Playa del Carmen Journals

Mayan Riviera: Things to do!

A March 2004 trip to Playa del Carmen by quirine

Yal Ku Lagoon Photo, Akumal, Mexico More Photos
Quote: The Mayan Riviera is a wonderful place to enjoy the Caribbean, but also to learn about the Mayan culture. Hike through the jungle, visit the ruins, snorkel in the lagoons, and eat like a king! All for less than most Caribbean destinations!

Mayan Riviera: Things to do!

Overview

Playa del carmen Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
When hanging out in the Mayan Riviera, be sure to get in some sunbathing and swimming, sample some Mexican food, drink a few margaritas, and enjoy the nightlife. But don't forget to leave the resort and see some of the beautiful sites. Tulum, Coba, and Muyil are three ruins in the area that offer a quick look into the life and history of Mayan culture. Snorkeling off the coast of Cozumel should not be missed. Snorkeling in the many cenotes or lagoons, and even caves, is exclusive to this area, and is much calmer than ocean snorkeling. There are numerous ecoparks, including Xel-ha and the Sian Ka'an Biosphere.Renting a car is a must if you want to explore out of Playa Del Carmen. Although...Read More

Playa Inn Xaman Ha

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel | "Playa Inn Xaman-Ha"

Playa Inn Xaman Ha Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
Playa Inn Xaman-Ha condos are in Playacar (a private gated community just south of Playa del Carmen). You can walk to the ferry and downtown area within about 5 minutes, and you have the luxury of being on a more private beach. The condos are also close to a bird aviary and some small ruins that are riddled with iguanas during the day. Most condos have a spectacular view of the water, as the whole complex is right on the beach. The prices range from $1,000 to $2,000 a week for one-, two-, or three-bedroom condos. The condos are standard, with comfortably sized bedrooms; clean, fully-tiled bathrooms; a large kitchen and living room; and a patio overlooking the courtyard and the ocean. By sta...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 14, 2005

Playa Inn Xaman Ha
PLAYACAR FASE 1
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico 77710
52-984-8730-558

Luna Blue

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel | "Luna Blue Hotel"

Luna Blue Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
The Luna Blue Hotel used to be Hotel Zanzibar but changed owners a few years back. The new owners have done a great job in keeping the place up. From the moment I booked the room to checkout, the Luna Blue folks were extremely helpful and accommodating. I had asked to get a table set up in a standard room since my boyfriend was intending to do some work on his laptop. Via email they confirmed this would be no problem. Upon arrival, the front desk checked us in and helped us to our room in no time. The room was musty, however the a/c quickly relieved that issue. By the time we came back from lunch it had cleared up. The room itself was spacious with a nice-sized bed, two nightstands, a dresser, ha...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 13, 2007

Luna Blue
Calle 26 Norte
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
+52 (984) 873 0990

Yaxche Maya Cuisine

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant | "Yaxche"

Yaxche Maya Cuisine Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
It's no wonder this place is always packed. It's so wonderful to be able to experience the Mayan culture and cuisine. They are truly great people, and I'm glad there is a restaurant representing the culture. The restaurant opens onto the street and also has a great outdoor area. This is a very romantic and pretty restaurant. The service is excellent, and they are very kind. The drinks are phenomenal, margaritas and the general offerings, but they also have great virgin fruit smoothies. I love the Massewal soup, which is basically a really fresh chicken tortilla soup. Dinner includes dishes like: Kinich or sun-kissed chicken (tender grilled chicken with a light...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 17, 2004

Yaxche Maya Cuisine
8th Street
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
+52 984 873 2502

Parrilla

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant | "La Parrilla"

Quote:
La Parrilla is the most Mexican restaurant on 5th avenue. It opens up to the street and has a winding staircase going to an upstairs area overlooking 5th Avenue. The design of the restaurant looks like a traditional Mexican restaurant, with decorated tiling. The hostess greets you wearing an authentic Mexican blouse and skirt and takes your name if there is a wait (which there often is, so come for lunch or be prepared to wait a few minutes). It's a big restaurant, so the wait is never too long. When seated, you'll notice many items to choose from on the menu, including fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, guacamole, etc. Order the guacamole and they'll come to your table and make it right there for...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 14, 2005

Parrilla
5th Avenue and 8th Street
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
+52 (984) 873-0687

Limones Cafe

Restaurant | "Limones"

Limones Cafe Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
This place is easy to miss since the restaurant itself is totally off the street. You'll see a big sign that says "Limones" and a seafood display showing the day's catch (a lot of restaurants in this area have this to entice tourists to come in). You walk down a stone path into a jungle-like area with soft string lights and tables all around. I ordered the steak au Roquefort, which was good for the area but certainly not better than what you'll find in Europe or at finer restaurants in the States. For dessert we ordered some sort of banana flambé concoction simply for the photo op. The waiter did a whole show of fire for us; it was really great to see. The service was trem...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 14, 2005

Limones Cafe
Quinta Avenida
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
+52 (984) 873-0848

Babe's Noodle and Bar

Restaurant | "Babe's Noodle Bar"

Babe's Noodle and Bar Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
Babe's was around in 2001, then disappeared for a while and is now totally back in action. The open restaurant has booths and a bar facing out onto a side street near 5th avenue. While Swedish-owned, the decor, if I remember correctly was 1950s pinup girls with Polynesian flair. The back area is outside and slightly more Asian with Buddhas and bamboo. I ordered a mango margarita the size of my head that was a bit weak but also ridiculously cheap. The food is eclectic and a nice change from eating Mexican all week. As an appetizer we ordered the mixed rolls which included a standard spring roll with peanut sauce, a Vietnamese paper roll with veggies and plum sauce and a crab roll with cream cheese...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 13, 2007

Babe's Noodle and Bar
Calle 10 Between 5th and 10 Avenue
Playa del Carmen, Mexico 77710
+52 984 80 41998

Cafe Corazon

Restaurant

Cafe Corazon Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
I went to Cafe Corazon because my Playa Deal Card mentioned that I could save 30% off my check and because it was so close to the hotel. We sat outside this little cafe and ordered a panini for breakfast (my boyfriend won't eat breakfast foods so we shared a lunch item... My big mistake was that I inadvertently ordered an enormous coffee which was impossible to finish. I mean, it's hot and it's Mexico. I just needed something to jolt me awake and I ended up with a 20oz cup of hot java at 10am... oops! So for all you mega coffee drinkers, you might actually like this feature. The food here was good and the service was very friendly. There was also a big magazine rack in case you want to hang out f...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 13, 2007

Cafe Corazon
5th Avenue
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Vagabunda

Restaurant | "La Vagabunda"

Vagabunda Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
Since my boyfriend is a serious sleeper, I decided to get up and bring my book over to La Vagabunda for breakfast, not far from Luna Blue Hotel. I thought it was so charming with its pebbled outside eating area covered by a palapa and surrounded by tropical plants and palms. I sat at a table facing 5th Ave. and ordered a smoothie and some toast. The service was very nice, then again I'm a cute girl sitting at a cafe table sans significant other. Nevertheless, they served me and never pressured me to leave. They offer mainly breakfast items such as eggs, toast, granola, yogurt, fruit, pancakes and French toast. Also on the menu is fresh fruit juices and smoothies. They open as early as 7am and sta...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 13, 2007

Vagabunda
Av. 5
Playa del Carmen, Mexico 77710
(984) 873-3753

Yal Ku Lagoon

Attraction

Yal Ku Lagoon Photo, Akumal, Mexico
Quote:
Get away from the tourists—or at least try to. Drive to Akumal and take a left after the entrance. Drive a mile or 2 down the road passing houses and a restaurant. At the end, you'll see a small sign pointing left to Yalku Lagoon. There’s a dirt parking lot where a few guys working there charge people to enter the lagoon area. They are supernice and actually helped us when we stupidly locked our keys in the trunk. I really love those Mayans... they're amazing! Try to arrive there early in the day or later in the afternoon to avoid the tour groups. Bring your own snorkel gear, towel, and lunch, and you'll be set to go. The calm lagoon invites you in the water, even if just to swi...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 17, 2004

Yal Ku Lagoon
Akumal
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Coba Mayan Ruins

Attraction | "Coba"

Coba Mayan Ruins Photo, Coba, Mexico
Quote:
If you have a bit of time in Mexico, I would highly recommend this day trip. Also, because of all the wonderful little towns you drive through to get to Coba, you get to see how people really live. We met a partially blind man who was carving hanging monkeys. He was living in a shack with his wife and children. They were extremely kind, although a bit shy, and actually said they knew someone from Brooklyn. Small world! Make sure to drive slowly, the road to Coba has tarantula crossing and many potholes. You'll also pass a cenote here and there if you desire to snorkel. If you're planning on buying true Mayan art, do it while driving down this road. You'll avoid the tourist traps and fin...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 17, 2004

Coba Mayan Ruins
Highway 180
Coba, Mexico

Xelha Snorkeling

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Xel-Ha Snorkeling"

Xelha Snorkeling Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
Xel-Ha is a gorgeous eco-park that consists of one big lagoon, a few cenotes (no swimming), paths through the jungle, and a beach with a natural pool. When you arrive, simply purchase your tickets at the entryway. If you take the all-inclusive package ($50), you'll get a free snorkel, lunch, towel, locker rental, and flipper rental. The basic entrance fee is around $20 (make sure you have snorkelling equipment). Walk through the main gates and purchase the biodegradable suntan lotion. It's better for the ecosystem. Wear a T-shirt while snorkeling to protect your back if you opt against the life vest they offer. Keep walking, and you'll pass a pool with dolphins on your left. You can ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 14, 2005

Xelha Snorkeling
Near Tulum
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Cozumel: Snorkeler's Paradise

Attraction | "Snorkeling in Cozumel"

Cozumel: Snorkeler's Paradise Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
Getting there: At the ferry dock in Playa Del Carmen, there are a few vendors/ferries that go over to Cozumel. They're all pretty much the same, so go with whichever is leaving next. The ferry can make you a bit seasick, depending on the waves and wind, but there are snacks and drinks on most ferries, and I found that going outside helped a lot! The ferries are pretty upscale, with cloth seats and televisions. Once in Cozumel, you'll right away notice how commercial it is. There are tons of shops, hotels, and restaurants. In this regard, I much prefer Playa Del Carmen. If you're interested in snorkeling, hail a cab right off the dock. Ask to be taken to Dzul Ha Beach Clu...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 14, 2005

Cozumel: Snorkeler's Paradise

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Muyil Mayan Ruins

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Muyil Ruins"

Muyil Mayan Ruins Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
I came here late in the day after going to Xel-Ha. The sunset on the ruins is absolutely stunning. Tulum is quite touristy and busy; however, it is gorgeous and has access to the ocean. If you decide to try something more low-key, I would recommend Muyil. It's from the late pre-classic period and dates back to 300 BC as a trading post. The Mayans dredged the lagoon in order to get boats in and out of the area. Most of the ruins have not been excavated, but the structures that have are in really good condition considering the age. Drive south on the 307 beyond Tulum for about 25km. The road will become narrower and less populated. Muyil will be on the left side of the road. The cost to get in...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 18, 2005

Muyil Mayan Ruins
25km South Of Tulum On The 307
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Sirena

Attraction | "La Sirena"

Sirena Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
Unlike the many tourist stores in the area, La Sirena is a real artisan shop with beautiful items from various parts of Mexico. On the outside, traditional, mesh Mexican shopping bags are made fashionable by adding color and cool prints to the front. Plastic sacks are recycled into shopping bags with strange appliques. Inside, we found almost comically painted luchedor canvas paintings. There were 20 bucks each and so original, we bought few for friends and family. Diaramas show various religious or death scenes and little silver picture frames are actually tin if you look closely. The knick knacks here are truly Mexican and very special. The owner runs the store and does not haggle. It's obviously a ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 13, 2007

Sirena

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Walking Around Playa

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Quote:
Playa has changed significantly since I began going there. What used to be a small fishing village is now a town fast approaching city status. Playa now includes a mall (Plaza Pelicano) featuring a movie theater, a Blockbuster, and a Papa John's Pizzeria. Most of the movies are in English unless they are for children, in which case they are dubbed. Also new to Playa is the Paseo de Playacar, a mall that connects the main street to the beautiful Playacar community. It is an outdoor mall with a path weaving around restaurants and shops. There are beautiful clothing stores, including Diesel; cigar shops; bathing suit shops; and even a lovely bead store. At night the mall gets performance artists...Read More