“Welcome to Mexico, there are no rules here; so put some smiles on your faces”
- Eat – Wah Wah Beach Bar, Playa Del Carmen
- Drink – Frozen Mango Margarita
- Do – Cenotes
From Canada to Cancun;
After saving in snowy Canada for months the day finally came; we drove to Calgary and caught a flight out of the deep freeze of our beautiful home in the mountains and defrosted in sunny, incredible Mexico. We flew into Cancun, filed through customs and were greeted by a very friendly officer, “Welcome to Mexico,” he said as he stamped our passports, “Why do all the passport photos look so sad, in Mexico we always smile. You can do what you want here, there are no rules. So welcome to Mexico put some smiles on your faces.”
Feeling relaxed and ready to rock this time away we rolled our bags through the airport, exchanged our money and were greeted with warm air and Margarita Ville. Would have been rude not to so of course a round of cerveza’s to celebrate the start of a great get-away together.
Just outside the Cancun Arrivals doors there is a taxi station and also a bus ticket desk. Buses run all along the coast and inland as well, ADO is a great bus company that runs all through Mexico. They have clean, comfortable and air-conditioned buses. Occasionally, you will score a ride with Wi-Fi and TV’s as well, although usually the TV’s are showing things in Spanish – of course. Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen is about an hour and a half and costs around $48peso which is around $4.
* Obvious travel tip #1: Don’t forget headphones, books, a device with movies or TV series pre loaded and a portable charger. Travel days can be long and tedious – but they can be super fun when you have happy pants, snacks and entertainment.
Playa Del Carmen;
Arriving into Playa Del Carmen we searched for our hotel, I like to think of myself as a pretty organised gal, I had screen shots of the maps of where the hotel was from the bus station, so I thought that would be enough to get us to our destination. After walking around with our bags for a good 40minutes, we decided it was time to hail a cab. On the opposite side of town to where we had been looking was our beautiful accommodation. I was so very excited to get into our room and settle in, I had been looking at the pictures and getting excited for weeks. We walked into the reception and I told the guest services attendant our names. We have no booking under that name I’m sorry. I was confused. I had booked this weeks ago with a gift certificate I had been given from a promotion. But nope. No booking, and no availability. There was a big event on in town this weekend. Of course there was.
We walked back into the centre of town and after considering camping on the beach the night we found a haven of a hotel called Hotel Cielo. The friendly and super-accommodating staff and owners went above and beyond, calling hotels for us and trying to see if they could find a room in their gorgeous place for us. There was hope, someone might be leaving early – and they could have the room ready within an hour. We went down to the Wah Wah Beach Bar and ordered some drinks and food. All delicious food, great vibe and service – and a unbelievable live band as well. – Crossing our fingers we went back to the hotel, thank goodness – they had a room for us, and was it a room! A beautiful bold wooden four-post bed with white linen, air conditioning, breezy garden out of the open window – and the bathroom – oh my! The shower wall and basin made of glass mosaic, gorgeous and unique and really turned our holiday around. Recommend this stunning place fully.
Unfortunately – this room was only available for the one night, the lovely owner made phone calls for us trying to find a new room – everywhere booked. Gosh this music festival is popular I wish I had heard about it! Mid January BPM, Playa Del Carmen – there, now you know about it. So, finally this gorgeous lady who has helped us more than we could say, and even gave us discounted breakfast in their neighbouring restaurant, Huevos Rancheros – delish! We caught a taxi over to our new hotel and walked into the lobby hopeful that this would be the time our down time would begin. I gave the guest services attendant our names, “I’m sorry but someone has double booked you we are fully booked.” Hmm…this was some pretty bad luck we were having. But luckily the helpful receptionist looked online and made phone calls to find us a new accommodation. Finally – somewhere is available. A guest house in the outer suburbs of Playa Del Carmen. We caught another cab and drove towards houses and yards, broken down cars, roosters, barbed wire, some more barbed wire, something told me this isn’t somewhere you want to be walking around late at night. We pulled up at the guest house and a very friendly lad showed us to our room. Well this sure wasn’t the hotel we were dreaming for weeks about, all we could do was laugh. We were expecting a spa deluxe room in a four and a half star hotel and here we were sitting in a room with paint peeling off the walls, stained pillow cases and used soap in the bathroom. But hey – the joys of travel – nothing is ever guaranteed!
After a night of searching online I finally found us a central hotel with a reasonable price and it looked pretty lovely. Emotionin was in a great spot, walking distance to both ends of Playa Del Carmen and close to the beach. Our room was clean and comfortable, the air-con was cold and there was a cute little rooftop area where you could sit and have a few drinks while watching the main st nightly parade of Playa Del Carmen.
After settling into this wonderful accommodation and spending some quality time at the Beach Bar, using their ample deck chairs and being served frozen mango margarita’s in the hot sun. Baking in the heat and soaking in the atmosphere was enough for me.
Tulum, Cenotes & Xel-Ha
Before departing for Mexico I had booked in with Your Private Tour and what a great day that turned out to be! Our guide was bubbly, knowledgeable and fun, she shared lots of information at each stop and made sure we had everything we needed every step of the way. Our first stop was Tulum and the ruins, we arrived before the big buses did and so had a chance to walk around the ruins while it was still fairly quiet. The views were stunning over the cliffs and each ruin was unique and interesting. A beautiful little private beach with waves lapping gently against the sand was a the bottom of the cliffedge and a gorgeous sight. We got back to the van, and before eating an amazing breakfast taco from a street vendor , we were on our way.
Our next stop was a snorkelling expedition through cenotes south of Tulum. Cenotes are naturally occurring sink holes that are unique to the Yucatan. Swimming through with the guide of a torch and holding the person in front of you was exhilarating. I was in awe of the limestone structures made in the underground river and highly recommend a visit if you are in the area, a definite must see. And if you are able hire a private tour, included was also a kayak across a lake, zip-lining back and then a spectacular lunch on a white sand sparkling beach with our toes in the sand. Followed by an afternoon of snorkelling in a natural aquarium called Xel-Ha.
Arriving at Xel Ha and once in the warm water we were explained how the natural aquarium is created. Warm salt water came and mixed in with fresh cenote water and made a safe paradise for plenty of marine life love to jam out. We saw turtles, eels and all kinds of fish. It was an awesome day and we were so happy with the service and inclusions we received.
We spent our day in PlayaDelCarmen heading down to the exploration park Xcaret, we enjoyed walking around the park looking at exotic animals, floating down an underground river, snorkelling, eating at a international and seafood buffet and to finish it all off there was an amazing performance, showcasing special acts from each corner of Mexico, it was an energetic and exciting way to finish a sweet day.
We packed our bags again and looked forward to moving on to our next destination…the crystal clear waters and laid back vibe of Isla Mujeres.