Riviera Maya, Messico

Vivere nella Riviera Maya

Iyna Bort Caruso

Riviera Maya is a rising star among second home and expat destinations. The 80-mile expanse of coastline on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, south of Cancun, has a modern infrastructure, an agreeable climate and, most enticing of all, drop-dead gorgeous beaches. Its powder-white sand and clear turquoise waters are legendary.

Once home to a string of sleepy fishing villages, the Riviera Maya now includes luxury resorts --but not exclusively. Protected and undeveloped rainforests, underwater sink holes known as cenotes and mangroves make the area an eco-adventurer’s dream. The Great Maya Reef, the world’s second largest coral reef system just off the coast, draws snorkelers and scuba divers from all over the world. And the region’s vestiges of the great Mayan civilization, which spanned more than 3,000 years, draw huge numbers to archaeological ruins in places like the ancient fortress city of Tulum and Coba, set deep within a jungle landscape.

Playa del Carmen is the “it” spot of the Riviera Maya, a lively cosmopolitan city with a sizeable expat population of North Americans and Europeans. The main drag is a pedestrian-only walkway of lively shops and restaurants called La Quinta Avenida, or Fifth Avenue, paralleling the beach.

About an hour’s drive south of Playa del Carmen is the relaxed municipality of Tulum. It is a growing resort destination near well-preserved Mayan ruins. Development, however, is intentionally low-scale, low-density and eco-minded.

International buyers can find properties as accessible or remote as they desire.

Throughout the coast are mild-to-wild parcels available for development with lush vegetation of exotic flowers and fruit trees as well as native wildlife and tropical lagoons. Turnkey residences include amenity-laden beachfront condominiums complete with beach club membership included, exclusive villas by golf courses and custom beachfront homes in eco parks that serve as ultimate vacation hideaways.