Hola Playa Del Carmen!
After what felt like the longest flight and bus ride in history, Ryan and I arrived at our lush hotel, Hotel Tortuga to be welcomed with drinks and a glorious air conditioned hotel room. We couldn’t believe how hot and humid it was (literally 100% humidity) so we bought a few beers from the convenience store up the road and jumped straight into the pool to rest our jet-lagged bodies and cool off. We grabbed fish tacos and ceviche from a restaurant on the busy main streets and watched the night go by.
I had eyed off the eco theme park Xcaret online before I left, so we caught a taxi and headed there for the day. We floated in water through limestone caves, watched the turtles swim by, napped in a hammock in the beach and watched a dolphin show. We watched the sun go down in a little lagoon before heading back to our hotel for yet another swim.
El Fogon was hands down the best place we ate in Playa Del Carmen. It must be a lot of people’s favourite because there was always a line, but TRUST ME, it’s worth the wait! I managed to order off-menu and ended up with the glorious vegetarian capsicum, mushroom and cheese corn tacos below. The side of cactus was so delicious and the giant mango smoothies they serve go perfectly with the hot and spicy food. It was Taco Tuesday every day in Mexico.
Before we left Perth, I booked a tour to swim with the whale sharks through Ocean Tours, which was on my imaginary bucket list. Snorkeling in the middle of the Caribbean chasing HUGE whale sharks around was just mind blowing. We ate lunch IN the ocean at Isla Mujeres, where the water was aqua blue and crystal clear. I would have loved to have stayed a few hours longer soaking in the saltwater.
We decided to catch a collectivo (which is basically a minivan full of locals going to their day jobs) to Akumal Bay to swim with the turtles. We needed to try and save some peso after the ridiculously expensive previous few days (the Australian dollar didn’t get us very far!), so instead of joining a tour to go further out, we just hired the snorkeling gear from the counter and swam out.
We saw about a dozen turtles, all chilling out eating their seaweed and enjoying the warm waters. We ate lunch and drank beer at the cafe right next to the area where the turtles are and headed back to our hotel. I stopped in a little gift shop on the way home and found some Papel Picado (I thought I’d see them everywhere, but they were hard to find) and purchased a few packs to take home.
I obviously had to stop for a Nutella and banana marquesitas (basically crispy crepes) on the way out of Akumal Bay. How cute is the hand-painted type on this cart?
We left the collectivo a few stops too early so walked through the back streets of Playa Del Carmen to get back to our hotel. I love this side of PDC – lots of rambling greenery, amazingly understated typography, bright colours and street food everywhere.
The next day, we had a super lazy day by the pool, just drinking beer, eating guacamole and reading books (I finished reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette) for hours. We only took a break from sitting by the pool to grab a paleta from La Flor de Michoacan and tacos at El Fogon. The menu at La Flor de Michoacan aren’t in English and Ryan managed to order a paleta which tasted a lot like salt and pork! That night we took a free salsa dancing lesson class, which turned out to be a lot more difficult than we expected! If you have a bit more rhythm than us, I would definitely recommend doing it.
Ryan and I had a final walk around the beach side of PDC, checking out the crafts, shops and enjoying more of the food before heading back to our hotel and packing for our transfer in the morning to Tulum.
La Tortuga Hotel and Spa (so reasonably priced)
The Viceroy (if you want to splurg!)
La Flor de Michoacan
See + Do
Swim with the whale sharks
Hire a car and swim in Cenote Chaak Tun
Swim with turtles at Akumal Bay
Free salsa dancing lessons