- The Royal Playa del CarmenConstituyentes Avenue #2, Playa del Carmen 77780, Mexicorecommended The Royal Playa del CarmenIt's all about the location and amenities at this luxurious adult only all-inclusive. The resort is ideally located just a hop, skip and a jump away from vibrant downtown Playa del Carmen, so you can ... read morefill the times when you're not basking in the sun on their beautiful semi-private beach with shopping and dining along 5th Ave. Upgrade to one of their palatial suites in the new tower if you haven't already reserved one. The suite is the size of a 1 bedroom apartment and is fully stocked with liquor, snacks, a Wii, full sized fridge, deep jacuzzi tub, steam shower, 2 flatscreen tvs and more! The new tower has its own pool area, which is pleasantly not full of people. You also get your own designated cabana on the beach. There are 7 restaurants, offering a variety of cuisines at the resort, and you also have access to 8 more located at their sister property across the street, the Gran Porto Real. You do not need to make reservations at any of them, except for the Chef's Table, which is a rather impressive attempt at molecular gastronomy. Other favorites of mine include Maria Marie, Asiana and Il Pescatore and Maria at the Gran Porto Real. 24 hour room service is a huge plus. Beware of their seemingly nice tactics to set up a "meeting" with you - they are indeed a "vacation club," aka timeshare. DO NOT agree to meet with them - it is a huge time suck, and you are there to be on vacation!
- Tulum RuinsRiviera Maya Mainland, Cancun, ROO 77500 Mexicorecommended Tulum RuinsIf you're staying in the Riviera Maya, the Tulum Ruins are a must see. The site is a short drive from Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, so if you don't have time to take the long trek to Chichen Itza but ... read morestill want to see Mayan ruins, then Tulum is a great alternative. While the ruins themselves aren't as impressive, the picturesque location on a bluff facing the Caribbean Sea is breathtaking. After exploring the ruins, you can head down to the beach and take a dip in the water. If you head here after rainfall, make sure you cover yourself in bug spray!recommended Tulum RuinsWe came here during a torrential downpour, and I am still giving this archaeological gem 5 stars, which says a lot about the site itself! Beautifully laid out behind a well-maintained fortress, this ... read moreMayan coastline town was the religious and political foundation of Tulum. A gorgeous site which stirs your imagination and makes you wonder what it would be like to live during the times of the high priests and religious human sacrifices.
- Diablito Cha Cha Cha1 Av. Nte, Gonzalo Guerrero, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Méxicorecommended Diablito Cha Cha ChaFun restaurant/bar in Downtown Playa del Carmen with a Mexican/Asian fusion concept. The decor is fun and kitschy and the crowd is lively. Stop here for some drinks and food before heading down to the ... read morebeach clubs nearby.
recommended Di VinoOne of the best Italian restaurants in Downtown Playa del Carmen. The pastas are excellent. Its great location on 5th Ave is perfect for people watching.
- La Bodeguita del MedioM. del Carmen, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexicorecommended La Bodeguita del MedioThis location is super fun and lively. The walls and lamp shades are completely tagged - you can grab a marker from the host and mark your territory as well. Have a signature mojito at the bar and ... read moregrub on some delicious Cuban specialties inside their large dining room.
- Deseo Hotel5a Avenue y calle 12, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexicorecommended Deseo HotelI came here for drinks while staying nearby in Playa del Carmen -- it has a great "rooftop" bar (I have it in quotes because their rooftop is only 1 or 2 floors above street level). The hotel is a hip ... read moreboutique hotel right on the main drag of 5th Ave. The bar is the first thing you see when you head up the stairs. They have great drinks, friendly and helpful bartenders and in addition to chairs, they also have beds that you can lounge on with a group. This area doubles as the hotel's pool area, so there is a small pool next to the bar.Traci
if you want a cool atmosphere above (literally) 5th Ave (the main drag of activity in Playa) -- try to grab a drink here. Great environment and cool lounge vibe, complete with beds for sitting space and a pool.
recommended CobáCoba is an impressive archaeological site located just 45-minutes from Tulum by bus or car. It's known for it's complex system of 'sacbeob'--ancient roads--that criss-cross the thick forest that the ... read moresite is in. It also is the home of the second tallest pyramid in the Maya world--an amazing structure and one of the few that visitors are still allowed to climb (be sure to take good shoes!). Because of the thick forest and lagoons, the site also is a great one for wildlife spotting--just be sure to get there early (or stay late). When I was there last, I saw green parrots and toucans! The site is really spread out so it's worth renting a bike ($5) or hiring a bike taxi ($10 per hour). Guides also are available for about $30 for a two hour tour.
- Hidden Worlds Cenotes ParkHighway 307, Tulum C.P. 77780recommended Hidden Worlds Cenotes ParkThis park is a great intro to the underwater world of cenotes--an underground river system with caves flooded with cool and crystal clear water. Guided snorkeling and diving tours are offered ... read morethroughout the day. Floating past huge stalagmites and stalactites and eyeless fish is an eerie, beautiful and unforgettable experience--I loved it. This park also was featured in a National Geographic film a while back.... The park also offers additional activities like zip lining, rappeling and sky cycling--I saw them but didn't try them out so can't say whether they are worth the extra expense.
recommended Iguana BikeThis is a great little bike shop in Tulum, which not only rents good bikes (with helmets and locks) but also offers a bunch of interesting mountain bike excursions in the jungle. If you're interested ... read morein exploring the southern part of the Riviera Maya, this is definitely a different way to see it!
recommended La Cueva del ChangoPopular with expats and travelers in the know, La Cueva del Chango offers hearty and healthy Mexican eats from dawn to dusk. The restaurant has a gorgeous outdoor eating area with vegetation growing ... read morejust about everywhere--it kind of feels like your eating in the middle of the jungle. It's an especially great place for breakfast before you hit the beach, just a couple blocks away.
recommended Tukan BeachThere are three beaches in Playa del Carmen proper--Playa Faro, Playa Tukan, and Coco Beach. Generally, they all are well-kempt, with soft sand and clear turquoise waters. They also are within easy ... read morewalking distance of each other, so really anywhere you stay in Playa, it's easy to access them all. Of the three, Playa Tukan is my favorite. It's located on the north end of town, which has a laid back bohemian vibe. The beach itself has two beach clubs--Kool and Mamitas--which are good options if you want wait service, umbrellas, and lounge chairs; they both have small pools too. If you're not really into beach clubs, though, there also are huge stretches of beach where you can set up your own towel/picnic and just chill out for the day.
- Dive Mike8 Norte, Gonzalo Guerrero, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexicorecommended Dive MikeThere are tons of reputable dive shops in Playa del Carmen and along the Riviera Maya but Dive Mike is one of my favorites. I like this shop a lot because they're laid back and friendly in attitude ... read morebut very detail- and safety-oriented when it comes to equipment and actually being underwater. It's run by three dive instructors--an American (i think) and two Mexicans--who are really hands on. And no worries if you're not a diver, there are lots of excursions for snorkelers as well.
- Zenzi Beach Bar & Restaurant Playa del Carmen, Mexicorecommended Zenzi Beach Bar & RestaurantThis beach restaurant/ bar was recommended to us by our concierge when we asked where to go in Playa del Carmen that is a chill non touristy beach venue. The Tulum Dream hotel staff knows how to ... read morerecommend a venue! Zenzi caters more to the backpacking crowd... Super low-key and there for the sole purpose of digging their feet in the sand, chillin out to live music and sippin margaritas. I had the best tuna burger of my life. Mucho recommended.
- Sian Ka'an Biosphere ReserveHighway 307, Riviera Maya mainland, Playa del Carmen, ROO 77700 Mexicorecommended Sian Ka'an Biosphere ReserveWe had an amazing day-long trip to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve with a private tour offered by www.vivitsiankaan.com. This was mostly a boat tour (just two of us and Aldo, the guide) – through ... read moremangroves, huge lagoons with turquoise water, wild beach with very fine sand and narrow canals cutting through the mangroves. We got to see lots and lots of interesting birds, big and small. It was especially exciting to see the birds in the canals – the canals are narrow and winding, so after almost every turn we were “face to face” with the birds. At the very end, we saw many birds at once – the guide told us that it doesn’t happen very often to see so many of them together. We also saw a couple of crocodiles (one was about 4 meters long) but unfortunately we didn’t see the manatees. At one point we stopped and went into the jungle to visit the Maya ruins of Muyil. It was very interesting. Closer to the end of the tour we got to float (with life vest used as “Mayan diaper” – putting legs in the holes where arms usually go) in one of the canals (for about 40 minutes), being moved by the current. It was very relaxing and quite unusual experience. Overall, it was truly an unforgettable trip.
- Blue Parrot 5th Avenue5th Avenue, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexicorecommended Blue Parrot 5th AvenueKick off an evening out on the town with this long running, Playa del Carmen institution. Bring your own fish and they'll dress it out for you (they also have their own on the menu, of course). And ... read morethere's even a fire show and a swing in the bar if dancing on the beach and shots of tequila ain't cutting it for ya.
recommended Chichen ItzaChichen Itza is the real life Apocalypto. The ruins of the Maya civilizations rise dramatically from the hot and humid expanse of the Yucatan Peninsula. In Yucatec Maya, Chichen Itza actually means ... read more'at the mouth of the well' which is fitting because after the high priests ripped out the hearts of the losing team from the game played on the Great Ball Court, they threw the players still twitching bodies down the steps of the Pyramid of Kukulkan (29 meters tall) and later tossed the human sacrifices into the well, an underground river, locally known as a 'cenote' that was their well of souls, so to speak.Baxter Jackson
Only a few hours from Tulum - definitely worth a day trip!
recommended TulumTulum gives you a sense of what it must have been like for the Spaniards when they first encountered the Maya in all their glory - very 'Apocalypto.' The palm fringed beach just on the other side of ... read morethe ruins is almost as breathtaking.Baxter Jackson
The town is ok but the ruins and the beach there are truly spectacular!