Our Playa Del Carmen vacation was one of my favorites. It’s on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, only about an hour’s drive from Cancun. Beach clubs and bars line the sand while restaurants and shops pack Avenida 5, the main strip. Great combo of relaxation and adventure.
Andrew and I went to Playa for our one-year wedding anniversary and had a fantastic time. It was a good mix of beach time, outdoor adventures, and site seeing. I would go back in a heartbeat.
We are staying in a one-bedroom villa at Acanto Boutique Hotel. It was fabulous. We got a Groupon, so it came out to $800 for 6 six nights. I always see hotel deals for Playa. Check it out before booking. There are many great hotels in the area that won’t break the bank. Also, check the map to see how far they are from the beach.
I arrived in Mexico and beach bummed it all day. Have some margaritas, take in the beautiful view and rent some beach toys or snorkel. Here are a few of the top beach clubs in the area.
Mamita’s Beach Club– They have one of the best beach locations and a great Caribbean sea view. It is separated into two sections the beach club and the more upscale expensive lounge area. We spent most of our time here.
Wah Wah Beach Bar– free chairs, cheap beer, good food, and live music. Need I say more
Playa Norte– If you’re looking for a quiet beach day, this is the place to go. It is away from most busy hotels and boats, so you will have plenty of room to spread out your blanket and cooler.
Kool Beach Club– Neighboring Mamitas, this club may have a more excellent and extensive outdoor dining space, but the beach area is much smaller and could get a little crowded. W spend some days here too.
If you are with a significant other, ride through the jungle and have a fancy dinner at Pavo Real by the Sea. Don’t want to spend too much, check out Plank. They use a unique cooking technique designed to infuse a delicate touch of flavor by cooking the food directly on Himalayan salt or Wooden planks. It was delicious.
Today take a day trip to Chichen Itza, one of the largest Maya cities. It is about a 3-hour drive to the ruins, and plenty of tours leave daily.
Tours usually stop at a cenote, a natural sinkhole from the collapse of limestone that exposes groundwater. It is open to the sky with a water level about 85 ft below ground level. They are all over the Yucatan Peninsula. There is a carved stairway down to a swimming hole. To be honest, the one we went to was lame.
Keeping the theme of natural wonders, check out Alux Caverna Restaurant and Lounge for dinner. It was an awesome experience eating inside of a vast natural cave. The food was good, a little on the pricy side, but your paying for the atmosphere.
You can tour the cave after dinner, which is super awesome. It is pretty humid and a little warm, so grab a drink at the bar if you can stand it for a whole meal. It was a great experience.
We went to Cozumel for the day and, sad to say, disappointed. After waiting on a long line to get on a rough ferry right across to the island, we got played by a bunch of guys with a boat claiming to take us snorkeling.
We wanted to go on the El Cielo tour, but they were all booked for the day. So we headed over to check out the island anyway. There are plenty of people selling snorkeling tours around town, so we bought one. We soon found out it was three guys with a rickety small boat that brought us not too far from the ferry port by this horrible run-down area to snorkel.
We saw some fish, but it was not the experience I wanted. Then they stopped the boat in the middle of the ocean on the way back and tried to get us to buy pictures of us for $30. It was such a scam, and an awful experience, so beware. After that, we headed straight back to Playa Del Carmen.
We had dinner at Como Como, which was delicious with a great atmosphere. That night headed to Coco Bongo for quite the entertaining night. We are not club people, but we had a blast. It’s like an extreme night club on crack with pretty interesting live entertainment—costumes, confetti, little people and light effects with a plethora of music for hours.
They have two options for tickets: general admission, which includes the show and unlimited drinks for $65 during the week, and VIP packages, which consists of all of the above plus skipping the line and table service for $125 on weeknights. But, of course, those prices go up on the weekend.
The drinks come non-stop, and we got free shots too. Pick something you want to drink all night because the first drink you order will show up at your table throughout the night. We went on a weekday, and it was crowded, and a super long line to get it, so I can’t imagine what the weekend is like. I recommend going Monday through Thursday, and the VIP package is the way to go.
Today head out for a day for more history and culture with a tour to Tulum and Coba. Tulum was an ancient Mayan fortress city that rose to power toward the end of the Classic period. With its beachfront location and lush landscape, it looks like a postcard.
It has a walkway that extends out around the ruins and down to the beach, where you can swim. It was SO hot so wear a hat, sunscreen and bring water. Our tour took us to a nearby beach for some beers and a quick dip in the ocean before heading to Coba.
The ruins in Coba are spread out pretty far, so I recommend getting the bike ride over to the main pyramid, where you can go to the top for spectacular views. Unfortunately, Coba is no longer the only pyramid you can climb in this region. I was terrified but so glad I did it. There is a rope that will help you with your climb down. So there I am, climbing down and panicking.
We went to Yaxche for dinner. The food was engaging, and the atmosphere and service were excellent. They will take a picture of you and get you to buy just a heads up. You will get the chance to discover different tastes that are not the typical Mexican food but more Mayan flavors.
Get away from the crazy beaches of Playa Del Carmen and take a cab ride about 30 minutes to Akumal. It’s a small, quiet beach town with the calm waters of Half Moon Bay. The small inlet is protected from the ocean with a lot of sea life. You can also rent some snorkel or kayak gear from shops in town. Then, go to La Buena Vida for some food and drinks. Yal Ku Lagoon is also in the area. We didn’t get a chance to stop there but say it’s like swimming in an aquarium. From my research, it’s only six bucks to get in, and you can rent gear and lockers there. They have a small snack bar.
Last day of the trip, so why not end it how you started it, taking in the beach sun and some margaritas. We were bar hopping that night. This happened.