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Planning first trip to Mexico... can someone spell out differences in each resort town/area?

Planning first trip to Mexico... can someone spell out differences in each resort town/area?

Old Aug 17th, 2005, 07:43 AM
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Planning first trip to Mexico... can someone spell out differences in each resort town/area?

Husband and I are planning a possible trip to Mexico in early November. Our primary goal is to relax, enjoy nice pools/beach, possibly do all-inclusive... and probably do a day or two of sight-seeing.

We're young - but not into nightlife/crowds. I'm just trying to figure out what would be our best option and what the differences are in the various Mexico destinations.... Cancun vs. Playa del Carmen vs. Mayan Riveria, etc. Can someone give me an overview?

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Old Aug 17th, 2005, 09:35 AM
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I'll give this my two cents. Cancun is a city. I think close to half a million people. There's a several mile long strip of beach, roughly in the shape of a number seven where the hotels are. Most are quite large, high rise. Some are all-inclusive, some aren't. There are also several shopping malls along this 'strip'. Also, many restaurants, many of which are excellent. It's feels very Americanized, and to me is a 'concrete jungle'.

The Mayan Riviera is a term used to describe the area from south of Cancun all the way to Tulum. Along here are several small towns, and many all-inclusive resorts. I confess to having never set foot in any of them. Lots of people who stay at these sometimes huge resorts will spend a week and never leave the property.

About 45 minutes south of the Cancun airport is the town of Playa del Carmen. Lots of growth in the past few years, I don't know what the population is now, but I'm guessing at least 30,000, probably more. In town itself there are literally dozens of small, very pleasant hotels. Some on the beach, some off a few blocks. There are also a few large resorts. Excellent food, and if you get off 5th Avenue, which is the 'main drag', really cheap prices.

Immediately south of the town of Playa del Carmen is the planned and gated resort area of Playacar. Golf courses, condos and lots and lots of all-inclusive resorts.

As you proceed further south, there are more large resort hotels along the beach and some small beach towns. I'm not familiar with them, so won't say anything about them. About an hour from Playa del Carmen is Tulum. There are Mayan ruins and a couple miles further on the town of Tulum. The town isn't right on the beach, I think about four miles away. There is a strip of hotels along here too, mostly small, some fairly primitive, we stayed at Cabanas La Conchita a couple years ago and there was only electricity for about four hours per day.

I'm not a fan of all-inclusives, finding good restaurants is half the fun of traveling to us. But, there are some beautiful resorts if you don't want to have to think about where to eat.
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Old Aug 18th, 2005, 03:57 AM
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I think you would enjoy Playa del Carmen (we certainly do - we are headed back in Nov for our fifth time!) - it has nice beaches, great restaurants and is a good base for sightseeing. The ferry for Cozumel leaves from PDC and there is a tour company, Alltournative Tours, - that offers some unique tours. Check out www.playadelcarmeninfo.com - lots of information there and they also offer some nice tours.
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Old Aug 26th, 2005, 09:50 AM
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Best option is bypass Cancun straight to Playa del Carmen. Went to Cancun 3x's before I saw Playa, and I'll be honest I'll never stay in Cancun again.
I stayed at the Iberostar Quetzal (close to town) in Oct. w/7 girlfiends. We loved it. You just can't beat the all inclusive. The property is adjoined to the Iberostar Tucan so the pool is shared. Their daily buffet was awesome and there were plenty of ala carte restaurants too.
Took my family to the Iberostar Paraiso last Christmas. It is a little ways out of town,but there is a bus that is constantly running to town(I think it was a 15-20 min ride)and is free.
I would probably say I enjoyed the Iberostar Quetzal/Tucan more only because it was a shorter distance to town and I thought the beach was nicer.
There is plenty to do Playa. You can ferry over to Cozumel or go to the Mayan ruins.
November is perfect weather.
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Old Aug 26th, 2005, 11:27 AM
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We enjoyed the ability to drive into Playa del Carmen and walk around but stayed north of the town along a sleepy stretch of beach called Punta Bete, at a now moved eco-resort called Kailuum II (where Capitan Lafite is expanding).

When we wanted the "town experience" we drove in (and stayed one night at Hotel Playa Maya in PDC), but also drove down the highway to the Sian Ka'an Bioreserve, explored ruins at Tulum and Coba, and visited Xcaret. If you just stay in Cancun, you may not see the other great aspects that Mexico has to offer.

The next time we go, we'll probably try to stay at Cabanas Ana y Jose on the beach south of Tulum or another small spot like it.
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Old Aug 29th, 2005, 03:47 AM
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swimmr - Cabanas Ana y Jose is on our list too. We drove to Tulum on one of our past visits and spent the afternoon there. Absolutely the most beautiful beach I had ever seen. It was the second week of March and you could count on one hand the number of people we saw - amazing. We are heading to PDC in November and are in the process of planning our March trip - I want to split our time between Playa and either Isla Mujeres or Tulum - decisions, decisions!!
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Old Aug 29th, 2005, 09:10 AM
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It may help to think of Cancun as a kind of Miami and Playa del Carmen correspondingly as a sort of Key West. At least I've heard some people say that that analogy fits. I think it's safe to say that most travellers would find these two places to offer all the typical comforts expected on vacations to a tropical destination, but that once you start going outside them to places like Tulum, for example, you're roughing it a bit more. I'm not saying that's bad or that everyone will agree with that description, but I think it's roughly fair and accurate in a broad brush sort of way.

Playa's population, by the way, is at about 100,000 now, with about another 50,000 in the rest of the municipality, which stretches officially from just south of Puerto Morelos to and including Tulum.

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Old Aug 29th, 2005, 03:05 PM
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If you are out to relax...the Mayan Riviera would be your best choice. Cancun is a mexican Myrtle Beach (hotel after hotel) and is very touristy. The farther south you go you run into Playa del Carmen (which is nice)but I would stay at Copacabana, XPU HA Palace...these places are located in a ecological park and there are mucho tours that can be taken from any of these places. My husband and I just got back from Cozumel, and it was nice...not near as busy as Cancun. We stayed at the Cozumel Palace (which is newly aquired). The service was great, but they are still working things out. There are many possibilities, but the Riviera is where I'd want to go...take a day trip to Tulum!
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