The Riviera Maya extends for 75 miles south of Cancún to Tulum. In recent years, the area has seen frenetic development, with theme parks and gigantic all-inclusive operations, as well as the upscale Mayakoba complex. Of course, the Yucatán is more than just a beach. The state capital, Mérida, and the colonial city of Valladolid are both exceptionally interesting and attractive. Try to set aside a day to see some of the Maya ruins, such as those at Uxmal. The trendy resort town of Tulum has several notable palaces and temples. Half an hour farther inland is the jungle-cloaked wonder of Cobá. Published in 1843, John L. Stephens’ memoir, “Incidents of Travel in Yucatan,” a wry and readable account of his party’s discoveries of ancient sites, remains a classic on the subject.

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