The 12 best destinations to retire on Mexico’s Caribbean coast

The japanese coast of Mexico, alongside the shores of the Yucatan Peninsula, borders the nice and cozy, turquoise-green Caribbean Sea. There’s a notably well-known stretch that runs from Cancun all the way down to Tulum and consists of the favored locations of Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Akumal, and Tulum. This well-known stretch is branded the Riviera Maya and its well-known sugar sand seashores are the most well-liked trip vacation spot within the Caribbean basin.

South of the Riviera Maya is a largely undeveloped stretch of beautiful, remoted seashore known as the Costa Maya. The Costa Maya is for many who benefit from the outside life-style…fishermen, divers, and those that love heat climate, palm bushes, and silky sand.

Whether or not it’s the Riviera Maya or the Costa Maya, you’ll discover postcard-worthy seashores right here that may be loved by retirees for a fraction of the worth of residing within the U.S. or Canada. In case you’re in search of a spot to sink your toes into the sand, swim within the ocean, and admire a shocking tropical sundown in peace, then Mexico’s Caribbean coast is ideal for you.

Learn on to find the perfect locations to retire on Mexico’s Caribbean coast…



Akumal is a small city, finest recognized for the migrating sea turtles that go to yearly to put eggs alongside the shore. It’s a seashore lover’s paradise, good for anybody who enjoys stress-free with their toes within the sand and an grownup beverage of their hand. There’s additionally a major expat group.

This small village has 5 beautiful white-sand seashores, liberally studded with majestic coconut palms and bathed by the nice and cozy, turquoise-green waters of the Caribbean Sea. Akumal’s temperature averages within the 80s F, with the most well liked summer time days climbing into the mid-90s F: good for a beachside or poolside cool-off with an ice-cold drink.

Till the previous few years, Akumal, about an hour south of Playa del Carmen, was typically a day journey for a small variety of vacationers in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Lately, for higher or worse, Akumal is not only a day journey however is rising as a major vacation spot. In reality, sizeable actual property developments (one with its personal championship golf course) have sprouted, encouraging traders and expat residents to make long-term commitments to the realm.


For many years, whereas most vacationers stayed farther north in Cancún and Playa del Carmen, Tulúm was a backpackers’ haven. The environment in Tulúm was low-key, the vacationers younger and informal, and the city full of cheap, palapa-style motels and eating places.

How instances have modified. At the moment Tulúm has gone upscale. Most of the bohemian sorts who gave Playa its vibe have moved south to Tulúm, opening eating places, retailers, and boutique motels. At the moment you may nonetheless discover stands promoting tacos and beans…however you too can take pleasure in gourmand meals, yoga periods, and spa remedies.

Expats have found Tulum and have been shifting down, in growing numbers, for the previous decade. Hundreds of snowbirds have additionally claimed Tulum as their winter nesting place as they escape the chilly climate up north.

With a tropical local weather—temperatures averaging within the 80s F—Tulúm provides a Caribbean life-style with out the necessity to journey to and from an island. Residents get pleasure from heat, turquoise Caribbean waters, a glowing, good seashore, and an offshore reef which gives plentiful alternatives for fishing, scuba diving, and snorkeling.

Costs have risen accordingly (though there are nonetheless bargains to be discovered). Mexico’s authorities is positioning Tulúm as a high-end, unique vacation spot…however the atmosphere continues to be inviting and low-key.

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen lies about halfway between the all-inclusive resort hub of Cancún and the up-and-coming, low-key, and nonetheless considerably bohemian vacation spot of Tulum. It’s a cheerful medium between these two extremes and a favourite for these searching for to stay an lively retirement in an environment that’s refined but laidback on the similar time. Informal gown and relaxed attitudes are the keys to residing in Playa del Carmen.

The guts of Playa del Carmen is the well-known Quinta Avenida, or Fifth Avenue. It’s a miles-long pedestrian avenue lined with retailers, boutiques, bars, cafés, and eating places of each delicacies possible, from high-end to finances. It’s frequented by vacationers in huge numbers. However Quinta Avenida can also be a favourite amongst expats for buying and eating. Joyful hours, group dinners, in addition to events at personal houses, are the primary social actions. The place has power. Amongst these residing in Playa del Carmen is all kinds of nationalities. Individuals and Canadians are the largest teams, with important numbers of Italians, French, and Argentinians.

Retiring in Playa del Carmen is engaging for a lot of causes. There’s heat climate year-round, which makes it particularly good in winter. At the moment, December to April, the town additionally performs host to snowbirds, winter residents who escape the chilly a part of the yr by the seashore.


It’s unattainable to speak concerning the Riviera Maya with out mentioning Cancún. It’s the place that began all of it. What was as soon as just a little sandy island grew to become a focus for tourism and exploded into an enormous, world-class resort. It’s the area’s financial driver and has introduced prosperity up and down the coast.

With dozens of sprawling, all-inclusive resorts standing watch over miles of glowing sugar-sand seashores, swaying palms, and the nice and cozy, turquoise water of the Caribbean Sea, together with a vibrant nightlife, Cancun may simply outline the perfect tropical retreat. With temperatures anchored within the mid-80s F for a lot of the yr (some summer time days breach 90 F), and plentiful sunshine, an off-the-cuff life-style, and wonderful meals, what’s to not like?

Cancun is served by a contemporary, bustling worldwide airport. Its location on the Yucatan Peninsula provides flights again to the States in lower than two hours. And for these hesitating to make a transfer south of the border, Cancun eases you into the expat life as English is a standard second language, because of the lively vacationer commerce.



Cozumel is an ideal mix of laidback island life with tons of actions to get pleasure from. Right here you may have as relaxed or lively a retirement as you need. You possibly can park your self on an ideal stretch of white-sand seashore for the day, listening to the waves as you learn the newest best-seller, or don a snorkel to discover the Chinchorro Reef, the world’s second-largest reef system, simply offshore. Clear waters make it simple to see (and {photograph}) sea turtles, rays, and colourful clownfish. You possibly can even make preparations to swim with big whale sharks.

Mendacity solely 12 miles offshore from Playa del Carmen, about an hour south of Cancún, Cozumel is about 30 miles lengthy and 10 miles vast. However this small house has quite a bit packed into it. With over 300 eating places, scrumptious meals of all varieties are simple to search out.

The majority of Cozumel’s inhabitants calls the town of San Miguel residence. There’s a busy malecón (seaside boardwalk), or principal highway, working alongside the shoreline close to the ferry terminal and cruise ship docks. Arriving by boat, you’ll discover a huge array of tourist-oriented retailers, eating places, and bars. A couple of blocks inland will put you into native neighborhoods, the place small homes and residences line the streets and teams of uniformed kids stroll to and from faculty. Elevate your eyes and also you’ll notice luxurious apartment buildings alongside the horizon, providing all of the modern facilities.

Puerto Morelos

As you head south from Cancún, previous the mega-resorts, together with the huge Mayan Palace, the primary city of any substantial dimension is Puerto Morelos. Simply 18 miles south of Cancún, Puerto Morelos nonetheless retains a few of its small-town, fishing-village allure. For these in search of an “in-between” spot that’s on the vacationer map however not overrun, this could be a spot to take a better look. (Some folks say Puerto Morelos is like Playa del Carmen within the early days.)

Folks of all nationalities meander alongside the small malecón taking pictures. Eating places are plentiful and the freshest seafood choices are quite a few. However there are often a number of meals carts current, permitting you to pattern some native road meals. The outdated, leaning lighthouse gives the right backdrop for pictures. And though it has clearly been found, Puerto Morelos stays the place you imagined it could be.

Dozens of small fishing boats bob at anchor, simply offshore, as sea birds perch on the gunwales. The peaceable vibe virtually calls for that you simply awaken early to see the dawn whereas strolling barefoot on the seashore, sipping champagne. The seafood is pretty much as good because it will get and the guacamole and margaritas are at all times good.

Isla Mujeres

iStock/Andrei Orlov

Isla (because the locals name it) is tiny. About 4.5 miles lengthy and half a mile vast, it’s a lot smaller than Cozumel. Some 13,000 residents now name this tiny Caribbean gem their residence.

Mendacity about eight miles off Cancún, Isla gives the sense of independence cherished by island dwellers. But it surely’s additionally conveniently near the mainland and big-city comforts. And though Isla has been found by worldwide vacationers, and Cancún locals recurrently pack lunches and seashore gear for day journeys to this idyllic retreat, it nonetheless retains a lot of the allure and “get-away-from-it-all” vibe folks come to islands to get pleasure from.

Even the vacationer retailers, eating places, and bars lining either side of the primary road for a few blocks appear laidback and pleasant. The smells of crispy fried fish, fresh-cut limes, scorching tortillas, and French fries drift from doorways, pulling hungry patrons off the road as if for a style. Scooters could also be all over the place on Cozumel, however right here golf carts are the automobile of selection. From the streets, golf cart leases beckon with cardboard indicators proclaiming each day rental charges.

When it comes to life-style, Isla has all the identical tropical-island choices as Cozumel. Diving, snorkeling, boating, and fishing are all potentialities, and paddleboarding can also be in style. Chedraui, a significant model grocery store, has an outlet on the island. There’s additionally a Navy hospital and a few medical clinics. Main medical wants are largely dealt with in Cancún.



The little city of Mahahual (additionally spelled “Majahual”) is the center of the Costa Maya. Flattened by Hurricane Dean in 2007, Mahahual has taken the chance to rebuild itself higher than it was earlier than: with some metropolis planning and an eye fixed to hurricane-resistant building. There’s a cruise ship dock right here, an improved beachfront space, and a malecón that runs just about the size of city.

Mahahual’s malecón is lined with eating places, bars, and memento retailers. (Most of the eating places arrange tables on the sand between the malecón and the seashore, the place patrons have an unobstructed view of the waves and water.)

More and more, you’ll additionally discover condos and homes freshly constructed alongside the malecón, and indicators of latest building abound. In reality, lately, alongside your entire size of Mahahual, the primary two to 3 blocks again from the malecón are full of new buildings and building.

It sits upon a shoe-shaped peninsula bordered on the east by the Caribbean Sea and creating Chetumal Bay, simply above the toe. Driving north and south on the peninsula, alongside the seashore will acquaint you with 5 or 6 small villages, the southernmost being Xcalak on the water border with Belize.


Xcalak is a small fishing village on the southern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, within the State of Quintana Roo. The city is distant, and thus far, south, it’s solely six miles to the Belize/Mexico border. At a whopping six-hour drive from Cancun, not many vacationers make it to Xcalak, and that’s too unhealthy for them. However perhaps it’s good for you.

In Xcalak, although, you received’t discover any mega-resorts, high-end buying, or quick meals chains. It’s a quiet village of 400 residents with miles of undeveloped seashores backed by a thick jungle. Stretching alongside Xcalak’s coast is the second-largest barrier reef on the earth, a part of which is designated because the Xcalak Reef Nationwide Marine Park. The protected waters alongside the reef abound with underwater life, making Xcalak each a world-class fly-fishing vacation spot and a snorkeler’s paradise.

Given Xcalak’s restricted improvement, you’d be proper to guess that the vacationer motels take sustainability severely. Lodging are off-grid, which provides any trip in Xcalak a contact of journey.


For peace and tranquility seemingly removed from civilization, head to Isla Holbox (pronounced Oal-Bosh). This sliver of an island rests off the Yucatán Peninsula’s northeast coast, the place the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea meet.

Holbox actually feels just like the old-time Caribbean. No automobiles are permitted on the island; golf carts are the primary type of transport. streets are made out of packed sand and, till lately, there was no mobile phone or web service.

Holbox was a quiet fishing island till swimming with whale sharks took off. Vacationers got here to the island, bringing much-needed income with them. There are actually a number of motels, bars, and eating places, in addition to wonderful seashores strewn with shells.

Getting right here entails a 30-minute ferry journey from the small terminal of Chiquilá, a 1.5-hour drive from Cancún.



If the crowds related to an enormous resort space are usually not your cup of tea, the small village of Bacalar, two-plus hours south of Tulum, stands out as the quiet, lakefront retreat you’ve been in search of.

Sitting on the shore of Laguna Bacalar (Lake Bacalar), the village exudes an genuine allure with its small, city sq. surrounded by family-owned companies. Spend just a little time there and also you may end up imagining you’re within the Mexican model of Mayberry from the outdated tv sequence.

Technically talking, Lake Bacalar isn’t on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast. It lies about an hour inland. But it surely appears to be like just like the Caribbean, feels just like the Caribbean…and has a number of particular benefits which can be all its personal. In case you just like the look of the Caribbean however may do with out the saltwater, Lake Bacalar stands out as the good spot for you.

Laguna Bacalar is the crown jewel in a system of freshwater lakes and waterways in southern Quintana Roo that finally result in the Caribbean. The lake is about 35 miles lengthy, working north and south parallel to the Caribbean Coast. It’s Mexico’s second-largest freshwater lake—after Lake Chapala—and it’s well-known for the water’s vary of colours. (In reality, it’s generally known as the Lake of Seven Colours.) Fed by cenotes (deep sinkholes within the limestone shelf that result in underground rivers) the lake’s waters are cool, extraordinarily clear and differ spectacularly in shade, from a translucent turquoise to deep navy blue.


iStock/Leonid Andronov

Chetumal stands out as the least-known metropolis alongside Mexico’s Caribbean coast (to vacationers and potential expats) however might be a very powerful. Chetumal, on the southeast tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, is the Capital of the Yucatan state of Quintana Roo.

Chetumal is clear and feels reasonably like a Southern California seashore city. It provides all kinds of conveniences, together with medical amenities, a college, buying malls, film theaters, malls, supermarkets, and {hardware} shops. Chetumal is near the free-trade zone on the Belize border, the place you should buy low-priced items from all over the world.

Throughout the bay from Mahahual, Chetumal is an unmistakably Mexican city, not like a number of the extra touristy areas on the Riviera Maya. And whereas Chetumal has a steadily rising expat group, anybody who strikes there ought to be ready to talk Spanish.

This story originally ran in International Living.


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