Are you unsure whether Riviera Maya is safe to travel in 2023? This is the perfect guide!
As a travel writer who has been in Cancun for several years. I have an insider’s view and knowledge that I can share about the security situation in Mayan Riviera.
While you’ve likely seen prominent news reports concerning security in Mexico. However, these stories are often exaggerated out of proportion, and security dangers can usually be prevented by taking a few basic steps.
In this article, I will share my authentic perspective on the security in Riviera Maya. The criminal situation in the region, typical frauds to watch out for, as well as safety tips and tips for transportation and nightlife.
The goal of this article is not to cover up the truth, but I hope that by the end. You’ll be capable of making an informed choice about whether or not a trip to Riviera Maya.
Are you ready to learn more about the security in Riviera Maya? Let’s get started!
Is Riviera Maya safe for tourists in 2023?
Riviera Maya is one of the safest places in Mexico to visit. If you take the necessary safety precautions and stay clear of illegal activities.
Most visitors who stay at hotels in Riviera Maya. Do not leave the resort and face only a slight safety risk.
The resorts in this area have 24/7 security, including cameras and guards everywhere. All arrivals and departures are recorded on the guest’s list of guests.
You can be sure to feel secure in a resort in Riviera Maya. Because strict security and safety procedures will be in place to ensure that guests are safe.
Security Precautions in Riviera Maya
If you decide to go out to explore more of the Riviera Maya region. Make sure to follow the safety precautions.
This means booking Riviera Maya excursions and tours with reputable businesses. Such as Viator or GetYourGuide. Taking secure transportation, and staying clear of late-night criminal activities.
Additionally, it is important to remember that drug cartels, as well as drug-related violence, do exist in that region. However, they are generally very specific, and tourists are not often involved.
This isn’t to say that innocent people aren’t likely to be in the crossfire. But they aren’t expected to be in the fire, but these kinds of events are very rare. The presence of police has significantly increased in recent years.
I’m not at risk in my home in Cancun. But I do take safety precautions and adhere to safety guidelines to ensure. I don’t place myself in danger in any situation.
Safety can never be assured. However, if you apply common sense and take the appropriate precautions, you’ll be safe in Riviera Maya.
There are a lot of tourists who go to Riviera Maya every year. The majority of them have a fantastic vacation without any problems.
Mexico Safety in the Media
Another thing worth mentioning is that news stories in American newspapers have frequently overblown the security in Riviera Maya way out of the realm.
Sure, there’s the possibility of violence and petty crime. However, it is important to remember that Mexico is a varied country, and crime rates differ significantly from state to state.
In no way am I declaring that these news reports are accurate. However, it’s crucial to remember that Mexico is a vast country. The incidents that occur in different Mexican states can be far away from Riviera Maya.
For instance, the event occurred earlier in the year in the town bordering Matamoros was more than 1,300 miles away from Riviera Maya in the state of Mexico, which has a long-standing “Do not Travel” warning.
For travelers to advise against visiting Riviera Maya due to an incident in another part of the nation. Is the same as saying that you shouldn’t travel to California due to something that occurred in New York.
Therefore, it’s essential to refrain from letting sensational news stories influence. Your decision-making and research the security issues in Riviera Maya before making an important decision.
U.S. State Department Travel Advisory for Visit the Riviera Maya
The U.S. State Department has issued a level 2 travel Alert for Riviera Maya, which is in the Mexican State of Quintana Roo, including Riviera Maya.
It is a good idea for travelers to take extra care while visiting to be mindful of the increased risk to security and safety because of kidnapping and crime.
There are no traveling restrictions for U.S. government employees in Quintana Roo state. However, it is advised to be extra cautious at night and stay in well-lit pedestrian and tourist areas.
It is believed that the Riviera Maya travel advisories are similar to numerous other popular tourist destinations worldwide. Such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
If you’re a U.S. citizen, I suggest registering for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Registration Program (STEP).
A program is a free option for U.S. citizens that allows you to send details of your trip to the closest United States embassy or consulate in Mexico.
You’ll also receive safety and news alerts via email for the regions in Mexico you’re traveling to. I’m currently enrolled and have found it very informative and helpful!
They’ll inform you of heightened dangers and warnings of weather hazards or natural disasters during the hurricane season. In addition, it allows to assist the U.S. embassy to contact you in the event of an emergency.
Crime Rate in Riviera Maya
Here are some essential facts to be aware of about the criminality in Riviera Maya
Crime & Safety Index in Riviera Maya
Numbeo is a global online database that tracks perceived crime and safety levels in large cities as well as nations across the globe.
One measure that Numbeo employs to assess the rate of violent crime is the “Crime Index”. It is a measure of the overall degree of crime in any given city, calculated on a scale ranging from 1 to 100.
They also provide information on the “Safety Index,” the opposite of the Crime Index. If an area has an extremely High Safety Index, it is considered to be very secure.
Because Riviera Maya’s a regional area and isn’t technically a city.
The average Riviera Maya crime rate is 47.12, which is considered moderate in terms of criminality. Although it’s not the safest of Mexican states, it’s also not the most risky.
It’s also very similar to major cities around the globe, such as New York City, Los Angeles, Paris, and London.
Petty Theft in Riviera Maya
Theft of small amounts, like pickpocketing or bag snatching, are common in popular tourist destinations in Riviera Maya. Which is why it’s essential to be alert.
To ensure your safety, avoid carrying large sums of money and valuables in public areas. Always be aware of your surroundings.
Always keep a watch on your wallet, purse as well as your cell phone. Use a belt or crossbody bag with the zipper secure when you’re in crowds. Such as when you shop at Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen.
Suppose you dine at a Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or Tulum restaurant. It would be best to carry your purse in your lap or front of you.
I’ve seen a lot of surveillance footage uploaded to Facebook in which thieves set up an atmosphere of distraction and take purses from behind chairs.
While on vacation, you’ll find that theft won’t be so much an issue. However, it’s an excellent idea to lock your valuables in the safe of your resort. Only carry only the necessities with you before you leave.
Drug-related Violence in Riviera Maya
As I said earlier, there is a lot of drug-related violence in Riviera Maya; however, it is usually targeted, and visitors are not typically affected.
However, I do not recommend engaging in illegal activities, and it’s best to avoid using drugs or engaging in anything else that may be a risk to your safety.
The presence of drug violence in the Mexican Caribbean region is because it’s a popular destination for vacation and has a huge market for trafficking drugs.
However, it’s vital to understand that using drugs is prohibited in Mexico, and if you’re caught, the consequences are serious.
The best option is to stay clear of the drug world to avoid possible dangers or problems.
Corruption & Bribery in Riviera Maya
Another thing you should know about traveling to Mexico is that corruption and bribery could be prevalent among local law enforcement officials and officials.
While I’m not saying every police official or Mexican official in the Mexican government is corrupt. However, it’s crucial to be aware and avoid situations that could be a source of corruption.
It’s not unusual for travelers to get stopped by the police and request a bribe payment. This is especially true in the event of an infraction to the traffic law or another minor violation.
I’ve not had this occur in Mexico. The majority of tourists will not have contact with police officers. However, it’s important to remain alert to the potential.
These kinds of incidents are more likely to occur at night, so it’s best to stay clear of roads at night.
Taxis & Uber in Riviera Maya
In the case of transport, it’s crucial to be aware Uber was recently sanctioned by local law enforcement in January 2023 to be able to operate in that region, but there are better options to use.
Uber has always been strongly decried by taxi drivers in the area. Numerous incidents of violence have also been reported against Uber drivers and their passengers.
Even if your Uber app works but it’s not a good idea for you to utilize Uber in Cancun Airport or the whole Riviera Maya region, including Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and Tulum.
So if you want to avoid renting a car in Riviera Maya, you’ll need to rely on taxis, public transportation, or hiring a private vehicle to get around.
It’s best to use taxis from official taxi stands and avoid hailing them from the street.
If you’re staying at a resort in Riviera Maya, it’s very easy to get a taxi as each resort usually has its taxi stand. And they’re typically pretty safe.
Make sure you know the cost upfront prior to boarding the bus. Some drivers might attempt to charge you more when you appear to be an outsider. An estimated chart should show you’re receiving the correct price.
The fares can be paid in Pesos or USD; however, it’s easier for you to make payments in pesos. You’ll reduce the exchange rate as well.
I’ve never experienced any problems when taking taxis in Riviera Maya, but I’ve heard about a few instances of kidnapping or theft, especially at night.
The best to avoid a taxi ride by yourself when you can. If you decide to take one, ensure you communicate the taxi’s numbers or Whatsapp live location with a person so they know where you’re headed.
Popular Scams in Riviera Maya
These are the most famous frauds in Riviera Maya that you need to look out for:
Airport Transportation Scams
The area where people arrive at Cancun Airport can be a highly crowded place (it’s called “the “shark tank”) and is an area where lots of people are cheated of.
In general, the market is awash with scammers who try to offer you expensive transport services or offer incorrect information about the options for transportation.
It’s the reason it’s important to reserve transfer tickets for your Cancun Airport transfer ahead of time with a reliable transfer company. I recommend Cancun Airport Transportation.
However, even if you do this, you must watch for possible scams since they could pretend to be the company you booked.
It’s best to invite people who arrive at your airport if you’re 100% certain they’re your transportation company.
Rental Car Scams
Unfortunately, rental car scams are prevalent in Mexico as well. Riviera Maya isn’t an exception.
There are many horror stories about car rentals, such as lengthy waiting times, not receiving the vehicle you requested, and enormous insurance charges.
It’s possible to be enticed by online ads for Mexico rental cars at as little as $1 per day, but you’ll be charged all the fees and insurance costs.
If you’re planning to hire a car in Riviera Maya, it is important to be highly cautious and research on the internet in advance.
I suggest using Discover Cars because it allows you to evaluate multiple rental car companies and read detailed reviews for the overall quality, ease of pick up, efficiency of the agents, vehicle condition, and overall amount of time.
Make sure you review all the small print and scrutinize reviews thoroughly since scams involving rental cars are frequent in Mexico.
Bill Swap Scam
Another fraudulent scheme in Riviera Maya that you should watch for can be the bill swap scam or quick switch scam. This typically occurs at the gas station.
In recent times, Mexico released a new 500 MXN currency bill, which is blue. Because MXN 20 bills are in blue, it’s unusual for attendants at the gas station to offer to exchange your $500 cash with the $20 note in hopes that you won’t be able to notice.
If you hand an individual $500, the agent will perform quickly and tell you they only gave you $20MXN. Be sure to keep a close eye on your expenses!
Overcharging or added Service Charges
Suppose you leave the hotel and head out for a meal at a restaurant in Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or Tulum. In that case, it’s not uncommon for the restaurant to attempt to include the gratuity automatically or service fee to the bill.
It’s illegal for companies to charge an automatic gratuity, so read your bill thoroughly.
Ensure you know if the charge is incorrect, and be bold and demand that they eliminate the fee. If you pay in cash, add up your change to ensure you pay the correct amount.
Staying Safe in Riviera Maya
Here’s the information you should be aware of regarding resort safety, Beach security, nightlife safety, and water security in Riviera Maya.
Resort Safety in Riviera Maya
If you’re planning to visit the Riviera Maya and do not plan for departure from the area, then you will not be afraid of any safety hazards.
Hotels in Riviera Maya are usually extremely secure and protected with 24-hour security.
When you’re at an all-inclusive Riviera Maya Resort, it’s best to be mindful of the alcohol you consume and not go out all night, even if it’s only in the hotel bar.
There have been instances at resorts with beaches in recent years when there was alcohol contamination. However, this is rare.
Recently, I’ve noticed that resorts are taking more extraordinary security measures to prevent tainted liquor, such as destroying empty bottles after each use to ensure they aren’t able to be filled again.
While staying at the resort, you’ll want to use your hotel’s safe to secure your precious items, credit cards, passports, and travel documents.
Refrain from thinking that your valuables are secure in the hotel room. It is impossible to know who is in charge of your room, including security, maintenance, housekeeping, and the other staff at your resort.
Beach safety in Riviera Maya
When you decide to step away from the resort and go to one of the public beaches in Playa del Carmen or the Riviera Maya, they’ll likely be swamped and full of vendors attempting to sell you their products and crafts.
Refrain from bringing valuables to the beach, and ensure you watch your possessions throughout the day. It’s an excellent place for bag thieves to escape quickly.
When I am in my water activities, I secure my bag for the beach and keep a careful and vigilant check on the bag.
If you’re looking to be extra careful, You can opt for the Pacsafe, which is safe that you can secure onto a beach chair or permanently mount.
If you’re heading to your hotel’s beaches, you can feel comfortable keeping your possessions on the beach if you have nothing valuable. Or you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, carrying valuables such as your wallet or cash is optional since you can keep them in the room.
Safe Nightlife in Riviera Maya
If you are planning to depart the resort and go out to the clubs in Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or Tulum, it is important to be extra careful.
Be sure to watch your drink or keep an eye on it to stop anyone from getting anything in it. Drink spills can indeed be a problem, particularly for women.
This isn’t something I’ve heard about often. However, it is a reality as it happens in many bars across the globe. Ensure you are aware of your alcohol consumption and avoid drinking with strangers.
When returning to the hotel, ensure you get taxis from official taxi stands, and do not take a cab by yourself whenever possible.
Drinking Water Safety in Riviera Maya
It’s crucial to know that drinking water from the tap in Riviera Maya (and the rest of Mexico) isn’t safe to drink for both locals and tourists. It’s best to use bottles or purified water when traveling in the area.
Most all-inclusive resorts provide free bottles of water and water purified for drinking; however, you’ll need to deliberate effort to drink enough water!
It’s easy to go for soft drinks and alcohol-based beverages when visiting. Still, it is important to drink a variety of water, particularly with the rising temperature levels in Mexico.
Riviera Maya Tips for Safety for Tourists
Take note of the following Riviera Maya safety guidelines to help you make sure you have a safe and enjoyable vacation:
Save valuables in the hotel safe:
Keep all necessary documents, like your credit card, passport electronic devices, jewelry, and passports secured in the hotel safe. Knowing who is in your hotel room is impossible, so it’s the best location to store your valuables. It’s an excellent idea to keep a minimum of 1 credit or debit card in the safe in your hotel when you’re out so that you can access cash if your wallet is taken.
Be sure to keep your personal belongings permanently close to hand:
When about and around in popular tourist areas, I suggest carrying a crossbody purse or belt bag with zipper closures. If you’d like to be extra careful, you can purchase bags for travel that you can wear underneath your clothes. Also, when dining in restaurants, make sure to have your bag on your lap or in the vicinity when eating in restaurants.
Don’t carry large sums of cash.
Only carry the money you’ll require for the day’s events, as flashing large sums of cash can be a source of danger.
Do not purchase illegal drugs.
As I said, stay clear of the drug scenes in Mexico, and you’ll be safe from trouble. If you’re offered a drug while walking in tourist areas, avoid it and continue walking.
Don’t go out by yourself:
Use the buddy system when you can, and stay away from staying out all night, even if it’s only at the bar in the hotel.
Be aware of your drinking habits:
Go wild in Riviera Maya; it’s your holiday at the end of the day! But, be mindful of how much alcohol you consume, ensure you’re with trusted people, and drink in a safe environment. Drunk tourists can be easy targets.
Do not accept drinks from individuals you’ve never met:
Drink spiking can occur. Therefore, you’re best not to drink from strangers or one that you’ve not made.
Do not become an easy victim.
Don’t wear expensive clothes or jewelry with flashy designs, as well as accessories that could make you look like an easy target for exploiting others, theft, or being charged too much.
Since you can’t drink the water in Riviera Maya, it is more difficult to keep hydrated when you depend on bottled water. Be aware of how to drink plenty of water during the hot summer months, and bring a collapsible bottle of water to bring along when you’re on the beach or at the pool.
Learn a bit of Spanish:
It’s a good idea to master basic Spanish before you visit Riviera Maya. There are plenty of English people working in the resorts, but being able to speak Spanish will help you to avoid being cheated.
Install the Guest Assist application:
The Guest Assist App was explicitly developed for travelers visiting Quintana Roo, the Mexican state Quintana Roo, and the Yucatan peninsula. It offers help and assistance for medical emergencies, lost documents, and details on how to contact the local consulate or embassy. Download it right here for Apple as well as Android.
Bring plenty of sunscreens:
The sun in Mexico is scorching, so be sure you have plenty of sunscreens, and then reapply all day. Biodegradable sunscreen for reefs is best when snorkeling or swimming.
Security in Riviera Maya FAQs
Here are the solutions to those frequently-asked questions on Riviera Maya security:
Is it safe to travel to Riviera Maya today?
Riviera Maya has indeed been deemed safe for travel so long as you observe the necessary safety precautions and stay clear of any illegal activities. Be aware of the surroundings, stay within the most popular tourist destinations, and avoid unnecessary risk.
Are you able to safely travel between Cancun Airport to Riviera Maya?
The most secure way to travel from Cancun Airport to Riviera Maya is to book an airport transfer with a private driver in advance. A reliable company such as Cancun Airport Transportation guarantees a safe and secure transfer from your home to the hotel in Riviera Maya.
Is Riviera Maya safer than Playa del Carmen?
Riviera Maya can be more secure as compared to Playa del Carmen. This is because all the hotels in Riviera Maya are well-secured and have fewer security dangers than in the bustling city of Playa del Carmen.
Is Riviera Maya more secure than Cancun?
Indeed, Riviera Maya is typically thought to be more secure than Cancun. The reason is that all the hotels in Riviera Maya are well-secured and have fewer security risks than in Cancun’s bustling city.
Is Riviera Maya, Mexico, safe for solo female travelers?
Absolutely, Riviera Maya is generally a safe destination for solo female travel. Female travelers will feel secure in hotels in Riviera Maya; however, like in any place, it’s essential to stay aware of the surroundings and take additional safety precautions.
Is Riviera Maya safe for families?
Absolutely, Riviera Maya can be considered an excellent location for families. All-inclusive resorts for families in Riviera Maya are secure and offer plenty of fun and facilities for both kids and adults.
Are the beaches of Riviera Maya currently safe when you’re staying at the resort?
Absolutely, Riviera Maya has been deemed a safe place to visit if you are staying at the resort. The resorts are guarded and have security procedures to ensure guests remain secure.
However, it’s nevertheless important to be conscious of your surroundings. Never let valuables go unattended, be aware of your drinking habits and follow the simple safety precautions while traveling to Riviera Maya.
Are you able to travel safely toward the Mayan Riviera?
In general, it’s risk-free to go to the Mayan Riviera. The majority of hotels are in remote locations, which are well-guarded and have security precautions in place to ensure guests stay secure.
Ensure you follow the simple safety guidelines, such as not letting valuables go unattended Be conscious of your surroundings and avoid any illegal activity.
Is there an Uber in Riviera Maya?
Technically speaking, Uber was authorized to begin operations in Riviera Maya in January 2023. However, it’s not yet safe to use, as there have been a few reports of violent incidents against Uber passengers and drivers.
Even if your Uber app works when you visit Riviera Maya, it could be more secure to be used in the entire region, including Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and Tulum.
Riviera Maya Safety: Final Words
So, how secure is Riviera Maya in Mexico? I hope I didn’t scare you with this piece; instead, I provided the information regarding security in Riviera Maya that you require to make an informed choice.
Riviera Maya may be a reasonably safe area, especially when staying at the resort and adhering to the basic safety guidelines. Hotels here have strict security and safety precautions to ensure that guests are protected.
When you visit, be aware of the surroundings. Don’t risk your life; stay clear of any criminal or drug-related activity.
Although risks to safety like petty theft and drug violence are real in Riviera Maya, those activities that are illegal late at night pose the highest risk and are often more hazardous.
However, if you take precautions, Riviera Maya is a safe and fun place for couples, families, and groups seeking an enjoyable beach vacation.
It’s among the best places to go in Mexico. It’s a fantastic vacation spot for an unforgettable beach getaway.
The region also has a myriad of incredible things to offer, including stunning beaches and unique cenotes, Mayan Ruins, and even adventure water parks which I do not believe the security risks should discourage visitors from going.
With this information, you’ll be able to make a better-informed choice on which Riviera Maya is the right choice for you.
I personally enjoy living here, but I realize it’s not for all. Take the lessons you’ve learned from this article to make the best choice for you!