Puerto Morelos, Puerto Morelos
Concierge.com's insider take:
The residents of Puerto Morelos, a small town just 11 miles south of the Cancún airport adamantly resist any outside attempts to "modernize" or overdevelop their seaside community. The main plaza is still a simple affair with a few benches near a wooden pier where small fishing and dive boats dock. Casual cafés, money exchanges, and a used bookstore stuffed with popular mysteries and obscure travelogues face the plaza, and a few souvenir shops and small hotels abut family homes on the nearby streets. Local artisans sell embroidered blouses, woven hammocks, and assorted seashell trinkets at a market near the plaza. The hotels near town are a mix of budget holdovers (Posada Amor) and yoga retreats (Villas Shanti), while pricey boutique hotels (Ceiba del Mar) and luxurious resorts (Secrets Excellence) claim the coastline north and south of town. Diehard scuba divers love the area around Puerto Morelos for its proximity to shallow coral reefs harboring huge schools of tropical fish. Small lanchas depart from the town pier throughout the day, carrying divers and snorklers to the reefs in less than 10 minutes. Arrange your trip in advance with Wet Set Diving Adventures (Hotel Ojo de Agua, Avenida Javier Rojo Gomez s/n, Puerto Morelos; 52-998-871-0198). But before you leave, fuel up on fresh fish grilled with garlic at Pelicanos, on the beach on the south side of Puerto Morelos's main plaza (52-998-871-0014).