Playa del Carmen Information/Report

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Jun 1st, 2004, 05:28 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Playa del Carmen Information/Report

Not a full trip report, but a few comments:

Recently we came back from a wonderful trip to Mexico that included Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, and Oaxaca.

In Playa del Carmen we wanted a car for a couple of days to go to Tulum, Akumal, etc., and we wanted to pick it up locally. We were very pleased with Executuve Car Rental on Fifth Avenue. The people were very nice, the car was fine, and everything went smoothly. We opted for getting all insurance, because I had the impression that Mexican laws would have made relying on our Visa Gold card very complicated, had we been in an accident.

In Playa we stayed at La Tortuga, which was a totally charming hotel a block off Fifth Avenue, with a lovely small pool, immaculate rooms, an adorable semi-exposed common guest area, and very friendly staff. Its only drawback was its distance from the beach club it used, Mamita's.

We found Playa del Carmen to be lively, pretty, and fun, a bit touristy, but still on this side of my "too much" line! Still no high rises, and still a feeling that we were in Mexcio, not some made-up town. I loved walking down Fifth Avenue to find a place to eat, browse the shops, and to people-watch after dinner. You still have to beware of time-share hawkers, though....

We had a wonderful snorkeling experience at Yalku in Akumal. I think you have to find the fish, they're not everywhere, but I saw loads of colorful ones. The water was lovely, and the setting pristine. I was very drawn to Akumal, the landscape was exquisite, but I think it would have been just too quiet for my husband and me alone, plus we would have needed a car the whole time.

We also swam and snorkeled in el Gran Cenote, which you get to buy going past the turnoff for Tulum, then turn right onto the road towards Coba. It's a half-open cave where again, the water was superb, there were many tiny fish, and the setting was unlike anything I have ever seen.

We went to Xcaret at Night, a large extravaganza that supposedly relates Mexican history through dance and music. It was....something else. Some fabulous aspects, some rather absurd. Interesting, showy, but in the end hard to know what to make of it! It made me glad we hadn't tried to go to Xcaret by Day, though.

We never made it to Xelha, perhaps that might have been more appealing. We did go to a cave called Aktun Chen, which was full of fabulous limestone formations and an otherworldly lake that took my breath away.
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