Is Cancun part of the Riviera Maya?

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Cancun and the Riviera Maya, the Riviera Maya and Cancun… just the two most famous destinations in Mexico. Millions of people come year-round from all over the world to enjoy its stunning white-sand beaches and turquoise-blue waters.

Surely you’ve heard of both, and possibly have seen some photos of the picturesque landscapes they have to offer!

But what is the Riviera Maya and what is Cancun? Is Cancun part of the Riviera Maya? It’s a very common question, and we’re here to tell you everything you need to know to help differentiate these two magical places.

What is the Riviera Maya?

The Riviera Maya is a region on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. It stretches from Puerto Morelos to Punta Allen, and includes the popular tourist destinations of Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Akumal.

This region is known for its white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and Mayan archeological ruins. It’s a favorite spot for diving, snorkeling, and swimming with fascinating sea turtles! You can also enjoy activities in the Mayan jungle and explore its cenotes and underground rivers.

The Riviera Maya is a great option for travelers who want to enjoy the beauty of the Mexican Caribbean without the crowds of a big tourist destination like Cancun!

Cenote in Riviera Maya

What is Cancun?

Cancun is one of the most famous beach destinations in the whole world. It’s also located on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, and is known for its beautiful beaches, similar to those of the Riviera Maya, as well as its vibrant nightlife.

Cancun is divided into two zones: the hotel zone and downtown. The hotel zone is a 15-mile (25-kilometer) strip where most of the resorts and large hotels are located, as well as the best restaurants and luxury boutiques. Downtown Cancun is the center of the city, and it’s here you’ll find cozier restaurants and local markets.

This city ranks as one of the top destinations for spring-breakers and, in general, for young travelers looking to party. Of course, it’s also a popular destination for people of all ages, including families, especially those who enjoy vacation spots with a lot of movement and endless things to do!

Cancun hotel zone

So, is Cancun part of the Riviera Maya?

Technically, the answer is no, but if you look at a map, you’ll realize that, geographically, Cancun’s on the same coastline as the Riviera Maya.

As we've mentioned, the Riviera Maya is a region that stretches from Puerto Morelos to Punta Allen, and Cancun is just above that (about a 30-minute drive away). From Cancun, you can come and go to the Riviera Maya, and vice versa. They really are very close!

Cancun is a bustling city, with a lot of movement and intense nightlife, while the Riviera Maya leans on the quieter and more relaxed side for destinations. If what you’re looking for is a party, Cancun’s your spot. But, if you’re looking to escape the crowds and enjoy the beauty of the Mexican Caribbean, then the Riviera Maya is the perfect option.

You might also be interested in reading: Riviera Maya vs Cancun: Differences and Unique Features

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The Riviera Maya is not only one of the most fascinating places in Mexico (and the world), but it’s also a real estate hotspot!

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