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!
It's nice to FINALLY see pictures of you, where have you been hiding? You are gorgeous!!! Such a pretty smile and your hair is so full. Looks like you had an amazing time. I can't wait to read the rest. ~Kate
Amelia Grace says
Woowww! That is to everything from the beach, your accommodation, drink, and seeing your pic for the first time. What an amazing holiday (so jealous!)
What a GORGEOUS beach! I'm so jealous.
Firstly I love that you have started adding photos of yourself, Nisha..you are gorgeous!! Your trip looks like a dream- the color of the water and sand look so surreal..definitely something out of the movies! Glad you had a wonderful trip and hope you've come back reinvigorated! If anything, at least you came back with a tan (or am I just being presumptuous?)!
Oh and you've definitely spurred on a craving for fajitas! What were authentic Mexican desserts like??
Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic says
Lovely pics! I want to visit Playa del Carmen, too! Especially now that we have yet another snowstorm in Boston 🙂 Looks like you had an awesome vacation.
PS - you are so pretty!
Loved this recap! It made me 100x more excited about our trip coming up in a few months!! I am definitely book marking this post so that we can refer to it when we're planning our next vacay! And I echo what everyone else is saying, you are soo pretty! Should definitely post more pics of yourself. 🙂
Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies says
That beach is absolutely stunning! It looks like you had an amazing time. 🙂
hey beautiful I am so glad you guys had a great time 🙂 I love that nail color - it screams summer yay. Cant wait to hear more about it.
@Khushboo - thank you for saying that, I feel so reinvogorated. It's so therapeutic going on vacation. I did get slightly tan, not enough though, I was in the sun, but I don't know why it wasn't enough. Oh well.. next time. 🙂 I'm going to do a post on bakeries, but I totally forgot to try Mexican desserts, I'm so lame.
@Bianca - thank you. We have a snowstorm here in the NYC region too, thank GOD I went on my trip last week, else it would have been cancelled. 🙁
@Parita - thank you for saying that.. you would and most people would love Playa del Carmen. Turks & Caicos will be an amazing trip.. it is heaven I hear. I'm looking into planning a trip there in July/August with girlfriends. Let's see how it all works out. I'll take tips from you. 🙂
@Dixya - thanks.. love the nailpolish, such a happy color. more coming next week. I can't wait to post about food. lol.
Thanks ladies.. it was a really fun trip. 🙂
@Kate - thanks.. yes finally, I guess I'll make exceptions for vacations, but since this is more of a cooking blog, I'm not sure how I can post pics of myself. You're very sweet. Thanks.
@Amelia - Thanks.. don't be jealous.. you can head to Goa or I hear the Maldives is stunning. 🙂
Natalie G says
Looks like a great trip! The water looks so NICE, I have been to Cancun before but would really like to check out playa del carmen. Next on my list is Aruba!
Guru Uru says
What a beautiful trip my friend, you obviously had a blast 😀
kausers kitchen says
What a beautiful beach, looks like u had a great time honey. And you are gorgeous 🙂
The shot of you on the beach chair is gorgeous! I love what you are wearing and your hair looks great.
El Taj? What an interesting name...part Spanish, part Indian? Lol. I love it.
Hope you are having a great weekend so far!
@Ameena - thank you.. I bought that dress from HM, so cheap too. 🙂 Yes, El Taj, not sure why it has an Indian name, but there were Budda statues all over, maybe the owner was Buddhist/Hindu? It was a great stay. Thanks, hope you have a great weekend too!
@Kausers - Thank you.. it was a gorgeous beach. Clear water.
@Natalie - Aruba was on my list too, it was between Aruba and Playa, and then after speaking to people who went there, Playa won out. I have heard mixed reviews on Aruba, but I want to check it out regardless. Next on my list is Aruba and Turks & Caicos.. we'll see. Thanks! 🙂
@Guru - sure did, it's too obvious. 🙂
Lail | With A Spin says
Gorgeous beach! Must be an awesome holiday.
Gorgeous pictures!!! And I really hope that the STAR magazine on the chair next to you was what your husband was reading 🙂
@lail - Yeah, it was very nice and relaxing. Thank you.
@Lauren - haha.. you're so funny. That STAR magazine was at the hotel, I just wanted to read trash even though I know nothing in that magazine is believable. The Cooking Light was mine though. 🙂