Are you headed to the amazing Riviera Maya region of Mexico this year? Though Cancun is a popular spot for global travelers, just south of it is the easternmost portion of the Yucatan Peninsula or the area known as the Riviera Maya (as well as the Riviera Maya). Starting around Playa del Carmen and ending at mysterious and marvelous Tulum, it is a fantastic spot to visit at any time of the year.
Even though it is a glorious spot, knowing how to pack for a visit of any length of time (even if staying in a luxurious Riviera Maya villa with all of the amenities) can be challenging. To help with this issue, we have organized a good list of “what to pack” for your upcoming visit to the region. Before we look at a list of basic items all travelers will require, let’s first figure out the best way to determine how you should pack for your visit.
The Big Questions
While you might be the type of traveler who is determined to get everything into your carry-on or you are happy checking and paying for additional bags, you need to pose a few key questions to be sure you are bringing the right items. These questions include:
What will you be doing during the visit?
Because this area is home to lots of amazing beaches, you may find your packing list very limited. A few bathing suits, some covers, and one or two “going out” ensembles may be the extent of your wardrobe. However, you might be someone who wants to do some jungle trekking, cenote diving, high-end shopping, gourmet dining, and rigorous activities or exercise routines. That can mean a lot of different footwear as well as a lot of garments.
As one travel expert in the region said, it is a “pretty easy destination to pack for in a carry-on,” but there are few things to keep in mind. And this means more questions to consider.
So, which activities will YOU do?
What we suggest is that you consider this issue at the most basic level. For example, will you be headed to Tulum or another area in order to climb any of the Mayan ruins? If so, that means sensible hiking or walking shoes, shorts, and some layers to serve as protection from the sun or keep you warm at sunset.
Are you going to go snorkeling or do water sports? Pack water shoes, appropriate swimwear, a cover or other outerwear, and the right beach shoes to enable yourself to wander around comfortably and safely afterward.
Are you hitting the many shopping and dining venues? Maybe you intend to partake in the nightlife? Then you definitely want at least two “outfits” for such times, as well as attractive and comfortable shoes.
And while we are on the topic of fashion, we need to talk about materials. Lightweight, easily layered, and quick-dry materials make the best garments in the conditions of the area and also come in more stylish looks that can mix well.
Are you familiar with the climate?
In general, the climate in the region is straight out of a traveler’s dream, but it can have periods of heat and high humidity (though the prevailing breezes often make even the worst weather more than tolerable). However, the area is also host to two very specific periods or seasons – the wet season and dry season. If traveling from May to October, it is going to be a lot more humid and rainy than during the peak dry season of November to April.
And though you might think that the wet season is cooler, it is the opposite and when raining in the Riviera Maya, it is also often quite hot. So, know whether or not you actually need that pair of jeans or long pants if you intend to be there during the hot, wet weather. The opposite applies if you are going in the dry season, and you may find that bringing a sweater or layering items is appropriate.
The Essential Items
With all of this in mind, it is time to look at a list of the basics for men and women to pack as they head out for a holiday in the Riviera Maya.
- Two bathing suits (or more if your holiday is in a private villa with a pool or an oceanside setting)
- Quick-dry shorts – both men and women will appreciate the comfort and coolness they offer, and particularly if the activities planned are the more active types (hiking, climbing, trekking, or a blend of shopping and other activities)
- Fashionable shorts – Men can often get away with stylish shorts as evening wear, and so can women if they are made of premium materials. They also dress up a daytime look if some shopping or dining is on the agenda.
- Tops – Men and women will benefit from packing only lightweight tops that layer well. Think attractive t-shirts and tanks as well as fashionable blouses and men’s shirts with short sleeves, or in tank styles.
- Women’s items – A single sundress and/or a maxi dress will often do a lot of work for the wardrobe during a Riviera Maya holiday. It can go from day to night quite easily with a change of shoes, and the addition of a few accessories.
- Men’s items – As noted, those fashionable shorts can pair well with a nicer button-up
- Outerwear – At least one sweater or jacket is essential at any time, and this is true whether it is the cooler and dryer weather or the hot weather when air conditioning may be a bit too high for some.
- Shoes – Lots of travelers invest in low-cost flip flops for the beach, a good pair of walking shoes or sneakers, and some sandals. Fashion footwear for a night out is also a good idea for both men and women.
That is really all that anyone would need for a holiday in the Riviera Maya (in addition to undergarments and toiletries, of course). There is great shopping for accessories and garments, so anything you forget, you can easily find in the region’s world-class shopping areas!