The decision to develop Cancun as a Mexico tourism beach destination was famously determined by computer in the late 1960s. Cancun became a huge success and inspired further development south along Mexico’s Caribbean coast. First, there was the Riviera Maya, which was conceived as a nature-based destination to complement the glitz and gloss of Cancun. Further south was the stunning archaeological site of Tulum, which attracted day-trippers in such numbers it eventually developed into an overnight destination in its own right, with shops, restaurants, and eco-chic hotels. The next step after Tulum is following the same course by continuing south, developing tourism projects along the Mexico’s Caribbean coast, which ends at the country’s border with Belize.

Most visitors will fly into Cancun International Airport. There they can opt for a personal tour guide, a taxi or, for the most intrepid, a car rental of their own. Renting a car for a self-drive adventure is easier than you might think. The main highway south of Cancun is Route 307. It’s a well-maintained road with excellent signage. Stick to the main highway as you motor south and you’ll find it easy to stay on course.

It’s feasible to stay in Cancun, Riviera Maya or Tulum and still set out on day trips to explore attractions in the south. Cancun offers megaresorts in a variety of price ranges and is recommended for travelers who want to combine exploration with high-octane nightlife. Riviera Maya is a good choice for families and nature lovers, while Tulum is perfect for those looking for boutique-style hotels where the atmosphere is low key. Travelers deciding to base their vacation south of Tulum will find a variety of lodging choices, including sophisticated resorts, laid-back eco-lodges, and four-star hotels that deliver the basics.

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