What We Learned From Staying in the Heart of Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Because of the cost-effective folk that we are we opted for a Hotel, not resort, in the heart of downtown Playa Del Carmen. We decided on a breakfast plan instead of all-inclusive and chose the cheaper dates to fly out on. We had an amazing time and I would not have done our trip any other way and I’ll tell you why. Here are the things we learned while staying right amidst all the action.


All Inclusive, What?
At first when you see a vacation package that offers “All Inclusive” you think you are getting great value and a great deal, and this may be the case for some, however we actually much more enjoyed the breakfast plan! We were able to eat our breakfast at the hotel prior to leaving on a bus for the day to our excursions (we had a lot of excursions and lunch was always provided and included in the cost). At night when we got hungry we could go venturing into Playa Del Carmen and check out a new restaurant every time. There were many options to choose from and many different varieties (there was even an Irish Pub!). We found we probably saved money and had a more authentic experience of the city.


The Hustle Is Real
Playa Del Carmen, being a tourist destination, tourism is what the locals here rely on for their main source of income. There are many shops, restaurants, products and services that they will offer you. Some of these people are very friendly and polite, but beware as the competition is high and many will say things to your that are untrue to get your attention. We had multiple people say very similar lines including “Remember me from the Hotel?” or “I was your waiter at the restaurant!” or simply “remember me?”. Like any other business they are doing their jobs, so don’t be rude to them – but it is best to be short and just smile and say “No thank you.”.

Rain and Shine
This may not come to a surprise to you if you’re from a climate where this occurs, however in Ottawa this is definitely not the case. We were amazed by how short the rain falls were in duration and by how quickly things were able to dry up following an afternoon shower. Here in Ottawa when it rains it pours and stays wet for hours afterwards – so this was a real treat!

Have You Visited Coba?

 

Put Coba on your list for your next trip! Coba is an Ancient Mayan Village located in Mexico with exceptional sites to see. We did a half-day excursion here in the afternoon, in the morning we went zip-lining, canoeing, experienced a traditional Mayan ritual and swam in an Cenote!

The Tour
When we arrived in Coba we were greeted by a tour guide who offered a very thorough tour and explanation of the village and history, both past and present. He himself was of Mayan decent and was able to give great insight into the area. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and then we were able to venture on our for about another hour before the bus was to leave. I wish we had more time to explore!

Free Time
After the tour had ended we had the option to walk (FREE), rent a bicycle each (60 pesos) or pay for a driver on a tricycle (120 pesos) – there was a seat for two people to fit on and the driver peddled behind you. #Hashtagtouristshack: go all the way to the Nohoch Mul Pyramid first and then visit the other sites on your way back! You will be tempted to stop and take pictures at every stop along the way there but hold off to the end, you want to make sure you have enough time to climb up and down the pyramid with ample time to enjoy the view.

Once we reached the pyramid we shot a few pictures at the bottom and the trekked up to the top!  The Nohoch Mul Pyramid stands 42 meters high and is an incredible climb. Make sure you wear sunscreen as the sun can get very hot up there! Once reaching the top the view is breathtaking (pictures do NOT do it justice). Be aware that there are many people that will be up there with you and getting a picture without people behind you may be very difficult. As Mexico is very flat (very few hills or mountains) you can see very far out and wide from the top of the Nohoch Mul Pyramid.

Don’t be fooled! The decent is more difficult than the climb up. There are people going up and down, sometimes faster or slower than you are. My advice is to descend slowly, and take your time. Once down we hopped back on our tricycle ride and stopped at some of the smaller structures along the way to take our time capturing some shots.

Snorkeling For Dummies

Before our trip to Mexico I had never been snorkeling before, Marco on the other hand has been snorkeling many times and was a pro. I was slightly nervous at first but it is actually incredibly simple.

Getting Started
There are only really two pieces of equipment, your mask and your flippers. Placing the mask on was not difficult, but remember to keep your mouth piece on the left side! I had mine of the right side for half the excursion and was wondering why I kept getting water in the mouthpiece! Next is the flippers, I am pretty sure they gave me children’s flippers, but they fit me so I’m not complaining. Always put these on IN the water, it is much easier than putting them on outside.

Learning Curve
Now it’s time to get used to your new way of breathing and getting used to your flippers! If you have never worn flippers before it can be a strange sensation at first to maneuver in the water with them on. In no time you will get used to it and it will be easy breezy! The breathing was a lot easier than I had anticipated. I was nervous about feeling claustrophobic or accidentally breathing in a bunch of water, but none of this happened. The only down fall is that you get a lot of saliva in your mouthpiece – yuck!

Also note that you cannot breathe completely submerged in water with this. Your face ONLY goes in the water, not your whole head. Otherwise you really will be breathing in mouth-fulls of agua. You can, however, submerge yourself so long as you are not breathing or breathing OUT while in the otherwise. We did take our life jackets off briefly to take some neat underwater pictures and they turned out quite well!

Enjoying the View
Now that you are a pro at snorkeling you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the Yal-Ku Lagoon. They have many different species of fish, coral and other sea creatures that live in the lagoon and in this area, so keep your eyes peeled! Our guide was exceptional at showing us around and teaching us about the different creatures in that area. The tour was very insightful and we had a blast!