Cancun may be known the world over for the luxuriousness of its resorts and the azure nature of its waters, and despite being truly stunning, we know it is not necessarily representative of the Riviera Maya as a whole. Other smaller, competing towns in the region are well aware of this, too, with one in particular going as far as encouraging tourists to skip Cancun altogether and vacation there instead.
Mexico is incredibly diverse and multicultural, and in recent months we have done our best to introduce you to other parts of the country you might not be entirely familiar with, such as the Pueblos Magicos or the colonial cities route. With that, we have been noticing a new trend emerging: visitors are now craving more ‘authentic’ Mexican experiences.
Luckily, this hidden gem of the Mexican Caribbean seems to have understood the assignment:
What Makes Puerto Morelos Special Compared to Cancun?
Coming out ahead of other Riviera Maya destinations, the town of Puerto Morelos has quietly re-branded itself as an ‘authentic’ destination in an area that has long been plagued by over-development. Sandwiched between the almighty Cancun and Playa del Carmen, it is located at the heart of Mexico’s most famous resort strip, but it has a special something.
Being home to the coastal Puerto Morelos Reef National Park, it features numerous dive and swimming sites, as well as hotspots for sea life viewing. Inland, its largely-unheard of cenotes rival those of Tulum, which have recently been flagged as unsafe for swimming, while the town itself has preserved a traditional fishing village aesthetic.
Here, tourists will not find wide pedestrianized boulevards overtaken by heavy traffic, the same that posed a problem for many travelers traveling to and out of Cancun this year, nor Tulum’s crazy beach party scene. Puerto Morelos is much more quaint and lacks the others’ hustle and bustle, and the municipality authorities have finally realized this is not a weakness: it’s a powerful asset.
A Town Of Endearing Tranquility
Presenting the town to travel agencies, tourist officials have just unveiled Puerto Morelo’s new official website, explicitly highlighting its ‘authenticity’ compared to its strongest rival, Cancun. They also state the town has an ‘endearing tranquility’, a quality that will certainly help more reserved travelers entertain the idea of visiting.
Moreover, Puerto Morelos is noted for having ‘talcum-powder sand and turquoise waters‘, coupled with a ‘distinct Bohemian ambiance‘ and flavorful local cuisine. Even better: it is a short 17-minute drive from Cancun Airport, Mexico’s number one international airport for U.S. travelers, making it easy enough to get to all year round.
We have noted an increase in cultural tourism in Mexico lately, powered by the nation’s Mayan and Spanish-era heritage sites, and, as The Cancun Sun points out, Puerto Morelos is an old settlement linked to both Caribbean and Transatlantic trade, making it an unmissable gem for those keen on understanding more about Mexico’s History.
What Are Some Of The Town’s Top-Rated Attractions?
Of course, History is not the only aspect that will draw visitors to this little slice of heaven. The 9,188-people-strong town has plenty of small seaside hotels, offering guests a more relaxing and customized experience, narrow streets lined with shops where locally handcrafted items are sold, and friendly locals.
Other attractions include:
- A flea market
- A farmer’s market (on certain dates)
- A leaning lighthouse
- A dolphin sanctuary and training center (Delphinus Puerto Morelos)
- A public beach within walking distance of the town center
At the same time, it is popular among adventure seekers, with The Cancun Sun reporting ‘many fishing and boating opportunities’, including underwater excursions in one of the most beautiful sections of the Great West Atlantic Reef Belt. Foodies will love it just as much, especially if they’re seafood enthusiasts.
Even if you end up deciding not to stay in Puerto Morelos in the end, the municipality makes for a fine day trip from Cancun’s Hotel Zone or Tulum, and an escape from the opulence of five-star all-inclusives, even if momentarily. Once the new Tren Maya launches, Puerto Morelos will become even more accessible as one of the train’s stops.
Ready to see a far more authentic side to Mexico? Make sure you check out their webpage for more information.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com