Metropolises and the Mayans
Stretching all the way from the USA in the north to Guatemala and Belize in the south, Mexico is the glue that links the North and South American continents together. The country’s two million square kilometres pack in everything from mega cities and tiny pueblos to ancient jungle and Mayan relics. But, for holidaymakers at least, the coastal areas hold the main appeal.
Mexico’s eastern edge sidles up to the Caribbean Sea. Cancun is the big gun out here. It’s home to upmarket hotels, a 22-kilometre belt of white sand, shopping malls, and an after-dark scene to rival Rio. As you head down the coast, Mexico begins to shed its tourist skin. Playa del Carmen offers everything Cancun does, but in smaller portions, but by Playacar, the bars and shops disappear in favour of secluded beaches and seaside villas. In Riviera Maya, meanwhile, tropical jungle and Mayan ruins begin to appear in the picture.
Mexico’s west coast is lapped by the Pacific Ocean. The beaches around Puerto Vallarta mirror the quality of those on the opposite side of the country. And away from the sand, abseiling and zip-lining circuits are strung through the Sierra Madre Mountains.
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You can head for the Riviera Maya, on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, and do nothing but sip cocktails on tropical white-sand beaches. But you can also do so much more. Mayan ruins, eco parks, world-class diving – they’re all on offer along this 30-kilometre stretch of coastline, which takes in lively Playa del Carmen and the quieter Punta Allen.
Playacar is quite simply the jewel of Mexico’s Mayan Riviera. Just south of Playa del Carmen in the Yucatan peninsula, it’s a self-enclosed gated community of all inclusive hotels and luxury condo complexes. The place comes with its very own 18-hole championship golf course. Plus you’ve got private beaches, top dive spots and a stylish shopping mall right on your doorstep.
Nuevo Vallarta starts at Marina Vallarta – Banderas Bay’s midway point. It then shoots an arrow-straight course up the coast all the way to Bucerías. On its way, it passes a 7-kilometre beach lined by a long row of luxury hotels. Behind the front, there’s a residential-resort community that’s grown up with a big bucks tag. Grand villas and residences with tropical gardens are the norm. And most of them have private piers by the canal, which weaves through the district. Elsewhere, galleries and restaurants border 2 marinas.