The Riviera Maya has been on my travel list for quite some time now, and after visiting a few other places in the Caribbean and Mexico, I now understand what the Riviera Maya hype is all about. Although there are several major towns that lie on the Riviera Maya, such as Puerto Moreles, Tulum, and more, Playa del Carmen is the main town to visit and stay. In my opinion, Playa del Carmen can best be described as South Beach meets the South of France, in other words, it has the vibrant, fun, palm tree beach appeal of South Beach, Miami, with a similar charm and character to that of Nice, France, only that Playa del Carmen is a lot more economical than the South of France.
In order to get to Playa del Carmen, you need to first fly into Cancun, and then take a 45 minute taxi ride to Playa del Carmen. Now although Cancun may seem like the obvious choice here, TRUST ME, it is worth your time, money, and effort to visit Playa del Carmen. Cancun is very commercial and appeals to a younger crowd, however Playa del Carmen is more cultural and appeals to all age groups. Both cities offer great resorts, beaches, clubs, restaurants, however Playa del Carmen goes a step further with its mile long, quaint downtown area with cobblestone streets that boasts a strip of high-end boutiques, vibrant clubs, and fabulous restaurants all along Avenida 5. It may surprise you that besides Americans, Playa del Carmen is very popular amongst European tourists as well, I heard many different languages being spoken here.
In terms of lodging, Playa del Carmen is undoubtedly more expensive than Cancun, however the gorgeous blue calm waters of the playa and the romantic downtown strip make it worthwhile. There is something for everyone in Playa del Carmen, including the young, the elderly, the families, the honeymooners and the girlfriends looking to getaway. Playa del Carmen is now my new favorite spot in Mexico & the Caribbean, a lovely place to visit and one that I will return to someday.
at least 4 nights. Within the 4 nights, you can head over to Chichen Itza for a day trip, or add an additional night.
Here is a recap of our 5 day Mayan adventure…
It all started as we touched down at Cancun Airport. Loved the Corona sign on the Air Traffic Control Tower. LOL!
From Cancun Airport, we enjoyed a 45 minute taxi ride to Playa del Carmen. Just FYI, try and book your cab ride in advance since the round trip taxi cost is pretty expensive from Cancun to Playa del Carmen.
Our beautiful hotel – El Taj Oceanfront & Beachside Condo Hotel (details coming soon).
Strolling and people watching along the quaint Avenida 5 looking for a place to lunch.
Ahhhh… our very first meal. Cocktails + Chicken Fajitas @ El Fogon. Nothing could be better!
Our first day on our only cloudy day, and look how blue the water is. At this point all I could imagine is what the water would look like once the sun came out.
Since many people have asked me to post pictures of myself, I’ll share a few pics of myself from Mexico. Here I am on the beach, it was slightly chilly on the first day, hence the light sweater.
Strolling thru the cobblestone streets of Avenida 5 at night… so romantic and magical.
Hanging out at the beach cabanas at night and hearing the sounds of waves crashing. Peaceful!
Freshly squeezed orange juice every morning as part of an included breakfast package… YUM, and what a view to go with it… BLISS!
Enjoying my feet on the wet sand.
After a long time, my husband and I enjoyed an hour long Couples Massage at the Maya Spa. The entire time I was trying to relax and focus on absolutely nothing, nonetheless my mind loves to wander. Meditation sounds hard!
Strolling on the beach for an hour to two hours daily. Great exercise!
My loser ass can’t live without internet, and thus I had to purchase internet. Each day I spent a couple hours sitting at our balcony and writing while enjoying the beautiful scenic views. During this time my husband usually napped.
Posing at our hotel with my hat.
Complimentary all natural Coconut Body Lotion provided by the El Taj Oceanfront & Beachside Condo Hotel. After showering I would slather this stuff on myself, and then I wanted to eat my arm. Loved this so much, I ended up purchasing additional bottles as gifts.
Window shopping on Avenida 5… the clothes had a slight African touch.
Beautiful lantern shops, I wanted to buy a lantern so bad, but I just didn't know where to hang it, and more importantly, how?
Loved this mermaid statue on the other end of the beach.
A beautiful church, Nuestra Senora del Carmen Catholic Church, with the gorgeous blue waters as the backdrop. Getting married here would be pretty uh-may-zing!
Absorbing the Vitamin D (uhmm... sun) while reading Cooking Light magazine and enjoying a Strawberry Daiquiri, I know it totally defeats the purpose. Haha! And btw… do you notice my Trader Joe’s bag as my beach bag. Pathetic! I need to buy me a nice beach tote.
The water looked insanely gorgeous on sunny afternoons. Doesn't it seem like you can walk on water?
This trip really got me to like Corona beer which is definitely an acquired flavor, and I am thrilled to finally say that I like beer, and that too, Mexican beer!
I had a fun time shopping at Bershka, a Spanish brand, but unfortunately nothing fit me. I think Mexican women are tinnier than Indian origin women, or maybe I just ate a lot on this trip.
More pics of Avenida 5… it was so pretty!
Silver jewelry with stones are quite the craze in Playa del Carmen, and just fyi… bargaining here totally works since everything at these shops are marked up.
A gift from my husband that I picked out, I absolutely adore turquoise blue stones, it is such a happy color!
Saying goodbye... flying over Cancun.
And alas, all good things must come to an end! Love vacations! I need to take more of them, life will pass you by before you know it, it's now or never
More on Playa del Carmen coming next week - fabulous meals and lodging. Stay tuned!
TELL ME: Have you been to Playa del Carmen/Riviera Maya?
What are some of your favorite sights or things to do?
What is your favorite Caribbean/Mexico destination? I need tips!