So you want a jaw-droppingly beautiful honeymoon setting—the idyllic white-sand beach, crystalline water and maybe some tequila to wash it all down—without traveling super far. If that sounds about right, think about flying south of the border to Cancun and booking it by car (chauffeured, of course) to Tulum or the Riviera Maya, two areas on the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula that are sure to elicit more than a few oohs and aahs along with a muy bien or two if you get enough margaritas in you.
These spectacular spots are sure things most of the year, just know that you may face some heavy rains in the summer hurricane season around July and August. Otherwise, it’s safe to expect sunbathing-ready temps most of the time, and a level of humidity that will ensure you keep that healthy glow from your wedding. One thing to keep in mind: if you’re hoping for babies soon, the presence of mosquitos and possible Zika exposure could make it a no go for now.
Otherwise, the first step to having a dream of a time swimming not just in the Caribbean Sea but also the freshwater of magical cenotes (like underwater caves), sipping boozy concoctions, eating tacos and indulging in pampering native spa rituals is to choose a resort. There are seemingly endless ones in this strip of perfect beach, but some stand above the rest. And with so much within a quick drive, it’s easy to stay one place and go to dinner in hip Tulum or enjoy a night out dancing in Playa del Carmen.
Your first stop may be Mayakoba, a heavenly development that boasts a Rosewood, Fairmont, Banyan Tree, and Andaz, so every taste, style, and price point is catered to. Each has its strengths—there really is no bad choice—and is stunning, and allows the ability to bounce between the various restaurants for more than enough culinary options for a week or two. Rosewood is a particularly perfect for sweethearts, thanks to the extreme privacy of its suites (not to mention private plunge pools).
There’s also Vidanta Riviera Maya, set on a private beach with a stunning pool lounge that’s complete with impeccable views of the blue just beyond, plus oversized jetted bathtubs for two in some suites. And Grand Velas Riviera Maya, an all-inclusive that offers lovey-dovey duos a plethora of activities (alongside private plunge pools, whirlpool bathtubs, and well-stocked minibars in the adults-only Grand Class suites) such as beach movies, cooking classes, stargazing, and private mariachi performances.
Playa del Carmen
If you like a little buzz with your beach, there’s Thompson Playa del Carmen, smack in the middle of a pedestrian shopping and dining district and the street with the trendiest bars and nightclubs in the area. Within the property are really two hotels: the 5th Avenue Building, which is centrally located, and the smaller oceanfront Beach House, which is a safe bet for a honeymoon considering its private beach-club feel, personalized service, exclusive pool, and programs like sunrise yoga, bike rentals, and ceviche-making classes. Of course, hot spots like CATCH are still within easy reach. For a prime adults-only getaway, check out TRS Yucatan Hotel, which offers butler service, an Ibiza-style beach club, saltwater pool, comprehensive spa, and wellness program.
Before you reach the heart of Tulum you’ll find Hotel Esencia, a favorite for people like Emily Ratajkowski, Diane Kruger, Kate Bosworth, and Lupita Nyong’o. The exclusive boutique hotel on a pristine strip of jungle-backed beach just debuted new suites—some of which include double bathtubs—and a destination restaurant, Mistura, in a palapa with 180 views, serving Peruvian-Japanese food for those nights you don’t feel like the national cuisine (another fantastic Tulum restaurant, Posada Margherita, can sate any Italian pasta cravings you might have). Work or melt it off with their wide-ranging fitness, wellness, and spa offerings. It’s a must for design buffs since the property is stuffed with artwork, antiques, and decor, paying homage to Mexico.
Beyond Tulum, favorites like Be Tulum and Hotel Zamas (where you’ll find the best margaritas) are even more choices. There’s the highly remote Mukan, where only nine accommodations give couples copious amounts of alone time (on canopy beds, in hammocks or beachside spa bungalows, for example) alongside the opportunity to tour Mayan ruins, dive in cenotes, canoe in the mangrove, and embark on sunset cruises.
It’s a super intimate and eco-conscious all-inclusive resort in an actual UNESCO World Heritage Site (the Sian Ka’an Biosphere), which includes complimentary transportation from the airport not only by car, but also boat and helicopter (upon request). Private villas incorporate natural, tropical wood and traditional thatched roofs for a true sense of place, and you can treat yourself in both the spa and resort cigar bar. In fact, treating yourself in any one of the resorts along this charming coastline is effortless, a sure sign of the perfect place to settle into newlywed bliss.