Playa Del Carmen is as enchanting and exotic as it sounds. Have you ever gone to a foreign country and immersed yourself in her culture, ate her food, drank her liquor or danced to her music? While you strolled her streets, did you speak her language and greet her people? When I breathe in foreign air, I imagine who I could have been in such a place. Each new place brings me wisdom of cultures other than my own, constant appreciation for the life I was given and the opportunities that have been bestowed upon me.
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
My first time to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico was with my husband. It was our first vacation together and the place where we truly fell in love. Those who vacation together, stay together right? Well in this case right! So I’m going to take you back almost 8 years to this beautiful place. Playa Del Carmen is a 45 minute drive South from the Cancun, Mexico airport. It is a charming and quaint town with so much to explore. I definitely recommend putting this enchanting town on your bucket list. Up ahead we will explore our hotel, the excursions we went on and the gorgeous twinkle lit town situated on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Hacienda Tres Rios, Playa Del Carmen
We stayed at the beautiful Hacienda Tres Rios, a 20 minute taxi ride from town. This is a beach front resort on a 326 acre nature park. Its private white sand beach and amenities will make you want to extend your stay an extra week. We booked our hotel through our family’s RCI timeshare. The hotel is impeccable. When you first arrive off the highway, you will be greeted by a security guard at his post. Every taxi that comes in and out of the hotel will be recorded. Anywhere where safety is enforced is important to me, especially while traveling. Then you take a beautiful scenic drive through the resorts nature park to the grand hotel lobby.
We vacationed here in the month of January. My husband and I love to vacation places off-season. Flights and costs of hotels are much more affordable than high traffic seasons. The weather stayed around low to mid 70’s our entire trip, which was a bonus for us. We enjoy cool weather, even at the beach. Our hotel room was comfortable with an added seating area, a balcony and an ocean view. We are major hotel snobs. So we definitely pick places that make us feel like we are in the comfort of our own home.
The greenery of the grounds are refreshing. You could spend hours walking around the hotel, the nature park and the private beach. With multiple pools and amenities; if you love vacationing places where you don’t need to leave the hotel, you can here!
When we weren’t on excursions or walking the cobble stone streets of Playa Del Carmen’s Quinta Avenida; we were lounging beachside on hammocks, cozying up in our room or walking through the nature park of Hacienda Tres Rios.
We stumbled across this vacant pier on our walk along the hotel’s private beach. This massive pier, peeking into the horizon spoke to our hearts. We walked to the edge of this structure, dangled our legs off the edge, stared off into the deep-sea and listened to the silence. Every one deserves these kind of moments. It’s in the silence that we think most clearly.
Who doesn’t love a hammock? Especially one that is beach side, swaying in the ocean breeze under a straw cabana. Things like this make you feel like a kid again.
Quinta Avenida, Playa Del Carmen
A 20 minute taxi ride South from Hacienda Tres Rios will drop you in the center of the beautiful seaside town on to Quinta Avenida. Here you can find shops, restaurants, bars and nightlife. You can relax on the white sand beaches and watch the cruise ships pass along on their way to Cozumel. We spent a few of our days and most nights indulging in the delicious Mexican cuisine, drinking and eating to our hearts desire.
There are dozens upon dozens of charming spots to grab a drink or a quick bite. We enjoyed getting a drink at different restaurants and bars while we strolled the boardwalk. Being the tourists that we are, a meal at the famous Señor Frogs was a must. Situated right on the sand and overlooking the water; this eclectic decorated restaurant is a must on the list. This indoor/outdoor bar has swings, an ocean breeze and authentic culture.
Eating dinner at roof top restaurants overlooking this twinkle lit town at night was truly romantic and one of our favorite spots to get a drink was at the Tequila Barrel.
If sun bathing beach side, overlooking crystal clear Caribbean waters and cruise ships with a drink in your hand is your kind of vacation definitely go to Wah Wah Beach Bar. We even got massages right on the sand! Although our hotel has a private beach, we enjoyed soaking up the tourist scene and loud music on this public beach surrounded by lively people.
Our first excursion was to explore the Ancient Mayan Ruins and the 7th wonder of the World at Chichen Itza. We signed up for a day excursion at our hotel. Prepare yourself for this one! It is an all day tour starting at 7am. We took a 2 hour bus ride with a few dozen people to see this wonder in person. I would say it is 100% worth it. The bus was air-conditioned and had a nice restroom, so don’t let the word “bus” scare you. I was in such amazement to stand in front of the Kukulcan Pyramid. We were given tour guides to walk us through these ancient ruins and tell us the history behind the Mayan Civilization. I was so fascinated by the history of the Mayan people. You can read all about it at National Geographic.
We weren’t able to climb the steps of the pyramid, as people have done in the past, due to the new rules put in place to preserve the structure. After hours of wandering these ruins, we headed to the Sacred Cenote to take a swim. These sinkholes are a large part of the Mayan history. These “sinkholes” were primary sources of water in times of drought for the people.
Our next excursion was to the Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park. Filled with exotic animals, underground rivers, cenotes, culture, nature and dozens of activities. Exploring one of the many parks near Playa Del Carmen is a definite to do while you’re here. It’s a 15 minute taxi ride from Playa Del Carmen.
We spent most the day snorkeling through natural underground rivers. It was absolutely magical. It’s just unreal that this kind of beauty exists in the world.
One of the activities we chose to do was Sea Trek. With giant moon-walking helmets, this wasn’t your ordinary snorkeling. It was awesome walking along the reef and feeding fish from our hands.
When vacationing its so important to absorb yourself in the culture. We walked through the Mexican Cemetery, sat in the Chapel of Guadalupe and watched a re-enactment of the Ancient Mayan Ballgame. Going to Chichen Itza the day prior to this excursion and actually walking in the footsteps of the Mayans who participated in this sport was eye opening. History is so important to know and understand. Thinking about the generations that came before us and the ones that will come after us is something to ponder about.
Horseback Riding and Zip Lining
Our last and third excursion during our 7 day vacation was horseback riding and zip lining through the Mayan jungles. This was also an all day excursion, so definitely prepare yourself for an early wake up call and an eventful day.
I was lucky enough to get a calm and collected horse. Michael on the other hand, got a horse who was already a few tequila shots in and ready to hit the bars! It was an adventure to say the least. His horse tried to high tail it off the trails several times. It’s a memory we still talk about to this day. Our sweet horses loved kissing each other. It was so cute. They were like each others yin and yang.
After riding these horses and strolling around the ranch grounds, we headed off to zip line through the Mayan jungles. We were greeted by another cenote and breathtaking scenery. This was a blast but we ended up leaving this excursion early to sun bathe on the Quinta Avenida beach. Because our arranged transportation and group weren’t scheduled to leave for a few more hours, we walked out to the main highway and got on public transportation. The public transportation here is not the same as ours back in Los Angeles, CA. This experience was a humbling one. It was totally safe and seamless getting back to town. We really enjoy seeing the way people live in other parts of the world and getting to see it with our own eyes if only for a moment.
Playa Del Carmen is one for the books for us. The enchanting town where we fell in love and knew that forever was ahead of us. Thanks for stopping by to check out our vacation. Should you ever come here, we hope you have the same magical experience we did. Every vacation you go on is a chance to feed and find your soul. Who knows what path your next vacation will lead you to. Until then, keep on soul-searching!