It’s easy to forget that tranquil, intimate resorts dot the eastern Yucatán Peninsula, overshadowed as they are by the large, mass-market hotels now clogging parts of the coast between Cancún and Tulum. This area of Mexico has long attracted travelers to its seductive combination of Caribbean beaches, ancient ruins and idyllic cenotes (freshwater-filled sinkholes, sacred to the Maya). We recently paid an undercover visit to the Riviera Maya in search of new luxury hideaways to recommend. All three of the recently opened boutique hotels we tested offer plush accommodations and bespoke excursions to the region’s natural marvels and archaeological wonders.
Alas, tranquility may be in increasingly short supply. Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador is pushing for the completion of Tren Maya, a high-speed railway circling the Yucatán Peninsula, despite strong opposition from Indigenous communities and environmentalist groups. The project has already cut through swaths of jungle and ancient sites. Whether it will be able to start operation by the end of this year, as planned, seems very much in doubt. But if the project continues, the Yucatán will doubtless change. If you’ve been contemplating a trip to the Riviera Maya or elsewhere on the peninsula, this is the year to do it.
And don’t let safety concerns dissuade you from visiting this stretch of the Caribbean coast, far from the troubles at the U.S.-Mexico border (it’s faster to drive to the border from Chicago than from Punta Maroma). We had a relaxing, rewarding trip, and we always felt secure.