As the years went by, more and more people discovered
the incomparable charms of this part of Mexico. Resorts
began to spread south from Cancún along seemingly endless beaches and pristine real estate. Now, over one million
Americans and Canadians are living on the Atlantic coast
of Mexico. Cancún is the number one vacation destination
in all of Latin America, with the Riviera Maya following as
number two. People are coming, falling in love with Mexico
and staying. They are expats who have made the transition to
a warm, embracing climate with endless charms.
Today, the 127-miles between Cancún and Sian Ka’an hold
some 356 hotels and counting. And it's no wonder. The area is
filled with natural marvels, ecological reserves, emerald green
jungles, turquoise, blue seas, plus almost countless lost cities
of the ancient Mayan civilization, cities buried by dirt and
jungle only now being discovered and unearthed. Because of
these wildly diverse attractions, the Riviera Maya is like no
other place. Where else can you explore the fantasy world of
the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, Tulum or the huge, almost
untouched, site of Coba, then swim in a warm turquoise ocean
before having dinner in a world-class restaurant?
“When we consider an ideal beach scene, Tulum definitely
competes for top honors. White sand, fabulously blue water,
not overrun, no giant resorts or heavy development along
the beach. Just beautiful,” said Audry Scott in her travel blog.
The white sand beaches and electric blue waters are an
almost universal draw to the entire area.
It goes on and on: golf, tennis, diving on the world’s
second longest reef, sailing, fishing and exploring until you
drop from sheer exhaustion for a night’s sleep under a crystal
clear Mexican sky. Even though there has been enormous
expansion in recent years, Mexico wants to protect this crown
jewel of nature. Careful resort planning has been a primary
government objective, with infrastructure improvements in
roads, electricity, water treatment and communications.
“Sustainability initiatives are happening at all levels of
tourism. Cancún-area developers and hoteliers have recognized the turning tide and are taking active steps to address
environmental impacts and integrate local culture into their
operations,” says Angela Dollar in her blog.
With all this said, what is it really like? There are some far-sighted people who were unable to resist this lifestyle once they
had experienced it—people who made the decision to stay.
A two-year resident at the Tao Residential Community in
Akumal, Anne deBose and her husband made the move from
Texas, choosing a three-bedroom home close to the beach
and a Robert Trent Jones golf course to satisfy their individual and collective desires.
“The community here is mostly Canadians and Americans
and a small percentage of Europeans. I would say many of our
friends here are new expats,” deBose says. “Our community is
A Crown Jewel of Nature
Exploring Mexico's Riviera Maya By William Burr
Years ago, I traveled with my family to the new and intriguing Mexican resort of Cancún, a collection of a mere dozen hotels along the Atlantic coast. The attraction for us as North American visitors was a warm, hospitable vacation at affordable prices. Once there, we took a rickety ferry to Isla Mujeres, the Island of Women, and wandered the streets filled
with native merchants, then later swam off the reef at the end of the island. Another day, we rented a frighteningly ancient car
and drove west for a couple of hours to one of the great wonders of the world, the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, a must-see
for anyone traveling the area. A few other days were spent driving down a blacktop, two-lane highway to Puerto Aventuras then
taking a rusty ferry to the Island of Cozumel. But most of the time, we relaxed for long, lazy days in the sun and ate in restaurant
huts on the beach. We felt like adventurers exploring and enjoying an untouched area of the world.
aERial viEW of cancÚn