Playa Del Carmen, México

Playa del Carmen is located in the Riviera Maya area on the Caribbean coast of Mexico and is around 60 km away from Cancun and Tulum.

We read that Playa, (as locals call it), it’s the fastest-growing city in Latin America, what is by itself a big no-no. As you already know, I don’t do package holidays and don’t normally choose places that don’t have anything to offer rather than tourist traps around every other corner. Plus I’m not into shopping or night clubs at all. So you are probably asking ‘why on earth have you decided to go there?’

Well that’s a good question, with a pretty easy answer, we just decided to pop in for a day because we had time in hands and had visit all the places we wanted, so we thought, well we are going to see what is all the fuss about…

As you can conclude for everything I just said my expectations were very very low, so the good point was I couldn’t really get despoiled.. and I didn’t, not even surprised 🙂 unfortunately..

To reach playa, we took a colectivo (45pesos) from Tulum, which is a very frequent route. Collectivos can get a bit cramped sometimes but are a great way to move around.

Playa del Carmen

During the day we walked around, went to some art galleries, found some murals, street sculptures and luckily stumble into a wonderful Mexican performance ‘Los voladores de Papantla’.

The 5th Avenue (Quinta Avenida) is apparently the place to see and be seen. It is a very touristic place, packed with trinket shops and overpriced fancy restaurants… but who needs fancy? Leaving behind Playa’s tourist trail is the only way to go off the beaten path and find the real Mexican flavours, and avoid paying inflated tourist prices. Ask for local restaurants and you won’t regret it.

We also explored the beaches that are easily accessible by foot.

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I can’t say that we add a bad day, far from that,  was an enjoyable day out, but not more than that.

There is a big difference between travellers and tourists. Playa is undoubtedly a top tourist destination with big resorts, fancy restaurants and a busy nightlife. But the question is just one … can Playa offer want you are looking for? if yes go for it, if not choose a different place.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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Tulum Private & Public beaches

If you’re backpacking or traveling on a budget it’s probable that you’ll stay in town 3 miles from the beach… What is absolutely fine, first there’s cheaper accommodation in town, lots of shops, restaurantes, bars, supermarkets, markets, banks, pharmacies, etc. so not that bad at all, plus renting a bike is easy and cheap 🙂

Lots of places in town rent bicycles and it’s a great way to move around. Going to the beach it’s quite easy, from town you go always straight through a cycling path, till you reach a roundabout, where  the police station is located. If you head right (north) you have the public beaches plus the ruins at the end.

Bare in mind that most visitors remain on the beaches located right in front of the Tulum Ruins, so move further south and you will find some pristine beaches.

At least from my experience this side has the nicest stretch of beach in all of Tulum, because they are bigger, the water was cristal clean and the sand white, in position of the few public beaches that you can find in between the hotels in the south stretch that are tiny, difficult to find and unlucky were full of seaweed.

If you head left (south) you have 10 miles of private beaches called ‘zona hoteleira‘ (hotel zone) there are a few public beaches in between the private ones, but they are super small. To be true this area is hotel after hotel after hotel, what is actually a bit overwhelming. The beaches are ok but unfortunately there was heaps of seaweed that had just washed in a couple of days ago.

You also have the option of ‘using’ the beach of one of the hotels, some charge a fee in order to access the beach or is mandatory to have  drink or a meal at their restaurant. If you are looking for some extra-confort this ones are definitely the best option, because you can use the sun beds and umbrellas.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Tulum, Ruins and Beach

Tulum itself is nothing special, but it’s brilliantly well located, and there is plenty to see and do around.

Tulum has great places to eat and sleep. But is quite touristic and the main streets are packed with restaurants, souvenir shops, bars and cafes. Still nothing like Cancun at all, but is still a holiday destination. Plus is easily reachable from Cancun for day trippers, which keeps the place busy and the prices up.

My first recommendation is to rent a bike, so you can visit the closest sights yourself. Renting a bicycle costs around 80MX$ ($4.50). If you’re backpacking, chances are you’re staying in a hostel in town 3 miles from the hotels near the beach. Tulum is flat, and cycling is a great way to move around.

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We cycle to the Tulum Ruins (70MX$), and they truly are something special, mostly because of it’s location right next to gorgeous turquoise-blue waters. The combination of the coast line,  palm trees and ruins is just amazing. So is not much for the ruins itself, that are quite modest scale and not as beautifully designed as others but it’s location.

The two entrances to the ‘city’ (ruins)  are small tunnels cut into the wall.  The three major structures of interest here are El Castillo, The Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God.

We strolled through the ruins without a guide, but we had a guidebook to take us through the history. We went early in the morning to avoid the tours.

The two surrounded tiny beaches are amazing but just as scenery … personally a tiny crowded beach is not my cup of tea. While I don’t recommend going to the beach I do highly recommend comfortable shoes, water, hat and plenty of sun cream because there’s no shades.

To complete the day we cycled back from the ruins and visited a couple of public beaches, they were all amazing but no shadows.

2014-02-05 22.27.46 photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Adventures through the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico

Mexico was the firsts country I have visited in the American continent, and couldn’t be asking for anything better, Mexico was an amazing surprise.

The picture below shows the rota I did over the 16 days I spent there.

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✈️ Cancun    Mérida

Mérida Uxmal

Mérida  Cuzamá

Mérida Izamal

Izamal  Valladolid

Valladolid Chichén Itzá

Valladolid   Tulum

Tulum Cobá

Tulum Natural Park Aktun Chen

Tulum Kaan Luum Lagoon Kaan

Tulum Playa del Carmen

Tulum Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos  Cenote Verde Lucero

Puerto Morelos Cancun ✈️

* The double sided arrow ⇠⇢ means  that I went to that place just for the day *

With time, I will be posting about all those places. Meanwhile if you are traveling soon to the yucatan peninsula and you have any questions, just shout, and I will do my best to share same tips and my personal experience.

Hope you can keep reading and following my adventures 🙏 Cheers Ana xx

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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