Excursions, Playa del Carmen
We did 2 excursions while staying at the Viva Wyndham Azteca. We signed up for both through our Sunwind rep, First was the half day snorkeling tour. We paid for a half day snorkeling tour that was supposed to be three seperate snorkeling swims, with open bar and free lunch. What we got was 2 snorkeling swims, warm pop and water and no lunch. First swim was in a cenote which was great once we got there. We arrived at the dive center to get out snorkeling equipment, sans flippers and were told we had about a 5 minute ride to the cenote. After about an hour later we finally arrived. It was evident they did not know where they were going and had to stop locals to get get directions and 3 occasions. Once there we were introduced to our guide who was very informative and took us for a swim through the cenote. Very fun.
Our second dive was at the dive center on a beach called Akumal, which is Mayan for turtle. There we did see lots of sea turtles, an Eagle and Sting ray, groupers, a barracuda and lots of very colourful tropical fish. The swim lasted about two hours and was great.
Our second excursion was to Tulum and Xel-Ha natural water park. This was an all day tour and was great. Our guide at Tulum was very informative and we had lots of time to ourselves to explore. It was very hot that day but we were able to cool off at the beach.
Xel-Ha is a natural bay converted into a large water park. We spent 5 hours there and all I can say is that it wasn't enough time. There is so much to do there and too little time. Theres snorkeling, swimming, swim with the dolphins and so much more. There are 5 differnet restaurants and 2 bars which is all included in your all inclusive entrance fee. The food was great. Because its a natural park you can only use bio-degradeable sun tan lotion. If you don't have any you can deposit your own bottle for a very concentrated sample pack of theirs at any Information booth. You get your bottle back on your way out. Would definately go back.
Before booking through your travel rep to go to Xel-ha, go into Playa del Carmen, book a return trip on the collectivo and pay your own way in, you'll save a lot of money.
I haven't seen anyone else write a tip on this and I stumbled on it by accident, but it was simply AWESOME fun.
The proposition is simple - they give you an ATV (a 4-wheeled motorbike) and then take you hooning through the jungle on rough dirt tracks. Along the way, you stop for a swim at a crystal clear cenote and visit an underground cavern full of water, bats, stalactites and, courtesty of some comedians in my group, Gollum.
There were a lot of ladies and a couple of kids in our group, so pretty much anyone can do it, although there are no helmets so be careful and stay at the back if you're not confident.
However, if you want to go as fast as humanly possible with your screaming girlfriend clinging on to you for dear life, be quick and claim an ATV at the front of the line when they get assigned. Otherwise you may spend the tour behind some deadbeat, lamenting the lack of built in weaponry.
It's about $48 if you want your own ATV, or $38 each to share one between two. The cool yellow dust goggles come with the ticket.
You can book through a travel agent - we used Mayalum, on the corner of Calle 6 and 10th Ave.
The place itself is on the main highway just on the South side of town. You can take a cab there from 5th Ave in about 10 minutes for US$10 (probably less if you can be bothered to haggle). Just show the taxi driver the brochure and he'll know where to go. There are cabs waiting at the end of the trip too - be smart like the Conspirator and Agent 78 and grab one while everyone else from your tour is gawking over the for sale personalized photos that you're not going to buy anyway.
This excursion is fully booked every time we go so I finally found a website where you can book in advance with a 10% discount for prebooking more than 14 days in advance. Unfortunately, they were out of commission in December 2005 due to inspections so I guess we will try again the next time we go :-(
You will find many boats sitting on the shore in Playa just waiting to take you out deep sea fishing or diving. Ask around because I here some know of better spots then others and always come back with a larger catch. Also, some offer to prepare and cook your catch for you. Sound great to me! Cant really pack it up and take it home. Even if you dont catch anything, a boat ride on these beautiful waters is a great way to spend a half day. From what I was told, the best in town is the one located next to Paraiso Beach club.