Trip Review: Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Hola! Despite my recent trip to Spain and even more recent trip to Mexico I’ve still mastered less of the Spanish language than Basil Fawlty. Language barriers aside — this trip was amazing. Puneet and I flew into Cancun from Vegas (via Denver, an airport we remember distinctly for its “TORNADO SHELTER” signs everywhere; yeah, that wasn’t scary at all). From there we had a car waiting to take us an hour south to the wonderful coastal town: Playa del Carmen.

Walking into the resort our first impression was exactly this:

First Impression

Not bad, not bad at all..

The trip began with a few room-related mishaps but the resort staff were amazing and sorted everything out for us with as little drama as possible so from day 2 onward everything was peachy. Some of the highlights of our room included a Nintendo Wii, a telescope, our own pool and last but not least a fully stocked bar:

Bar

The resort was “all inclusive” meaning that all food and alcohol was free / built into the price of the room

View from Roof

The amazing view from our rooftop terrace — look at the colour of that water!

Panoramic View

One more view shot – this time panoramic

The all inclusiveness part of the resort was a double-edged sword. On the one hand it was convenient to be able to walk around and eat/drink whatever and as much as we wanted but on the other hand we felt bad any time we left the resort to eat. The quality of Mexican food was disappointingly low throughout every restaurant within the resort but fortunately we stumbled upon an amazing joint just down the road: Aca Los Tacos! We literally ate there once each day for the rest of our trip.

Aca Los Tacos

This photo doesn’t do justice to the food — the guacamole wasn’t very good, nor were the quesadillas, but we soon discovered their burritos. Oh my god. The hot sauces they provided were out of this world too.

Aca Los Tacos 2

Aca Los Tacos was right on 5th Avenue

We tried not to venture out for food/drinks too much since we felt bad given it was free in our resort, but one night we were moseying on down 5th avenue (the main strip of shops/bars/restaurants in Playa) and stumbled upon a really funky looking place and couldn’t help but stop for a couple of giant margaritas and a small bite to eat:

Funky Mexican Restaurant

Mmm.. margaritas!

Okay, enough about food (did I really just say that?) — we actually DID do more than eat and drink in Mexico. We organised a tour one day to take us south along the coastline for some sights & snorkeling. The first stop on our itinerary was Tulum — A Pre-Columbian Maya walled city. From Wikipedia:

The ruins are situated on 12-meter (39 ft) tall cliffs, along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayans, it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. Old World diseases brought by the Spanish settlers appear to have been the cause of its demise.

First impression: Stunning. Second impression: Stunning.

Tulum Ruins

An overview of the ruins

Closer shot of ruins

A closer look

Coastal shot of ruins

Being along the coast Tulum had access to sea trade routes, making it an importing trading hub

Sea road sign

This signage was posted right in front of — see next photo

Sea road area

This! Magnificent.

Proof

Last but not least (of the Tulum photos), I thought I’d throw in one with me in the shot — there were people just below swimming in the water, we really wanted to join them but it was time to head off to our next stop..

Next stop: Cave Snorkeling! I must admit, we were a little scared at the prospect of this at first — but after a minute or two in the water we were good to go. The cave we went to was Sistem Dos Ojos - one of the longest underwater cave systems in the world. Given we were snorkeling and not diving we only got to glimpse the surface of the cave but it was amazing nonetheless. Some more Wikipedia knowledge:

Dos Ojos (from Spanish meaning “Two Eyes”; officially Sistema Dos Ojos) is a flooded cave system located north of Tulum, on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. The exploration of Dos Ojos began in 1987 and still continues. The surveyed extent of the cave system is 81.5 kilometres / 50.6 miles and there are 28 known sinkhole entrances, which are locally called cenotes.

Dos Ojos Cave

A photo taken inside the cave looking back to the entrance – there were a LOT of stalagmites and stalactites scattered throughout. In some spots they were so low you needed to be careful not to hit your head as you came up

Snorkeling at Dos Ojos

Underwater photo taken by our guide of Puneet and I

Dos Ojos Cool Shot

A cool underwater shot of some divers

Dos Ojos Entrance

A closer look at the entrance

The whole experience was amazing and one we won’t soon forget. Snorkeling in a cave is a whole new world compared to snorkeling in the open ocean — the biggest difference being how dark it is and the need for a torch.

Our next stop was Akumal Bay - This was definitely my favourite stop of the day. Why? Because I like turtles! Akumal means “place of the turtles” in the Mayan language so this was the place to be for turtle spotting. The water in Akumal Bay was without a doubt the warmest natural water I have ever been in. It was like a warm bath, just incredible. The goal for our snorkeling trip here was to spot a sea turtle or two, and spot them we did.

Turtle!

Oh, hi there!

Turtle! Weeeeeee

Weeeeeeeeee

Turtle pop head up

Might just pop up for some air..

Turtle ahhh

ahhhhhhh

Turtle with fishies!

This was my favourite one! We saw a turtle swimming around, eating grass, going for air, and wherever he went there were two yellow fish that stayed right under him the whole time. I dunno if he was protecting them, or they had just found a cool place to hide, or they had some sort of deal going on (protection in return for something?!) but i thought it was the coolest thing ever

After Akumal it was time for lunch. We went to a quaint little restaurant perched on the side of a bay and while I don’t remember the name of the place, I certainly remember the view :

View from Lunch

The actual view from our table.. it was like a postcard

Animals!

After lunch our guide called us over to the other side of the road to where a few of the locals were feeding some animals that were coming out of the jungle. We don’t know what the animals were but here’s a photo of them nonetheless. If you recognise what they are please let me know!

After lunch we had one final snorkeling stop before home – Yal Ku Lagoon. Whilst we had been snorkeling in a cave and bay we were yet to see an abundance of colourful fish. Enter Yal Ku. This place was swarming with fishies of all descriptions.

Ya Kul Lagoon

Ya Kul Lagoon

Steps into Ya Kul Lagoon

Steps into Ya Kul Lagoon

Random Colourful Fishy

Random Colourful Fishy! Looks like he’s having lunch.. om nom nom

Puneet and I underwater at Ya Kul

It’s amazing how close you can get to the fish, they’re so comfortable with humans they just swim around you

Hola!

Hola!

Aaaaaand that was the end of our amazing day out in Mehico! The day will forever go down as one of the best days of my life and I’m sure Puneet would say the same. It ranks right up there with the day we spent at a Tiger Temple in Bangkok.

The rest of our time in Playa was spent lounging by the pool(s), drinking more margaritas and eating wayyyy more than we should have — I literally ate three dinners one night. We had a giant Thai meal at the Asiana restaurant within our resort at about 7pm. At 8:30 I had a giant burrito at Aca Los Tacos and when we came home at about 10 I ordered and finished a plate of spaghetti bolognese from room service. I put on 4kgs while we were there. [x] Totally worth it.

I’ll leave you with one photo that pretty well sums up the overall mood of the trip. Adios!

Senor Froggy!

Everyone, meet Señor Froggy!

  • marcelo ”urubu”

    hey roy, 1st time i read your blog.

    i really like your blog, going to read many old posts. atm i just read this trip review, which was very good read. also great pics and obv awesome trip.

    btw last pic is lolololol.godlikefroggy? =p

    cheers

    -urubu

    • http://godlikeroy.com GodlikeRoy

      Haha thank you! :-)

  • imposterGLR

    So you’ve got your own blog now eh? Good to see you haven’t changed whatsoever.

    • http://godlikeroy.com GodlikeRoy

      Hey man, long time! How you been?

  • Thomas

    Serious Question: If I ever move to australia(unlikely as my girlfriend would need a job there however its her most favourite country and she is finished with law in the university soon) can we become good friends and do trips like this together? I am an SNE grinder too :)

    • http://godlikeroy.com GodlikeRoy

      Yes, yes we can :-) Make it happen!!

  • dbancajas

    Nice trip man. Always a fan of your blog. Please write strategy articles soon. hehehe

    • http://godlikeroy.com GodlikeRoy

      Cheers, will do :-)

  • knightfan

    the turtles were your favourite part of that trip??? really??? those caves look absolutely awesome, and the turtles were your favourite??? whats wrong with you:P

    (srsly tho, those caves look amazing)

    • http://godlikeroy.com GodlikeRoy

      What can I say.. I like turtles! The caves were unbelievably amazing though and a less-turtle loving man (however heartless such a man would have to be be) would surely have liked them more

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  • Sean B

    Great blog man….my gf and I are going to Playa del Carmen in 3 weeks. It will be our first ever visit. Really really looking forward to it. Keep up the entertaining blogs! Cheers mate

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