In March of 2018 I traveled to Play Del Carmen, and surrounding areas, with my husbands’ family. We went with his parents and his five younger siblings aged 12 to 18. We flew to Cancun and drove to Playa Del Carmen, fitting nine of us into the van we rented which my father in law drove around like a pro. Before embarking to our awesome airbnb in Playa Del Carmen we spent the afternoon on Isla Mujeres, just a quick ferry trip from Cancun.
Before catching the ferry, we had a delightful breakfast at Antoinette Cafe in Cancun. It was an alluring french cafe with delectable food. Our stop here was the best way to start our first day.
Isla Mujeres, the island with one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Soft white sand and cyrstal blue water. It was our first moment of complete wonderment and we played like children. Time didn’t seem real on this little island.
I had heard that airbnb was not great in Playa Del Carmen but with the size of our family and wanting to avoid the resorts, we had few options. Thankfully, we never had a problem. We found two great apartments across the hall from each other, rented from the same person, Isadora. The apartments were clean and spacious.
Isadora had someone meet us there and help us with anything we needed. Everything went smoothly. The best part is that the apartments are located right on 5th avenue, which is where the life is at. The street is full of shops and restaurants and it is only five blocks from the beach. We were located near the end of the street so we had the life of 5th avenue but it was also fairly quiet.
Playa Del Carmen
Despite our exhaustion from spending the afternoon playing on the beach and the setting sun, we immediately got to discovering 5th avenue. Our exploring of the street and the Playa Del Carmen beach was split over a few days, but I’ll add it all now and show our day trips after. The street has a mall, stores of every kind, unique stands, tequila, and dining. It was packed and felt a lot like Cancun. Made for tourists, but so enjoyable. We had so much fun sampling tequila, taking midnight walks to the beach, and eating all the food Playa Del Carmen had to offer.
The apartments were located very close to Ah Cacao, a chocolate cafe. I could have set up camp there honestly. I could not get enough of their spicy hot chocolate. Other places worth mentioning and highly recommended by me, include Amorino gelato. The gelato is made with natural ingredients and comes in the shape of a flower. The Madre Tierra, a seafood restaurant my husband and I had a romantic date at. With copious amounts of sangria I mostly remember that the lobster spaghetti I had was phenomenal. One more place I recommend checking out is Sol Jaguar. They have stunning beaded artworks and crafts.
We spent an amazing afternoon at Akumal beach, snorkeling and playing in the sand. I have no idea if we made it the place we were actually looking for, we ended up at the beach by the Secrets resort. There was an entrance fee and we had to rent life jackets (to protect the sea life) but it was all worth it to see the magnificent turtles! We got to see so much more life that included colorful fish, eels, and manta rays. It was an afternoon well spent, but for snorkeling I would recommend Yal Ku lagoon, also in Akumal, I’ll get to that later.
After a night of drinking we managed to get up early so we could beat the crowds at the Mayan ruins in Tulum, and we were glad we did (once we had breakfast). There is a small entrance fee, we also paid for parking and for a guide. I was very happy we got the guide in the end, I usually like to explore things on my own, but he was very informative and I learned a lot of things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. The ruins were rich with history and culture, with little imagination I could see what life might have been like in this bewitching place. We left just as the crowds were entering and the heat was beginning to bear down. The morning was a fascinating break from the exciting chaos of the trip, it was grounding and life giving.
Yal Ku Lagoon
Yal Ku, the place we spent the least amount of time at, but wanted to spend the most. We have all promised to stay at this magical place the entire duration of our vacation the next time. It is a picturesque lagoon hidden away in Akumal. There is an entrance fee, you can also pay to rent a hut and we did. (Make sure to bring biodegradable sunscreen, it is the only kind allowed for the health of the sea life). There are artistic statues dotted along a lovely trail leading to the lagoon. The huts are private from the trail, it felt like we had the whole world to ourselves. The water was refreshing and alluring. I could have stayed in it for ages. I did not snorkel due to some eye issues but some of my family members got to see turtles, fish, and even a shark. This was an enchanting place where time stood still, until we realized we had run out of it far too quickly.
After leaving the lagoon we found a restaurant along the beach. The restaurant, La Lunita, was actually on the beach where we could watch the sun set over mexico one last time. The food was amazing and the drinks were robust. It was the perfect end to a perfect trip full of laughter, joy, and close bonds.
If you have traveled to the Yucatan peninsula, tell me what your favorite part was! If you haven’t, tell me where you would like to travel to in the comments below.