Playa del Carmen-restaurants/activities

Nov 19th, 2003, 10:10 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Playa del Carmen-restaurants/activities

I am leaving for PDC in a couple of weeks, staying at the Gran Porto Real. We have opted for a non all inclusive package as we wanted to try out some of the local restaurants.

Does anyone have any recommendations for authentic Mexican restaurants near our hotel?

It looks like we are within walking distance of the ferry to Cozumel and I thought that would make for a good day trip. Particularly interesting is Chankanaab national park (we are snorkelers, not divers). What are the options for getting from the ferry to the park? Is a taxi the best?

Are there any spots on the PDC side that are also good for snorkeling? Is Yal ku lagoon easily accessible from PDC? Is it kind of like what Xelha was 10 years ago, a quiet place to snorkel that is overrun by tourists?

Thanks for your help!
Kristi is offline  
Nov 19th, 2003, 11:44 AM
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We are snorklers, too, and going to Aventura Spa Palace in Feb 04, so I have gathered some information that you might find interesting - it's pieced together from other forums. Here goes:
There are dozens of dive shops in town, the better ones using experienced instructors and small, fast boats. Deep Blue, Av 10 at Salas (tel & fax 9/872-5653, ) is one of the best on the island, offering tailor-made small-group tours to some of the most interesting and remote reefs on the island.....While Cozumel's principal activity is diving, snorkelling and sports-fishing tours are both readily available. If you want to snorkel you'll need to organize a boat ride out to the reef - all of the dive shops in town should be able to take you (approx US$20 for several hours in the water). Heading south , you pass first a clutch of modern hotels by the car ferry dock; offshore here, at the end of the Paraiso Reef, you can see a rather alarming wrecked airliner on the bottom - it's a movie prop. There's accessible snorkelling by Hotel Barracuda and further along opposite the Villablanca Garden Beach Hotel . Carry on to the Parque Chankanaab or "Little Sea", recently designated a National Park (daily 7am-5pm; US$10), a beautiful if rather over-exploited lagoon full of turtles and lurid fish surrounded by botanical gardens. There's a beach and a tiny reef just offshore; also changing rooms, showers, diving and snorkelling equipment for rent, an expensive restaurant, and a protected children's beach. Further south, Playa San Francisco is the best spot for lounging and swimming, while at the southern tip, the Laguna de Colombia offers interesting snorkelling....almost as spectacular here as in Cozumel and there are scores of professional scuba-diving operations in Playa - recommended is Tank-Ha, Av 5 between C 8 and 10 (tel 9/873-0302, ) twice-daily snorkeling tours (9.30am & 1.30pm; US$25; 3hr).My vote is also for Xel-Ha. Great place. Spent approx 5 hrs there. Snorkeling was terrific & was better snorkeling there than at the reef in Porto Morales. Good luck and enjoy...The dive shops we recommend our this site, Abyss and Explora (see the PDC Directory above) both have excellent snorkel tours for less than half that price. Tours at the All-Inclusives tend to be way over-priced.....Go on the jungle tour, offered out of either AquaWorld or Sunrise Marina(across from Marriott)on the Lagoon side of Kuklahan Rd. Two to your own small speedboat, you travel through a sort of ocean jungle in the Lagoon and then out into to the carribean for some amazing snorkeling. It's so shallow that you are right on top of all the coral. It was some of the best snorkeling I have ever done in the carribean. Plus its only a few hours and doesn't require a huge bus trip and it wasn't tacky at all. We didn't go to Xcaret, but we met people who said the river smelled, and except for the night performance, which they said was truly amazing, it wasn't worth it at all. We just went to Xel-Ha last week. It's a beautiful spot, but it gets mobbed. The snorkeling was just OK. There are some big fish and sting rays by the floating bridge, but there isn't any coral. We relaxed and swam on the river for the rest of the day. Message: Well, Tres Rios is nice, but avoid Xcaret and Xelha like the plague....took the ferry to Cozumel to Chankanaab park. Not as nice as Xcaret...but still very enjoyable and less $. If you enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving...the reefs in Cozumel and Isla Mujeres are amazing. You need to schedule a boat trip to do it...which can be arranged at the resort. It is THE best diving Ive ever had. My Summary - kinda confusing on whether Xcaret and Xe1-ha are worth it. Seems like going on your own to Xel-ha rather than a tour would work, to avoid crowds. Maybe someone else can post more information to help make an informed decision.
vernettm is offline  
Nov 19th, 2003, 03:23 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Oh God, please don't waste your time and money at Yalku! Absolutely worthless - a total rip-off. Concentrate on Cozumel for snorkeling.

Good decision to skip AI - you will have many restaurant choices in PDC.
Yaxche, located on 8th Street, specializes in regional Yucatecan cuisine, adapted in a sophisticated way. I have read guidebook reviews of Yaxche which call it the best restaurant on the Mayan Riviera, and I couldn't argue with the assessment. Dress is casual, but reservations are recommended (can do this on the web - type "Yaxche" on Google and it will take you to their website).

Another good PDC restaurant, serving more of what people think of "Mexican" food (as opposed to one of the regional cuisines) is La Parrilla, located on Avenida Quinta between 8th and 10th. Do not confuse with a nearby but far inferior restaurant called La Parrilla Argentina!

By the way, if you do make it to Cozumel, an excellent restaurant is La Choza, located on Avenida Rosado Salas a couple of blocks up from the main drag (Ave Melgar). It looks very simple, but it's spotless and the food is great.

resipsaloquitur is offline  
Nov 19th, 2003, 06:52 PM
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Thanks for the replies, from what little I've read about Yal-ku it sounded like a good option for someone who wasn't looking for the Disneyfied experience of a place like Xcaret. I'm even reluctant to go to Xelha as I remember it as a simple lagoon where you could go snorkeling pretty much undisturbed.

Will definitely be heading over to Cozumel at least one of the days.

I'm also looking into whether a tour that includes visits to cenotes would be worth the effort, I read about it somewhere but now can't find it.

vernettm, I think the jungle tour you are referring to is out of Cancun, not PDC. Kukulcan is the major road through the hotel zone in Cancun.
Kristi is offline  
Nov 20th, 2003, 08:09 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 475
If you want an interesting excusion consider Alltournative. We went on the Coba-Pac Chen excursion. At Pac Chen (a real Mayan village) you take a short hike throught the jungle to a Cenote - which you rapel into. Then you go to another cenote where you zip-line across. Then back to village where you canoe around the big cenote. (order varies - sometimes you canoe first). Then a simple but good lunch and some time to relax in hammocks. Then off to Mayan Ruins at Coba. A very full but excellent day.
JMM is offline  

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