Playa del Carmen
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Playa del Carmen is a beach resort on the east coast of Mexico, in a region known as Riviera Maya, which runs from Cancun to Tulum, all located on the Caribbean Sea.
It has an average temperature of 80 degrees centigrade, beautiful white sandy beaches and the warm Caribbean Sea, thus making it a popular destination all year around. Another reason is the friendly and genuine welcome given by the Mexican people who live and work there.
Originally it was a small fishing town, but tourism started when the ferry boat service to Cozumel began, which is an island only 30 minutes across the channel and a world famous scuba diving destination.
Running straight through the middle of the resort, is the famous Fifth Avenue, which starts from Calle 1 in the north to Calle 40 in the south. It is a long pedestrian walkway that at no point is further than two blocks from the beach and has a very vibrant atmosphere. It has many shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, night clubs, street traders, supermarkets, tour sellers and much more. A little shout-out for Coco Bongo, which is just off ‘5th Ave’, can only be described as an exciting nightclub that puts-on the biggest show around!
Getting around Riviera Maya is easy, as the bus station in ‘playa’ has an easily understandable time-table and efficient service. The bus station is located towards the end of Fifth Avenue and has free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, shop and comfortable waiting area. The buses are modern and extremely cheap, so if visiting Cancun or Tulum and especially coming and going to the airport, consider using this service.
There are many religiously significant buildings throughout the region and several are in ‘playa’ itself. On the junction of 15th Avenue and 12th Street is the quiet, beautiful and calm Nuestra Senora del Carmen Catholic Church, which is a lovely contrast to all the other lively attractions in and near the resort. There is also a Synagogue, Presbyterian Church, Mosque and Buddhist Centre, so most faiths are accommodated for?
One of the best hotels in the resort is Palm at Player, which is just off Fifth Avenue and has a sensational roof terrace with pool, hot tub, bar, DJ and its own concierge service. It also has a health suite, spa treatments, meeting room, restaurant and high quality standard of rooms. They have arrangements with 4 beach-front venues, so guests can use their facilities. Tours, transfers and many other services are provided by the staff at reception too. Finally and most importantly, the customer service provided by the professional and friendly team is at a level above any competition, which is why this venue is the best in the resort.
There are hotels, bars and water-sport centers along the majority of the beach front, but the main meeting point for locals and tourists, is an area known as Mamita’s, named after the Beach Club, which is located nearby. Many afternoons and evening (especially at the weekends) hundreds of people go there with their own drink, food and music, creating a real fun, warm and friendly party atmosphere.
Playa del Carmen is a great place to be based, as people can visit many exciting places, which are all just a short distance away and can be accessed via bus, taxi or an organised tour.
There are a lot of excursions that involve ‘cenotes’, as they are a common natural feature in the region. A cenote is a natural pit, sinkhole or reservoir, caused by the collapsing of the limestone that surrounded it. They are pools that fill with rain or river water and can be on the surface or in shafts. They are mainly filled with clear, cool and fresh water, which make them a great place to explore or relax. There are over 6000 in Mexico as the Yucatan Peninsula, which runs through the region, is the longest underground river and cave system in the world.
Rio Secreto is a Mayan Underworld and is known as one of the natural wonders of the world. Visitors take a magical journey through this crystal museum of underground caves, natural waterways, stalactites and stalagmites. The history of the planet is written on the myriad of geological formations that are seen there. By taking this amazing tour by; walking, floating and swimming in its clear blue waters, it changes some visitors life’s forever. This place really is truly mysterious and a spectacular experience and has to be the No 1 place to visit throughout the whole Riviera Maja region.
As tourist discover, there is a massive choice of cenotes to visit, so it is just deciding what type suits best; snorkeling, swimming, walking or climbing etc? The most popular are Xcaret, Cenote Chaak Tun and Xplor, as they have theme park type activities too. If it is just a small natural cenote that visitors want to experience, there are many, some only 2/3 USD to enter and some are even free?
There is a great choice of Archaeology in this region, mainly due to the Mayan civilisation settling in several places throughout this part of Mexico.
Chichen Itza is the most famous and spectacular, thus most frequently visited of Mexico’s Mayan sites. This magnificent metropolis is densely populated with many buildings and structures; pyramids, sculptures, columns, serpent shaped features, staircases and even an observatory.
Ek Balam is a Mayan/Yucatan archaeological site in Temozon. It is a great example of this type of site, as all parts of it are still clearly visible; defensive wall, entrance arch, oval palace, chapel, court, baths, plaza, temple and acropolis.
The Mayan Ruins in Tulum are unique as it the only one positioned at the top of a cliff and facing the sea. It was established there due to the importance of the nearby port of Coba, proved by the artifacts found there, which come from many parts of Mexico and Central America. It has several magnificent structures; El Castillo, Temple of Frescoes, God of Winds Temple and many more. An added advantage for visitors and again unique to this site is the beach area, which is extremely popular.
The Mesoamerican (or Great Mayan) Barrier Reef, the second biggest in the world, runs off the coastline, so is a major attraction due to the; snorkeling, diving, swimming, fishing, whale and dolphin spotting tours etc. Add seeing turtles, flying fish and a multitude of other marine-life and it is a real sea-life adventure for all visitors.
A popular day trip is the Island of Cozumel, which is only a 30 minute boat ride away and is still famous for being the best snorkeling in the region, some people say, in the world?
There are many Tour Operators or Destination Management Companies throughout Latin America, but IVI DMC have a fantastic reputation, from transfers and guided tours to weddings and corporate events, they offer a full range of services.
Tulum is another great resort to visit or stay, as it is one of the ‘coolest’ places in Riviera Maya. Used by celebrities from around the world, it has kilometers of quiet white sandy beaches, often with only a hand full of people using them? It has high quality hotels, superb cuisine, which are served at several top class restaurants and the famous Mayan Ruins too. Now famous for its Yoga, this little piece of calm and serenity is a must for tourists who just want to chillax in style.
Playa del Carmen is a Beach Resort, but with a difference? It not only has sun, sea and sand, but exciting and adventurous activities, archaeological sites, spa’s, caves, cenote’s and the best of all, a friendly and warm Mexican welcome, which makes tourists feel at home and not just on holiday!!