Cancún barely disappears in the rearview mirror and you’re already in the Riviera Maya, an 80-mile [130 km] stretch of rich natural heritage and the perfect coast for those who want to relax. The ferry to Cozumel, the third largest island in Mexico, departs from Playa del Carmen, one of the main beaches there. The first stop is Punta Sur, a historical and ecological park that’s home to the Faro de Celarain, a nautical museum. Try to control the urge to dive in the water right there – the best place to take a swim is El Cielo, a neighboring beach of shimmering warm waters, known as one of the most beautiful in the country.
Diving in Chankanaab
1 p.m. • Secret under the sea
Heading west of the island, soon you’ll reach Chankanaab, at Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel. Sunglasses are replaced by diving masks there to reveal a unique world. Home to the largest coral reef in the West, Cozumel is one of the best diving destinations on the planet. In the shallow stretch, even beginners can take a close look at the dance of multicolored shoals, sea sponges, tunicates, statues and caves, huge lobsters, and starfish.
10 p.m. • Pa-pa-party!
Back on the peninsula, the night goes on and the buzz on 10a Avenida increases. It’s Coco Bongo, an iconic Cancún club that has a location at Playa del Carmen. Less crowded than the original establishment, the night there is just as caliente, with shows that go on until 3:30 a.m. – but with cocktails and tequila shots, performances and dance stunts, chances are your night will last much longer.
Xcaret by Mexico: Carretera Chetúmal-Puerto Juárez Kilómetro 282, Solidaridad
All day • A spectacular country
At this point, you must be convinced that Mexico is spectacular. The confirmation comes with a day at Xcaret, which is part of a complex that has eight parks and a luxury resort. The country is the star there: the whole place celebrates Mexican culture with cultural and natural attractions.
Within the 200 acres neighboring Playa del Carmen, the highlights include swimming in subterranean rivers that cross the park; beaches and natural freshwater and saltwater pools; and the bird sanctuary, a conservation space with over 1,500 birds. Incubation is held right there and, with any luck, you’ll be able to see the adorable clumsy babies hatching from the eggs.
Arriving early is key to better enjoy the park, since there is a total of 50 activities. Every break is a chance to visit Mayan ruins or stumble upon a performance, such as the one that simulates an ancestral ritual in the river. But it’s only at night that you can truly understand the complex’s patriotic pride. Staged at Teatro Gran Tlachco, the show with over 300 artists tells the history of Mexico from the pre-Columbian era to the present day. In the end, all unite in a celebration which reaffirms the fact that Mexico is truly spectacular.
Buy a complete package with accommodations and tours in the destination with LATAM Travel or at latam.com
LATAM has direct flights to Cancún from Mexico City, Bogota, Lima, Miami and Santiago.
Special thanks: BestDay, Xcaret Mexico, Palladium, Consejo de Promoción Turística de Quintana Roo, Gobierno del Estado de Quintana Roo