I have never been one for beach holidays. If you know me, you know that I am extremely sensitive to the sun. I always carry sunscreen, I typically wear a loose cardigan even on a hot summer day, and I make a beeline for the shadiest spot under the umbrella when my friends opt to do patio brunch. I don’t play around when it comes to sun exposure, so a beach is clearly the worst place I could go. That’s what I thought, and then a friend convinced me to book a five day stay in Playa Del Carmen and one month later my suitcase was packed, inclusive of 4 tubes of 100+ SPF, and we were off. Those five days ended up being incredible, completely changed my mind on beaches, and my years of sun paranoia paid off because I managed to make it all five days sunburn free! Enough about me though, let’s talk about the incredible adventures we went on that made this trip one I cannot wait to do again.
An All-Inclusive Resort
When you are talking about taking a relaxing beach vacation to Mexico the way to go is an all-inclusive resort hotel, and there are dozens to choose from! For just over a grand each, we booked flight and accommodation and didn’t carry a wallet for nearly the entire trip as we ordered room service and sipped on fruity alcoholic beverages all week. Being our first time to Playa, we relied on Google when making our decision, and opted for the Maya Riviera Resort. I would give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars. Not the best ever, but the staff was incredible and for the killer price, it was perfect.
An Excursion. Make That Two.
We arrived with no plan other than relaxing under the beach cabana and chilling by the pool, but rain greeted us and it turns out that July isn’t the greatest month to lay out by the beach. It was seaweed season, which basically means that the beach was covered in washed up seaweed. Take note, if you decide to go, book your trip between November and March to avoid this time of year. Anyway, we were not going to let a little rain and seaweed ruin our trip so we decided to be total tourists and book a couple of excursions. The first was a full day spent exploring the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, which for those of you who don’t know what that is, you’ve seen it! it’s the pyramid looking thing that just so happens to be one of the wonders of the world. Yeah, badass I know. After exploring this historical site, we visited a Mayan cenote where we repelled into the caved lagoon and zip-lined into the chilly water. To finish out the day, we were treated to a traditional Mayan meal and got to take part in an ancient blessing ceremony.
For our second day trip I asked the travel guide what the absolute best excursion was that we could do during our stay, and without missing a beat he said swimming with whale sharks, so swimming with whale sharks is what we did. This was by far the highlight of the trip for me, and hands down one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life. We took a boat with four other guests, a tour guide and a professional diver two-hours into the middle of the ocean off the coast of Cancún to the migration spot of the whale sharks. They are only in this part of the world for about four months out of the year. Lucky for us that time just happens to be during seaweed season.
After swimming with the whale sharks we visited Isla Mujeres, a beautiful seaweed-less beach for lunch. An added bonus to this excursion was that our group was awesome! I seriously couldn’t have asked for better strangers to share this experience with.
A 5th Avenue
Another highlight of the trip was venturing out of the resort to visit 5th avenue in Playa Del Carmen. This popular area was full of exciting street performers, live music, eateries, unique cocktail bars and packed dance clubs with possibly more tourists than locals. We met some great people and enjoyed micheladas the size of half gallons (slight exaggeration) at Las Helodias, a Nutella and cheese (yep you read that right) dessert from a street vendor, and the best tacos in town, according to our new friends. We even had a drink created just for us, The “Texas Margarita” made with serano peppers for an extra kick, at a neat little cocktail bar called La 5ta Ronda.
A Day Poolside
Of course don’t think we traveled all the way to Mexico to not get our relaxing day by water! The rain finally cleared up, and we enjoyed a day poolside. Also, just a short 10-minute walk from our resort was a beautiful lagoon with crystal blue water.
I am itching to book another beach vacation, and Playa is a place that I will definitely be visiting again, and hopefully sooner rather than later. Don’t miss out on all that this wonderful place has to offer, and for those of you in Houston, it is literally just a two-hour flight to paradise! Hopefully my trip has given you the inspiration you need to book that spontaneous flight. Book now and plan later, or go with the flow like we did and stumble across some crazy fun adventures. xoxo