So you’re thinking about travelling to Playa del Carmen? Here are some things to do:
Beach: If you are in a city with the word beach on its name, well, you should see it. I travel on a low, low budget (low low low would be sleeping on the street and hunting for food in containers – I’m still not there) so if you are interested in expensive and cool beach resorts or beach clubs, I’m afraid you won’t find any information here.
The first days, being still a bit lost, I went to Playa Mamitas. There are two beach clubs stealing a big part of the beach there but, hey! The 3 or 4 meters closest to the shore are for free! So just bring your towel, relax, and enjoy the beautiful view of the clear blue water. However, it feels a little bit touristy here.
Then, my friend L. took me to a much nicer place, with almost no foreigners. Except for us. There, you will likely find many mexican families with their happy lovely kids enjoying the strip of the beach which, again, hasn’t been taken away by resorts. You might even find it quite empty:
From both beaches, I really enjoyed watching the tall buildings over the sea on the horizon – it’s actually Cozumel Island.
Nightlife: Have you ever been to Barcelona? The discos in the Puerto Olímpico, near the beach, you know? The 12th street in Playa del Carmen reminded me of that places, but here the music is louder, many people are dressed in flip-flop style and you get invited every 30 seconds to enter for free in some club. At least if you are a girl.
I was twice in Blue Parrot. It has the kind of music that you would expect from a disco on the beach oriented to tourists. That’s all I need to say.
Chichén Itzá: Being one of the new seven wonders of the world, this visit is a must if you are around the Riviera Maya. From Playa del Carmen, there are plenty of daily tours to choose. I did the standard one. First, short stop in Valladolid, where you can buy some handicraft souvenirs.
Then, another short stop in a cenote, an underground lake:
We were given enough time to swim a little bit there. But as far as I know, the water is very cold and the cenote is 50 meters deep and and and… that was just too much for me.
And finally, Chichén Itzá (sorry for the bad painful quality):
The ruins are quite impressive to see and, depending on how lucky you are with your guide, you get to know interesting facts about the Mayan constructions. Please, bring sunscreen and a hat, or you will start melting. It can get quite hot there during the day.
In order to book the tour to Chichén Itzá, you can do it for sure at your hotel/hostel or you can just walk along the Quinta Avenida and you will find some tour agent willing to sell it to you. I got mine for 700 MXN (~ 39 EUR / 54 USD), which I find quite ok for a whole day of travelling, pick up and drop off at your place, tickets for everything included and lunch also included. The bus was quite old and without restrooms though, but you can also pay a little bit more and get a tour with a deluxe bus. By the way, lunch in these tours usually takes place in a buffet restaurant. For vegans/vegetarians, there is always some salad or fruit to choose from, but if that is not enough to fill your stomach (my case), remember to bring something else with you.
Tulum: This is a nice halfday trip from Playa del Carmen. The cheapest way to go there is to take the vans (colectivos) that depart every 10 minutes from 2nd street between 15th and 20th avenue, just 40 MXN (~ 2 EUR / 3 USD) each way for a one-hour ride. What makes Tulum so special is the fact that the Mayan ruins are just in front of the sea:
You can even take a bath on the beach, but it can be a little bit overcrowded. I chose to hang out with my iguana friend instead:
It looks as if it were going to order a tequila at a beach bar at any time, don’t you think? Really, look at those thirsty, cute eyes ^_^
This was everything I did in my week in Playa, but there are many other things that I missed. Visiting the ruins of Cobá, travelling to Cozumel Island, snorkelling with turtles in Akumal, swimming in the Cenote Azul… I will have to go back some time!