While Europeans flock to Cote D'Azur to escape the winter blues, North Americans have their own answer to the French Riviera: Mexico's Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit. It is at Mexico's two Rivieras, Maya in the east and Nayarit in the west, where you can experience authentic Latin American culture where archaeological sites meet picturesque beach front in several colourful cities. Keep in mind these aren't to be mistaken for the more general "Mexican Riviera" – a collection of 20 beach towns tracing the west coast that have become popular ports for cruise liners.
The Mayan Riviera traces Mexico's Caribbean coastline, from Puerto Morelos just south of Cancun to Punta Allen on the Boca Paila peninsula. This 120-kilometre stretch of the east coast is fringed by powdery white beaches and sparkling turquoise sea, with colourful coral reef perfect for snorkelling among the curious marine life. Dive into the supernatural cenotes at Playa Del Carmen – freshwater-filled sinkholes and underwater caves – or visit the mysterious Maya ruins at Tulum in the south. A flavoursome mix of Spanish and Caribbean influences, the Riviera's gastronomic offerings are sure to please even the most developed palates.
On Mexico's western front hugging the Sierra Madre mountain range is the Nayarit Riviera. Fast becoming one of the most popular tourism spots in the country, the 300-kilometre Riviera is the gateway to rustic Mexican countryside. The Riviera reaches from San Blas – home to a handful of pre-Hispanic ruins – to Nuevo Vallarta, with stretches of glorious beach lining the state of Nayarit. Surfers flock to Destiladeras while eager whale watchers head to Banderas Bay to spot playful humpbacks. Unwind with a round of golf in Punta Mita before settling in for a feast of the freshest seafood – try the trademark Nayarit dish, pescado zarandeado, fish marinated in lemon and smoked over mangrove wood.