Riviera Maya Vs Cancun: Differences and Unique Features

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Cancun or the Riviera Maya? This is a question that many travelers, retirees, and investors ask themselves when considering which destination would be best for their next big adventure.

It goes without saying that Cancun and the Riviera Maya are sister destinations, located just a short drive away. Many people who live in Cancun visit and spend time in the Riviera Maya, and vice versa. In both places, you’ll find the white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters of the Mexican Caribbean, but the charm of each one goes far beyond this.

Comparing the two is very common and, honestly, unavoidable; and although they’re often referred to interchangeably, these two hotspots are actually very different destinations with unique qualities.

Keep reading to learn more about what makes these two places like no other (or each other).

Cancun Vs Riviera Maya

1. Size

The main difference between Cancun and the Riviera Maya is that the former is a city and the latter is a region made up of various beach towns.

Cancun is the largest city in the Yucatan Peninsula with almost 900,000 inhabitants, according to 2020 information from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography.

In contrast, the Riviera Maya is made up of several different small destinations. Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Akumal, and Puerto Morelos are some of the most famous in this area.

The largest city in the Riviera Maya is Playa del Carmen and, according to 2020 data, its population is almost 305,000 inhabitants. Pretty small compared to Cancun!

2. Interacting with Locals

In Cancun, being a very large city, travelers who come to its beautiful beaches have very little opportunity to mingle with the locals. There’s a big gap between the tourist experience and the local experience.

On the other hand, the Riviera Maya, by having a smaller size and population in all its different towns, makes it very easy to mix with the locals, be part of their daily life, and enjoy an authentic local atmosphere.

3. Lodging Options

Cancun is one of the most visited beach destinations in the entire world! Its tourist infrastructure is huge, with a large variety of hotels and resorts that can hold hundreds of guests at the same time.

Although there are a couple of large resorts in the Riviera Maya, you’re more likely to find small, cozy hotels (many of them boutique) as well as houses and condos that function as vacation rentals. This makes the location’s real estate industry very interesting because of the endless investment opportunities that exist to turn properties into a lucrative business.

Click here to learn more: 3 Reasons to Invest in Rental Properties in Mexico

4. Attractions

As we mentioned at the beginning, whether you’re in Cancun or in one of the many destinations of the Riviera Maya, it’s quite easy to visit the fascinating attractions in the region no matter where you are.

However, in a city like Cancun, you’ll be immersed in large hotels, stores, and restaurants, while in the towns of the Riviera Maya you’re surrounded by Mayan jungle, cenotes, underground rivers, and pre-Hispanic ruins.

Attractions in Riviera Maya

5. Atmosphere

Cancun seems to exude a lively energy. With a strong nightlife scene, busy beaches, and exciting events every day, it’s a city buzzing with a youthful spirit!

In contrast, the Riviera Maya area has a much more relaxed atmosphere. Although Playa del Carmen is a destination with a lot of movement and parties, similar to those you can find in Cancun, and Tulum has become a favorite place for concerts and different art exhibitions, the vibe of the region is calmer. This has made it an ideal place to retire and enjoy a peaceful life near the sea.

You may also be interested in: The 3 Best Beaches Near Cancun You’ll Never Want to Leave

6. Real Estate Investment Opportunities

With its beautiful natural landscape, fascinating local culture, and modern infrastructure, the real estate market in the Riviera Maya is experiencing rapid growth. Not to mention, the price to buy property there is much more attractive than in other top beach destinations in the world.

Real estate in its towns has an annual increase in value of 8 to 14%, and vacation home rentals offer an equal return on investment of 8 to 14% per year. Without a doubt, the Riviera Maya offers better bang for your buck, and that’s why it’s such a popular area for people looking to make a great real estate investment.

These fantastic opportunities are offered exclusively by Tao Mexico, where we’re specialists in the real estate industry in the Riviera Maya. Not only do we have properties in luxury developments located in Tulum and Akumal, but we’re here every step of the way, guiding you through the process to help you choose the ideal property according to your budget, wishes, and needs.

Don’t miss the opportunity to invest in the Riviera Maya! It’s a stunning region with so much to offer, it’s hard to imagine passing on this.

If you’re interested, contact us today and we will happily show you all of the options we have available, helping you find your dream property in the Riviera Maya!

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