The Best Shopping in Cancun and Riviera Maya

There’s no shame in taking a break from the beach to do a little shopping. You’ll need new beach togs and some locally-made chocolate for your stay, and a bottle or two of tequila to take home. From the hotel zone to Playa del Carmen and beyond, the shopping malls, flea markets, and souvenir shops around Cancun and Riviera Maya are stocked to please.

Blvd. Kukulcan km 12.5, La Isla, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Cancún’s best-known mall offers travelers an easy-to-reach location in the heart of the Hotel Zone. Known to locals simply as Plaza La Isla, this outdoor shopping center is a lovely spot to beat the heat thanks to its Venetian frippery (think winding canals), playful fountains, and ice cream parlors. The Marina area, with a restaurant row overlooking Nichupté Lagoon, is a top photo op. Reached via the designer shops in the Fashion Harbor section, it faces west and is ideal for catching the sun setting over the water.
km 1, Blvd. Kukulcan, Puerto Juarez, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
This sleek outdoor mall sits in the lavish neighborhood of Puerto Cancún, known for its marinas, golf course, and luxury homes. The shopping center features international brands like Zara and Sephora, along with a stylish, upscale food court featuring its own bar, views of the marina, and cuisine from all over the globe (think Thai fusion, raw bar, gourmet burgers, French bistro, sushi). For entertainment, the expansive Cinépolis movie theater has a VIP section with cozy recliners and table service right to your theater seat. Though designed for tourists, the theater is popular with local crowds, as well, thanks to its convenient location between the Hotel Zone and downtown. On weekends you can catch performances throughout the mall, including live music and acrobatic shows.
Calle Quinta Avenida, Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
Playa del Carmen’s winning charm emerges all along this wide pedestrian avenue, which runs parallel to the beach. Eateries here include everything from cheap fast food like Pizza Renzo to upscale restaurants and cafes; the best people-watching is from outdoor seating at the sports bar Tequila Barrel or Chez Céline bakery. The shopping scene offers international luxury brands side by side souvenir shops, but the most interesting Mexican handicrafts await at boutiques like Sin Pecado and Sol Jaguar. Since this part of town has little shade, it’s best to avoid the midday sun; instead, try an early-morning visit with some streetside coffee in hand, then revisit at sunset to kick off an evening of dining, shopping, and bar-hopping.
Playa del Carmen’s 10th Avenue runs parallel to the city’s famous 5th Avenue but has a more low-key vibe, a relief when you tire of crowds, malls, and big-name brands. This bustling one-way street does allow cars, but it’s also lined by a sidewalk and a nice restricted-lane bike path. And despite the central location just a block from the town’s most touristy area, the storefronts here are largely locally owned restaurants, ranging from cheap taco joints and Mexican bars to eclectic gourmet cuisine and smoothie stands, as well as various convenience stores, pharmacies, banks, and small hotels.
This unassuming two-story plaza has become a popular Friday- and Saturday-night hangout for 20- and 30-something locals. In addition to its shops, Plaza Paseo Cobá is home to several restaurants and bars with a trendy, bohemian vibe that’s far removed from the beach area’s bump and grind. Feast on artisanal Italian at indoor-outdoor Casa Sofia, or dance to live music at the Public Place.
Blvd. Kulkulcan km 8.5, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
This popular two-story mall in the hotel zone has been around for nearly 30 years and is constantly growing and being renovated. With some 150 shops offering everything from designer clothes and fine jewelry to souvenirs, it provides one-stop shopping in Cancun. Plaza Caracol is also a favorite gathering place for locals and has a food court with staples such as a Starbucks and a Häagen-Dazs.
Km 13 Blvd Kukulcan
Located on the second floor of Kukulcán Plaza, Hacienda Tequila sells 480 different types of tequila at some of the best prices in the area. Free samplings are welcome, and a small museum highlights the making of tequila. Kitschy Mexican crafts and souvenirs are an added touch
Ave. 10 y 1ra sur, C.C. Paseo del Carmen, Playacar, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
Located near the ferry pier, this upscale, open-air colonial mall is a favorite with locals and visitors alike. A cobblestone path leads past a number of U.S. brands and boutiques such as American Apparel and Diesel. For coffee lovers, Starbucks is located at its center.
Boulevard Kukulkan, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
For traditional Mexican handicrafts, Mercado Coral Negro is the easiest place to find all your wares. Here you can purchase jewelry, mayan relics, and unique creations from all over the region. The most beautiful items are the embroidered garments created from local cotton and dyed using traditional methods.
QROO 15, Tulum Beach, Q.R., Mexico
The more we know about the dark side of “fast fashion,” the more we love fair trade; do your part to support and spread the word. One shop trying to do just this is Tulum boutique, La Troupe, which is a showcase for handcrafted fashions and home décor that reflect the imagination of their unique creators. Come here to browse gorgeous textiles, often embroidered, now applied to extraordinary fashion and design. Everything is produced in local Maya communities. Feminine and stunning, these are treasures at a fair price for fair trade.
Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila Km 3.5, Tulum Beach, Zona Hotelera, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Fashionistas will be quick to snap up this new home-grown line that works to support creative and social development for the women of highland Chiapas. Each garment—often a combination of chiffon and linen—is hand-sewn; styles range from crisp and professional to blissfully free, empowering all women whatever their day-to-day activities. Locations throughout Mexico, but there’s something exciting about buying next to the beach from their sliver of a boutique in the Hotel María del Mar.
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