Is Playa del Carmen in Riviera Maya?
Wondering if Playa del Carmen is in Riviera Maya? You’ve come to the right place!
I’m a travel blogger that lives in Playa del Carmen, and I can tell you that yes, this beach town is located in the Riviera Maya region of Mexico.
But what exactly is considered to be part of Riviera Maya and what makes it different from Playa del Carmen? If you’re not familiar with the area, this can be a bit confusing!
In this blog post, I’ll explain the differences between Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya by comparing their location, beaches, hotels, safety, and transportation options.
Plus, I’m answering some of the most frequently asked questions about the two destinations.
Ready to find out more about Playa del Carmen vs Riviera Maya and what makes them unique? Let’s get started!
Is Playa del Carmen in Riviera Maya?
Yes, Playa del Carmen is located in the Riviera Maya region of Mexico. Playa del Carmen is a beach town while Riviera Maya refers to the coastal region that encompasses many beach towns and popular tourist destinations.
So basically Playa del Carmen is just one town that is part of the larger Riviera Maya region, which includes destinations such as Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Puerto Morelos, Cozumel, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, and Tulum.
As a whole, the Riviera Maya region is known for its white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and expansive luxury resorts.
The area is also home to many freshwater cenotes and ancient Mayan ruins and archaeological sites.
If you’re looking for a beach vacation, both Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya are fabulous destinations.
However, there are some key differences between them, which I’ll discuss further in this post!
Is Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya the same?
No, Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya are not the same. Playa del Carmen is a beach town in Riviera Maya–a resort region that encompasses much more than just this one town.
Mexico’s Riviera Maya region includes many popular beach destinations and tourist hotspots along Mexico’s Caribbean coast such as Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Puerto Morelos, Cozumel, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, and Tulum.
What area is considered Riviera Maya?
Located along Mexico’s beautiful Caribbean coast, the Riviera Maya is a coastal resort district that spans over 80 miles (131 km) between Cancun and Tulum.
But when it comes to hotels, Riviera Maya is generally considered to be the area of coastline in between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, and between Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
So if you’re looking for hotels on a site like Booking.com or Expedia, they will generally classify hotels in between these main beach towns as Riviera Maya.
ℹ️ Riviera Maya is also commonly referred to as the “Mayan Riviera”.
What makes Riviera Maya unique?
Riviera Maya has a unique geography on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, which includes miles of stunning beaches with turquoise blue waters, lush jungle areas, mangrove forests, freshwater cenotes, and underground rivers.
Aside from the area’s beautiful beaches, some of the most popular attractions in Riviera Maya include the Xcaret theme parks, the Tulum Mayan Ruins, the Rio Secreto underground river, and swimming with sea turtles at Akumal beach.
But perhaps the region’s most unique attractions are the many different freshwater cenotes–natural swimming holes you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Whether you want to experience thrilling outdoor activities, explore ancient ruins, or simply lounge on the beach with a margarita in hand, the Riviera Maya region offers travelers a great mix of both unique outdoor attractions and relaxing activities.
Playa del Carmen & Riviera Maya: On the Map
Here is a map of the region to help give you a better visual of where Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya are located.
As you can see, both Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya are on the coast of the Caribbean Sea.
However, while Playa del Carmen is a beach town in the larger region, Riviera Maya refers to an expansive coastal area that includes dozens of beach towns, tourist destinations, and natural attractions.
Is Playa del Carmen or Riviera Maya better?
Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya are both fantastic vacation destinations so when choosing between them, it really comes down to what you are looking for.
If you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation at an all-inclusive resort, then Riviera Maya is the perfect choice.
All inclusive resorts in Riviera Maya typically are much more expansive with beautifully landscaped grounds, stunning pools, and luxurious modern amenities.
And with all of your food and drinks included, you won’t have to worry about lots of extra expenses.
Plus, the beaches at Riviera Maya resorts are typically more widespread and offer much more privacy and seclusion than those in Playa del Carmen.
If you don’t plan to leave the resort, then staying in Riviera Maya may be the better choice for you.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more diverse travel experience with lots of outdoor activities and attractions nearby, then Playa del Carmen is a great place to stay.
You’ll find plenty of hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping, and nightlife in downtown Playa del Carmen–all within walking distance of the town’s lively Fifth Avenue (“La Quinta Avenida”) and main tourist zone.
Staying in Playa del Carmen puts you in the heart of the Riviera Maya and gives you the chance to experience local cuisine, culture, and nightlife right on your doorstep.
The beaches in Playa del Carmen are beautiful, however, they are smaller and more crowded than those in Riviera Maya.
Basically, if you want to be in the heart of the action and don’t mind giving up a little bit of beach space, then Playa del Carmen is the better choice.
Plus, for travelers on a budget, staying in Playa del Carmen is often more affordable than staying in Riviera Maya.
Playa del Carmen vs Riviera Maya
Here’s how the two destinations compare when it comes to beaches, hotels, safety, and transportation:
Playa del Carmen vs Riviera Maya: Beaches
When comparing the beaches in Riviera Maya to those in Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya is the clear winner, having some of the best beaches in all of Mexico.
The beaches of the Riviera Maya are much more secluded than the beaches in Playa del Carmen, so you won’t have to worry about overcrowding or obnoxious beach vendors.
Plus, they are typically much more relaxing and widespread with plenty of space to lounge and enjoy the sun.
On the other hand, the beaches in Playa del Carmen are still beautiful but are typically much more crowded and congested, especially during peak season.
However, if you’re looking for a more lively beach experience or party atmosphere, then Playa del Carmen is the better choice.
Playa del Carmen is home to many lively beach clubs, which often host rowdy beach parties with dance music and live DJs.
Playa del Carmen vs Riviera Maya: Hotels
When it comes to accommodations in Riviera Maya vs Playa del Carmen, it also really depends on what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort experience, then Riviera Maya is the best choice.
There are dozens of luxurious Riviera Maya resorts to choose from, and most of them offer numerous on-site amenities and facilities such as resort pools, spas and fitness centers, beach yoga classes, water sports equipment rentals, and more.
However, if you’re looking for boutique small hotels or vacation rentals, then Playa del Carmen offers more options and is often more affordable than Riviera Maya.
There are still beautiful beachfront hotels in Playa del Carmen, but they are not as expansive or private as those you would find in Riviera Maya.
So if you’re on a budget or simply want to be within walking distance of the action, staying in Playa del Carmen may be the better choice for you.
Playa del Carmen vs Riviera Maya: Safety
When it comes to safety, both Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya are generally considered to be safe travel destinations as long as you follow proper precautions and avoid illegal activity.
Officially, the U.S. Department of State has issued the travel advisory for the entire Mexican state of Quintana Roo as “Level 2 – Excercise Increased Caution” due to crime and kidnapping.
Some travelers may feel safer at a resort in Riviera Maya than they would walking the streets of Playa del Carmen at night, where there is more of a nightlife and party scene.
When visiting Riviera Maya or Playa del Carmen, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings, keep an eye on your belongings at all times, and stick to the main tourist areas.
But as long as you follow these basic safety guidelines, you should be able to enjoy your trip to Playa del Carmen or Riviera Maya without any issues.
⚠️ Related Reading: Is Playa del Carmen Safe?
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Playa del Carmen vs Riviera Maya: Transportation
In terms of transportation, the Riviera Maya region is much more spread out so getting around is not quite as easy.
If you’re staying at a resort in Riviera Maya, then you’ll likely need to rent a car or take taxis to get around.
For example, if you want to visit Playa del Carmen from a resort in Riviera Maya, it could be a 30-minute ride and cost around $500 pesos (~$25 USD) each way.
Alternatively, Playa del Carmen is much more compact and walkable, so it’s easier to explore most of the city on foot or by bike.
Plus, you have easy access to public transportation to reach other towns or attractions in Riviera Maya.
So if you’re looking for a more convenient and affordable travel experience, Playa del Carmen may be the better choice.
Playa del Carmen & Riviera Maya: FAQs
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya:
Yes, Playa del Carmen is a town in the Riviera Maya region of Mexico. Resorts in Riviera Maya are typically about a 15-45 minute drive from downtown Playa del Carmen.
The closest international airport to Playa del Carmen is Cancun International Airport (CUN), which is located about 1 hour north of Playa del Carmen.
The closest international airport to Riviera Maya is Cancun Airport (CUN).
Cancun and Playa del Carmen are both beach towns, while Riviera Maya is the name of the entire coastal region that includes multiple towns and beach areas.
Cancun is an international party hub with a vibrant nightlife scene, whereas Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya are more laid-back and offer plenty of unforgettable beaches, resorts, and other attractions for tourists to explore.
No, Playa del Carmen is a separate beach town in Mexico, which is located about an hour south of Cancun.
Playa del Carmen is located about 42 miles south of Cancun, which takes about 1 hour by car.
Conclusion: Is Playa del Carmen in Riviera Maya?
I hope this Playa del Carmen vs Riviera Maya guide has helped to clarify the location of these two popular beach destinations, which are some of the best places to stay in Mexico.
Playa del Carmen is a beach town located within the Riviera Maya region, which encompasses a number of coastal towns and beach areas along Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
Both are popular vacation destinations and have plenty to offer tourists, including beautiful beaches, luxury resorts, and exciting activities.
Riviera Maya is the best choice for an all-inclusive vacation experience, while Playa del Carmen offers more affordability and places you in the heart of the action within close proximity to restaurants, shopping malls, and nightlife.
But no matter which destination you choose, you’re sure to have a great time exploring all that these beautiful Mexican beach destinations have to offer!
Traveling to Mexico soon?
These are the Mexico travel resources I use and recommend:
🏨 Hotels: I always find the best deals for Mexico hotels and resorts on Expedia or Booking.com. If you prefer a vacation rental, check VRBO as they are often cheaper than AirBnB’s added fees!
✈️ Flights: I recommend using Skyscanner for the best Mexico flight deals. Be sure to sign up for their price alerts for your preferred travel dates.
🚗 Rental Cars: I like to use Discover Cars because you can compare multiple car rental companies and see detailed ratings for overall value, ease of pick-up, efficiency of agents, car condition, and overall time spent.
🚙 Cancun Airport Transportation: I recommend booking a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation for the quickest and most hassle-free option!
🤿 Tours & Activities: I always use Viator or GetYourGuide for booking tours and activities in Mexico. You can cancel up to 24 hours before the tour for a full refund, plus they have excellent customer service if you were to have any issues.
🚨 Travel Insurance: After my Dad broke his hand in a taxi accident in Playa del Carmen, I always recommend buying travel insurance before your trip for added peace of mind! I recommend Travel Insurance Master for short trips or Safety Wing for digital nomads.
☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Don’t forget to add biodegradable sunscreen to your Mexico packing list! Regular sunscreen is prohibited when swimming in the ocean and cenotes in Mexico, so you’ll need to pack some biodegradable sunscreen for sun protection. I recommend Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is reef-friendly, vegan, and cruelty-free.