We always travel to Mexico in December which is outside the peak hurricane season of September and October but many Caribbean vacations have been ruined by those opting to roll the dice and travel during hurricane season. We were in Playa about a month after Wilma hit in 2005 and they were feverishly replacing palm trees and trying to get the beaches back in Playa, Cancun was still a mess. But that was much better than being there when the hurricane hit, people were stranded at airports and obviously vacations were ruined.
While there in 2008, we noticed these large beached whale looking sand bags placed in the water, presumably to prevent beach erosion and hurricane damage. While not the most attractive thing to see when gazing out at the ocean, it seems to be working in this area to keep a nice large beach.
Souvenir shopping-post liquid free flying
Welcome to the era of liquid free flying! The downside of carrying on all your luggage is how to get liquid souvenirs home with you. Either you can cough up the $15 or so to check a bag or you can wait until you get to duty free at the airport and buy your liquid souvenirs there, provided of course that you are not on a connecting flight. *Sigh*
We opted for the latter as we were on a straight flight back to Chicago, there's a good selection of tequila and other liquid refreshments, we found the honey liquer we were looking for as well as the pure vanilla. The only casualty was the sunscreen I forgot I packed that oddly made it through the US screening process but not the Mexican screening process. Yeah, that liquid ban sure is making flying safer...
Forget about bringing an empty water bottle with you to the Cancun airport, there are no water fountains in sight. And I wasn't about to use the tap water from the bathroom. So be prepared to pay the extortionary airport concession prices if you find yourself on the inevitable winter storm delay that keeps you at the airport for an extra few hours and dying of thirst.
Watch out for the Mosquitos
I went to the Riviera Maya in early November. At least at this time of the year, the period from 7 to 8 am and from 5.30 to 6.30 pm is mosquito time. No repelent can help you at these times. The best thing to do is not to go outside.
Beware the water
On the nice resorts and popular establishments, you'll generally never have any problems, but if you want to venture off the beaten path and eat local, I highly recommend Black Walnut extract when travelling to places that have the potential for parasites in the water supply.
Black Wanut Hull is a natural extract ... a few drops in a bottle of water every day. You have to keep it cool so you'll need to pack it in ice on your travel and keep it in a fridge while your at your hotel. I enjoyed a lot of local fair and I have never been sick.
- Study Abroad
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
We ran into this . When gasing up your car , pay atention to how much money you give the attendent. keep your eyes on him or her. While we gased up our attendent pulled the old switcharoo with the $50.00 bill I gave her, replacing it with a $1.00 bill. The federales were close by so we opted not to cause a scene , we ended up having to pay again...
Grand Coco Bay Death
On Monday morning 7-16-07 I don’t have all the details on the first fatality of the day but a man who was drunk from what we heard slipped out by the pool and died. In the afternoon a young boy (Hunter) about the age of 9 or 10 was playing in the hot tubs. He drowned and was in the tub about 10 minutes before anyone noticed. Despite the efforts of a Doctor from Penn. two ICU RN’s from Texas and several other individuals with medical training including myself, Hunter could not be saved.
CPR was administered for 40 minutes without establishing a viable heart beat.
Be advised no one at the resort knew CPR. The lifeguards, the staff no one had any medical training what so ever.
No defibrillators were available at the resort.
The medics that arrived at the 15 or 20 minute mark did not have any equipment.
They left after I asked them for a De Fib and when they said no I asked them what the %$#%#%#% good are you then.
The dive boat did not have any medical equipment on it either. Well ok they had band aids.
The police did not have anything but guns but loved to just stand there with their fingers up their butt and watch. It took 40 minutes for the in town doctor to arrive.
The hotel staff do not read the reports and complaints filed or enforce rules.
Need less to say but I will definitely not be staying at this resort or any resort in this area again. After speaking with numerous people none of those who were there at the time will ever go back. Maybe a little over reaction but the value placed on human life here needs to be changed. People vote with their wallets and this is the only way it will ever change here.
I didn’t know Hunter but from what I understood afterwards he was a very outgoing boy.
Suave with all the ladies and held his ground with the guys as well. He was also an excellent swimmer. Hunter will be missed by many.
- Family Travel
Using your credit card
The respresentative from Best Day told us to be careful using our credit card in Mexico, he said that some unscrupulous people would write down the amount in pesos but if they didn't write pesos next to it, they would get paid in dollars. So a 600 peso charge which should be about $60US would show up as $600US. Make sure that pesos is written on the credit card slip before signing it.
Beware of the time share salesmen. A lot of them have storefronts set up like travel agencies. When they mention that they will give you free tickets to whatever activity you are interested in, run as fast as you can!
I've never been sucked into one but I understand that they can last for hours and they are very high pressure. But some people, especially if they have a lot of time for vacation, actually plan on going on these while on vacation if they are down there for a couple of weeks to make a little extra money or get free excursions, just make sure you know what you are getting into.
Our resort this time, the Reef Playacar, even had one inside the resort, set up as a concierege, the minute she mentioned Royal Haciendas and said something about free tickets we politely excused ourselves and booked our excursion with the representative from Best Day Tours that Expedia uses.
PdC Traffic Police - One way streets!
Our first day driving around Playa del Carmen looking for a parking spot, we had a run-in with a traffic cop. You see, most streets in PdC are one way, and the direction is designated by a teeny tiny little arrow on the street signs. There are no "One Way" signs and no "Do Not Enter" signs. Only those little teeny tiny arrows, which if you didn't know about them, you might not notice. Well, my husband didn't notice them and turned onto a street going the wrong way and then realized almost immediately his mistake. Well, there was no oncoming traffic, so he decided to make his way to the next intersection to make a turn to correct himself. Wouldn't you know there was a cop standing near the intersection around the corner and as soon as he saw us, he waved us down. I begged by husband to pretend he didn't see him and to keep going. The guy was half a block away and we could have got away no problem. But my husband wanted to be a good guy and he pulled over and waited for the cop to make his way to us. He figured he could make the guy understand that he made a reasonable mistake and already realized his error and was about to correct himself. Surely the cop would just make sure he wasn't drunk and he would let us go. . . . No. This was not the case. The cop did not want to understand and kept saying, "Infraction!... Infraction!" He hinted that he would have to give us a $60 ticket that we would have to pay at the police station 65 kilometers away. When asked what he wanted us to do, he seemed to think that $20 USD would fix everything. So, we finally parked in PdC, $20 lighter than when we had left the hotel and a little bit wiser and wary of the local cops.
The Conspirator encountered notorious Australian ex-hit man Chopper Read on a sailboat en-route to Isla de Mujeres. Fortunately, a large supply of rum and coke was on hand to placate Chopper and we actually hit it off.
I would strongly recommend all travellers in the Cancun-Playa del Carmen region to carry at least 4 liters (1 gallon) of rum and coke mixture at all times in case Chopper makes a sudden appearance
Beware of the Timeshare Guru's
From the moment you walk through customs at the airport your suseptible to the Timeshare attacks. Their approach is subtle. They'll first ask you if you know where your going or try to get your attention by handing you a brochure of the many things to do in and around Playa Del Carmen and Cancun. They will get you engaged in a helpful manner and before you know they will try to sign you up for a Timeshare tour and you have wasted 1/2 hour to an hour of your precious vacation time. A new scam has developed now, where in your hotel room there is a note stating that there is a gift basket waiting for you & to call this number to arrange a time to meet in the lobby in order to receive the gift. Bad idea calling this number. Yeah, they'll give you a nice bottle of wine and some fruit & cheese, then your stuck there for an hour while they run through their speel. Not something I want to do on my vacation!
- Spa and Resort
- Water Sports
Don't buy silverware!!!!!!!!
A friend of mine warned me not to buy silver articles in Playa, as it's not the best place to buy them cause you can find best rates in other places such as Valladolid, and the material is not very trustworthy.
Be sure to look for the stamp .925 or .950 on the silver. It is especially good if there is the stamp Mexico or Mex with the numbers. There are a lot of fake silver vendors (usually they are walking along the beach). It is better to buy silver in a store than from a person walking on the beach. Although I did find a shop in Playa del Carmen that was selling fake silver to tourists, but most of the time the silver in shops is safer.
- Budget Travel
Protect Your Credit Cards
Playa Del Carmen and Cozumel are especially notorious for fraud, copying, and the theft of credit cards. There are hundreds of credit card fraud stories on the Net about these two places.
Beware of waiters or hotel attendants "double swiping" cards, even at reputable places. Also be cautious of fake ATM machines, plain white machines that look innocent enough but don't actually dispense cash, they read "out of service" once you swipe your card. (I got taken in by one of these.)
Use cash for transactions whenever possible! In Playa, use the ScotiaBank across from the bus station, but cover your PIN number when you type it in and take a look around the machine for any hidden cameras that may have been added by thieves. If you must use your card, never let it out of your sight, go with the waiter or worker and watch everything they do. This is a huge problem in this area of Quintana Roo. When you get home, check your statement often (online or over the phone) to make sure nobody's currently using your numbers.
- Luxury Travel
- Budget Travel
There is no point in bringing your mobile to Mexico any more because their service providers really take advantage on long distance calls. I checked my rates the 2nd day I was there and they were going to charge me $3.50/minute, which is completely ridiculous, especially considering the fact that we are on the same continent (eg. from Tunisia it costs $1.50 to call Canada).
The National company selling Phone cards in Mexico will charge $1.50 to $2.00 USD a minute.
You are much better off going on the 5th avenue and going into one of the many phone stations which will charge 0.20 to 0.30 cents to calls made to the US and Canada. Calls made to Australia will cost about $1.20 USD. There was one with a really nice owner on the 5th and 14th avenues.
- Book now for big savings!
- Hotels.com Outstanding choice of hotels all over the world at fantastic prices.
- Save up to 50% off Hotels Everyday
- Expedia.com Photos, Reviews and the Guaranteed Lowest Prices