The Mayan Riviera, grown-up fun in the sun

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The Mayan Riviera, grown-up fun in the sun

After a long Canadian winter, Mexico’s Mayan Riviera is a wonderful sun-drenched getaway. Bordered by the sparkling blue Caribbean, this coastal stretch of the Yucatan Peninsula has some of the whitest sand beaches in the world.

Barcelo Maya Riviera, Photography by Quintana Roo Tourism

Exclusive all-inclusive

With close to 200 all-inclusive resorts and accommodation on the Mayan Riviera, there’s something for everyone. If you’ve never experienced an adults-only resort, the Barcelo Maya Riviera is one of the finest. Opening this past December, this modern, sleek, all-suite luxury resort complex is located on a private, two-kilometre stretch of beach. Little effort is required when ordering a mojito or a margarita at one of the two swim-up pool bars.

Meals and drinks are included in the all-inclusive rate, but make reservations when you arrive to try each of the four à la carte restaurants – French, Japanese, Italian and Mexican. The buffet restaurant features international cuisine. Try the sushi bar, cooked-to-order steak and fish, the ceviche and vegan stations, as well as made-to-order pasta and stir-fry stations.

Barcelo Maya Riviera: main building, Photo by Barcelo Maya Riviera

When you stay at the Barcelo Maya Riviera, you also have access to five other properties in the Barcelo complex, which gives you admittance to a total of 26 à la carte restaurants, five buffets, five pool-side grills and 17 bars, plus activities and entertainment at all six hotels.

The 32,000-square-foot U-Spa Wellness & Fitness Centre includes saunas and steam rooms, a flotation room, a hydrotherapy room, a Swiss treatment room and a beauty salon, as well as 26 treatment rooms for massages, body wraps and facials.

Barcelo Maya Riviera: pool bar and U-spa, Photo by Barcelo Maya Riviera

If you’re so inclined, resort activities are scheduled throughout the day, including beach volleyball, salsa classes and tequila tasting. Nightly shows take place in the performance theatre.

Photo by: Kate Robertson

The bluest of blues

Between the Caribbean Sea, the clear blue skies and the shimmering pools, you’ll bask in this tropical paradise. But, if you’re looking to shake things up a bit, there’s no shortage of adventures to be had on the Mayan Riviera.

The 13th-century, walled Mayan archaeological site at Tulum National Park.

The Yucatan peninsula is known for its cenotes, which are natural sinkhole caves filled with rich mineral groundwater, where you can swim through stalactite and stalagmite formations in a mystical underground world.

Book a catamaran tour to explore local reefs – the snorkelling is amazing. At Cozumel’s Marine Park you will see fish of all colours and, most likely, turtles. The Yal Ku Lagoon in nearby Akumal is a protected ocean inlet that’s full of marine life.

Mayan culture

You won’t want to leave the region without a trip to the Mayan ruins of Tulum. This ancient, walled city is built on a cliff overlooking the ocean – you’ll understand why when you see the view. Here, the Mayans built a civilization that was a prosperous trading centre and was occupied into the 16th century. Today, you can still see intricate carvings and other archaeological details.

Street performers in Playa de Carmen, Photo By Kate Robertson

A bit further afield, but still only a day-trip away, is Chichen Itza. This large pre-Columbian city was also built by the Mayans, and is known for its massive stepped pyramid and well-preserved carvings.

At Playa del Carmen, you can easily spend a day rambling the five kilometre Quinta Avenida pedestrian street for some high-end shopping, as well as regional arts and crafts.

A scuba diver exploring cenotes, Photo By Quintana Roo Tourism

Several Canadian cities have direct flights to nearby Cancun. Let the fun-in-the-sun begin.

Kate Robertson can be contacted at


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