Gay Riviera Maya
The area of Riviera Maya, also known as the Mayan Riviera, lies in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. The official Riviera Maya area starts 10 miles south of Cancun and includes the beach towns of Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal and Tulum. Tulum was an original resort town for Mayan kings, where they rested and seriously worshiped the sun. The town is dotted with Mayan ruins, many right on the beach, which provides a unique contrast from the ruins further inland.
This 75-mile strip of the Yucatan Peninsula is often lauded as the most beautiful part of Mexico, and with perfect weather, soft white sand beaches, and sparkling clear water, it’s easy to get lost in this Mexican paradise. It's also easier to swim here: the island of Cozumel blocks much of the pounding Gulf surf, calming things down nicely!
The Gay Scene in Riviera Maya
Many gays and lesbians in Mexico have started seeing Playa del Carmen as a sophisticated alternative to super-gay Puerto Vallarta and tourist-filled Cancun. Only a one-hour ferry ride from Cozumel, the town used to be seen as a stop along the way back to Cancun. It has now come into its own as a worthy destination.
The stunning Playa del Carmen has all the brilliance of its neighbor up north, but without the hordes of tourists. The main drag in Playa de Carmen is Quinta Avenida, which is a colorful, mostly pedestrian zone that fills every evening with people patronizing the many venues that line the avenue.
This unique restaurant bar serves Mexican cuisine with a focus on fresh, natural ingredients. Al fresco dining in a natural setting makes this a great place for groups, singles and casual couples. Grab a healthy and delicious Mexican breakfast with fresh fruit juice, or start out your evening with dinner and drinks at this affordable spot.
Aldea Corazón is a hidden Playa del Carmen gem serving mouth-watering Mexican cuisine. Enjoy a margarita in their jungle garden atmosphere or start out your day with a Mexican coffee and huevos rancheros.
Gay Nightlife in Riviera Maya
Playa del Carmen is very integrated. Most bars and clubs you'll find are friendly to gay and straight crowds alike.
The most well-known gay club in the Riviera, Club 69 is located right off of 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen. Pay a small cover charge for entry to a club of live DJs, dancers and affordable drinks. The place doesn’t get busy until after midnight, so warm up with a late dinner or cocktails at one of the venues nearby.
This Las Vegas-style show and nightclub performs in Playa del Carmen, Cancun and Punta Cana. This venue tends to host significantly more tourists than locals, and can be a great place for gay travelers to meet people.
Coralina Daylight Club
This day-club becomes an all-day, Ibiza-style party complete with DJ, private tents with champagne buckets, and beach lounging. This crowd tends to be in the 20s to 40s range and dons their hottest beach attire.
Gay-Friendly Activities & Destinations
Since the Riviera Maya hosts many European travelers, the vibe is much different than Cancun. Most beaches are top-optional, and English is not the only other language you will hear. There is a lot to do in the Riviera Maya for travelers interested in exploring the local environment and culture.
Mamitas Beach is the most popular beach among the LGBTQ crowd in Playa del Carmen. Just past the Mamitas Beach Club, you’ll find a sandy stretch popular among both locals and tourists. Sundays tend to be the busiest, so plan accordingly.
This world-famous site of Mayan ruins is one the main reasons people visit the Yucatan Peninsula, but it can take some planning to make the trip from the Riviera. Book a tour ahead of time, rent a car to drive on your own or fly into the Chichén Itzá International Airport to save time. There are plenty of other smaller ruins nearby for travelers looking to go off the beaten path.
The Riviera Maya has a number of popular eco parks for visitors looking for a nature escape. Kantun-Chi features breathtaking views, underground swimming opportunities and a tasty menu to accompany. Just north of Kantun-Chi, Xcaret is a waterfront eco-tourism resort with caves to explore, fantastic snorkeling, nighttime shows and plenty of quiet places to relax.
Local Tips, Tricks & News
Most visitors fly into the international airport in Cancun to come to the Riviera. From there, it’s about a 45-minute drive to Playa. That translates to a roughly $40 taxi ride or an adventure on the much cheaper public bus system. In the small towns like Tulum and Playa, there’s no need for a car, as it’s much easier to walk than drive.
Peak tourist season is the end-of-year holidays through March as tourists flock to warmer weather and sunny beaches. June through November brings warm rains and occasional hurricanes.