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Trip Report - 3 weeks in Playa del Carmen Cancun Isla Mujeres and Cozumel

Trip Report - 3 weeks in Playa del Carmen Cancun Isla Mujeres and Cozumel

Old May 9th, 2003, 10:36 AM
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Trip Report - 3 weeks in Playa del Carmen Cancun Isla Mujeres and Cozumel

Hello All!
Just back from 3 weeks in Mexico, and thought I'd give a trip report.

I've been to all of the places except IM many times before, so if you don't see info you want, feel free to ask.

First stop, PDC. Stayed at Playa Maya. Brand new, very clean, nice people. Right in the middle of things on a good beach. Small hotel with nice views.
PDC has gone and grown up on me and gotten civilized. Some people will think this is good - others, not so good. A much more visible police presence in the wake of increased crime there.
Best food - La Casa del Agua, Yaxche, Tarraya
Good food/wonderful atmosphere - Palapa Hemingways
Best bars - Frida, Deseo
Yucky bar - Tequila Barrel. (Full of smoking expats trying to outdo each other while reminiscing to bad 60's and 70's music. Bleah!)

On to Cancun. Stayed at Fiesta Americana Cancun. Top notch service, but the rooms/property need MAJOR renovations. On an excellent beach with nice amenities. Very centrally located and within walking distance of much of the bar and shopping areas.
Best food - La Brisa, Maria Bonita, La Habichuela (absolutely fantastic!!!), El Pescador, Sasha's (wow!!!), Lacanda Paolo, La Distileria.
Best breakfast - Captain's Cove, Iguana Wana.
Best bars - La Boom, Slices (dive).

Nest stop, Isla Mujeres. Two words. LOVED IT!
I don't want to let the secret out, but this is the place for those looking to escape the craziness and just veg out. Gorgeous beaches, funky little town and loads of personality! As Arnold said, "I'll be back!"
Stayed at Na Balam. A little pricey for what you get - $135.00 per night for the ocean view - but no doubt is on the very best beach on the island. Topless is quite common on all of the beaches. Most people are pretty discreet about it.
Best food - Zazil Ha, Casa Rolandi, Sunset Cafe.
Best breakfast - La Cazuela M&J, Cafe Cito
Best bars - CocoNuts, Sunset Cafe, Buho's

Best for last - Cozumel! Stayed for the 10th straight year at Intercontinental. Best hotel, beach, staff on the island. Great snorkeling and diving right off the beach in front.
Best food - Prima, Sonora Grill, El Moro, La Cocay, La Veranda, French Quarter, La Choza, Mezcalito's
Best breakfast - Museum Cafe, Jeanie's, Diamond Cafe, Plaza Leza
Best bars - Havana Club, Fat Tuesday, Kiss My Cactus, and for sheer awful-drunken-meleeness, Carlos and Charlie's is a MUST see when cruise shippers are in.

ONE WORD OF CAUTION!!!
DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT RENTING A SCOOTER ON COZUMEL!!!!!!!!!!!! Spend an extra $20 and get a Bug or a Jeep and see the island safely! You would never even give renting a scooter a second thought if you'd seen all the carnage we have.

Please also be careful on the reefs if you snorkel or dive as they are getting an increase in traffic. Don't touch or pick up anything as many/most places are national park territory, and you will be fined (and yelled at) if you do. Just enjoy the view but don't touch. (You can also get nasty cuts/burns from coral, plus it kills the coral.)

Lastly, soapbox. Please completely educate yourself before considering dolphin swims as they are in most cases not what they seem to be - harmless fun.

Let me know if I can answer any questions or provide further info...
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Old Sep 10th, 2003, 07:42 AM
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Hi Diana:

Can you tell me whether or not the resort you stayed allowed use of their facilities (beach, chairs) for day trippers from cruise ships? Thanks
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Old Sep 10th, 2003, 08:02 AM
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I'm assuming you mean either Cozumel or Playa del Carmen since both have cruise ships?

Neither of the places we stayed allow non-guests to use the facilities, but there are places at both locations that do.

In PDC, there are beachfront bars and restaurants with nice lounge chairs and umbrellas where you can sit and relax as long as you drink/eat there.

On Cozumel, there is a nice beachfront park called Chankanaab with free chairs and palapas, restaurants and good snorkeling.
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Old Sep 10th, 2003, 01:07 PM
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Hey Diana:

Thanks, I'll be checking out the recommended park in Cozumel. Sounds nice.
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Old Sep 10th, 2003, 01:29 PM
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Diana

Great trip report. I'll be in the Tulum area in about a month. I know that you can take the ferry over from Playa to see Cozumel, but how to you get to Isla De Mujeres from Playa? Is there a ferry as well?
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Old Sep 10th, 2003, 04:44 PM
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Thanks Kath and you're welcome Nigelsmom!

Actually, the ferry to Isla Mujeres leaves from Cancun. I think there are three or four departure points on Cancun including one (car ferry) north of Cancun.

The easiest and fastest way from PDC would be to take a cab directly to the ferry dock, or to engage a local in PDC to take you, or to see if there are any cat trips or sailing trips to IM. The cheapest way would be to take the high speed bus to Cancun and then the local bus to the ferry dock, but that wouldn't leave you much time on Isla Mujeres by the time you do all that traveling.
A one-way taxi fare from PDC to the ferry dock runs about $40 to $45 USD total and takes about 45 to 50 min. I think the high speed bus is less than $10, and the local bus is only 50 cents or so.
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Old Sep 11th, 2003, 07:38 PM
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Any suggestion for a place to stay on the beach in PDC (in town) for one night (family of 4) before ferrying over to Cozumel (Intercontinental Presidente) that wouldn't be as costly as Play Maya? I was thinking of the Blue Parrot, but now starting to hear that this has become more of a rowdy noisy nightclub. *** I've been to NaBalam and was surprised that you thought it was spendy. We love this place ... awesome beach, water, & beach bar. Thanks for your help!
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Old Sep 12th, 2003, 05:21 AM
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Hello truttman,

Playa Maya was not that expensive - only $100 - $120 per night for the deluxe rooms - but there are lots of other places that are less $$$ to choose from.
If you don't HAVE to be on the water, Mosquito Blue and Deseo are very nice. (But I think they're about the same as Playa Maya.)
The only reason I thought Na Balam was little too much for what you get was that I had gotten a $135 per night rate for Presidente, and although I really enjoyed Na Balam and the gorgeous beach, the property and the rooms were a little "rustic" for the same price we were paying for the IC on Cozumel.
My research also dug up that Mosquito Blue can be quite noisy into the wee hours, and that is why we chose Playa Maya.
Just curious, what rate did you find for them?
It's such a nice property with an excellent location.
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Old Sep 12th, 2003, 07:33 AM
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Truttman, We stayed at Hotel Colibri last January for under $65.00 a night, right on the beach. Two double beds, a/c, tiny bathroom with not a lot of hot water, but clean and pleasant. Try going to www.playadelcarmen.com and see the list they have there. It isn't quite complete, but it's a long list.

Jena
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Old Sep 12th, 2003, 02:24 PM
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ttt for loangalsal...
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Old Sep 12th, 2003, 03:33 PM
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Diana, this year we are going to Puerto Vallarta for xmas, but next year i was thinking PDC or Isla Mujeres.
We have 2 sons who will be 19 and 21 by then. What place would you think they would like? We like to be social and are big on the beach and beach bar/restaurants. Some night life, also. It doesn't have to wild like i suspect Cancun would be like.
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Old Sep 12th, 2003, 05:36 PM
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Hi s140,
There are a couple of places in PDC that are especially good for families...
There are some very nice condos that would allow everyone to stay together but still have their own bedroom - Xaman Ek and Fisherman's Village.
If you want more of a resort feel, and the boys could have their own space, there's Porto Real. (I think you can do either AI or not.)
Contintental Plaza Playacar is also a large resort (that I didn't care for when we stayed there once because we like the smaller places).
There are many really nice medium sized places along the beach like Playa Maya, Shangri La, and El Faro.
There are many places to eat or shop, and there are some of the neatest and funkiest beach bars and bars in town I have ever seen.
Either PDC or IM would fit the bill.
Why not split your time btween both?
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Old Sep 12th, 2003, 06:10 PM
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Hi diana, when we get to our destination we just like to park and not move from hotel to hotel.
We would like something right on the beach with a pool, central location would be ideal. we love local flavor but are not immuned to the tourist stuff. i would like to see both IM and PDC.
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Old Sep 12th, 2003, 06:41 PM
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s140, have you been to PV before? That is my favorite place! I am sure you will have a great time there! There are tons of great restaurants and the downtown area is really fun, still has lots of character left (as long as you stay away from Hooters, Planet Hollywood, etc!).
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Old Sep 13th, 2003, 06:49 AM
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loangalsal, i have been to pv 6 times, i love it.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2004, 10:23 AM
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Hi, Diana,
I know your message is a year old, but if you see this, a couple of more quick questions. re. the Playa Maya (we hope to stay here later this year).
How would you rate the beach at Playa Maya? Is it as lovely as the beach in front of the Cancun Marriott?
& How are the bathrooms? !
Many thanks!
frankie
Thanks!
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Old Apr 23rd, 2004, 03:32 PM
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Hi Frankie,

I'm still lurking around on the board, and will be happy to answer your questions!

We are leaving Wednesday for 2 weeks in Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos, and are staying again at Playa Maya, so obviously we were happy there.

The beach at Playa del Carmen is TOTALLY different from the beach at Cancun.

To me, the beach in PDC is much more beautiful (the water is stunning), but it is hard sometimes to swim because the surf can be rough.

I would suggest you go to playadelcarmeninfo.com

The owner of Playa Maya has posted pictures of the recent beach renovation project going on there.

The beach on PDC is not nearly as wide as that in Cancun, but is lined with cool beach bars and restaurants, whereas Cancun is almost all highrise hotels.

My advice would be to go to Cancun if you are looking for "Vegas on the Beach," and go to Playa del Carmen if you are wanting a funky laid back vibe.

I have stayed at some of the premier properties in the Caribbean, and so for me, Playa Maya is NOT a luxury property, but it IS scrupulously clean, safe, friendly, a great location, and a very good value.

As long as you do not go expecting Cancun or big city glitz, you will not be disappointed.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2004, 10:08 PM
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Thanks so much for your reply, Diana. We are very strongly considering the Playa Maya for later this summer, so I appreciate all your advice...
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