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Travel Tips for First Timer’s Quintana Roo, Mexico

beach in quintana roo

Our latest post: Travel Tips for First Timer’s Quintana Roo Mexico:

There’s something magical about flying out of our frozen tundra and into a tropical paradise. Living in West Michigan, our winters can be brutal. Hitting sub zero temperatures at times and being on the edge of lake Michigan, we are subject to lake effect snow GALORE. For our first time in January 2023, we took an all-inclusive vacation out of our frigid state of Michigan. We flew right into the warm and sunny state of Quintana Roo, Mexico for our latest post: Travel Tips for First Timer’s Quintana Roo Edition!

travel tips for first-timers in quintana roo

First off, everyone seems to refer to this area as “Cancun”, when in reality Cancun is just the major city that resides within it. Quintana Roo is the state that encompasses the city of Cancun as well as the major resort areas within the Yucatan Peninsula. The area along the coastline is also referred to as “Riviera Maya”.

But there are MANY situations to consider when booking your first trip to Riviera Maya. Everything from the right area to stay, transportation from the airport, to the clothes to pack! Don’t hop on the plane for your first trip to the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico without our latest tips! – Travel Tips for First Timer’s Quintana Roo.

1. Consider the Resort Feel You’re Going For

When booking a resort in the state of Quintana Roo, there are many factors to consider. If you’re looking for more of a glamorous resort vibe, you can’t go wrong sticking around the Punta Cancun area, a strip of peninsula just outside Cancun city. This area is best known for its modern and trendy resorts along the coastline that include everything from all-inclusive options to kid friendly or adult-only resorts. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, Tulum & Playa Del Carmen both offer great, less expensive resort options with more of a natural feel. Think “Jungle Vibes”.

Considering Tulum for your resort destination in Quintana Roo? Read more about making the most out of your Tulum Mexico vacation here.

If you’re going with an all-inclusive resort for your Quintana Roo trip, be sure to read up on how to get the most out of your all-inclusive resort stay on our travel guide: “Tips for All-Inclusive Resorts” here!

a picture of the xcaret destination park as one of our top travel tips for first timer's Quintana Roo.
The amazing jungle view just a few steps from our resort at the Occidental at Xcaret Destination. Resort Link Here!

Explore some of the highest rated resorts in Quintana Roo for First Timers:

  • Grand Park Royal Cancun – Punta Cancun Peninsula – All-Inclusive – spacious resort grounds, every room has a sea view, 2 pools, 4 on-site restaraunts
  • Hyatt Ziva Cancun – Punta Cancun Pennisula – Large resort feel offering a variety of activities to guest on site such as shows and live entertainment. Many pools & restaraunts on site
  • The Five Beaches Resort – Riviera Maya – All-Inclusive – More of a wildlife feel, 7 swimming pools, 5 restaraunts, and a kids club
  • Occidental at Xcaret Destination – Riviera Maya – All-Inclusive – very wildlife/nature orientated, 7 swimming pools, 11 restaurants, walking distance to the Xcaret Destination Park with underground cave exploration, swimming with dolphins, and more! GREAT for kids and couples

2. Book in Advance Through a Reputable Site

There are many options when it comes to booking a resort; Whether you’re looking at booking.com, Expedia, or another major booking site. Either way, ALWAYS compare rates with a local travel agent or through the resort’s website itself. We found with two of our trips, both resorts had a lower nightly rate on Booking.com than Expedia had listed!

Many of these resorts also book up to 18 Months in advance. Take advantage of the lowest booking rates by booking your stay FAR in advance. Worry not, many resorts don’t require payment until you arrive at the resort and you’re able to cancel free of charge up to 2 weeks before check in.

3. Fly into Cancun Airport (CUN)

cancun airport Travel Tips for First Timer's Quintana Roo

Choose to fly into Cancun Airport rather than one of the smaller airports in the region. We found Cancun airport easy to navigate, lines were quick, and customer service was friendly. (This is essential for us travelling with two littles ones!) Airfare is significantly more affordable than a smaller airport and transportation to your resort is easy to arrange.

4. Book Your Transportation to/from the Airport Ahead of Time

There’s nothing worse than landing on your first day of vacation and panicking to find a ride from the airport! Many resorts are more than an hour outside the airport so you WILL need to arrange transportation. With that said, Cancun airport will have many ride options outside the exit gate to your resort, but don’t overspend with one of these taxi services by not planning ahead. These taxi rates are inflated like crazy.

Save a few bucks and book your ride ahead of time through a reputable service. We used the Viator ride service and our ride was waiting for us upon exiting our terminal, even with our needed car seats installed and ready to go! Book here or through the link below:

5. Pack Dress Clothes for Access to Some Restaurants

Tacos, a mexican food in quintana roo.

We found at our resort that two of the main restaurants required long pants and closed toed shoes for men! Luckily my husband brought a pair, but without we would not be allowed entrance. Seeing as these were the restaurants with menu items we liked the best, we would have been seriously bummed! Don’t be stuck at the buffet – pack accordingly for dress codes and reference your resorts website for other possible requirements.

6. Bring Cash to Tip the Staff

a picture of the outside of a bar in quintana roo.

Even at an all-inclusive resort, but especially at an a-la care resort: DO NOT be the person who doesn’t tip the bartenders, wait staff, and room service. Many of these workers rely heavily on tips for their income, so tipping is very appreciated. But tipping is also a great way for you to ensure fast and friendly service as well. So, bring some cash and be sure to tip accordingly!

7. Tour the Local Ruins and Parks

mayan ruins in quintana roo, Mexico

While you’re there, don’t miss out on the local ruins and the different options many resorts offer for day trips. You may only be there once, so take advantage of the opportunity for different experiences! Quintana Roo offers a wide range of Mayan Ruins. Don’t miss out on the top must-see’s with the complete guide: “Expert Guide to the Ruins in Quintana Roo“!

We toured the Xcaret Destination while we were in Quintana Roo and it was definitely worth the added expense! We only bought a day ticket and found that was plenty of time to walk the whole park and even tour the underground caves. (Which did NOT disappoint, 10/10 definitely recommend)

underground cave exploration for first timers in quintana roo
Underground cave tour at Xcaret Destination

8. Definitely Book an Adventure Tour!

Even if hiking in the local parks isn’t your thing, Quintana Roo offers many different adventure options for everyone! Pick a fun adventure that suites you and your family and just dive in! Remember, adventure tours in Quintana Roo offer many options for traveling as a solo traveler, a couple, or a family. (Be sure to read up on our how to make the most out of a family vacation in Quintana Roo on our complete guide: “Playa Del Carmen With Kids“!

Can’t Miss Adventure Options in Quintana Roo for First Timers:

Click any of their links above to book at a great rate! More adventure tour options to explore below:

Above all else – plan in advance to save the most money, Penny Throwers, and ENJOY your vacation. Travel Tips for First-Timer’s Quintana Roo: Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog below for all the best travel tips and check out our shop for the best travel gear.

Travel Tips For First Timer’s in Quintana Roo FAQ’s

  • Is Quintana Roo Safe for All Travelers? Quintana Roo is a relatively safe area, but always make sure to take reasonable actions to prevent crime from happening.
  • Is Quintana Roo affordable? Quintana Roo can be incredibly affordable if you book ahead of time and price compare various resorts before booking!
  • Do you have to stay in an all-inclusive to visit Quintana Roo? No! There are all sorts of resort options in the area, including all-inclusive, ala carte, and adults-only options!
  • Is there a lot to do in Quintana Roo? Definitely! Explore Mayan Ruins, go scuba diving or snorkeling, lounge by the ocean, or explore local cuisine. There are options for everyone!

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Travel Tips for First Timer's Quintana Roo pinterest pin

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(9) Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more regarding booking an adventure trip. When going on a sun sanctuary holiday from a cold climate, you need someone else to do the hard work when it comes to sightseeing! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Love the first tip about resort vibes – it’s so important to do a lot of research on the resort options!

  3. Smart tips and looks like a lot of fun!!

  4. Interesting page. I honestly like the subject matter discussed here. I’ll check back from time to time for more posts like this one.

  5. Great post. It’s very well organized and quite educating. Stick with it.

  6. I’m glad I came across this webpage. I was searching for something else when I stumbled on it. Nice work.

  7. I have called the Riviera Maya home for almost 20 years! We came on vacation in 2004 and never looked back…. I’m so glad you and your family enjoyed your stay here! The Xcaret resort property is gorgeous. Good choice!!

  8. Julie says:

    Very useful tips! Thank you! I’m planning to visit later this year and this will come in handy.

  9. I love the parks and ruins in Quintana Roo Mexico. Awesome tips

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