All-Inclusive Beachfront Resort in Tropical Garden Setting
From its idyllic beachfront spot in Playa del Carmen, the all-inclusive Reef Playacar Resort and Spa gives guests the chance to explore the scenic Yucatán Peninsula, even offering several cultural and adventure tours (for extra fees). Traveling a few hours west will bring you to the iconic Mayan step pyramid at Chichén Itzá, named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Back along the coast, you can take a Caribbean cruise on a replica of a 17th-century Spanish galleon or schedule some time at the local dolphinarium to play, swim, and kiss a dolphin. And when you just want to relax, you can simply walk down to the beach and dig your toes into the sand.
The resort’s 18 villas and standard rooms are in a tropical, jungle-like setting. Paths connecting the villas to the beach meander beneath palm trees filled with singing birds. The resort offers all-inclusive dining and nightlife options, including one fine-dining restaurant and one with a buffet and an à la carte eatery. Enjoy alfresco Italian cuisine at the onsite Botticelli restaurant or cool off at the ice-cream parlor, located beside a natural cenote. During the day, feel free to use the resort’s complimentary sea kayaks and snorkel gear to explore the coastline.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico: Trendy Beach Area and Diving Destination
Located just across the sea from the island of Cozumel, Playa del Carmen has been called "the hippest city in all of the Yucatán Peninsula" by Lonely Planet. The laid-back beach bars and cafés have a way of converting vacationers into expats, but Playa's most compelling draw might be its cenotes—cavernous sinkholes filled with turquoise pools. The water in the cenotes is crystal clear, particularly at the lily-pad-dotted Xlacah cenote, where you can snorkel among schools of colorful fish.
There are several preserved ruins of pre-Columbian cities nearby. Tulum's crumbling temples are situated above a dramatic ocean bluff, and Coba's enormous pyramid rises between two lagoons. For a fun day trip, hop aboard the ferry to Cozumel, which docks less than two miles from the hotel at the pier east of Calle 1. There are about a dozen dive shops on Cozumel that offer trips offshore to the reefs that Jacques Cousteau declared some of the world's most beautiful.