Riviera Maya is located on the Caribbean coastline on Mexico’s northeastern Yucatán Peninsula. Known for its all-inclusive resorts and beautiful beaches, it’s no wonder that hundreds of thousands of tourists jet off here each year, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself, is Riviera Maya safe?
In this article we’ll be revealing the low down on whether or not Riviera Maya is a safe destination to visit, before revealing 9 top tips to keep safe when traveling to this part of the world.
Is Riviera Maya Safe Right Now?
In 2020, Riviera Maya has seen a rise in crime making some areas an unsafe destination to visit. If traveling to a tourist destination, staying in a resort and being cautious of where you’re traveling to then there’s no reason that this is a destination in Mexico to avoid. Of course, there are certain areas in Riviera Maya that are considered dangerous and shouldn’t be visited alone.
Recently, there have been a number of political assassinations in Riviera Maya. The first was in January 2020 when Luis Alfredo Flores Manzanilla, a local Labour Party coordinator, was assassinated in the popular tourist town of Tulum.
The second was in February when Román Guzmán González, a former deputy for the Party of the Democratic Revolution, was killed in his ranch outside Bacalar.
The third was in April when Obed Durón Gómez, the mayor of Mahahual, was gunned down at a quarantine roadblock.
Although all of these assassinations were linked politically, we would never advise walking somewhere in Riviera Maya by yourself, unless you’re staying at a resort which has plenty of people around. Even if spending a day at the beach and you decide to go and buy some food from a kiosk, make sure that somebody is with you to take extra precaution.
What Areas are Safe in Riviera Maya?
Generally, Playa Del Carmen is considered a safe area to visit with a range of different shops including small independent stores, souvenir gift shops and international clothing brands such as Zara and H&M as well as stunning beaches. However, just 2 years ago an American student was visiting Mexico but was tragically found dead at Lázaro Cárdenas park, near a beach in Playa Del Carmen after a group of locals stole the victim’s wallet before stabbing him.
In August of 2018, the US State Department issued an update to its Mexico travel advisory, urging tourists to exercise increased caution when visiting the country.
Although we previously mentioned an assassination in Tulum, this area is considered fairly safe and is a great tourist hotspot due to the Mayan Ruins. The only thing we would say is to keep an eye on your belongings if shopping in the main town.
Is Riviera Maya Safe for solo Female Travelers?
If traveling to tourist areas and being sensible about which parts to travel to then there’s no reason that Riviera Maya should be considered unsafe for solo female travelers.
Although we’ve just spoken about recent crime that has happened this year, this shouldn’t be a reason to be put off traveling here. As long as you’re being sensible and using common sense then this could be one of the best places you may visit.
There are a whole range of different tourist attractions to see in and around Riviera Maya including the famous Tulum Mayan Ruins, Xel-Ha, Dos Ojos plus lots more cenotes, Frida Kahlo museum plus tones more! Seeing attractions by yourself don’t have to be boring either, traveling by yourself means you can do what you want and at whatever time of day pleases you, and more than likely there will be other solo travelers at the same attractions so you’re able to make some friends along the way.
Can I Take Personal Belongings?
When exploring Riviera Maya in the daytime then just remember to keep your eyes on your personal possessions including bags and money and never leave your phone or credit card in your back pocket. Riviera Maya can be home to some local pick pockets, especially in tourist destinations where they know is going to be filled with hundreds if not thousands of individuals throughout the day. If possible, leave what you know you’re not going to need in the safety deposit box at your hotel room for peace of mind.
Furthermore, if you are planning a solo visit to Riviera Maya then never walk anywhere by yourself at night time. This includes going into a night club or walking past a bar as there are more than likely going to be locals and tourists who are intoxicated and could take advantage of the fact that you’re walking alone.
Always take a taxi if you have to travel at night-time for dinner or drinks etc. We suggest getting dinner from the hotel which saves you from going out at night time. This may be annoying if you want to sample authentic Mexican food, but more than likely if staying at a resort they will put on different themed evenings so you can sample some food from all across the globe.
Is Riviera Maya Safe to Live?
Depending on which area you decide, Riviera Maya is generally considered safe to live in. Akumal is considered to be one of the best places to live in Mexico on the Caribbean coastline with a spectacular bay, underground rivers and a variety of beautiful beaches on offer.
In Mexico, just like other places in the world, there are wealthy people and people with not much money. If you do buy a property out here then there are some basic safety rules to keep in mind such as locking the doors unless going out, having barred windows so nobody can climb in and an alarm in case somebody does break in.
You may be surprised to know that there are a large number of expats that live in Riviera Maya, mainly Americans as it’s a short flight for them to sunny Mexico. Most people who live in Riviera Maya are retired or have a second home with the goal of retiring to the beautiful area one day. It’s a big reason so many expats choose Riviera Maya.
If you are seriously considering a move a Riviera Maya, then it’s worth checking out different areas first and spending a few weeks there at a time so that you can get a real feel the area and the local people. There’s lots to see and do in Riviera Maya and with a yearly average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius and stunning beaches, what’s not to love?
Is Riviera Maya Safe at Night?
Riviera Maya is safe at night for people who are in groups, but we wouldn’t recommend walking around at night to any solo travelers.
Of course, safety comes first in any situation as well as using common sense so if something doesn’t feel right or you’re unsure about visiting certain place at night-time then don’t do it.
There will be many people out at night-time in Riviera Maya including a mix of locals and tourists. There should be some precautions to take when going out at night like not staying out too late – we know, we’re sounding like your parents in the teenage years but if you stay out too late then that’s when most people will have had more than enough to drink, making you more vulnerable.
We would always suggest getting a taxi back to your hotel when traveling alone. No matter what the time, you can always rely on a taxi in Riviera Maya to drop you back safely to the hotel resort.
If traveling in a big group, then there shouldn’t be a problem with staying out late in Riviera Maya. Riviera Maya has a wide range of bars, restaurants and clubs to go and enjoy. Most of these places are located in Playa Del Carmen and Tulum which means that traveling back to the hotel after enjoying the night out will not be possible on foot, instead, this will mean getting a taxi back to the resort as it’s around about a 20-minute drive from all the action.
If you get talking to people, either locals or fellow holiday makers and they suggest sharing a taxi back to the hotel then however nice this may be/sound then it’s always best to decline the offer. Even if they seem nice (which they probably are) you’ve only just met them and they could be anyone. This goes without saying if traveling alone especially – never share a taxi back with a group of people after a night out!
Is the Tap Water in Riviera Maya Safe to Drink?
Tap water in Riviera Maya is not safe to drink, a bit like other cities in Mexico or even other cities/countries across the world. Although the water is purified at the source, the water may become contaminated en route to the tap so always stick to bottled water!
Most hotels will provide free bottled water for your rooms which will be stocked up daily and you can ask for more if needed. The water in Rivera Maya comes down to more than just filling up your cup and drinking it (from a bottle in this case), when brushing your teeth, make sure that you don’t rinse them using tap water, instead use the bottled water provided and when finished don’t forget to recycle the plastic!
A filter water bottle is an effective way of purifying water to remove any impurities or contaminants.
If eating out in a restaurant, never ask for ice in drinks as this could be contaminated too and if you’re not fancying an ice-cold beer but instead want water then always ask for it bottled and not from the tap. There are also some foods to be wary of ordering too including vegetable dishes and fruit for dessert, this is because we don’t know how the food has been prepared and more than likely the vegetables and fruit would have been washed with tap water before being chopped up into a salad.
If you’ve spent a day at the beach and you want to rinse the sand and salt from your hair, then washing your hair using the shower in the hotel room is completely fine as this water will have been filtered through using a water filtration system. Having said this, this water shouldn’t be used for drinking, only washing yourself with.
Are Taxis in Riviera Maya Safe?
Taxis are extremely safe in Riviera Maya and they’re also one of the safest ways to get from A to B. As we mentioned previously, a taxi is the best and safest way to get home or back to the hotel if traveling back at night-time.
Taxi drivers are friendly and won’t overcharge, but you’re welcome to leave a little tip to say thank you if wanted. Taxis are generally more expensive in Riviera Maya than other areas and if you want to know what the taxi fare is going to be before getting in and on with the journey then always ask the driver beforehand to make sure that you’re getting the best rate.
If however you’re struggling to find a taxi then you’ll be pleased to know that Riviera Maya has Uber, so all that’s needed to do is to have the Uber app, pick the time and the place of pick up and pay straight away – Ubers may work better for some people as you know what you’re paying and the payment is made via the app.
You can get a taxi from pretty much anywhere in Riviera Maya so whether you want to be taken back to the hotel after a night out, want to spend a day at the beach or even get picked up from a tourist hotspot, taxis are the way to go and will be a lot quicker and safer than the bus.
Top 9 Riviera Maya Safety Tips:
So, you’ve now read everything need to know about safety in Riviera Maya, but we couldn’t end this article here without giving out our top 9 Riviera Maya safety tips which will keep you super safe on your travels.
- Never take any valuables out when going sight-seeing – Tourist areas are hotspots for pickpockets and thieves so the only valuable thing in your bag should be your phone, in case you need to phone for a taxi etc or for taking pictures to upload to social media. Try to keep wearing expensive jewellery to a minimum including watches as thieves will more than likely think that you have valuables worth taking.
- Always take a taxi at night-time – We can’t stress enough how important it is to take a taxi when then sun goes down, especially if traveling solo! Even if you’re going to restaurant that’s only a five-minute walk from the hotel, it’s better to be safe than sorry in case some sort of trouble occurs.
- Don’t drink the water in Riviera Maya – Remember to not drink the water in Riviera Maya as there is a chance the water will be contaminated. Instead, drink water that is provided at the hotel from bottles as this water will be fresh and filtered. Never ask for ice in drinks, don’t brush your teeth and swill with tap water, and avoid salad or food you know that will have to be washed with tap water before being prepared.
- Don’t get a taxi home with others – However nice the people you’ve just met may seem, never take a taxi ride home or back to the hotel with them. As you’ve just met them, you won’t be sure on who they really are. Instead of saving yourself a few Pesos, we suggest if traveling alone then get a taxi back by yourself and if with a group then stick to your own group.
- Pack lots of sun cream and after sun – This may seem like a strange safety tip but the sun on the Yucatan Peninsula can get extremely hot, especially in the summer season so don’t be shy about slabbing on the sun cream to stop you from getting heatstroke. Even if you haven’t burnt, apply after sun in the evening to help your skin stay moisturised and supple
- Yucatán is known to sometimes flood – No one wants rain on their holidays but be warned that there can sometimes be floods in the will happen in the Yucatán Peninsula during the rainy seasons (June-October). The drainage systems are known to be poor and leave the streets flooded so be warned in case this happens in the month you’re traveling.
- Ditch the back pocket – Don’t keep loose change, your purse or bank card in the back of your jean pockets, especially in crowded tourist areas – this is a pickpocket’s paradise, instead keep it in your bag and make sure that it’s zipped up and with you at all times.
- Bring insect repellent – There are lots of exotic animals to find in Riviera Maya, but one insect that we all probably wish we wouldn’t see are those pesky mosquitoes. Mosquitos can be found all over Riviera Maya so make sure you’ve packed your insect repellent and mosquito bands to go around your wrists to stop them from having a Mexican fiesta on your skin.
- Drive safe – If you’ve decided to rent a car whilst away, then be warned that the roads in Riviera Maya aren’t well organised and it’s more of a free for all. Stick to speed limits and put your sat nav on so that can tell you anything needed to look out for.
So, that’s the end of our article and we hope that you’ve learned more about how to stay safe in Riviera Maya! If you’ve decided that Riviera Maya is a place you want to travel to, then check out the best and worst times to visit Riviera Maya.