Cancun vs. Playa Del Carmen Area

Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 06:26 PM
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Cancun vs. Playa Del Carmen Area

Hi:

We've never been to Mexico and thinking about going next month. Looking for thoughts regarding staying in Cancun or the Playa Del Carmen area. Any thoughts on what the differences might be would be very appreciated. I know nothing about Mexico at all so anything you could provide me with would be great.

Thanks again
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Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 06:32 PM
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I've only stayed in Cancun once, about 10 years ago. Hated it from the first hour I was there. Nothing but big, expensive resorts and lots of concrete. It did have lovely beaches, but the water was rough and sometimes you couldn't swim.

My own fault, I didn't do enough research.

My first trip to Playa del Carmen was about eight years ago. We loved it. Little hotel for about US$50.00, right on the beach. Unfortunately, most of those little hotels are now gone. Last I was there a couple of years ago, it was busier, but still lots of fun. Great beach bars, great restaurants in an area that is totally walkable.

In other words, head to Playa, or, if you're looking for a smaller more Mexican type place, head to Isla Mujeres.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 06:50 PM
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Thank you!!
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Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 07:41 PM
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There are other options besides those two places--literally dozens if not hundreds of places in places like Tulum and Puerto Morelos.

Cancun is what it is--luxury hotels completely separated from anything resembling local culture. We stayed at the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach, which had a very calm beach. Plenty of good restaurants--but again, expect middle to high end cuisine, not authentic local offerings.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 07:08 AM
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Camcun is like being in any commercialized city. There are nice beaches, but it is no where near as relaxing and layed back as Playa. I much prefer the Playa del Carmen area, especially if you want more of the "Mexico" feeling.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 08:03 AM
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I have never been but this is my impression...

Cancun is a built-environment for tourists. It's a resort strip of large hotels on a beach similar looking to Miami. While Playa del Carmen is a small town with a busy main street and lots of shops, restaurants, hotels, catering to tourists but with more authentic local flare and style, also beach resorts but more spread out and laid back.

You can do some quick internet research to see photos of the differences between the two places.

I vote for Playa del Carmen
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 08:32 AM
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We have no desire to go to Cancun. We have been to Playa del Carmen, Akumal, Puerto Morelos, and Tulum - loved them all. Playa is a fairly large city, but with no high rises, and a great beach. The locogringo.com website has tons of info, aerial photos, beach info, etc, on the whole area.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 11:38 AM
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Cancun is like Miami Beach more than it is like Mexico. Playa Del Carmen, has become more and more touristy in the past few years but still has a Mexican feel to it. The town of PDC is hopping with lots of restaurants (of all kinds), entertainment and shopping. Just a couple of blocks off the main drag (5th Av) you have much more authentic Mexican eateries.

Also PDC is more convenient to many of the ruins and other tourist sights (Tulum, Coba, Akumel, eco-parks, etc) with very inexpensive and good public transportation (colectivo vans) to get there.

Also the beaches have been recently restored and are very nice. I'm a fan of PDC, and like to be within walking distance of the town. We've done condo rentals with our kids and it's been great.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 02:04 PM
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Thank you to all for the great information!! When I called Cont. to book air the rep. recommended Riveria Maya overall, she said it would be a great fit since we're traveling with our 2 yo. In her opinion PDC is more of a night life hot spot, she really didn't have much positive to share about Cancun in general. I will check out the locogringo website mentioned above to find out more. I'm know so little about Mexico I thought PDC was the Riveria Maya. Any other thoughts are very much appreciated.

Thanks!!
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 02:42 PM
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It is
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 03:49 PM
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PDC is part of the Riviera Maya, but there is more to the Riviera Maya than just PDC.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 04:27 PM
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Thanks, I'm going to look into some of the Hotels throughout the area. They recommended a hotel called Barcelo Maya. If anyone has any info on that I would appreciate it or other hotels in the area they were happy with.

Thanks
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 04:40 PM
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Oh sorry. Yes what schmerl said. Playa del Carmen is "on" or part of the Mayan Riviera, but that term applies to much of the rest of that coastline as well.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 06:13 PM
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Do you want to be in a big all inclusive, self contained resort, or a small hotel - they each have their pros and cons.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 06:54 PM
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I have been to Playa Del Carmen several times and Cancun as well! Playa takes the cake-it has become much more of a tourist spot over the past 5 years but nothing like Cancun...
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Old Apr 5th, 2011, 05:57 AM
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dmg.
Barcelo Maya is part of a HUGE all inclusive resort. It is on a nice beach and you can snorkel off part of the beach. There is a water park for children so there will be lots of families there. It is a short ride to the town of Playa from there.
If you tell us what you are looking for, we could recommend some resorts since there are so many.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 11:27 AM
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I have never stayed in an all inclusive resort before however for this trip it might be the thing to do. We're probably looking at about 5 night stay. I don't believe we will rent a car, I'm guessing the hotels will have transportation to the Ruins or other places of interest. I have a friend who recommended the Palace resorts although I think they stay in Cancun. She recommended Moon Palace I believe. The Cont. rep. recommended Barcelo. I checked out the Marriott but they seem to be in Cancun only (I was hoping to use points). Most of the time when we travel we rent a villa, then make our own breakfast, coffee and eat dinner's out so we can try different restaurants. For this trip my husband is leaning toward a hotel with an all inclusive plan and probably staying on the grounds. With that in mind I'm thinking we might be better off where there are things within walking distance just for a change of pace. This is more of a new experience for us to stay on the grounds of the hotel, maybe easier with a small child as well. Again thoughts/information are very appreciated.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 11:45 AM
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If you want a low key all inclusive with a beach that's a 10, check out the Akumal Beach Resort. Also right next door is the Akumal Caribe, a nice small non AI, with a good restaurant on premises. They are both on Akumal Bay beach which is calm and great for snorkeling and swimming.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 12:16 PM
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Moon Palace is in Cancun, and has a sea-weedy beach. We have done both the AI and the condo rentals in PDC. The town of PDC has so many great restaurants, it's hard to go back to the mostly mediocre food of an AI.

We rented a couple of times at Xaman Ha condos in PDC (just a couple of short blocks to 5th Av (the main drag). The condo includes bottled water and all the usual hotel amenities. It's on the beach, has a pool, and is very family friendly. It's one of the older condo complexes. There are newer ones, mostly at the other end of town, and some right in town. There are also a few big grocery store in PDC so it's easy to stock up on the necessities.

The AIs tend to be big (although not all). IMHO the food gets tiring after a couple of days. The pool area also tends to be noisy with music and activities for most of the day. On the other hand, it does make life pretty easy, especially when traveling with children.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 04:45 PM
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For a great AI that is not too big look into the Iberostar Tucan/Quetzal. Great for families, about a five minute taxi ride from downtown Playa del Carmen. It is is the gated area of Playacar. Wonderful beach.
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