Mexico just left behind what can only be described as its most successful tourism year to date.
While classic favorites like Cancun and Mexico City were still among the country’s most coveted destinations, some smaller beach towns also reached unprecedented levels of popularity, attracting a good percentage of the millions of visitors that entered the region in 2023.
And now that Mexico has officially entered its peak season, two places, in particular, are emerging as its trendiest hotspots.
Playa Del Carmen
Its days as a quaint fishing village are long gone – Playa del Carmen has now fully established itself as one of Mexico’s top attractions, and remember, the competition is stiff.
The pulsating coastal city manages to perfectly blend contemporary charm with a touch of Mexican authenticity that’s now become hard to find in larger, more overcrowded destinations.
Most of Playa del Carmen’s allure, though, lies in its world-class beaches.
Between Playa Mamitas, Parque Fundadores, Calle 10, and many other white-sanded shores, visitors will revel in some of the most awe-inspiring views of the Caribbean while also getting to indulge their beachtime interests – whether that’s exploring the amazing underwater world of the region or simply basking under the Mexican sun.
After a long day at the beach, you can take a stroll along the iconic Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue).
This is a bustling pedestrian thoroughfare and the very heartbeat of Playa del Carmen.
Lined with an eclectic mix of boutiques, restaurants, bars, and art galleries, Quinta Avenida promises all visitors an experience to remember, whether that’s shopping for local crafts, savoring authentic Mexican cuisine, or enjoying a fun night out.
Beyond the wonders you can find right within the city, Playa del Carmen is also sought-after for its proximity to the rest of the Mayan Riviera.
From here, the ancient ruins of Tulum, the archaeological site of Coba, and the mystical cenotes that dot the landscape are just a short drive away.
What’s more, now that the long-awaited Maya Train is expected to be in full operation by February 2024, getting to Cancun, Tulum, as well as a plethora of other stunning destinations along the way will be easier than ever.
South of Playa del Carmen lies the serene coastal village of Akumal, a (now not-so-well-hidden) gem that visitors tend to flock to for its more laid-back and intimate experience.
Akumal's name, meaning “place of the turtle” in Mayan, reflects its reputation as a sanctuary for the gorgeous creatures with which you can even swim during your travels here.
The shallow waters of Akumal Bay aren’t only the ideal breeding spot for the local turtle population but also provide the perfect opportunity for divers and snorkelers to interact with the animals firsthand.
Remember though, that most private tours start at $690 for two people, so the experience, while worthwhile for many, can be a bit pricey.
Beyond the abundant turtle-watching opportunities, Akumal offers travelers the opportunity to swim in the many nearby cenotes and underground rivers, from where you can marvel at the stalactite formations that are distinctive to the Yucatán Peninsula.
The Common Allure
While Mexico’s two trendiest hotspots are pretty unique in terms of their natural and cultural traits, they share specific characteristics that reveal a significant shift in what travelers are looking for in their next destination.
People are leaving behind the buzzing nightlife and overcrowded attractions of bigger cities and opting for the intimacy and laid-back atmosphere of smaller beach towns instead.
If you’re looking to experience some authentic facets of Mexican culture while also getting to enjoy traditional touristy events and attractions, both of these cities promise to deliver exactly what you’re after.
They also serve as excellent starting points for a more extensive excursion along the Mexican Caribbean.
Now that travelers are looking to make the most out of their (often limited) time off, multi-destination getaways are all the rage, and Playa del Carmen and Akumal allow you to do just that.
They’re both a short drive away from the Cancún International Airport and well-connected to almost all other Mexican hotspots.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.