Cancun’s original Riu property, Riu Caribe, is located on the upper part of the “7” in the Hotel Zone on a swimmable stretch of beach. The resort is walking distance to the Isla Mujeres ferry dock (Embarcadero Pier) and a short bus ride away from both downtown Cancun and Plaza Forum (nightclub central). Although adjacent to the Riu Palace Peninsula, Riu Caribe guests cannot access neighboring resort amenities; however, many guests of the Peninsula stroll over to the Caribe to enjoy its lovely beach area. The resort’s general architectural style is reminiscent of the Yucatan’s Mayan heritage with its pyramid-like features both inside and out–enjoy the open-air lobby with its stark orange and white contrasts, contemporary lobby bar (check out their specialty coffees), and the many seating arrangements in an area shaped like a pyramid’s interior space. Riu Caribe’s last major renovation occurred in 2012 and, due to its popularity among Cancun vacationers, the property is showing some wear and tear once again.
The resort’s best asset is its white sand beach and turquoise water beyond. Guests will find motorized and non-motorized water sports, loungers with shade palapas (there is also some natural shade as well), and easy ocean access. The calm, shallow waters by the resort are perfect for families with young children or those who just want to enjoy being in the water without having to worry about strong waves or undertow common on the Caribbean Sea side of the Hotel Zone. It is also possible to snorkel right off the beach with more ideal conditions occurring on the east side by the pier. Guests will need to get up very early in the morning if they want a shady spot; palapas and their accompanying loungers are typically “reserved” with towels around 6 a.m.
Another of the resort’s better assets is the beachfront main pool with its multiple built-in tiled loungers, swim-up bar, massive shelving areas, and children’s swim area which is sectioned off from the rest of the pool. The sundeck holds many loungers, few shade palapas, and offers minimal natural shade, while the adjacent hammock area is a relaxing place to observe all the daytime games and activities which occur. A second pool is available on the eastern side of the resort for those who want a quiet atmosphere. This pool has no swim-up bar, but it does offer built-in tiled loungers and has many shade palapas.
With the last renovations done in 2012, guests will find large showers in their rooms along with a basic blue and white décor. While rooms are rather plain, they offer most amenities vacationers will need–a balcony/terrace, digital safe, A/C, flat screen TV, mini-bar, and a liquor dispenser which is complimentary in every room at every Riu resort. Coffee makers, however, are conspicuously absent. Guests who desire full ocean views should request oceanfront rooms above the fifth floor since the mature palm trees and garden area does an excellent job of obscuring the view.
Although all guest rooms have balconies, the Mayan pyramid design of the building presents privacy issues for guests who have Jr. Suite oceanfront rooms. Despite having the largest balcony area, guests from upper floors can easily view balconies below. Also, it is easy to view others on their adjacent balconies in these rooms as well. Those who desire more privacy may want to forego the extra space and book a regular ocean view room instead.
While Riu Caribe is a family-friendly resort and offers a Kid’s Club, children’s activities can be sporadic and not well attended. This particular Riu location may be a better fit for families with preschool children who want to focus on pool and beach family activities instead of heavily utilizing the Kid’s Club.
Although Riu Caribe guests may not access the neighboring Riu resort, they are free to visit the Riu Cancun during the day and enjoy its multiple pools, bars, and restaurants. At night, guests may return to Riu Cancun’s disco to party the night away.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Three pools, swimmable area, free lobby WiFi, many rooms with great ocean views, some rooms with large balconies.
Con: Lack of balcony privacy in some rooms, no in-room coffee maker, in-room WiFi $
Best Suited For: Families with preschoolers who want to do most activities as a family, singles/couples looking for lots of planned daytime activities and drinking opportunities, vacationers who want to swim in calmer waters.
No. of Rooms: 506
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace, small table and two chairs, mini-bar, digital safe, flat screen TV, ceiling fan, radio alarm clock, telephone, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, shower-only, and toiletries. There is no room service. In-room WiFi has an additional fee. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Standard Ocean View: King or two dbl beds. Obstructed/partially obstructed view, or partial ocean view.
- Deluxe Ocean View: King or two dbl beds. Higher floors, some rooms may have partial ocean view.
- Jr. Suite Ocean View: King or two dbl beds, dbl sink, large terrace with two full loungers and two plastic chairs. Ocean view.
- Jr. Suite Oceanfront: King or two dbl beds, dbl sink, large terrace with two full loungers and two plastic chairs. Full ocean view.
- NOTE: Jr. Suite balconies have privacy issues. Also, there are no tubs in which to bathe young children.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Three pools (beachfront with swim-up bar, children’s shallow section, quiet pool), small Jacuzzi, spa, beauty salon, sauna and fitness center age 18+, motorized and non-motorized water sports, tennis courts, theater, Kid’s Club (ages 4-12), playground, pool and beach wait service, sports bar, hammocks, gift shop, concierge, tour desk, car rental, ATM.
Restaurants/Bars: One primary buffet (Albatros), one secondary buffet open for breakfast and lunch (Gaviotas), three a la cartes including Mexican (Maria Margarita), Asian (Shangri-La), and a steakhouse (Gaviotas–no A/C). A la cartes require advance reservations up to two days in advance (bookings can be made from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.). There is a pizzeria by the quiet pool, while the sports bar offers 24-hr. snacks including sandwiches. Bars include a swim-up bar, poolside bar, lobby bar, theater bar, and sports bar.
Entertainment: Live theater shows and music each night in the lobby, sports bar with air hockey and pool tables.