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Advice on Mexico/Playa Del Carmen vs TCI or other carib. destinations

Advice on Mexico/Playa Del Carmen vs TCI or other carib. destinations

Old Mar 6th, 2013, 05:24 AM
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Advice on Mexico/Playa Del Carmen vs TCI or other carib. destinations

Hello all,
So we are exploring the option to travel to Mexico and still contemplating the idea although I have heard from different people that things aren't that great in mexico...Realizing that this is a broad generalization, I wanted to hear from fellow fodorites and all suggestions are greatly appreciated. We are looking to travel sometime end of June (last week possibly) through mid-July. As I am researching the weather during that time frame, it seems that humidity and heat could be a negative, however we are used to or are OK with 90s...but we would be very disappointed if rain is a daily thing...Those who frequent the area, how is typically the weather (rain-wise as well)?
We are looking for crystal clear and calm waters....I saw various pictures of Playa Del Carmen and seems OK...but I would love to hear from any of you here if Playa Del Carmen is a good choice. We are 3 adults and 3 little kids travelling from DC. We would be happy in resort (NOT all inclusive) type of lodging with full kitchen and amenities, on the beach, and near super markets, shopping, and possibly other (exploration) activities. If we need to rent a car/van we are OK with that. We are also open to the idea of a villa/condo but it has to be on/very close to the beach, but also near other housing so it is not isolated. Without wanting to sound paranoid, I am a bit skeptical about safety....Our budget is UP to $400/night but IF choice A over B is $450 or so and choice A is superior in terms of accomodations, cleanliness, service, friendliness, accessibility, we would be willing to spend the extra money. We would like to have the possibility to cook on site but also explore local food. I have read negative things about several different food outlets where people had poisoning and were not impressed, but we are still interested in exploring the possibilities. If Playa Del Carmen is good, are there any better alternatives in that side of mexico?
My apologies for the long inquiry and if I forgot to mention any criteria please point them out so I can add.
Thanks again
Chris
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 09:04 AM
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<I have heard from different people that things aren't that great in mexico>

<Without wanting to sound paranoid, I am a bit skeptical about safety>

I am not familiar with the Caribbean coast, as I usually go to Puerto Vallarta (La Paz, Cabo San Lucas) on the Pacific side. You sounds overly concerned about "safety" which is simply not an issue for tourists visiting the beach resort destinations in Mexico.

But you really seem to have that on your mind for some reason, so maybe you'd be happier going somewhere else?

For me personally I have always felt safer in Mexico (22+ trips) than I do in the Caribbean (6 trips).
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 11:08 AM
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There is NO State Department advisory for Quintana Roo (where PDC is located) or Yucatan state either. I've been many times since 1999 and rented a car and had no problems. I prefer the beaches south of Playa but you might like it for the variety of restaurants and night clubs as well if that is of interest. Never gotten sick there once and only stayed AI once.
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 01:03 PM
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We've been to the Caribbean side of Mexico several times and the West Coast of Mexico twice. Usually once per year since 2000. Those areas are safe for tourists. The people that you have "heard" things from about Mexico have any of them actually been to Mexico or are they just repeating things that the have "heard" or "read"? Make a big difference.

Though we love Mexico, based on your criteria, I really don't think it is what you are looking for. Your title mentioned TCI. I think that destination would be more in-line with your stated criteria. Excellant beachs with calm water and lots of condos unit with kitchens/kitchenettes. You'll need to rent a car there to get to various dining options and the grocery store. Look at the Sands. Very child friendly condo resort on one of the best sections of beach.

Weather wise, expect very hot and humid.
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 04:26 AM
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I spend a good amount of time in Playa as having lived there part time for 8 years. Safety is not an issue as long as you don't do stupid things like get drunk and lay on the beach in the middle of the night or go down dark alleys at 3 am. It doesn't sound like that's your vacation anyway so you'll be fine. I spend every summer there. In all those years, it does rain occasionally but usually not for days on end. That being said, it is hurricane season and there are no guarantees no matter where you are in the world that it won't rain. It is hot and humid especially as it gets into July. It sounds as if a condo would be more suited to your needs. Look at Pueblo Escondido, Natz Ti Ha, The Elements, or even small houses in Playacar. Mahekal is partial AI. All are right on the beach or one block off at the north end of town. Plenty of places to eat and 5th avenue is easy walking distance. No real need to rent a car unless you want to travel around and see some sights. You can take a taxi to/from the grocery.
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 05:24 AM
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suse, KVR, colokid,
Thanks a lot for your responses/input. I am still exploring options of course, and I have heard 'negative' stuff even from friends who work at DHS (one of whom is ...from Mexico) ...and that is why i am perplexed about people's perceptions about what is and is not ...safe...Anyhow, using common sense is crucial and following colokid's advice is just that...common sense, so we shouldn't have a problem. The reason we are contemplating mexico (primarily) is that we want the things we liked elsewhere, but this time in a different place so we can say aaaah we went there too, AND enjoyed too (at a ..hopefully, lower cost too)...
Thanks to all again
chris.
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 05:30 AM
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oops I forgot to thank jamie99 too thanks
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 06:20 AM
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We have been vacationing in the Mexican Caribbean for 8 years. It is a very family oriented, safe area. If you want a condo close to nice beaches, shopping and good dining, Playa is a good choice. Although 5th ave can get noisy with strolling mariachi bands, bars with rock bands, and loud tourists, the northern end of town is newer, more upscale and quieter. We've eaten at every kind of restaurant, taco stand, mom & pop loncheria, truck stop, etc up and down the coast. I've only gotten sick once, and that was a late night taco at a sidewalk bar 7 years ago. As for the weather, it will be HOT and rain is common, but usually brief.
Other towns to look at would be Akumal which is quiet with great snoekeling, Tulum which has miles of nearly deserted beach, and Puerto Morelos which still has a small fishing village feel. All of these towns have condos on or near the beach. Have you checked out locogringo.com ?
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 09:22 AM
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<The reason we are contemplating mexico (primarily) is that we want the things we liked elsewhere, but this time in a different place so we can say aaaah we went there too, AND enjoyed too (at a ..hopefully, lower cost too)...>

Everyone's different. I have lots of friends who love Mexico and it's their #1 vacation. But also people who don't and avoid it, for various reasons (none of them personal safety).

For myself I like Puerto Vallarta (as an example) better than anywhere I've been in the Caribbean, so it's hard for me to understand some people's reluctance to give it a try.

My concern is when people go in expecting the worst experience, sometimes that is exactly what they get. People can have bad vacations in Mexico no doubt there.
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 03:38 PM
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True, Suze. Think how excited those poor folks on that cruise ship were last month to go and how many are now saying "never again" to cruising because of that experience. Bad vacations can happen everywhere. Lots of things can go wrong and fortunately most things go perfectly fine.
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Old Mar 17th, 2013, 05:32 PM
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Thank you all for the great advice and suggestions. I am always travelling with open mind, I just don't want to disappoint the wife .
Thank you again. We are in the process of making a choice. Too many good places to go and things to see....so little time.
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Old Mar 18th, 2013, 05:21 PM
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I would argue that the Mexican Riviera is one of the safest places in the region to travel in. It is easily THE major tourist area in terms of numbers and money spent of any Mexican resort area, so the MX gov't puts alot of resources into security there. Several Million, repeat, million visitors go there each year, so, if there is a even a ten to the minus SIX probability of an adverse event there, several tourists will have an adverse event per year, but you will never be able to even walk TWO BLOCKS down the street of ANY US city with a 10EXP-6 probability of an adverse event. I am perpetually amazed at how many US tourists will not hesitate to visit Wash DC or Miami where dozens of Americans are knifed, shot, or assaulted PER WEEK, then hesitate to travel to Cancun because SOME DUDE was victimized by crime a few years ago. It simply doesn't make sense. You will be safer in Playa del Carmen then you are right now reading this message. Period. I travel there about 3x every two years and recommend it without hesitation.
Royal Haciendas just N of PDC is a nice option, http://royalresorts.com/the-royal-haciendas.asp
but I think it is only AI now. Pity. However, recognize that with the AI, dad and mom can chill in one area of the resort, and when the kids get hungry, you can send them to the restuaurant - effortless.
But I also disllike AI plans, so I am not pushing that resort. here are a few other tips about PDC: just south of town are three related parks, XPlore, Xel-Ha, and Xcaret - all three are sort of low-tech theme parks. They are a bit pricey but extraordiarily safe and a good value, IMHO. Your kids will be talking about the ZIP lines at XPLore for years.
Transportation-wise, it is best to take the transfer service your resort recommends from the airport to the resort, then hire a car for daily trips as needed. (Again there are stories of bad experiences with MX car hire, but if you go with the agency recommended by your resort, car hire is as safe and effortless as anywhere) This lets you get used to Mexican traffic, which is not bad , but is a bit different than US or European driving, and taks a bit to get used to. I hope you'll go, and enjoy yourself.
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 07:23 AM
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We have stayed in Playa Del Carmen several times and it has worked well for us, although we haven't been to the west coast or other parts of Mexico so can't compare. As my kids became older, AIs no longer appealed to us and we changed to condo rentals. Either way, we always felt completely safe in the area.

PDC is about as convenient as you can get, and you don't even need a car. Supermarkets are within walking distance, and the town is loaded with restaurants and shops of all kinds. Cabs are readily available if need be, and the public transportation (Collectivo vans) are great, to go to some of the nearby sights (Tulum, etc).

We rented a couple of times at Xaman Ha, which is a few blocks off 5th Av, on the beach. The complex also has a pool. We will be renting at La Luna Encantada (in town, on the beach with a pool) this June. There are usually other families staying at these places as well, and my son always joined in on pickup soccer games and such on the beach.
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