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Playa del Carmen

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South of Cancún, the coastal region known as the Riviera Maya begins, continuing until the laid-back town of Tulúm, reached in around two hours by car. Although beach resorts are found along the length of the coast, the main built-up area is the city of Playa del Carmen, mid-way between Cancún and Tulúm. Playa is a trendy spot with a compact centre and a wide choice of restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and nightclubs. Most hotels here are smaller and more intimate than in Cancún and the city gains more of a non-touristic feel if you leave the main ‘Quinta’ avenue.

One of the principal draws of spending time on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast is the opportunity to unwind on the glorious beaches. However, for the more active, there is a wealth of nearby attractions including the archaeological site of Coba; cenotes for swimming; the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve with over 300 species of birds; water sports and fishing; and a number of tourist adventure activity centres. These include Jungle Maya (rappelling, 4x4 truck rides, zip-lines and snorkelling), Kantun-Chi eco-park (an underground river and 5 cenotes), Río Secreto (an underground river and caves), Xel-Há (water-based activities in a natural islet), Xplor (zip-lines, amphibious vehicles, underground rivers and caves) and Xcaret (reconstruction of a Maya village and ceremonies, cultural shows, water-based activities and wildlife).