Playa del Carmen, Mexico is a mere three-hour flight from Toronto and many of my trips there have been for four nights only. With only a weekend in Playa, here how I would spend it.If I were looking for a budget-friendly weekend, I would most like choose Labnah Hotel, located less than a block from the beach, on Calle 6. Simple rooms, air conditioning and breakfast each morning come at a very reasonable price. If I wanted to splurge just a little, The Palm at Playa hotel, conveniently located at 10th Avenue and Calle 8, would be my other choice. If a condo rental with living space and kitchen was what I needed (perfect for families), I would contact Area International – they usually have a wide selection of condo options. After checking into my accommodations, a quick change into my bikini would be in order, followed by cover-up, flip flops and beach bag (beach scarf, sunblock, and water), and soon I would be making my way down to the beach.
Ah, the ocean! One of the reasons I come here time after time. I would walk along the coastline until I reached Kool Beach Club, where I would reserve a wooden lounger for under $10/day (plastic is also available for cheaper) and settle in for the day. One of the reasons I like Kool is because they have ample beach umbrellas – something this fair skinned girl needs. I should note that Kool really feels more adult-oriented, so if you’re travelling with children, note that they do not allow children to use the swimming pool, an issue if the ocean happens to be a little rough that day. I often see parents with children on the beach in front of the club and this is a better place for them to build sandcastles, play, and swim, provided the ocean is on the calmer side. I would spend my first day here relaxing, reading, swimming in the ocean, napping, people watching and some more walking along the shore. The beach club serves food and drink (at a charge) so there is really no reason to leave your chair. Washroom facilities and lockers are also on-site.
For lunch I highly recommend the fish tacos, fruit plate, and fresh papaya juice.
Late afternoon I would pack up and walk up Calle 28 to 5th Avenue, stopping at The Snorkel Shop on the way, to book a snorkeling excursion for the next day. Turning left, there are plenty of shops to browse on the walk back to the hotel, and I would most likely visit a couple of my favourites. I would make a stop at Yo Amo Tacos! for a delicious chicken taco, and one of the best mojitos I’ve had in Playa. I would then make my way back to my hotel for a nap, shower and a night out!
I would start my evening with a glass of wine at the classy bar, Di Vino. Located on the corner of 5th Avenue and Calle 12, a seat at the bar provides a wide range of wines and a great vantage point for people watching.
There are dinner options galore in Playa, but with only 48 hours, I would choose either Yaxche (Mayan), Mi Pueblo (Mexican), or Fusion (located on the beach, and with live music every night). If you visit Yaxche, be sure to order the Mayan coffee – the preparation alone is a sight to see. I might finish my evening with a watermelon martini at Ula-Gula, located at the corner of 5th Avenue and Calle 8, upstairs and known for its sushi (another dinner option). Or, if I were up to it, I would make my way down Calle 12 to any of the lively bars or nightclubs that come to life after 11pm. One of my favourite bars, La Santanera, is worth a visit but does not get busy until the other bars are winding down, so be prepared to be out late!
Day two would begin early, grabbing breakfast at any of the many spots along 5th Avenue and returning to my hotel for The Snorkel Shop van to pick me up for my excursion, starting with snorkeling in the ocean off the coast of nearby Puerto Morellos. Following a beachside lunch, the afternoon snorkeling would be spent in a nearby “cenote” or freshwater cave. My favourite part of this excursion is snorkeling in the ocean- the water is warmer and there are more fish to see. The Snorkel Shop will film underwater that day and provide a dvd to remember your experience. Returning to my hotel in the afternoon, I would take a walk down to the beach to enjoy some late afternoon beach time, and watching the sky change colour as the sun sets.
Dinner on the second night would be authentic Mexican. I would take a walk up Ave Constituyentes to El Fagon, located between 25th and 30th Avenues, a little way away, but not too far and a completely safe walk. Ave Constituyentes is a busy road and there are always lots of people around. El Fagon is usually filled with local Mexicans, and the food is delicious and cheap. After dinner, I would walk back to 5th Avenue and stop at Ah Cacao for a delicious coffee or hot chocolate. They also sell chocolate soap and body paint, if you please.
Continuing along 5th Avenue, I would browse the many shops, and making sure I stop at Maya Notes to pick up a couple of souvenir’s to take home with me before my flight the next day.
If time permitted, I would take in one of David’s yoga classes at Yoga By the Way the next morning before my flight, a gorgeous tropical studio located on the second floor of a nearby building, complete with open windows and ocean breezes – the perfect end to a perfect Mexican weekend!