By Ivette Manners
Take your pick of one of Mexico’s muy caliente coastal towns for a get-out-of-the-cold vacation. We’ve scouted out five of our favorites that shouldn’t be overlooked. Once overrun by tourists or underdeveloped and little known, these resort locales are now some of the chicest places to be seen in. And when you tire of soaking up the sand and sun (as if!), each of these beach destinations boast festive towns nearby.
No longer just a haven for college spring breakers, Cancun is now more hip and upscale. The crystal clear water, picturesque beaches and newly redone resorts make this destination A-list. Frolic on the beach, hit the high-end designer malls and dine waterside. Then unwind at the super sleek Nizuc Resort & Spa, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. Take in the sunset at the resort’s A-Kan bar and have a signature spicy habanero pepper margarita. Party boats and day cruises are a staple activity in Cancun, so book an excursion with Dancer, which offers tours on catamarans complete with a spiral slide and diving board for water fun while anchored, plus a DJ and fully-stocked kitchen and bar to keep you entertained while you sail to the nearby Isla Mujeres (dancercruise.com). The resort town of Playa del Carmen, an hour south of Cancun, is hopping day and night with shops, restaurants and bars along its Quinta Avvenida (5th Avenue). nizuc.com
Riviera Maya Cancun’s sexier sister, the Riviera Maya is a tucked-away spot made for total leisure. The surreal Banyan Tree Mayakoba, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts is a tropical hideaway within fresh water lagoons and mangroves. Each room at this all-villa resort features individual tropical gardens, a private swimming pool and terrace complete with hammocks. While only 15 minutes from all the action in Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya still maintains an air of seclusion. banyantree.com
Located halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, the small up-and-coming fishing village of Puerto Morelos is sprouting five-star luxury hotels among its casual bars and restaurants framed by the destination’s long stretch of pristine beach. With the second largest barrier reef in the world 500 meters from its shore, Puerto Morelos is a divers paradise. It exudes a chill beach-town vibe, but is super close to all of the fun in Cancun. Check into the chic beachfront Grand Residences Riviera Cancun resort, made up of 103 spacious suites so that you can stretch out and relax. You can bike into town from the hotel and enjoy some of the local seafood, which the area is so well known for. grandresidencesrivieracancun.com
Riviera Nayarit Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit is the next big thing with 200 miles of pristine coastline dotted by cool seaside towns and lush nature sanctuaries. You’ll get to do lots of sightseeing here: think isolated beaches hidden by tropical jungles, rustic colonial towns and mountaintop views. Here is where nature and luxury meet, and the exclusive Four Seasons Punta Mita is the perfect place to kick back after a long day taking in all the natural beauty. Request a room with a balcony and hammock overlooking the ocean. Waterways weave through the colonial part of the area, so there are many attractive marinas to explore. fourseasons.com
Cabo San Lucas Cabo San Lucas, one of the two towns that make up Los Cabos, is one of the most unique spots in the world because it’s where the Sea of Cortés and Pacific Ocean meet at a dramatic point framed by a distinct arched rock formation. Just beyond the arch lies the awe-inspiring Lover’s Beach, which can only be reached by boat and shouldn’t be missed during your trip. Base your escape to Cabo at the famed Esperanza, an Auberge Resort, which recently underwent a total renovation, complete with new cozy lounge spaces and dramatic cliff-side dining areas. Spend a day in Cabo’s eclectic neighboring town of San Jose del Cabo, which is much more low-key—full of vibrant colors, charming streets and traditional Mexican buildings dating back to 1700. esperanzaresort.com