Playa del Carmen, Mexico

This time last year, Andrew, myself and a group of his friends visit Playa del Carmen, Mexico. It was one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. However, as we stayed in a resort, we had to get out of there to truly appreciate the beauty of this exotic place.

Getting there

We actually booked our trip with Low cost holidays who shortly after we returned, went out of business. It cost us €1250 each and included our flights to Cancun and 9 nights stay all inclusive in the 5* Grand Sunset Princess Resort. We had a connecting flight in London which was handy. As London is so close it almost felt like a direct flight. We then got a taxi from the airport to Playa del Carmen, which didn’t cost too much.

Staying there

The Grand Sunset Princess Resort, Playa del Carmen is beautiful and just MASSIVE. There are 5 swimming pools, one of which has a swim up bar that we took full advantage of! There are a number of restaurants that you can book if the buffet doesn’t appeal to you and there is entertainment and activities throughout the day too.

We didn’t spend much time in the Resort at all. To be honest, if I was going to go back to Mexico, I would opt for an airbnb over a resort all together. The whole resort was geared towards American tourists, and it just wasn’t what we were expecting. The food served in the hotel favoured American cuisine and as a group we just really didn’t like it.

Things to do

Well we definitely packed a lot into our 8 days in Mexico. From bus tours to activity centres to island trips, here’s what we got up to:

Tulum, Turtles & Cenotes

We booked a package that brought us to Tulum, snorkelling with the turtles and also to one of the famous cenotes. It was a full day of activity and was totally worth it! It gave us just as much time as we needed at each stop and we learned a lot along the way. I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone who doesn’t have the luxury of time.

Our first stop was the cenotes, Here we explored inside the dark caves with just a snorkel. It was a little scary at first, but you get used to how dark it is after a while.

Next up was a trip to the turtle sanctuary where we had some time to get into the water and snorkel with the turtles in their natural habitat. This was my favourite part of the day – it was just beautiful and we could see the turtles so close and in crystal clear water.

To finish, we went to Tulum. The ancient Mayan ruins and learnt about the history of the region. The views are incredible and of course – we got the standard tourist in Tulum photo!

Cozumel Island

Another day we decided to take a boat from the port to a nearby island called Cozumel. It was absolutely stunning. We rented motorbikes and drove full circle around the island stopping off at random beaches and bars along the way. Even though I burnt my leg on the extremely hot engine of the motorbike, this definitely was my favourite day by a long shot.

At one point Andrew and I got back to our motorbike that was parked the other end of a beach we had walked to realise that we lost the keys for it. I was panicking that we’d have to fork out to pay for the lost key and we had no idea how we would get back! Andrew decided to walk back to the beach where we had been laying and bam, there were the keys. Literally just lying there!! Up until this point Andrew insisted that he drove us around, but he felt so bad after losing the keys that I got to drive us to our next stop!

Xel Ha

The weather wasn’t amazing when we visited. However, it was still warm and the sun was strong enough to burn your skin. So we planned a day trip to Xel Ha. An activity centre about an hour from Playa del Carmen, which we booked directly through the hotel. We were so wrong. The weather turned and it rained almost constantly all day. Most of the attractions were shut due to the thunder storms and lightning risk, and it was pretty cold too! That being said – we still had a lot of fun. We went cliff jumping, zip lining, relaxed in the lazy river and because it was all inclusive – warmed ourselves up with the free alcohol! We had a great time despite the weather, although it wasn’t ideal!

Party Like A Local

A few of the nights we heading into Playa del Carmen town like the locals. We realised pretty quickly that not many tourists venture into the city, as they consider it to be unsafe. However, we experienced nothing or the sort. The food was ten times better and it was traditional Mexican cuisine – tacos, pico de gallo and fresh guacamole! Our favourite restaurants were definitely Los Aguachiles for traditional Mexican food and Plank – a hipster steakhouse with the best meat.

Coco Bongo is a famous nightclub in Cancun, however they also have one in Playa del Carmen. You pay I think $50 to get into the club and to have unlimited drinks. It was absolutely insane! Dancers perform a full on show at points during the night and in between, there is music, dancing, competitions and just all round crazy behaviour going on! Definitely a must see.

On the days we weren’t packing in activities, we chilled on the beach or in the one of the many pools at the resort. One of the days we went parasailing which we booked on the beach from one of the vendors.

Top Tips
  • Don’t drink tap water (they tend to serve it at dinner from a jug) and avoid ice in your drinks – this made a few of us very ill!
  • Be sure to bring a high quality insect repellant – mosquitos are very common and Zika is in this region
  • If you rent a moped – take photos of it before you set off so that you have proof of any scratches/damage to the bike. We heard a few people got charged for damage that they did not cause. Also, watch out for the hot engine! I speak from experience.
  • Even if it is cloudy, the sun is quite strong so be sure to always were a high factor SPF
  • Looking for sun? I’d recommend visiting from July-September but be prepared to pay more for flights and accommodation during peak season and expect more rainfall during these months too

All in all, Mexico was just beautiful. It was an amazing trip but I think if I return, I will spend more time in Tulum and different regions.

Heres a video of some of the highlights: