Post Wilma Beaches
In case you are curious about the beach at Playa Del Carmen after hurricane wilma - the answer is "they are great!" I was there the entire month of november 05. Playa came back sooooo quickly. By the time i left even much of the leaves were back on the trees! The locals really pulled together to get Playa up and ready for tourists. I was on one of the first planes ot arrive in Cancun after the hurricane. I had Playa to myself for awhile, which was really pretty cool! But i felt for those who went without the tourist dollars - so y'all get down there and help make up for time lost!
Si'an Kaan is a national park to the south from Tulum, where you can see lots of wildlife. A boat will take you around a huge bay with mostly fresh water. You'll see lots of birds in mangrove brush. Then the boats will take you out to the open sea, and, if you are lucky, you'll see dolphins or turtles or both.
After lunch you'll go to coral reefs for snorkeling. Snorkeling is quite good here, I even saw a ray, although it was a littel stormy and the visibility was not so good.
This trip is quite expensive - more than USD 100, but I recommend it to people who love nature.
South of Cancun, along Highway 307, is the Riviera Maya. The road through this 160 kilometers coastline run parallel to the sea, and almost every turnoff to the left leads to a marvellous place. Playa del Carmen is midway between Cancun and Tulum and you can reach many destinations by taxi, car and bus, or take the boat and go to visit Cozumel Island.
Get Your 5th Avenue Caffeine Here!
On 5th Avenue, the first coffee shop you will come upon is a hectic little place called "Cafe Sasta," with people lined out the door, a patio with all the tables always taken, and a long, long, long wait to get your fix. I say, "Keep walking!" I waited there once for 40 minutes for my coffee before giving up and vowing to never return.
If you can walk an extra 15 minutes for your java, there's a funky little cafe up the street called "Cafe Corazon," where you'll find be greeted with a big smile, fast service, and plenty of seating on the patio. It is quite far up 5th Ave (past Avenida Constituyentes) but one look at the others sitting around will tell you that this is where locals go to sit, enjoy the weather, and even conduct business.
The interior is gorgeous--painted a deep red with very cool Mexican art on the walls.
The friendly women working the counter took my order through my poor Spanish, told us to have a seat outside while waiting, and delivered two scrumptious frappaccinos in less than three minutes. Suck on that, Cafe Sasta!
2008 Update: That sneaky, multinational, corporate leech known as "Starbucks," has just opened a shop two doors down from Corazon. Please help keep a local shop alive and patronize Cafe Corazon instead. ...Besides, the coffee is much better.
Good Mexican right on 5th Avenue
December 2006 update, we stopped here a 2nd time and were less impressed, probably won't go back here again
They were just opening this restaurant when we were in Playa del Carmen in December 2004 so it's a relatively new addition to the restaurant strip on 5th Avenue. We saw the woman we dealt with at the travel agency eating here so we thought it would probably be a good option for a place to eat a late lunch after a long day of snorkeling.
Seating is covered but open air like many of the restaurants in PDC with a view of 5th Avenue, service was efficient and friendly. A complimentary basket of chips and salsa are brought to your table to start, the salsa was on the hot side (didn't get on 2nd visit). On our 1st visit we ordered tacos al pastor con queso-marinated pork, cheese and pineapple tacos (55 pesos); queso fundido con chorizo, melted cheese and chorizo sausage with a hint of nutmeg with flour tortillas (69 pesos) and fried calamari. I thought the tacos al pastor and queso fundido con chorizo were both excellent, the fried calamari was a disappointment, a bit cold and chewy.
On our 2nd visit in December 2006, the queso fundido con chorizo was a little overcooked and the portion small for the price. The chicken taco appetizer was bland.