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Family trip to Playa Del Carmen....Please Help!!!

Old Mar 23rd, 2010, 03:05 PM
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Family trip to Playa Del Carmen....Please Help!!!

Hi All,

We are regular Asian travellers but we looking to take our kids to Disneyland in July and want to tag on a trip to a Beach destination in Mexico. Our kids are 8 and 11, both boys and we are from Australia. Our last few trips have been to Thailand which we all love but with the Aus$ doing so well against the Greenback at the moment we have started to think that this year might be time to do something different.

I have loosely decided that PDC would suit us as it seems to provide a good mix of great beaches, vibrant township with lots of local cafe's, bars, shopping and good access to do some cultural/historic touring.

My questions are many but to begin my planning I would like help with the following...

1. What airline would provide the best budget service from LA to Cancun? I am presently looking at Mexicana but am open to any options. As we need to pay for 4 tickets, the more way can save the better as long as it doesnt mean making several stop-overs. We are happy to pack our own food and dont need any pampering.

2.Which hotels/BB's in the medium price range are well located and family friendly? We definately dont want an All Inclusive and do want to be a very short walk to the beach. Happy with a clean 3 star around $100us per night. A seperate bedroom and pull-out couch or ajoining rooms would be ideal and a small pool would be nice.

3.What are some of the best places to explore around this area? We have about 4 weeks in total for the entire trip and need to decide how to divide our time between California and Mexico. I was thinking of 18/10 day split. Will that give us enough time to relax and see all the highlights that this region offers?

I will search the forum for more ideas but any help with these specific questions would be most appreciated.
shanek is offline  
Old Mar 24th, 2010, 06:31 AM
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We have gone to Playa many times, here are some tips:
With 10 days you might want to consider splitting your time between Playa and a smaller beach town like Akumal, Tulum or Puerto Morelos. That way, you can rent a car after you leave Playa, and explore the area form a more car friendly small town. We always do 3 nights in Playa, 4 nights in either Akumal, Tulum, or Puerto Morelos. We love all of these places! If you decide to do all 10 days in Playa, you can just rent a car when you want to do day trips. Driving in the area is quite easy.
In Playa there are lots of hotels that will meet your needs. Generally the northern end of town (from about 8th to 26th) is a little quieter, with nicer beaches. Here are some hotels to look at - Posada Mariposa, Bananas, Alhambra, Mosquito Blue.
As for places to explore, there are lots of options - the ruins at Tulum and Coba, the cenotes and caves that dot the area, snorkeling spots like Ya-kul and Xel-Ha, the Sian-Ka'an reserve, etc.
Have you visited the locogringo.com website?
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Old Mar 24th, 2010, 06:43 AM
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Actually, with the beach restoration from the pier at Constituyentes south in the past few months, the beach to the south is also quite wide now and beautiful.
If you decide to drive, please take all the insurance offered and learn the rules of the road before you go. They are a bit different. Also pay attention to speed signs especially in PDC on the highway.
There is another website dedicated to Playa called www.playa.info which is hosted by locals and has an extensive list of hotels under the trip planning tab. There are also several webcams so you can see firsthand the beach.
There are so many places to stay it's hard to decide. Some offer free passes to beach clubs. Riviera del Sol, Luna Blue, La Tortuga, or renting a condo as there are many of them right on the beach could be other options.
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Old Mar 24th, 2010, 06:43 AM
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For airfare, just plug in your info in Kayak and/or Bing and see what they come up with. They do the comparing for you. You can try both flights to Cancun, and also to Cozumel. Either would work for PDC area.

I can't help with hotels, but can suggest you also consider a condo rental. There may be some good deals in July. We've stayed in the Xaman Ha condos twice, although they may be more than you want to spend. They are very well located, on beach, with pool, and family friendly (lots of kids during the school vacations). There are many other condo options as well.
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Old Mar 24th, 2010, 06:49 AM
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For the best airfare, plug your info into Kayak and/or Bing. They do the comparing for you. Also, try both Cancun and Cozumel. Either airport would work for the PDC area.

I can't help with specific hotels, but you may also want to consider condo rentals. We've rental at Xaman Ha a couple of times with our kids. We love the locations, (very short walk to town), and it's also on a beach with a pool. I don't know what their rates are in the summer, but they are a bit more than you want to spend during the higher seasons.

You can look at VRBO.com for condo rentals just to see what may be available.
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Old Mar 24th, 2010, 06:51 AM
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sorry for the double post. The first one didn't show up at first so I typed in another....
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Old Mar 24th, 2010, 12:28 PM
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Thanks do much for your replies.

Since my initial post, I have found a few Condo rental websites and have Xaman Ha on my list. They say it is situated in a "gated community". I must say that I find this a little off-putting but I may be reading too much into it. How far is it from 5th Ave?

I have checked out the web cams and the area looks fantastic.
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Old Mar 24th, 2010, 02:34 PM
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Xaman Ha isn't really a gated community in the 'Beverly Hills' sense. There's literally just a guy sitting there who manually lifts a gate as cars drive in and out. Further south from the condo is all the big AI resorts.

Xaman Ha is a couple from blocks from 5th Avenue. There are newer condo complexes right in town, but many are much more expensive and others are on the other end of town (which is the quieter end of 5th avenue, and the newer developed).

My kids are older than your, and would walk into town on their own for breakfast or lunch if they didn't want to eat with us. We also kept food in the condo and ate some meals there. There are 3 big grocery stores within walking distance (you can take a cab home if you're carrying lot of bags). There are also these really great take-out bbq chicken places which are not to be missed.

Our most recent visit (January) we ventured more off the beaten path looking for meals. We ate everything from street food to taco stands to nice restaurants. We never had any problems. The condo provides bottled water, so you can fill your own water bottles when you are going to the pool, beach or into town. There's also a snack bar at the pool, but we never bothered with that. And the collectivo service (public van) is a few blocks away and can take you to some of the ruins and eco-parks for next to nothing.
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Old Mar 24th, 2010, 02:52 PM
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Thanks MFNYC!!! That is great information and I think my mind is made up. It sounds like it will be worth going over budget for. I will email them and see if there are any deals in July.

As for my timing, it is the depth of our winter (not as cold as yours) so it is ideal for us to travel then. I know that we can expect some rain but I am hopeful for plenty of beach time as well.

I will start to look at some flights and will be back with more specific questions,I'm sure. As long as you all dont mind.
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Old Mar 24th, 2010, 06:58 PM
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More great advice. I never thought of using Bing to compare flights. I typed in our approx dates and they come up about $800 (for the 4 of us) cheaper for the Lax-Cun leg and about $500 better off on the Mel-Lax leg. That will pay for our accomodation at Xaman Ha. Thanks a million.

Has anyone used Vayama as a booking site for a Mexicana Airlines flight?
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 07:20 AM
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The best place to book flights if all things being equal, is Orbitz. They will actual issue a refund of the difference if someone books at a lower fare after you have book. I know people who actually got checks in the mail from Orbitz when this happened.

I usually booked directly with the airline, but when someone told me about this Orbitz deal, I will reconsider in the future.
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 04:17 PM
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I would recommend a 3.5 resort just south of PDC in a gated area called Sandos Playacar Beach Resort---it is all inclusive with a fabulous beach! It is within safe walking of PDC or a 5 min cab drive to 5th Ave. We also snorkeled in a cenote----Dos Ochos-- it is on the way to Tulum. We loved Sandos and are going back in Sept. We rented a car in Cancun and we're glad we did!!!
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 06:03 PM
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Thanks again MFNYC. I appreciate you input as well astuart execpt we are not really waning an AI as we prefer local restaraunts and bar hopping.

My concern now is the time of year. I have posted on the USA forum as this trip will be combined with a few weeks in California and all the advice I am getting there is to ditch my time in PDC as July is the Hurricane season.

It doesn't really concern me if it rains a bit and heat and humidity is also no problem... BUT I want to be able to go for my daily swim in the sea and I dont want to risk being caught in 10 days of howling wind.

We are used to going to Thailand in the "wet" season and usually experience a torrential downpour every second or third day that may last a few hours and the odd patch of rain in between. Would it be any worse that that?

I am being told that there a plenty of nice beach resorts around San Diego that would compare favorably with PDC. Is there any truth in that?
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 10:09 PM
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I live in PDC part time and spend all summer there as well as weeks during the year...I'm leaving in just a few hours to head there again. July is hot and it is busy as many travelers arrive in July from Mexico itself when schools get out and also Europe. I've lived in Playa for four years and have not had a hurricane but that is not to say that one will not happen in any given year. We did have one the year before we moved in. Generally, July is not all that wet and last summer it was quite dry. There is quite a bit of humidity but I usually spend the morning at the beach and then head back to the pool in the p.m. We've had a cooler than normal winter this year but the temps are starting to warm up. I've not had days of howling wind either. Hopefully there will be a breeze on the beach as that is what saves us from the heat many days.
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 10:36 PM
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Thank's colokid,

I had started to look at Southern Californian beaches as an alternative and they just didn't have the same appeal.

My preference would be to go in late May/June but have other committments then. I could put it off until November but really need a holiday before that.

As I mentioned, the heat and some rain doesn't really faze us but dont want strong currents that make swimming dangerous.
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Old Mar 26th, 2010, 03:46 AM
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Hurricanes are more likelyto occur later in the season---Sept. and Oct. after the water is really warmed by the sun all summer.
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Old Mar 26th, 2010, 05:33 AM
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I've been to San Diego/La Jolla and its beaches. No comparison to PDC. On the other hand, if you are looking for a rental type place in La Jolla. We stayed in a nice 2 bedroom guesthouse a couple of years ago. I can dig up the VRBO info if it's still there. It was very comfortable and the property owners were delightful and accommodating.
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Old Mar 26th, 2010, 01:04 PM
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My heart is set on PDC but my head is trying to over-rule at the momment. It will be just my luck that this year will be the biggest hurricane season of them all. Trying to find flights for late June but as that coincides with our school holiday season, the flight prices go up considerably.

I would like the name of the Guesthouse in La Jolla if you can find it, as long as it is no trouble.
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Old Mar 26th, 2010, 05:25 PM
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Here's the La Jolla guesthouse: http://www.vrbo.com/70179
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Old Mar 26th, 2010, 06:22 PM
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I think a hurricane in July would be highly unusual. Super hot however.
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