Riviera Maya

Just south of Cancun, Mexico lies a strip of perfect, white sand beach bordered by the lush jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula.  This gorgeous area on the Caribbean Sea is known as the Riviera Maya and is at the top of my must-visit list.

The Riviera Maya is about as close to paradise on Earth as you can get, with a heady mix of natural beauty, stunning ruins, rich local culture, luxurious accommodations, fine dining, and a huge variety of entertainment.  The area consists of ecological reserves, jungle, mangroves and lagoons, Mayan ruins, a large coral reef for diving and snorkeling, and picture-perfect turquoise seas.

Scuba diving at Riviera Maya

One of the beautiful lagoons.

Riviera Maya boasts many luxurious places to stay, from all-inclusive resorts to smaller, personalized hotels.  The Viceroy Riviera Maya was designed to blend seamlessly into its surroundings outside Playa del Carmen. The decor shows an influence of Mayan simplicity, using natural materials to achieve a sophisticated and sexy environment.

Beachfront view at Viceroy Riviera Maya.

An ocean-view villa bedroom.

A luxurious bath at Viceroy Riviera Maya.

For a true escape from the rush a daily life, retreat to a cliffside villa at the Azulik resort in Tulum.  These incredible villas perch on rocky cliffs with stairways to the beach.  With no electricity or telephones, you’re truly surrounded by only the sights and sounds of the ocean, day and night.  These villas may look and sound a bit rustic, but guests are steeped in luxury with huge windows for incredible views and in-cabin massages.

Cliffside villa at Azulik

The most impressive aspect of Riviera Maya is the natural landscape.  When not taking in the wonders of the ocean and the coral reef, visitors can enjoy a guided tour to experience both ancient and modern Mayan culture.  The ruins at Tulum offer an incredible glimpse into the distant past at the intriguing Mayan civilization.  It must be a humbling experience to make the short trip from modern, luxurious surroundings to ancient ruins built by people without sophisticated tools or machinery.  You can even tour the Tulum ruins at night for a totally different perspective.  At night, the sounds and sights of the jungle are a completely alien experience from the daytime jungle.  Animals that aren’t active during the day emerge, the ruins must seem larger, more imposing and mysterious, and the brilliance of the stars isn’t dimmed by city lights.

The Mayan ruins at Tulum.

Wouldn’t this be the perfect escape from the ridiculous amount of snow we got last week?