suites are large and well-appointed, all with private balconies, soaking tubs, and dual vanities; connecting rooms are available. Their massive, three-story spa offers Mayan-inspired treatments for the whole family in a tranquil space. Dining is excellent, though not particularly adventurous, from their stellar, four-diamond Italian restaurant to their casual Southwestern grill. Guests also have access to the restaurants and kids’ club at their sister property, Marriott Cancun Resort, right next door. The beach here is wide, with plenty of loungers under shady palapas, attentive food and drink service, and the waves are just right for bobbing and body surfing.
Hotel phone: +52 998 848 9600
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11. Secrets the Vine – Middle Hotel Zone

Secrets the Vine Hotel in Cancun
Beach-chic, adults-only, all-inclusive resort with four dazzling pools, a spa, and phenomenal foods. The Vine stands out for its unique wine concept, with a huge wine cellar (over 4500 to choose from!), wine-based spa treatments, and wine tastings three times a day guided by a knowledgeable sommelier. Rooms have private balconies and connecting options; suites range from junior to two-bedrooms, many with soaking tubs. The club level upgrade grants access to an additional infinity pool, private lounge, and rooms on the highest floors with the best views. Restaurants are exceptional, with a great variety of cuisines all with optional wine pairings. Located on a heavenly beach, clean and well maintained, with shallow turquoise water.
Hotel phone: (866) 467-3273
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12. Azul Beach Resort – Riviera Cancun

Azul Beach Resort Riviera Cancun Hotel
High-end, family-friendly resort with six pools, a lazy river, excellent kids’ amenities, and private balconies and indoor Jacuzzis for every room type. Suites range from junior to two-bedroom, some with full kitchens and butler service; family suites have two sofa beds. Kids have a Nickelodeon-themed club with character visits, a splash pad and pool, gymnastics, and more. Teens have their own lounge with a pool table, air hockey, and outdoor activities. Couples and honeymooners enjoy plenty of adults-only spaces in a dedicated wing with its own pool and swim up suites, plus several bars, and Le Chique, their renowned five-diamond restaurant, serving Mexican molecular gastronomy. The beach here is beautiful and well-maintained, though not vivid turquoise of Cancun and further south in the Riviera Maya. Though a little rockier here, it is still swimmable with calm waves and good snorkeling.
Hotel phone: +52 998 872 8080
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13. Moon Palace – Riviera Cancun

Moon Palace Hotel in Cancun
Giant, all-inclusive, family-centric resort with six interconnecting pools, water slides, flowrider, 18-hole mini-golf, and holistic spa. All rooms include two-person jetted tubs and private balconies, most with hammocks. Family Deluxe Suites are two connecting rooms with two double tubs, a kids’ minibar, and special in-room perks. The resort boasts two kids’ clubs for ages four to eleven, with indoor and outdoor playrooms, and a mini water park. The teens’ lounge has an arcade, air hockey, billiards, and snacks. Food is stellar, with eighteen restaurants and bars to choose from (not even counting the pool bars), with a range of cuisines and several adults-only spots. The beach here is calm and swimmable, though not as pretty as the beaches near Cancun or Playa del Carmen; however, guests have all-inclusive signing privileges at their sister properties for a more gratifying beach day, especially at Beach Palace or Sun Palace. Guests can also use their resort credits or purchase a day pass to access the huge water park and facilities at their neighboring property The Grand.
Hotel phone: +52 800 262 9008
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14. Hyatt Zilara – Middle Hotel Zone

Hyatt Zilara Hotel in Cancun
Hacienda-style, adults-only, all-inclusive resort on a broad, ivory beach with perfectly turquoise waters. Service is extraordinary here, with all staff consistently going above and beyond to create memorable experiences for guests. Rooms and suites all offer private balconies, double whirlpool tubs, a liquor dispenser, and a “magic box” for room service delivery. The grounds house an immaculate infinity pool overlooking the beach, plus a rooftop lap pool and a spa with a menu of Maya treatments, ceremonies, and a temazcal. Food and drinks are rich and flavorful; guests in oceanfront category rooms and above have access to exclusive dining at the Chef’s Plate, featuring a different menu every evening. With weekly pool parties, cocktails classes, wine and tequila tastings, and show cooking, guests have plenty of activities to indulge in, if they can bear to part from the beach.
Hotel phone: +52 998 881 5600
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15. Beach Palace – Middle Hotel Zone

Beach Palace Hotel in Cancun
Ideal for fun family getaways, this beachfront all-inclusive boasts sunny rooms, thoughtful kids’ amenities, three pools, three hot tubs, and a waterslide. Rooms and suites all include a two-person jetted tub, private balcony, and dual vanities. Family Deluxe suites are made of two connecting rooms with a kids’ minibar, plus an Xbox, beach gear, and kid-sized robes. Concierge Level upgrades grant highest floor rooms with the best views, plus two massages, nightly petit fours, and welcome wine. Their kids’ club is well-loved for its attentive staff, games, activities, and playroom. Like their sister properties, they have an amazing resort credit program that can be used toward excursion, spa treatments, or day passes to the water park at The Grand. Located on a stunning white beach with crystal clear waters and medium-sized surf.
Hotel phone: +52 800 262 9008
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16. Presidente InterContinental Resort – North Hotel Zone

Presidente InterContinental Resort in Cancun
Sitting on the single best beach in Cancun, this classic luxury resort offers two pools (one adults-only) and a spa with hydrotherapy and Maya-inspired treatments. The beach is the main attraction here: wide and clean, no seaweed, powdery-fine sand, and water so blue it looks like it’s been dyed that way. Dining is exceptional, especially the breakfasts at Café Urbano and the beachside service at Le Cap Beach Club. Rooms and one-bedroom suites are contemporary and well-appointed; club level upgrades add balconies, soaking tubs, and exclusive lounge access. Though this is a family-friendly hotel with a kids’ club and playground, the vibe here is very low-key and relaxed. Its location makes this resort a great home base for exploring downtown Cancun’s restaurants and attractions or for exploring the uptown nightlife district.
Hotel phone: +52 998 848 8700
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17. Sun Palace – South Hotel Zone

Sun Palace Hotel in Cancun
Romantic, couples-only, all-inclusive on a quiet beach, with three infinity pools (one of them covered), a hydrotherapy spa, and incredible food and drinks. Décor is sleek and understated luxury with 96% of accommodations boasting ocean views. Rooms and suites all feature a double whirlpool tub, private balcony, liquor dispenser, and a welcome bottle of wine. Concierge level upgrades add a candlelight dinner, couples’ massage, pillow menu, and aromatherapy. Restaurants are all on point, with the pan-Asian and steakhouse being the standouts. Their resort credits can be used for any number of things, from Maya ruins and colonial village excursions to spa days or dolphin encounters. Sun Palace is located on a relaxing beach in the south end with soft sand, clear water, and very few vendors.
Hotel phone: +52 800 262 9008
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18. Dreams Resort & Spa – Riviera Cancun

Dreams Riviera Resort & Spa Hotel in Cancun
Active, all-inclusive, family-friendly resort, especially for families traveling with younger kids. All rooms and suites here include whirlpool tubs and private balconies, many add private plunge pools. Most suites are one bedroom, some with kitchenettes and outdoor Jacuzzis. The kids’ club is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. for children as young as three years, with a playground, splash pad, and weekly campouts. Family activities include Euro bungee, cooking classes, and dance lessons. Dining is fantastic, especially at Bordeaux, their adults-only French restaurant. The beach is well-maintained, super clean, and great for swimming with mostly calm surf. Three pools and two hot tubs complete the experience.
Hotel phone: (866) 237-3267
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19. Fiesta Americana Condesa – Middle Hotel Zone

Fiesta Americana Condesa Hotel in Cancun
With a focus on Mexican hospitality, this family-friendly, beachfront, all-inclusive offers an upscale experience paired with a uniquely local vibe. Over half of the restaurants offer delightful, regional, Mexican fare on their menus, alongside several international restaurants. The spa uses Mexican products in all of their treatments. Décor features Mexican embellished tile, stonework floors, and palapa roofs property-wide. The kids’ club offers creative activities all day, as well as a pirate-themed pool, while the teens’ club features video games, billiards, and outdoor sports. Onsite activities include Maya language classes, Maya astrology, and tequila tasting. Room options are varied, from standard up to a two-bedroom suite with attached studio; some suites feature sofa beds and terrace Jacuzzis; the Presidential adds a full kitchen. The beach is absolutely beautiful with perfect white sand and medium surf; it might be a little much for beginners, but it is swimmable for those more experienced.
Hotel phone: +52 998 881 4200
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20. Riu Palace Las Americas – North Hotel Zone

Riu Palace Las Americas Hotel in Cancun
Opulent, adults-only, all-inclusive resort with an all-suite layout, spa, and three pools. Suites are spacious, all with private balconies, dual vanities, and liquor dispensers; some have terrace Jacuzzis, wrap-around balconies, and super-king beds. With a total of eleven restaurants and bars, guests have a ton of options to choose, from French to Japanese and more, plus a lounge and café both open 24-hours, along with room service. Daily activities include volleyball, sailing, and kayaking, while their theater offers nightly shows. Riu Las Americas sits in a swimmable cove on the northernmost tip of Punta Cancun with pristine white sand, dazzling blue water, and gentle surf.
Hotel phone: +52 998 891 4300
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21. Dreams Sapphire Resort & Spa – Riviera Cancun

Dreams Sapphire Resort & Spa in Cancun
Set on a serene stretch of beach, Now Sapphire offers an all-inclusive, family-friendly experience with excellent kids’ amenities, four pools, and fantastic food. An all-suite property, most of the accommodations are junior and one-bedroom suites, with connecting rooms optional. All come with private balconies and whirlpool tubs, some with Jacuzzis on the terrace. Preferred level upgrades give the best ocean and beach views, plus access to an adults-only pool, an exclusive lounge, and the hydrocircuit at the spa. The kids’ club hosts children ages three to twelve from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., with fun activities like sandcastle building, campouts, and movie nights, while the teen club has video games, Euro bungee, and billiards. Restaurants feature a strong selection of cuisines, all expertly prepared. Bar service is attentive with great cocktails, especially at their nightclub and pool bars. The beach is stunning and swimmable, with drink service and plenty of loungers under shady palapas.
Hotel phone: +52 998 872 8383
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22. Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort – Playa Mujeres

Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort in Cancun
This gem of a resort, located on a vast beach in Cancun’s newest development, offers an exquisite all-inclusive, adults-only experience. Amply-sized junior and one-bedroom suites include hydro-spa tubs and balconies, some with swim up access or private plunge pools. Club level upgrades add a day pass to the spa hydrocircuit, lounge access, pillow menu, and an exclusive a la carte daily breakfast. Grounds include a huge free-form pool (actually three pools really close together), while the beach offers snorkel gear, catamarans, paddleboards, and a swing set bar. The beach itself is long, with soft sand, no rocks, calm water, and intense turquoise colors.
Hotel phone: (866) 467-3273
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23. Dreams Jade Resort & Spa – Riviera Cancun

Dreams Jade Resort & Spa in Cancun
This five-star, family-friendly, all-inclusive offers large suites and excellent kids amenities on a gorgeous beach next to a dolphinarium. Light-filled suites come in several styles, beginning at 65 square meters, all with private balconies and either indoor or outdoor Jacuzzis. The resort houses two free-form infinity pools, with the adult pool accessible with club level upgrades. Their kids’ club is open all day to children ages three to twelve, with a host of activities, arts, and adventures; the teens’ club features breakdancing lessons, video games, and more. Dining and drinks are fantastic and varied, with sixteen restaurants and bars to choose from; Mercure and Spice, the French and pan-Asian restaurants, lead the pack. The beach is beautiful, serviced by Mix Bar with stellar cocktails. However, it is a little rocky and sometimes rough; walk just five minutes south along the beach, though, and you’ll find better swimming.
Hotel phone: +52 998 872 8888
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24. Marriott Resort – Middle Hotel Zone

Marriott Resort in Cancun
A beachfront paradise, this family-friendly, luxury resort features hacienda-style design blended with traditional and contemporary Mexican décor. Its large infinity pool features a whirlpool front and center, overlooking the brilliant blue sea. Rooms and one-bedroom suites vary by size and view, but all feature a private balcony; connecting rooms are available. The Presidential Suite adds a second balcony and an outdoor Jacuzzi. Their popular kids’ club hosts children ages four to twelve during daylight hours with a pool and plenty of activities. Dining and drinks are fantastic and varied, with restaurants specializing in Argentine, Japanese, and Thai, among others, but there is no Mexican restaurant onsite. (There is a southwestern restaurant at their sister property, JW Marriott, right next door, and of course plenty of Mexican food within walking distance.) Located on a wide, white stretch of swimmable beach with moderate waves, served by the attentive staff at Bahia.
Hotel phone: +52 998 881 2000
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25. Riu Palace Peninsula – North Hotel Zone

Riu Palace Peninsula Hotel in Cancun
Glitzy, family-friendly, all-inclusive resort with five pools (one exclusively for villa guests), a wide range of suites, plus phenomenal activities for kids and families. Suites all include private balconies, soaking tubs, and liquor dispensers; some add Jacuzzis, others are adults-only. There is a small kids’ club for ages four through twelve, with supervised pool and beach activities; for families and older kids, they offer art workshops, with classes in painting and ceramics, a free scuba lesson in the pool, nightly theater and entertainment, and non-motorized watercraft like kayaks, boogieboards, and catamarans. Food is delicious, with a good mix of a la carte restaurants (Mexican, French, Japanese, and more) along with high-end buffets serving lobster. Service at all restaurants and bars is prompt and attentive. The beach is just barely rockier than some of the other Cancun beaches, but it is still gorgeous with soft sand, turquoise water, and just enough gentle surf to keep it interesting.
Hotel phone: +52 998 848 8090
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26. Dreams Golf & Spa Resort – Playa Mujeres

Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort in Cancun
New, family-friendly, all-inclusive resort with dolphins and exceptional kids’ and teens’ amenities on a quiet beach. Suites and villas are all large and feature private balconies and sofa beds; options include swim ups, private pools, outdoor Jacuzzis, and two-person whirlpool tubs. Upgrade to Club Level for access to the lazy river, complimentary hydrotherapy, and access to a private lounge. The kids’ club hosts weekly camping, along with daily activities and a small water park; the teens’ club is open until 1 a.m. and features dance nights, video games, rock climbing, weekly bonfires, and more. Dolphin swims, a stellar full-service spa, and an 18-hole golf course are excellent add-on perks. The beach has soft sand and gentle waves, thanks to nearby Isla Mujeres acting as a buffer.
Hotel phone: +52 998 283 3600
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27. Sandos Cancun – Middle Hotel Zone

Sandos Hotel in Cancun
Beachfront, four-diamond, all-inclusive hotel with three infinity pools, delicious restaurants, and an amazing music program. Accommodations here are unique for Cancun with windows in every unit facing both the ocean and the lagoon, so that all guests may experience sunrise and sunset views from their rooms. Each room features a soaking tub, welcome wine, and floor-to-ceiling windows, most with one or two balconies; one- and two-bedroom suites add kitchenettes. Their Rhythm Experience music program offers live music and DJs, with a different genre featured daily; at night the music moves to the bars, with Bar One for a relaxing ambiance and Bar Two for a lively party. Food here is superbly prepared with fresh ingredients, with Gaijin Japanese and Zango international buffet the most popular of the restaurant options. Though there is no dedicated Mexican restaurant onsite, St. Trop has several Caribbean Mexican options on the menu. The beach is clean and well-maintained with crystal clear water, though waves can be a little rough at times.
Hotel phone: +52 998 881 2200
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28. Omni Hotel & Villas – Middle Hotel Zone

Omni Hotel & Villas in Cancun
Located on a truly exceptional beach, the all-inclusive, family-friendly Omni offers an impressive selection of accommodations, fantastic activities, and heartfelt service. Spacious rooms, one- and two- bedroom suites, and huge villas all feature private balconies, some with jetted tubs, Presidential with a full kitchen. Larger families will appreciate the villas with three bedrooms and three bathrooms spread over three stories, plus a full kitchen and direct pool access. The grounds boast three cascading pools (one for kids), one mega hot tub for up to 35 guests, several small hot tubs, and a full service spa and salon. There is a small kids’ club here for ages five to twelve, plus dance and scuba lessons for all ages. Their perfectly swimmable beach showcases with breathtaking turquoise waves, clean white sand, and an absence of rocks, reefs, and barriers.
Hotel phone: +52 998 881 0600
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29. Crown Paradise Club – South Hotel Zone

Crown Paradise Club Hotel in Cancun
Beachfront, family-friendly, all-inclusive with kids amenities for all age groups and five pools, including one adults-only pool and one covered pool. Rooms and suites come with balconies, many with soaking tubs. Family Suites have king beds plus triple bunk beds. Club level upgrades add Jacuzzis (indoor or outdoor) and a lagoon cruise. Their Baby Club hosts tots from eighteen months up to three years old, with story times and a playroom; a Kids’ Club for ages three to twelve has a pirate ship pool, a castle with nine waterslides, and with plenty of activities. Older kids and families have access to a small waterpark, billiards, video games, and mini-golf. The beach here has plenty of shaded loungers, stunning white sand, and bright blue water with moderate surf.
Hotel phone: +52 998 848 9000
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Cancun’s Hotel Zone

The vast majority of hotels and resorts in Cancun are located in the Hotel Zone. The Hotel Zone is shaped like a number 7, beginning due east of Downtown Cancun and running for about 22 kilometers along Boulevard Kukulkan. This long island strip of beach is bound to the north and east by the Caribbean, with the interior portion taken up by the Nichupte Lagoon. Most of the resorts line the northern and eastern beaches, while the restaurants, malls, and attractions face the lagoon side.

The Hotel Zone is roughly divided into three sections identified by their kilometer markers: The North (km 1-9, this is the horizontal portion making up the top of the 7, from the edge of Downtown in the west to Punta Cancun in the east), The Middle (km 9.5-17.5, beginning at the elbow of the 7, from Punta Cancun running south, just past Museo Maya), and the South (km 18-21.5, from El Rey archeological zone to Punta Nizuc at the southernmost tip).

Staying in the Hotel Zone, North

Best Hotels in North Zone, Cancun
The North (sometimes called the “beginning”) of the Hotel Zone has the softest sand and the most pristine beaches. This is due to its geography; unlike the rest of the Hotel Zone, the northernmost portion is partially protected from hurricanes by Isla Mujeres to the northeast and the horn of Punta Cancun in to the east. Because it is shielded in this way, it still has its original sand, worn smooth and powdery over the years, contrasting with the rest of the Hotel Zone, which lost its sand to a hurricane a few years ago and had to have the sand replaced. Its prized location also shields it from the seaweed that tends to collect in the Middle and End Zones. This is the closest portion to Downtown’s amazing restaurants and cultural attractions like Market 28 and lucha libre at the Cancun Arena. It’s also just a short distance from the Uptown Cancun nightlife on the south end of Punta Cancun. With such proximity to dining, bars, and attractions, the Beginning of the Hotel Zone is ideal for guests who opt not to stay in an all-inclusive.

The Best Hotels in the North Hotel Zone

The Best Restaurants in the North Hotel Zone

  • Sushi Go • $$-$$$ • Casual spot for delicious, fresh sushi. Bonus points for delivery!
  • Dag Dag • $$-$$$ • Kosher seafood spot, known for their fish and chips and singing chef/owner.

Staying in the Middle of the Hotel Zone

Best Hotels in Middle Zone, Cancun
The Middle of the Hotel Zone is where the action is. Uptown Cancun, with its famous nightlife, is located at the elbow on the south end of Punta Cancun. Travelers will find a cluster of nightclubs and bars here, the best known being Coco Bongo, Mandala, and La Vaquita, though The City and Congo Bar are the best-loved night spots. Following the main drag south, you’ll find Cancun’s most popular family attractions, including Aquaworld, Museo Maya, and MUSA, the underwater museum. Beaches here are not as soft as those in the North Hotel Zone, and the waves tend to be a little bigger. However, this is the nesting spot for local sea turtles! Huge turtles come ashore every night to lay eggs from May through October. Baby turtles hatch and are released to the ocean from July through December. Most hotels in the Middle of the Hotel Zone have designated areas to protect the eggs from predators. Guests are invited to watch the adult turtles making their nests every night, or to watch as the babies are released later in the season.

The Best Hotels in the Middle of the Hotel Zone

The Best Restaurants in the Middle of the Hotel Zone

  • Casitas • $$$$ • Romantic, beachfront dining at The Ritz.
  • Surfin’ Burrito • $ • Casual burrito joint with cocktails bigger than your head, open 24 hours.

Staying in the Hotel Zone, South

Best Hotels in South Zone, Cancun
The South Hotel Zone, sometimes referred to as “the end,” begins at El Rey Ruins in the north and ends at Punta Nizuc in the south. It’s much quieter than the North or Middle, while still being highly accessible to all that the city has to offer. Travelers here will find the most relaxed beaches with fewer vendors interrupting their tranquil moments. Beach quality here is similar to those of the Middle, with moderate surf, soft white sand (though slightly coarser than that of the North), and lots of sea turtle activity. There is generally better snorkeling in the South Hotel Zone, especially at the southernmost end toward Punta Nizuc. Most resorts in this area are all-inclusive, as the immediate area only has a handful of restaurants. This is an ideal spot for travelers who want a true getaway, without straying too far from the conveniences of the city.

The Best Hotels in the South Hotel Zone

The Best Restaurants in the South Hotel Zone

  • El Galeón del Caribe • $ • The only authentic Mexican seafood restaurant in the Hotel Zone.
  • Navíos • $$-$$$ • Fresh and creative Mexican seafood in a romantic setting.

Staying in Riviera Cancun

Best Hotels in Riviera Cancun
The Riviera Cancun is the northernmost part of the Riviera Maya, just south of Cancun down about as far as Puerto Morelos. It is fronted by the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which follows the coastline from Cancun all the way down to Guatemala. The Riviera Cancun is home to some of the largest all-inclusive resorts. Most of these sit in mangrove jungles on long stretches of beach protected by the reef, making for mostly gentle waves. Beaches here tend to be a mix of mostly white sand, with some rocky and coral parts. The sandy areas are great for swimming and body surfing with moderate waves, while the rocky and coral-y parts usually have great conditions for snorkeling, with a variety of colorful fish. The resort beaches here are nearly private with no vendors, because they’re not walking distance to anything. Near Puerto Morales, travelers will find a botanical garden and Croco Cun Zoo, with several refreshing cenotes just inland and lots of adventure parks just a little further south.

The Best Hotels in Riviera Cancun

The Best Restaurants in Riviera Cancun

  • Le Chique • $$$$ • Fine dining spot for Mexican, molecular gastronomy at Azul Beach Resort Riviera Cancun.
  • Restaurante Los Naranjos • $$-$$$ • Authentic Mexican seafood off the beaten track. No one speaks English here, but the food is off the chain!

Staying in Playa Mujeres

Best Hotels in Playa Mujeres, Cancun
Playa Mujeres sits in the north end of Cancun, due west of Isla Mujeres and north of the main ferry terminals, Puerto Juarez and Gran Puerto. This is the newest resort development area in Cancun, with the oldest hotel here built in 2007. This area is designed expressly for leisure, mostly made up of resorts, beaches, and golf courses, with one dolphinarium on the main beach and campgrounds further north. Playa Mujeres is more accessible to the city and attractions than Riviera Cancun, but since it is so new, there are not many restaurants serving the area. This is the closest point in Cancun to Isla Mujeres; travelers wishing to visit the island can leave from the smaller Punta Sam ferry. The beaches of Playa Mujeres have soft white sand, vivid blue water, and gentle waves, thanks to the island acting as a buffer. However, there tends to be more seaweed than the more southerly beaches, especially when the wind is coming in from the east. To combat this, every resort in the area hires sweepers to clean the beaches twice a day.

The Best Hotels in Playa Mujeres

The Best Restaurants in Playa Mujeres

  • Flamingos Seafood Kitchen • $$-$$$ • Seafood favorite for over 40 years, with covered or beachfront dining, known for their octopus, lobster, and fresh fish.
  • El Puerto Clam House & Grill • $$-$$$ • Beautiful clams, snapper, and seafood paella, with friendly, attentive service.

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Playa del Carmen Hotels

Mexico › Playa del Carmen Hotels
Updated: October 17, 2022

Playa del Carmen Hotels – Tips and Advice

  • The absolute best hotels in Playa del Carmen are: Hotel Esencia (most luxurious boutique hotel), El Dorado Maroma (best adults-only resort), and Hotel Xcaret Mexico (best family all-inclusive resort).
  • The best areas for travelers in the Playa del Carmen area are Downtown (nightlife, shopping, dining), North Playa del Carmen (walking distance to downtown but much quieter), Mayakoba (luxury resort complex convenient to the downtown), South Riviera Maya (cenotes, jungle, and beaches on the way to Tulum), and North Riviera Maya (beaches and attractions on the way to Cancun).
  • Getting to Playa is easiest by driving, but if you’re staying in downtown or only plan on leaving the resort for tours, it’s probably not worth the price to rent a car. Instead, travelers should take the ADO bus or pre-book a shuttle. I recommend Private Transportation Riviera Maya; a round trip shuttle for a family of four from the Cancun Airport to downtown Playa del Carmen runs about 100 USD and takes about 50 minutes each way. The ADO bus is definitely the cheapest option. Tickets are about 210 pesos (9 USD) each for adults and 105 pesos (4.50 USD) for children ages 5 to 12. The same round-trip rate for a family of four would be about 54 USD and would take 1 hour 15 minutes each way. Buses leave roughly every 30 minutes. Tickets are sold for particular time slots, so it’s best to buy them at the airport rather than booking ahead online, in case of unexpected delays. Taxis are the most expensive option, running about 1600 pesos (70 USD) one-way for a group of four from the airport to the city of Playa del Carmen; make that 3200 pesos (140 USD) for a round-trip taxi.
  • Playa del Carmen is small and it’s easy to get around on foot, with most restaurants and shops within a 3 km section of town. There is no Uber here, but taxis in the city are affordable and easy to find at designated taxi stands or by flagging one down on the street. Taxis here do not use meters; fixed rates are printed on a chart that drivers carry with them – prices are listed in pesos. Though drivers accept US dollars (with change given in pesos), rates are much lower if you pay in pesos, as drivers do not use a currency converter and will just make up a number that is always higher than the exchange rate.
  • Pay in pesos! As with taxis, almost every restaurant and shop accepts US dollars, but the exchange rate always favors the peso. If you pay in dollars, you will overpay.
  • If you opt to rent a car to explore on your own, you’ll find that driving is very easy. Playa del Carmen does have a few pedestrian-only streets where cars are not allowed, but they are all well-marked. Parking can be tricky, as there is a good deal of car congestion in downtown. Rules of the road are similar to the U.S. Highways are well-maintained, and streets are well-mapped and easy to follow via GPS. Two things that are different are topes and left turns. Topes (pronounced TOH-pays) are speed bumps, but there are no regulations on their height, steepness, or visibility; some are nearly impossible to see until it’s too late! Drive slowly in downtown, and keep an eye out for these. Standard left turns are usually OK in downtown but not on highways. To make a left, drivers will often need to use a retorno, which is a U-turn overpass. To use a retorno, drive past the road you want to make a left onto, get into the far right lane to take the retorno exit, make the left onto the overpass, and finally merge with traffic going the opposite direction. You can then make a right at the desired street or destination.

The 23 Best Luxury Hotels in Playa del Carmen

1. Hotel Esencia – South Riviera Maya

Hotel Esencia in South Riviera Maya, PdC

Chic, elegant boutique hotel on a full kilometer of serene beach, surrounded by 50 acres of jungle and cenotes. This exclusive hotel offers refined lodging with two dazzling pools, a spa with traditional Maya handmade treatments, and gourmet dining. Suites and villas are spacious and well-appointed, many with soaking tubs, plunge pools, and a couple with full sized pools. Though most popular with honeymooners, families will appreciate their large villas for up to nine guests, babysitting services, and family activities onsite. Food is truly sumptuous here with a new Nikkei restaurant (Japanese-Peruvian), regional Mexican fare, and international options, all using fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients. Located in Xpu-Ha, halfway between the nightlife and shopping of Playa del Carmen and Tulum’s cenotes and ancient ruins.
Hotel phone: +52 984 873 4830
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2. El Dorado Maroma – North Riviera Maya

El Dorado Maroma Hotel in North Riviera Maya, PdC

Ultra-luxurious, adults-only, all-inclusive hotel with hands down the most amazing suites in all of Mexico. Their Overwater Bungalows are perched on stilts with glass floors over the turquoise sea and include private infinity plunge pools, outdoor showers, a two-person Jacuzzi indoors, and direct ladder access to the ocean. They offer several other suite and villa options, with the largest being a five-bedroom with a private pool and personal chef. The resort showcases three pools connected by a lazy river, two spas with an elevated massage palapa, farm-fresh gourmet dining, scuba and water sport amenities, and nightly entertainment. Located on Punta Maroma, a stunning stretch of white sand beach, near Maroma Adventures’ marina, dolphin swims, and excursions.
Hotel phone: +52 866 527 4762
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3. Hotel Xcaret Mexico – South Riviera Maya

Hotel Xcaret Mexico in South Riviera Maya, PdC

Luxury, all-inclusive, family-friendly resort owned by Xcaret Adventure Parks and including unlimited access and transportation to all of their parks and tours (10 total) with every booking. The parks include ziplining, snorkeling, ATVs, underground rivers, and more. The resort itself boasts 6 pools, a huge lazy river, kids’ and teens’ clubs, and a sandy, swimmable beach. Hotel Xcaret offers spacious suites for up to 5, all with hammocks on their private balconies, some with swim-out access to a shared pool. Great location in South Riviera Maya just 5 km from Playa del Carmen’s restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and the ferry to Cozumel.
Hotel phone: +52 984 206 4805
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4. Grand Velas Riviera Maya – near Mayakoba

Grand Velas Riviera Maya Hotel near Mayakoba, PdC

Family-friendly, all-inclusive, five diamond resort with three pools, kids’ and teens’ clubs, and a phenomenal spa. Dining is incredible here, with a host of four- and five-diamond restaurants serving a wide variety of cuisines, from creative molecular gastronomy to Mexican fine dining to pan-Asian fusion and beyond. Their award-winning spa features a comprehensive hydrotherapy circuit, a seven-step water ceremony, couples packages, and much more. Rooms and suites all include whirlpool tubs and private terraces, some with plunge pools. The kids’ club is open until 11:00 p.m. with activities and crafts all day; the teens’ club is open until midnight, with a dancefloor, karaoke, video games, and a pool table. Grand Velas also offers plenty of adults-only areas, including a dedicated pool, restaurant, a nightclub, and several bars. Located at the edge of a mangrove jungle, on a gorgeous swathe of unspoiled beach with soft sand and gentle waves.
Hotel phone: +52 322 226 8689
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5. Banyan Tree – Mayakoba

Banyan Tree Hotel in Mayakoba, PdC

Luxury, family-friendly, all-villa resort on a sun-drenched beach in a protected mangrove jungle. This stunning boutique resort blends Mexican handicrafts from Oaxaca and Chiapas with contemporary Thai design; the owners, chefs, and all spa staff are from Thailand. All villas include private pools, outdoor whirlpool tubs, and terraces with hammocks. The grounds boast two larger pools, a spa with Thai massage, an active kids’ club, and boat service to the beach. Food is out of this world, with superb ingredients to suit all tastes as well as two destination culinary experiences: Ixchel, a romantic dinner for two in a boat, and Haab, a Maya dinner with a show. Set in the exclusive Mayakoba resort and golf complex, just twenty minutes’ drive to downtown Playa del Carmen.
Hotel phone: +52 800 953 0565
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6. Hard Rock Hotel – South Riviera Maya

Hard Rock Hotel in South Riviera Maya, PdC

Music-themed beachfront resort with 5 pools (some adults-only, some for kids and families), a natural lagoon with native fish, and the largest spa in the Riviera Maya. Family perks include kids’ and teens’ clubs, a rock climbing wall, their signature music amenities (loaner guitars, instrument and DJ lessons, band camp, etc), and a huge skate/bike/gymnastics center. 9 restaurants and 8 bars serve a huge range of cuisines all day, along with 24-hours room service. Heaven, the adults-only section, offers a private beach and cove. A wide range of rooms and suites all feature private balconies, hammocks, and indoor or outdoor jacuzzis; the largest sleep up to 6. Wonderful location near the golf course, marina, and Dolphin Discovery at Puerto Aventuras.
Hotel phone: +52 984 875 1100
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7. Thompson Beach House – Downtown

Thompson Beach House in Downtown PdC

Sunny, sophisticated, beachfront boutique on the lively main beach of downtown Playa. This intimate hotel, with only 27 suites, offers a small pool, a sun terrace overlooking the beach, and in-room spa treatments. Their great little restaurant C-Grill specializes in Mexican and Maya flavors, especially seafood, and is open all day for dining and drinks. Guests also have signing privileges at their sister hotel Thompson Playa del Carmen, only five minutes’ walk away, to enjoy their gourmet restaurant Catch with its stunning rooftop view. Suites all include balconies, and many have soaking tubs. The Panoramic Corner Suite adds a wraparound terrace and plunge pool. Convenient to all the best restaurants, beach clubs, bars, and shopping in the city.
Hotel phone: +52 984 206 4805
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8. Viceroy Riviera Maya – North Playa del Carmen

Viceroy Riviera Maya Hotel in North Playa del Carmen

Luxury, beachfront, boutique hotel for ages fourteen and up. This eco-conscious resort was designed to exude a Mayan essence, with a shaman ritual and Mayan drink for all guests and a spa featuring indigenous treatments, a temazcal (sweat lodge), and a hydrotherapy circuit. The hotel itself was built to incorporate the jungle flora and fauna, and the grounds are filled with coati, iguanas, and even a few monkeys! There is no central lobby area; instead, all of the villas and restaurants are spread out, making the units more private and minimally invasive to the natural surroundings. Each spacious villa includes a private plunge pool, outdoor shower, hammock, and shady patio; some add soaking tubs. Common amenities include a pool, hot tub; restaurants feature locally sourced ingredients with Mexican and international flavors. Viceroy is just fifteen minutes north of downtown.
Hotel phone: +52 984 877 3000
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9. Fairmont – Mayakoba

Fairmont Hotel in Mayakoba, dC

Refined, family-friendly, beachfront resort with five pools scattered near the ocean, lagoon, or jungle. Large, light-filled rooms and suites all include soaking tubs and private terraces; oceanfront and beachfront rooms feature butler service. Most suites are one bedroom units except for one of the presidential suites, but connecting options are available for families. Residences have up to four bedrooms with full kitchens. Their kids’ club offers cooking classes and crafts, while their adventure camp keeps older kids active with kayaking and beach sports. The beach itself has just undergone a huge, eco-conscious renovation, making it longer and wider, with plenty of loungers, private palapas, and exceptional food and drink service. Located in the middle of the Mayakoba resort complex, next to the restaurants and shops at El Pueblito Village.
Hotel phone: +52 984 206 3000
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10. Andaz – Mayakoba

Andaz Hotel in Mayakoba, PdC

Stylish, luxury hotel in the exclusive Mayakoba beach resort with a golf course and lagoons. Andaz offers 2 pools, a holistic spa, and is set on a stunning white beach. Rooms and suites are all spacious, with free minibar items (sans alcohol) and private balconies; suites add private outdoor plunge pools. Food is outstanding at their 4 regional Mexican/international restaurants; guests can add a meal plan or book a room only. Family-friendly amenities include a kids club for ages 4 to 12, babysitting, and free bikes.
Hotel phone: +52 984 149 1234
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11. Paradisus – North Playa del Carmen

Paradisus Hotel in North PdC

Contemporary, all-inclusive resort with fantastic family amenities on a gorgeous beach with a coral reef. This all-suite property offers several options for families, from junior up to two-bedroom connecting units; the Family Concierge upgrade adds a private terrace with a Jacuzzi, kids’ minibar items, a private restaurant, club lounge access, and an Xbox or PlayStation. This is one of the top resorts for parents traveling with younger kids, as they offer both a Baby Club for ages one to four and a Kids’ Club for five- to twelve-year-olds, so parents can pop next door to the adults-only Paradisus La Perla to enjoy a relaxing meal or quiet pool time. Three pools, great food, and a beach with a reef for snorkeling round out the experience here. La Esmeralda sits fifteen minutes’ drive or twenty-five minutes’ walk to downtown Playa del Carmen.
Hotel phone: +52 984 877 3900
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12. Blue Diamond – North Riviera Maya

Blue Diamond Hotel in North Riviera Maya, PdC

Intimate, all-inclusive, adults-only resort on a breathtaking beach with white sand and crystal waters. Suites all feature outdoor baths and two-person showers with lagoon or cenote views. Casitas and the Presidential Suite are oceanfront with the Presidential Suite adding two private infinity pools. The grounds feature great restaurants and bars, three pools, and a hot tub, but the main star is the 2300 square meter Maya spa, offering complimentary temazcal treatments for all guests. In perfect jungle seclusion, this boutique-style resort has several trails winding through a protected mangrove forest, around a lagoon and cenote, with coati and iguanas throughout; bikes are provided for exploring. Rates are inclusive of a snorkel tour, scuba class in the pool, cooking and cocktail classes, wine tastings, and more. Located in Punta Maroma, near cenotes, adventure parks, and not too far from Playa del Carmen’s nightlife scene.
Hotel phone: +52 984 206 4100
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13. Mahekal Beach Front Resort & Spa – Downtown

Mahekal Beach Resort in Downtown PdC

Eco-chic, family-friendly resort on an active beach, featuring a Bohemian ambiance, four pools, exceptional bars and restaurants, and a Maya spa. Mahekal offers a wide range of rooms differing by decor, view, and layout; choose a beachfront casita, a treehouse room, a palapa suite, or a penthouse suite; options can include private plunge pools, outdoor showers, hammocks, full kitchens, and butler service. Be advised that their get-back-to-nature vibe means no TVs in most of the rooms. Their jungle garden adds privacy to the resort grounds, while their convenient location makes it easy to explore the nightlife and shopping of Playa’s famous Quinta Avenida.
Hotel phone: +52 984 873 0611
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14. Generations – North Riviera Maya

Generations Hotel in North Riviera Maya, PdC

This upscale, all-inclusive beachfront resort gears itself toward large or multi-generational families. Amazing suite options include swim ups connecting to the enormous main pool, infinity pool suites connecting to one of the nine balcony pools, and balcony suites with gorgeous ocean views. Experiences can be catered to different age groups, with baby amenities including cribs, strollers, and pack ‘n plays, an active kids’ club with cooking lessons and a toy library, and a teen lounge with a pool table and video games. Adults have all-inclusive access to the bars, restaurants, and pools at both El Dorado properties next door. The beach is swimmable but rocky at some parts; barriers to prevent erosion also help to soften the waves, great for beginning swimmers. Generations is in Puerto Morelos, halfway between Playa del Carmen and Cancun.
Hotel phone: +52 998 872 8030
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15. Playacar Palace – Downtown

Playacar Palace Hotel in Down PdC

Breezy, family-friendly, all-inclusive resort with a huge pool overlooking a sugary sand beach and the Cozumel ferry. Rooms and suites are generously sized, all with a two-person whirlpool tub and liquor cabinet, most with sweeping ocean views and balconies. Food and drinks here are exceptional, especially at adults-only Lahna, focusing on local Yucatan cuisine, and at Luna Lounge, spotlighting a specialty mixology menu. Family amenities include a kids’ club for ages four to twelve and free bicycle tours. Guests have signing privileges at all Palace properties, with the Cozumel location just a short ferry away and with complimentary transfer to the water park at The Grand at Moon Palace in Cancun. Their stellar resort credit program can be used toward tours to Chichen Itza, dolphin encounters, spa services, and more. Located on Playacar Beach in downtown, next to Fundadores sculpture park and walking distance to Quinta Avenida shopping and nightlife.
Hotel phone: +52 984 873 4960
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16. El Dorado Royale – North Riviera Maya

El Dorado Royale Hotel in North Riviera Maya, PdC

Romantic, adults-only, all-inclusive resort specializing in weddings and couples celebrating special occasions. Accommodations are all junior suites with private terraces, outdoor Jacuzzis, and hammocks; swim-up options are available. Their spa offers couples’ and solo treatments, including Maya-inspired rituals, a temazcal, hydro-circuit, and their sky massage, done in an elevated, beachfront palapa. Dining is superb here, with the produce and herbs grown in their onsite greenhouse plus a culinary theater, where guests can watch, learn, and dine on meals prepared by celebrity chefs. Located in Puerto Morelos, on a long white beach; one side is sandy and easily swimmable, while the other side is rocky with a coral reef to explore.
Hotel phone: +52 998 872 8030
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17. Grand Hyatt Resort – Downtown

Grand Hyatt Resort in Downtown PdC

Posh, family-friendly, beachfront resort with two infinity pools (one adults-only), great food, and a cenote-inspired spa. Rooms are large and include balconies; suites add soaking tubs and optional swim up access or private plunge pools. Upgrading to Club Level adds daily breakfast, snacks all day, an open bar, and evening apps. Babysitting and kids’ club access area available for a fee, while the teens’ arcade is open for all, featuring video games, mini-bowling, and foosball. Located on Playa del Carmen’s vibrant main beach in the newest part of the city, near a brand new mall, stellar restaurants, nightlife, and beach clubs.
Hotel phone: +52 984 875 1234
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18. Thompson – Downtown

Thompson Hotel in Downtown PdC

Urban glam, boutique hotel on 5th Avenue with a rooftop infinity pool and massage cabanas. This fashionable hotel blends mid-century modern furnishings with eclectic accents and a beach chic vibe. Rooms and suites all feature jetted tubs; many add private terraces with daybeds or Jacuzzis. Its restaurant Catch is a gourmet hotspot, featuring locally sourced ingredients and craft cocktails with sister locations in NYC and Dubai. The hotel is family-friendly and pet friendly, but focuses mostly on adults, especially couples. Guests have signing privileges and beach access at their sister property Thompson Beach House, located two blocks away.
Hotel phone: +52 984 206 4800
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19. Paradisus La Perla – North Playa del Carmen

Paradisus La Perla Hotel in North Playa del Carmen

Sleek, adults-only, all-inclusive resort with an all-suite layout, shimmering pools, and a hydrotherapy circuit at the spa. Suites with connecting options range from studios up to two-bedrooms, all with dual soaking tubs and showers, with terrace Jacuzzi and swim up options. Upgrade to the Royal Service to gain access to an additional pool, private restaurant and club lounge, and butler service. The food variety is extensive, with ten outstanding restaurants and bars onsite, plus all-inclusive privileges at the adjoining Paradisus La Esmeralda, making twenty-six total dining and drink choices available. Located on a soft sandy beach adjacent to a rocky coral reef, ideal for snorkeling, just ten minutes driving or twenty-five minutes walking to downtown.
Hotel phone: +52 984 877 3900
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20. Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa – South Riviera Maya

Grand Palladium Hotel in South Riviera Maya, PdC

Expansive, family-friendly, beachfront resort with nine pools, a huge spa, and a swathe of dining and drink options. This resort is made up of four hotels, each with a different vibe: Kantenah is Maya-styled, Colonial is Spanish, White Sand is contemporary and wellness-focused, and TRS Yucatan is the top-line, adults-only wing. All sections have beach access, but Kantenah and Colonial have most of the beachfront rooms and suites. White Sand is closest to the kids’ clubs (three of them for babies, kids, and teens), awesome water park, and comprehensive spa. Royal Suites are surrounded by the lagoon, many with their own jetties and canoes. Suite options can include outdoor showers, whirlpool tubs, and private pools; connecting rooms are available. Situated on a long stretch of beach near Akumal, several cenotes, and adventure parks, about halfway to Tulum.
Hotel phone: +52 984 877 2100
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21. Valentin Imperial – North Riviera Maya

Valentin Imperial Hotel in North Riviera Maya, PdC

Grand, adults-only, all-inclusive hotel on a full kilometer of beach, offering three free form pools, a tranquil spa, and twenty restaurants and bars. Suites are complete with a whirlpool tub and balcony or terrace, some with outdoor Jacuzzis. Swim up suites all connect to the lazy river in the quietest part of the resort. Food is phenomenal, especially at Ginger, the Japanese restaurant (reservations required for seats at the teppanyaki table), and L’Alsace, the French fine dining spot (with a dress code). This hacienda-style resort faces a kilometer-long beach with soft sand and great swimming along its length, except when occasional bigger waves arrive, as well as snorkeling in a man-made reef at the southwest end of the beach.
Hotel phone: +52 984 206 3660
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22. Rosewood – Mayakoba

Rosewood Hotel in Mayakoba, PdC

Elite, family-friendly, five-star resort featuring three crystal pools, exquisite dining, and a tranquil spa, all on a soft beach with deep blue waters. Suites and villas all include a plunge pool, outdoor showers, and butler service and offer beachfront, lagoon, or ocean views. Their Chef’s Garden grows much of the produce and herbs used in the onsite restaurants, with dinners hosted in the garden twice a week, as well as kids’ botanical tours. Their kids’ club offers unique experiences, such as tree planting, yoga, eco-adventures, and movies under the stars. For couples, there are several adults-only room options, including the overwater and island suites with lagoon views. Located next to the PGA golf course in the Mayakoba resort complex with boat service to the beach.
Hotel phone: +52 984 875 8000
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23. We Uniq El Carmen – Downtown

We Uniq El Carmen Hotel in Downtown PdC

Stylish, adults-only beachfront hotel with a rooftop pool and bar, beach club and restaurant, and spa services. All suites are bright and spacious with private balconies, sea or partial sea views, futuristic decor, and a strong urban beach vibe that perfectly suits its location in the heart of Playa del Carmen. Grand Suites boast private, outdoor jacuzzis. The beach bar restaurant Keel (chilled out) and rooftop Deck 5 Skybar (lively, late-night dancing) serve farm-fresh local and international fare with fantastic cocktails. Great location just steps from the ocean, Quinta Avenida shopping, and nightlife.
Hotel phone: +52 984 125 9589
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Staying in Downtown Playa del Carmen

Where to stay and eat in downtown Playa del Carmen
Formerly a small fishing village, Playa experienced a huge tourism and population boom after the Cozumel ferry began service here. Since 1995 the residential population has grown by ten times, with most people now working in the tourism industry serving the millions of travelers coming through the hundreds of new hotels and resorts that have sprung up. Downtown is home to a plethora of resorts, mostly set up along the long public beach that runs the full length of the town and beyond.

Downtown Playa is known for its lively atmosphere, especially along Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue), the beachfront, and Calle 12 Norte. Quinta Avenida runs for four kilometers, beginning at Paseo del Carmen mall in the southwest and ends near the Paradisus Resorts at its northwest end. The first three or so kilometers are pedestrian-only, each side lined with malls, street vendors, the city’s best restaurants, and relaxed bars. The newest and flashiest part of the town is here, near the Quinta Alegria mall. The beachfront is home to several beach clubs, with lots of music, cocktails, and bites; the best among them are Mamita’s Beach Club and Coralina Daylight Club. Downtown is also the nightlife hub, with tons of nightclubs lining Calle 12 Norte, north of the Cozumel Ferry terminal. The biggest clubs are Coco Bongo, Mandala, and La Vaquita, all of which have sister properties in Cancun, but the best one is Diablito Cha Cha Cha.

The Best Hotels in Downtown

Staying in North Playa del Carmen

Where to eat and stay in North Playa del Carmen
At the far end of Quinta Avenida, the North Playa area is home to several luxury resorts, residences, and restaurants, along a stunning stretch of beach. This area is substantially less populated than downtown while still being easily accessible, just a twenty or thirty-minute walk into downtown (depending on the resort) or a quick ten-minute drive. This is an ideal spot for travelers looking to have all the varied experiences that the city has to offer, while still far enough from the party atmosphere for a peaceful rest.

The Best Hotels in North Playa

Staying in Mayakoba

Where to stay and eat in Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen
This is a luxury resort complex just outside of Playa del Carmen’s north end. Its design incorporates the natural geography of the area, with cenotes, lagoons, and a sandy beach, and is home to a variety of native animals, including coati, iguanas, spider monkeys, and tropical birds. The complex includes a PGA golf course and El Pueblito village, designed after a traditional Mexican city square with a chapel, art gallery, and restaurants. Most people get around via the boat taxi on the lagoon, included in the hotel rates, but guests can also go on foot or use the bikes provided by the resorts to ride along the nature trail.

The Best Hotels in Mayakoba

Staying in North Riviera Maya

Where to stay and eat in north riviera maya, playa del carmen

Riviera Maya runs the length of the coast, from just south of Cancun to just south of Tulum, with Playa del Carmen in the middle. It also includes the island Cozumel. The stretch of beach on the mainland is fronted by the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, running from Cancun all the way down to Guatemala.

The North Riviera Maya, between Playa and Cancun, is home to some of the largest all-inclusive resorts. Most of these sit in mangrove jungles on long stretches of beach protected by the reef, making for mostly gentle waves. Outside of the two main towns here, Puerto Morelos and Punta Maroma, the resort beaches are nearly private, because they’re not walking distance to anything. Near Puerto Morelos, the more northerly of the towns, travelers will find a botanical garden and Croco Cun Zoo, with several refreshing cenotes just inland. Punta Maroma has a more pristine beach, as well as dolphin encounters and more at Maroma Adventures.

The Best Hotels in North Riviera Maya

Staying in South Riviera Maya

Where to stay and eat in south riviera maya, playa del carmen
The South Riviera Maya, between Playa and Tulum, has long swathes of white sand beach, protected by the reef and Cozumel, making the waves extra soft. Hotels here are set into the jungle and fronted by kilometers of unspoiled beaches. The main town between Playa and Tulum is Puerto Aventuras, with a Dolphin Discovery park, along with restaurants and resorts. Some of the biggest draws to South Riviera Maya are the adventure parks, such as Xel-Ha, Xcaret, and Río Secreto. This is also home some of the biggest, most popular cenotes: Dos Ojos, Jardin del Eden, Cenote Azul, and many more.

The Best Hotels in South Riviera Maya

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