Halfway through our vacation we left Cancun and drove an hour south to Playa del Carmen. Although still a tourist area, it is more posh and cosmopolitan compared to Cancun, in my opinion. Spoiler alert: I liked it MUCH better here.
We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen and, as I instinctively stated when we arrived, OMG it was amazing. I literally “oohed and ahhed” like a kid looking at Christmas lights. The most chic, modern and stunning hotel I’ve ever stayed at. That says a lot because anyone who knows me knows I stay in MANY hotels.
The hotel had one large infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean. I know I live by the beach anyway, but this felt extra extra special. Almost like Spain or the South of France.
It is located one block from La Quinta Avenida (5th Ave, in English), which is a touristy-street lined with restaurants, bars and shops. Not quite the 5th Ave NYC quality, but you get the point…there’s a lot going on.
I ate all of my meals at the hotel so I didn’t have to chance GF out in the town. More fish (salmon, tuna, shrimp), avocado, vegetables, fruits and even fresh coconut water…straight from a coconut!
Here’s where we livened up a bit. We bookended two lazy pool days with an excursion through Alltournative to Coba, an ancient Mayan city. We started the day at 7 a.m. (by far the earliest wake-up call all week) and drove about two hours away with our group. Side note: the roads in Mexico are FILLED with speed bumps. It took longer to get there because of them.
For the first half of the day we were in the village/jungle where Mayans still live today. We left our phones in the car for this part so I only have one picture but here are a few highlights…
-Rappelling into an underground cave and then swimming there (it was incredible!)
-Participating in a Mayan ritual
-Eating authentic Mayan food (well, not me. I brought my own GF lunch).
Then we drove to Coba and visited ancient archeological sites, most notably the Nohoch Mul, the tallest temple in the Yucatan Peninsula.
It was extremely steep (not too tall) and much harder to climb down than up. Amazingly no-one has fallen or gotten hurt because I thought the steps were slippery. It was a two-mile hike (round trip) and after that we made the two-hour bus ride back to the hotel.
-We had great weather 6/7 days. One day it rained on and off but mainly the wind kept us indoors. Overall, I would suggest traveling to the Cancun area during this season. It wasn’t too hot at all and we wore light jackets at night.
-Playa del Carmen is the better/nicer place of the two to shop (and eat).
-Knowing basic Spanish helps (my sister and I do from high school), but it isn’t absolutely necessary. Most menus/signs are in Spanish and English.
-You know the “don’t drink the water” warning? The hotels have that covered by offering out free bottled water like candy. Even at the restaurants they pour bottled water into pitchers to serve. I was extra cautious and used bottled water to brush my teeth. SATC’s Charlotte scarred me for life!
Overall, I came back feeling relaxed, grateful, motivated and tan. Mission accomplished. Now back to regularly scheduled programming :)