All-Inclusive Resort near Mesoamerican Barrier Reef
The Mesoamerican Reef extends more than 600 miles along the Yucatán Peninsula, making it the second-largest barrier reef in the world. More than 500 species of fish live here, including the angelfish and bluehead wrasse, as well as loggerhead turtles, spiny lobsters, and queen conch—the same creatures that once sustained ancient Mayans living along the Caribbean waters.
Not far from the reef, right on the beachfront, lies the all-inclusive Reef CocoBeach resort. Here you can take an introductory scuba-diving lesson in the curvy, freeform swimming pool, or borrow snorkeling gear, kayaks, and boogie boards to explore white-sand beaches dotted with fossilized coral formations and unfossilized sunbathers. For an additional charge, the resort can schedule offsite snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, and scuba excursions departing from the marina. In the evenings, you can stay on the property to enjoy live entertainment or venture into Playa del Carmen.
Four onsite restaurants supply the resort’s all-inclusive meals and snacks. Miramar sets out an extensive buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and El Palmar serves poolside snacks until 2 a.m. Two fine-dining restaurants, Rosinella and Sabor Latino, serve upscale Italian and Mexican cuisine. They require no reservations and you can go as often as you like.
Mexico's Riviera Maya: Rich with History and Tropical Calm
Just south of Cancún, the Riviera Maya is a nearly 80-mile stretch of Caribbean coastline fronted by towns rich in Mexican culture. For some of the area’s best beaches, clubs, and snorkeling reefs, head to the rapidly growing city of Playa del Carmen. Farther south, Tulum sits on a perch of rocky bluffs and is better known for ancient ruins, including temples and a cliff-side castle. The inhabitants of Tulum—which means "walled" in the aboriginal language—first erected the city's outer fortress to protect themselves from belligerent invaders. Today, the wall guards the archeological zone, beginning with an entryway of two corbel arches and a limestone house built over an underwater cave.
Swimming in the secret caves isn’t allowed, but a scenic drive south of Playa del Carmen brings you to the Yucatán Peninsula's legendary limestone cenotes, freshwater sinkholes created by an underground river system. At the Cenote Cristalino, you can jump from terraced outcroppings into an exposed pool or go snorkeling in underwater caves. You can also watch locals expertly flip, dive, and synchronously cannonball into the clear water at this popular weekend hangout.