Make a little room in your closet for another T-shirt you’ll be bringing home from Mexico one of these days. It’ll say something like “I (heart) Puerto Morelos.”
Puerto Morelos? Where’s that? It’s a little town on the Mexican Caribbean at the southern edge of the Cancun resort area, and it’s often called “the poster child for a sleepy fishing village.” You can walk from one side of the town to the other in 15 or so minutes without spotting a McDonald's or a Pizza Hut. What you will find are some of the friendliest people in the country going about their business, mostly in shops around the village square.
Vacationer Scott Dial from Seattle, Wash., recalls looking for someone to take his picture at a mini pyramid on the square's playground. “Within minutes they were lined up, kids and grown-ups alike, waiting to get their pictures taken with me while others clicked the camera.”
But it’s a whole different story outside the village. Look around, and you’ll find luxurious hotel-resorts peppering the powdery beaches a respectful distance away from both sides of the village and poking out of the inland mangroves. All told, the tropical palaces around Puerto Morelos offer 12,000 rooms – about the lodging inventory of the booming Mazatlan resort area on the other side of the country.
And there’s more palaces coming. To debut by the end of the year will be the posh Playa Senator and the Royalton Riviera Cancun, which together will hike the local inventory to a whopping 15,000 rooms – roughly the lodging count of the Pacific mega-resort at Los Cabos.
Jesus Almaguer, CEO of the Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau, described Puerto Morelos as “the perfect complement to the tourism product that Cancun offers as it attracts affluent travelers from all over the world that are looking for a relaxed, slow-paced atmosphere, and still enjoy the convenient connectivity, amenities and services that Cancun is known for.”
About a 20-minute ride down the coast from Cancun’s main hotel strip, Puerto Morelos is the dividing line between that resort area and the 70-mile-long Rivera Maya.