The Beaches of Playa Del Carmen
Favorite thing: The beaches was one of the primary reasons I decided to visit Playa Del Carmen. I had heard that they were stunning and I was not disappointed. The sand is like white powder and the sea is warm and relatively calm.
There are numerous beach clubs along the beaches here. You can buy drinks and food here but you have to rent a beach chair if you sit here and want to sunbath. Within an hour of my stay here, I listened to an argument between the staff of one club and some tourists who were ignorant of the fact that sitting in that deck chair was not free. Be warned as little is free here.
Favorite thing: Also known as Brazilian Aardvarks, the COATI is a member of the racoon family. They are diurnal mammals native to South America, Central America and South-western North America. There were quite a few of them at the RiuTequila - my guess is about 30 Coati. I was quite surprised to see so many. They are odd-looking creatures with a long ringed tail, which can be as long as their bodies. They can weigh between 2 and 8 kg ( 4.4 and 18 lbs.) - about the size of a large house cat. Coatis have a slender head with a long upward-turned nose, small ears, dark feet and the long tail, used for balance and signalling. Coatis have racoon-like paws with nonretractable claws. Coatis are active day and night. You could see them scooting around the walkways of the resort.
Coatis are omnivors and their diet consists of insects and fruit. They also eat small vertebrate such as lizards, rodents, small birds and bird's eggs. The snout, with an incredible sense of smell, is used to unearth their meal. I often saw them clawing through the dirt looking for something to eat. By the way, there are signs everywhere, telling people not to feed them.
Coatis are very sociable and quite harmless (if left alone). I found them quite fun to watch especially the babies..
TRAVEL TO MEXICO - THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Favorite thing: ARRIVAL IN MEXICO
Upon arrival in Cancun, Mexico you will clear Immigration, claim your luggage and then clear Customs.You are then pointed in the direction of a person who will ask you to push a button. If you push "Green" you are free to Exit. But if you push "red" as what happened to both of us, you will have to go to secondary inspection. The secondary person asks you to undo your suitcases and then he/she proceeds to go through your suitcases and carry-ons. No big deal, just a little annoying.
If you are with a travel company ( we were with Apple Vacations) a representative will meet you outside the airport and direct you to your hotel transfer. If traveling to Playa del Carmen, you can expect a 445 to 90 minute transfer.
MEXICAN TOURIST CARD
A Mexican Tourist Card and Customs Declaration Form will be provided to you by the airline. Both copies of the card must be filled out, signed and presented upon arrival in Mexico. A copy will be returned to you. You must safeguard this copy as you will need it for your return flight. If you lose your tourist card, there may be a fee to replace it.
It is not recommended renting vehicles in Mexico. Buses and taxicabs are plentiful and offer a convenient and inexpensive means of transportation in Cancun.
CREDIT CARDS/CURRENCY EXCHANGE
Major credit cards are accepted throughout Mexico. Most hotels and banks provide currency exchanges where you can convert your U.S., CDN or Euros to Pesos. ATM Machines are available for cash withdrawals.
Due to a new Mexican law, the use of U.S. dollars in Mexico is restricted. Some businesses may not accept U.S. dollars at all.
While the water in most hotels and resorts is treated through modern water purification and sanitation plants, drinking bottled water is still recommended. Our resort supplied bottled water.
THE BEACH --- PLAYA
Favorite thing: Hans and I are not really into relaxing near the Swimming Pool. The place for us to be is on THE BEACH. We usually had the same routine every day. After breakfast, we headed for the front of the hotel, where the Beach Shuttle "Golf Cart" picked us up and took us to the Beach.(Beach Transport - 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m./3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.).
We picked our spot, usually under a bunch of palm trees. There were tons of lounge chairs, but really, if you didn't get there by 10:00 a.m., empty chairs got a little harder to find. Some came early and saved chairs with their beach towels, but this is not really allowed.
Once settled in, Hans had his knitting and I usually had a book to read. We located near the volleyball net, so I could watch the hunks play volleyball - very entertaining! hehe! Also, there was always windsurfers and the odd parasail to watch and enjoy. I also loved watching the Pelicans flying low over the sea.
We would take turns going for a walk on the beach. The "Playa" is blessed with a long stretch of white sand beaches and turquoise seas.
Life guard is on duty.
Also, don't forget your sun protection. The sun is very strong, so even on a cloudy day, you can get a sun burn.
Meet locals to really get to know the place
Favorite thing: Locals are friendly and there is a way to meet them. You can use several sites but the safest one is couchsrufing.com You can find people that you can even stay with or just go out for drinks or coffee. Or simply show you around. The site is great because gives you feedback of people and profiles and reputation is hard to build. Completely safe and quite worth it for a real playa experience.
Going to a place such as playa as a tourist is one thing, but experiencing the culture and mingling from people from the community is another. Highly recommended.
Fondest memory: Going to a bar for locals called Hangover Bar Playa. We went there the last night I was there, with friend I made from Playa. It was just an amazing time. Sang karaoke, had a few drinks and made lifetime friends. Can't wait to go back!
- Women's Travel
- Arts and Culture
It doesn't have to be expensive
Favorite thing: Yes Playa del Carmen is safe, it's my home town. It's not crazy like Cancun, just laid-back. If you walk too fast, someone will tell you to slow down! There's lots to see and do, it doesn't have to be expensive if you get away from 5th Avenue. Maybe rent an apartment rather than a hotel.
For meals, I can tell you about 2 small cafes where you can get a meal and drink for around $US3, there are lots more in Playa. Margaritas during Happy Hour for $2. Movies in English at the cinema cost $3 too. Massages on the beach for $20. Swim in the cool waters of a cenote and feel the earth's energy. You can catch local buses instead of going on expensive tours to visit Tulum, and yes it's so worth it. Feel free to email me if you need help with anything. Enjoy!
Fondest memory: I love the beautiful turquoise Caribbean Sea, it's warm and inviting. I love wandering along the beach, watching happy travellers play beach volleyball, listening to live bands playing Santana music, stopping for a drink or a massage.
There's likely to be a wedding on the beach, or people dancing salsa on the pier.
- Family Travel
Safety in Mexico
Favorite thing: If you are concerned about violence and your safety in Playa del Carmen, don't be. A lot of the media reports are grossly exaggerated. Sure there is violence in parts of Mexico, but mostly in the border zones and amongst cartel members. Quintana Roo where Riviera Maya is, is amongst the 3 safest areas in Mexico. I recently spent 2 weeks there and didn't feel unsafe for a moment, and have even bought a condo there so I'm not concerned at all. The crime rate in parts of the USA are higher than Mexico, in fact the murder rate in Washington DC is 4 TIMES that of Mexico City. Do your own research and don't believe all you see on TV.
- Family Travel
$400 Cash Back swimming with Dolphins
Favorite thing: Last Weekend I went to Xel-Há and I swam with dolphins. Days before I bougth a Primax pass with Mexatlantica Agency and I got really sorprised when, once in Xel-Há, the staff from Delphinus Xel-Há repay me with $400 to used in any other activitie organized by the travel agency were I bougth the Swimming with dolphins ticket, Mexatlantica.
So dont let it go and aske for the Cash Back between Delphinus and various Travel Agencies.
Fondest memory: The sea color and the positive vibes.
- Family Travel
Playa del Carmen and surrounding areas
Favorite thing: Hi! I actually stayed at a resort called Barcelo a little south of Playa. However, we went there one night to hang out on 5th Avenue. I know the resort I stayed at was nice, plenty to do, and fairly close to Playa as well as not too far from Cancun where the airport is. From what I've heard most of the resorts are similar. The water is beautiful! I stayed at a 4 star resort and unless you just have the money to even though the 5 stars are nicer I don't know how much it would be worth. I mean yeah they have flat screen tvs, internet, and bigger bathrooms but when you go to a tropical place it makes more since to spend more time outside right?! Anyways that is my input. Hope this helps!
Favorite thing: US $ are widely accepted on the Yucatan Peninsula, especially in the tourist areas around Cancun and Playa del Carmen but I prefer to use the local currency, the peso, since it is the currency of Mexico and also because you tend to get a better exchange rate when using the peso.
I bring some small US bills to use to tip the taxi/van driver and bellboys before I get to an ATM machine and to use as a backup if my ATM card doesn't work. Then we go and find an ATM, this website has a list of some options, I usually stop by the Scotia Bank at the corner of 5th Avenue and Juarez and have never had a problem using it.
The only time I've used my credit card is to book tours through the hotel and I imagine some of the more expensive restaurants also accept them. Make sure before you sign the credit card slip that the type of currency is marked or you make end up being scammed, see my warning tip.
Booking tours in town
Favorite thing: The hotel rates and FunJet's rates for excursions seemed to be a bit on the high side so we went on a search for a tour operator we could book from. Our first encounter was with (surprise!) a time share pusher but we chatted with a British traveler who sent us to an agency where all they were selling was tours. The agency we used was Mayaluum, the booked us a tour out to Chichen Itza for almost half of what the hotel wanted.
Located at 10Esq. Calle 2 Nte.
Favorite thing: I just have one tip for you. Have a great time!!! Whatever you choose to do in Quinta Roo, I know you'll have a blast. Everyone I know who has ever traveled here has had a fantastic time, no matter how they choose to spend their time. So the big tip of the day is ENJOY YOURSELF!
- Diving and Snorkeling
Post Wilma Beaches
Favorite thing: 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!
Fondest memory: 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!
- Water Sports
- Diving and Snorkeling
Not the same as it was!
Favorite thing: My favorite thing about Playa del Carmen is my memory of how it used to be! Beware that Playa is not a sleepy fishing village with a few tourists (anymore) but more like a small Cancun (of 10 years ago). If you need t-shirts there is no shortage of shops that sell them but don't expect any local art or artisanal goods. And the food costs on 5th avenue are out of sight. If you want to eat for a reasonable price... eat a taco at a local place or at El Venado y el Faisan out on the highway (still the same great food after many years). The restaurants along the main drag (5th ave.) are spotty in quality, uniformaly over-priced and full of surly waiters. And the hawkers somehow think that being insulting will endear them to you. I aplogize to all Playa lovers but as a person who lives and travels regularly in latin america I think one can expect more.
move away from the ferry :)
Favorite thing: while i stayed at a lovely place a few blocks from the bus station and a few more from the ferry, most of the nicer places are at least 10 blocks north of the ferry on avenida 5 (5th ave).
Fondest memory: playa is by no means the rugged yucatan, but it has lovely beaches and no highrise resorts. if you move east, away from ave 5, you can find great cheap food. i felt safe the entire time.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Water Sports