Snorkeling & Swimming with Whale Sharks in Playa del Carmen

Snorkeling in Playa del Carmen Infographic - Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen

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Snorkeling in Playa del Carmen

There are millions of reasons – both on land and under water – to visit Playa del Carmen! While snorkeling off our shores, you’re bound to see spectacular creatures of all shapes and sizes. During the summer months, the Riviera Maya is graced with the presence of oceanic giants – whale sharks. You can swim with these mesmerizing creatures from June until August. On your snorkeling journey, you may run into countless other remarkable species.

Whale Shark - Rhincodon Typus

Swimming with Whale Sharks is a once in a lifetime opportunity! These massive creatures can grow up to 60 feet long. That’s the length of 4 Toyota Priuses!

Portuguese Man of War Jellyfish - Physalia Physalis

The Portuguese Man of War Jellyfish has tentacles up to 165ft long. That’s approximately 4 school buses!

Blue Marlin - Makaira Nigricans

The adult Blue Marlin weighs nearly 400 pounds!

Great Barracuda - Sphyraena Barracuda

Great Barracuda can swim 36mph – faster than the fastest human can run!

Mahi-Mahi - Coryphaena Hippurus

Mahi-Mahi, also called “Dorado” by the locals, can produce 1 million eggs per spawning cycle!

Manta Ray - Manta Alfredi

Manta Rays can grow up to 23 feet wide. That’s the same length as 4 divers!

Leatherback Sea Turtle - Dermochelys Coriacea

Approximately 7 feet long, the Leatherback Sea Turtles weighs 2,000 pounds. That’s 10 refrigerators!

Nurse Shark - Ginglymostoma Cirratum

Nurse Sharks can grow up to 10 ft!

Green Moray Eel - Gymnothorax Funebris

The Green Moray Eel is actually brown! Its namesake actually comes from a mucus that covers its body.

Queen Conch - Lobatus Gigas

These iconic shells have an estimated lifespan of up to 40 years and can grow to be up to a foot long!

The Great Maya Reef – Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System

The second largest reef structure on the planet, this reef is home to 65 species of stony coral, 350 species of mollusks and over 500 species of fish!

SOURCES

  1. http://www.nature.org/newsfeatures/specialfeatures/animals/fish/giant-barracuda.xml
  2. http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/blue-marlin/
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahi-mahi
  4. http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/leatherback-sea-turtle/
  5. http://www.aqua.org/explore/animals/green-moray-eel
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manta_ray
  7. http://www.mcvrn.com/coral_reef.html
  8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesoamerican_Barrier_Reef_System
  9. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/invertebrates/queenconch.htm
  10. http://www.yucatanwildlife.com/species/fishes.htm
  11. http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/nurse-shark/

Plan Your Destination Wedding in Mexico

Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen Destination Wedding Infographic

Download our editable Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen wedding checklist.

Congratulations on your wedding! Each year, 350,000 destination weddings take place, representing 24% of all weddings. Of those, approximately 25,000 are held in Mexico. Planning a destination wedding in Mexico takes time and patience. With this checklist and timeline, you’ll be able to make all the arrangements you need ahead of time so that you can enjoy your special day in Playa del Carmen free of stress and worry!

12+ MONTHS

  • Pick the type of ceremony/reception you want
    • Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen offers a variety of types of ceremonies, including Civil/Legal, Religious, Traditional Mayan, and Wedding of Sand, which involves the bride and groom pouring sand into a single vase together to represent their unity
  • Determine the budget
  • Research marriage requirements
    • For civil, legal, and religious ceremonies at Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen, you are required to have a valid passport, tourist card, blood test, and four witnesses. The Mexican Ministry of Tourism recommends that you budget two to four days to complete all requirements
  • Choose a date
  • Contact a wedding planner
  • Do a site visit (if budget and time allow)
    • Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen offers a site inspection for your Playa del Carmen wedding that is all-inclusive and includes a tour of the property and a wedding consultation with a wedding planner.
  • Reserve venue and put down a deposit
  • Book a block of hotel rooms
  • Start binder to keep paperwork/contracts
  • Compile the guest list
  • Collect guests’ email/mailing addresses

 

9-12 MONTHS

  • Launch wedding website
  • Send out save the dates
  • Select bridesmaids and groomsmen
  • Shop for the wedding dress
  • Choose an officiant
  • Book the DJ/band and photographer/videographer
  • Order invitations

 

6-9 MONTHS

  • Select flower arrangements
  • Buy accessories (shoes, headpiece, jewelry, garter, lingerie)
  • Mail out invitations
  • Book flight and accommodations (encourage guests to do the same)
  • Select wedding party attire
  • Create a registry

4-6 MONTHS

  • Obtain passports
    • Typically takes an average of 4 weeks or less from the time of application.
  • Get blood tests or vaccinations
  • Purchase rings
  • Choose menu and cake
    • Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen offers 8 different menus to choose from, each has 3 appetizer options, 2 main course options, and a dessert
  • Shop for resort/honeymoon wear
  • Book wedding day transportation
  • Make arrangements for rehearsal dinner
  • Make arrangements for pre-wedding events/activities
    • Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen offers a number of activities, including swimming with dolphins, zip lining, sea fishing, sailing, and much more!
  • Buy groom’s attire
  • Make sure wedding party orders their attire

 

2-3 MONTHS

  • Order favors and welcome bag items
  • Book a hairstylist and makeup artist
  • Confirm details with vendors and make final payments
    • A wedding planner from Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen can confirm vendor proposals and contracts for entertainment, flowers, décor, cake, photographers, videographers, transportation, hotel/condominium accommodations, and hair/spa appointments.
  • Get wedding party gifts
    • Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen has a full-service spa and beauty treatment packages

 

1 MONTH

  • Prepare welcome letter
  • Have final gown fitting (make sure to bring your shoes and accessories)
  • Make arrangements to pick up dress
  • Write vows and choose readings
  • Confirm RSVPs and hotel reservations made by guests
  • Create a seating chart

1-2 WEEKS

  • Confirm flight, airport transportation and hotel bookings
  • Make place cards
  • Make ceremony programs
  • Start packing

 Important Things to Pack:

  • Passports/visas/driver’s licenses
  • Confirmations and contracts
  • Prescription medicine
  • Wedding rings
  • Cake topper
  • Get some rest!

 

WHEN YOU ARRIVE

  • Have a rehearsal at the ceremony site
  • Confirm details with officiant and planner
  • Apply for marriage license
  • Make arrangements for a blood test (A licensed physician can conduct tests in a private room of the hotel)
  • Assemble welcome bags
  • Arrange delivery of bouquets and boutonnières
  • Have dress pressed/steamed

 

THE DAY OF

  • Check for rings before the ceremony
  • Have fun and enjoy your big day!

SOURCES

http://images.theknot.com/travelromance/pdf/packlist.pdf
http://destinationweddingdetails.com/destination-wedding-checklist.html
http://www.worldweddingtraditions.com/locations/north_american_traditions/mexican_traditions.html
http://www.condohotelsplayadelcarmen.com/weddings/wedding-documents.php
http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/destination-weddings/articles/mexico-marriage-requirements.aspx#ixzz2kYluaSe8
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/theknotcom–weddingchannelcom-announce-results-of-2nd-destination-weddings-study-159476865.html
http://www.condohotelsplayadelcarmen.com/weddings/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/04/average-engagement-length_n_2411353.html

Foodie Paradise: Playa del Carmen

Where to Eat on the Beach

Restaurants in Playa del Carmen

When you stay at one of our Playa del Carmen hotels you not only have access to white, sandy beaches and fun in the sun, but you’re also in the midst of some of the best international restaurants and dining experiences available in the area. With a wide variety of cuisines to choose from, you’ll be able to enjoy different meals every day.

From traditional Mediterranean and Italian restaurants to rare Mayan-themed eateries, you have a range of places to dine at your disposal. There is a place to eat for everyone, even a Brazilian steakhouse! Don’t want to leave the comforts of your own room? No problem. You can still enjoy some of the food offered by these restaurants through room service at your hotel! Playa del Carmen has every dining experience you could want. Whether you want a quiet romantic meal, are looking for live entertainment while you dine, or want to bury your feet in the sand at a beachfront table, you’re bound to find an option that suits your needs. Don’t delay any longer! Book your stay at one of our four properties and enjoy some of the finest international food around!

Mediterranean:

17. Imprevist Rest & Wine (Mediterranean/Asian Fusion) – Imprevist is a gourmet restaurant known for serving up some of the best Mediterranean and Asian Fusion cuisine in the area. It ranks as one of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen. Every item on the menu is homemade, and the menu changes every few months to highlight the best seasonal produce and ingredients.

Blue Venado – This hidden gem is located about 20 minutes away from the great Playa del Carmen hotels on a secluded beach, but it’s worth your time. It offers breathtaking views and features a variety of Italian Mediterranean meals to enjoy. Be sure to call ahead for reservations!

8. Mosquito Blue – If you’re looking for a cool, trendy spot to eat, Mosquito Blue is the place to go. This sidewalk cafe features gourmet Mediterranean and Italian dishes, and its modern interior design is sure to provide an excellent setting for your meal.


Italian:

25. G+G Fifth Avenue – As one of the best restaurants on 5th Avenue, G+G serves up homemade pastas and traditional Italian dishes. All of the food is prepared in an open kitchen for guests to enjoy seeing every step of their meal being prepared.

3. Casa Mediterranea – For a quiet, romantic dining experience, make your way to Casa Mediterranea. Slightly away from the 5th Avenue, this is the oldest Italian restaurant in the area and offers a cozy courtyard setting. The owners are present every day ensuring quality and the ingredients are always fresh in order to provide you with a traditional, homestyle Italian meal.

Seafood:

1. La Casa del Agua – Located on the second floor, La Casa del Agua offers great views and a beautiful ambience that includes live music on the weekends. In the heart of 5th Avenue and just steps away from the beach, they serve a menu full of international cuisine that focuses on fresh seafood.

24. Sushiclub – If sushi is on your mind, don’t pass up Sushiclub! Known for the best sushi in Playa del Carmen, this restaurant offers up fresh and tasty rolls daily, and their rooftop bar is a great place to relax. Be sure to take advantage of their two-for-one deal on Tuesdays!


Mexican:

12. Aldea Corazon – For a one-of-a-kind dining experience, try Aldea Corazon. With its setting inspired by Mayan culture, it features tropical trees and a cascading waterfall to go along with its local seafood and Mexican cuisine featuring a Mayan twist.

21. Los Aguachiles – Don’t be fooled by the plastic tables, chairs, and plates. There’s a reason there is always a big crowd at Los Aguachiles. It offers up some of the best unique tacos, lettuce wraps, and seafood in the area, all at an easily affordable price!

4. Mi Pueblo – If you’re in the mood for authentic Mexican food, Mi Pueblo should be your choice. With recipes passed down from generation to generation, this restaurant has 73 homemade ingredients that help make up their menu. They feature two locations, but both will put you in a festive mood with live music from Mariachi bands.


International Cuisine:

15. Oh Lala – If you want to dine at this intimate, romantic restaurant be sure to make a reservation. There are only seven tables in the establishment, which means you’ll get great, personalized service. All their food is prepared in an open kitchen for you to see.

2. Fusion – For a taste of home and great entertainment, treat yourself to Fusion. Serving a wide variety of comfort food, this restaurant has a beachfront bar and grill, and it features live music every night. They also put on a fire show for you while enjoying your food overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

10. Indigo Beach – Indigo Beach provides a relaxing setting where you can kick off your shoes and bury your feet in the sand at your table. They offer an unlimited buffet at breakfast and an elaborate menu for lunch and dinner. Be sure to check with the restaurant before you go to ask about their themed nights, which feature special courses for the occasion!

9. Diablito Cha Cha Cha (Mexican/Asian Fusion) – You typically wouldn’t imagine a tropical ’50s scene with Mexican and Asian food in the same place. But at Diablito Cha Cha Cha the mix work well. Enjoy the large portions that are great for sharing during the day and then come back at night for the entertainment and social scene.

28. Canibal Royal – Another ’50s-themed restaurant, Canibal Royal offers great views and a party-like atmosphere all day long. With a wide variety of dishes to choose from, it’s common to find locals enjoying the great mix of funk and sophistication.

La Bodeguita Del Medio – For the best Cuban food in Playa del Carmen, visit La Bodeguita Del Medio. This restaurant has origins dating back to 1942. For delicious mojitos and Cuban cigars on Fifth Avenue, this is the place to check out.


Mayan:

23. Yaxche – Dive into authentic Mayan cuisine at Yaxche on 5th Avenue. Enjoy the unique flavors of the region with a mixture of traditional and contemporary dishes served to you in an ancient setting.

Restaurante Xulam – Get a taste of Mayan flavors at great prices by going to Xulam. With specials that highlight the local ingredients and regional cuisine, you’ll enjoy great service in a colorful setting, featuring decor from the ancient civilization.

27. La Cueva del Chango – One of the oldest establishments in the area, La Cueva del Chango has stayed true to its roots and hasn’t changed one bit since being built 20 years ago. All the food is fresh, including homemade bread, salsas, jams, and tortillas. Offering up some of the best breakfast food around your hotel, Playa del Carmen vacationers should make this one of their first stops for an early meal!


Steakhouse:

13. Sur – With a large selection of meats and cuts to choose from, this Argentinean grill has something for everyone. Overlooking 5th Avenue makes it a perfect spot to people watch, and they have a wide variety of foods to go along with their steaks, including salads, pastas, and even pizzas.

6. Ipanema’s Grill – This Brazilian steakhouse is a must for lovers of unique meats. They offer a selection of more than 20 meats to choose from. But you don’t have to just pick one! Waiters carry them around, offering you carvings of your choice. If meat isn’t on your mind, enjoy one of their many seafood alternatives!

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Introducing a Special Guest of El Taj Oceanfront

We love meeting the guests of our hotels! They bring with them a wealth of experience and knowledge from all around the globe. I visited the El Taj Oceanfront recently and met Sarah, who is staying in our premier property for a while. I don’t get to meet as many Australians around here as I would like, so I asked Sarah if she wouldn’t mind telling us about her stay in Playa del Carmen.

El Taj Oceanfront

Ken and Sarah at El Taj Oceanfront

So Sarah, you are a long way from home, why did you decide to visit Playa del Carmen, Mexico?

I was here last year for a few months, as I heard Playa del Carmen was a beautiful place to visit. It was my first time to Mexico, but I really fell in love with the place and decided to return this year for a longer stay. I am a freelancer and work remotely, so why not work from paradise? Playa is a wonderfully vibrant town full of interesting  people from all over the world and it has a relaxed, happy vibe.

And why El Taj Oceanfront?

I love the location, the facilities, and the fact that I have access to The Gym. I really enjoy the yoga classes, especially the class on the beach on Saturday mornings. I also love the pool! The Balinese style water feature and huge Buddha statues make it the ultimate place to relax. The ‘infinity Jacuzzi’ perched above the pool looking out over the ocean is my favorite spot in the entire hotel!

playa del carmen hotel

Jacuzzi with a view!

Of course, there’s also the view of the Caribbean Sea from my condo, which is just magnificent.

playa del carmen beach club

Room with a view at El Taj Oceanfront

What are you planning to do during your stay with us?

I’m looking forward to exploring Playa del Carmen as well as the surrounding area. There is just so much to see and do on the Riviera Maya, and I think Playa is the perfect base. I’d love to snorkel with the turtles in Akumal, visit Tulum, Coba and discover some other out-of-the-way spots.

I might try some activities like para-sailing, or if I can get up the nerve, sky diving! Of course, I’ll also be spending a lot of time at Indigo Beach Club, relaxing and eating delicious food.

playa del carmen beach club

Indigo beach club at El Taj

It’s a tough life in paradise, but someone’s gotta do it!

Can you recommend a must-see place to visit around Playa del Carmen?

I love the cenotes (fresh water lagoons) in the area. You can rent a car or take a taxi to one of the many cenotes along the highway south of Playa del Carmen and swim in the crystal clear waters for a small entrance fee. Last year I visited cenote Azul, which was filled with a multitude of fish! It was incredible for snorkeling as the water was so clear. I hope to visit the other cenotes in the area including Cristalino and Dos Ojos (the two eyes) during my stay this time.

Thanks for talking to us Sarah, it was great getting to know you better. Finally, we’d love it if you would share some more of your experiences with us during your stay!

Of course!  I really love this part of the world, so I’d be happy to share some of my adventures with you. Most people I meet seem to return to Playa del Carmen year after year as there is so much to experience. It’s one of those places that once you arrive, you never want to leave.

Stay tuned for more of Sarah’s Playa del Carmen adventures!

 

Pedro the dog sings at El Taj

Pedro the Singing Dog at Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenMeet Pedro the dog! Pedro was brought to Playa del Carmen from one of our great owners; Terry and Laura Carmine. They own Playa del Carmen condos in both Porto Playa Condo Hotel and El Taj Oceanfront Condo Hotel. I immediately took Pedro down to Indigo Beach Club which is in El Taj Oceanfront and recorded this little video.

Sing Along
Pedro´s Christmas Song
Mamacita, donde esta Santa Claus?
Donde esta Santa Claus?
And the toys that he will leave.
Mamacita, oh, where is Santa Claus?
I look for him because it’s a Christmas Eve.
I hope he won’t forget to clack his castinet,
And to his reindeer, say,
Oh! Pancho, Oh! Vixen, Oh! Pedro, Oh! Blitzen,
Ole! Ole! Ole! cha cha cha.
Mamacita, donde esta Santa Claus?
Oh! Where is Santa Claus?
It’s Christmas Eve.

Leave Your Winter Coat at Home: Your Tropical Paradise is Only a Flight Away!

Hotels Playa Del Carmen  are a Flight Away

Leave Your Winter Coat at Home: Your Tropical Paradise is Only a Flight Away!

All of the sudden, the grey, boring, long and coooold winter is here. Some of us save ourselves with turtleneck sweaters and thick coats, some choose to stay inside by a warm fire and drink hot chocolate, but even that doesn’t make us happy, because we start putting on winter weight, and the summer is still so far away…  Or is it?

Migrate south this winter and stay at one of our hotels. Playa del Carmen is a much quicker trip than you might think. Because of the shape of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun and Playa del Carmen are much closer to the United States (especially the East Coast and Gulf Coast regions) than many other vacation hotspots. Why go to the same vacation spot year after year? Grab your passport and head south!

Fly direct from Chicago 7 days a week with American. Take one of the 45-minute daily flights from Fort Lauderdale, FL. Two flights leave from Miami every day, a 40-minute trip. There’s even a direct flight from San Francisco! You can have breakfast in Boston and be in Playa del Carmen by lunch.

So, come and stay with us at Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen – luxury, condo-style properties on the turquoise waters of the Caribbean – just an hour drive from the regional capital of Cancun. Featuring multi-bedroom units, outdoor terraces, Jacuzzis, and private rooftops, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the Caribbean by night while tanning on the beach and swimming by day. Bury your toes in the sand at our exclusive Indigo Beach Club. Have a cold beer and let all your worries float away with the gentle Caribbean breeze.

So escape the cold and come stay with us at one of our properties. Make a Reservation Today!

El Taj Oceanfront & Beachside Condo Hotel

Maya Villa Condo Hotel & Beachclub

Porto Playa Condo Hotel & Beachclub

Villa Sacbe Hotel and Beach Club

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The Best Golf Is Here in Playa del Carmen

During a recent trip back to the States, my brother dragged me out on the golf course in Florida.  I forgot how great it was to play outdoors in the sunshine and I have to admit that he gave me the bug to get the clubs out again.  I dragged myself out of the office and headed out to the El Camaleon Mayakoba.  Of course I was a concerned knowing that this is the only PGA Tour course played in Mexico and, being a little rusty in my skills, it could present an interesting challenge.

As I headed out to the starter, I ran into my good friends at Teed Off Tee Times.  Cheryl and Kevin were just finishing up a round with the manager of the Fairmont Mayakoba.  They tagged along with me for a few holes to gab and give me a little company.

The course is incredible, with long, sweeping runways and the view is breathtaking.  Then there are the holes that line the Riviera Maya beach.  The sound of the waves and ocean breeze make it a truly amazing experience.

One hole a group of Tejon came running across the tee box and all around you will find different sizes of iguanas checking to make sure you fill your divots.

The result was that I shot a ummm… I must have misplaced the scorecard (haha), but remember only losing 6 balls, which is a major feat for my rusty game. I recommend and encourage this beautiful Playa del Carmen golf course for any guest of Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen.

Savoring Life on the Island of Swallows

 

Hello Everybody!

I would like to introduce Sarah, our guest blogger of today. Sarah is a guest of El Taj Oceanfront Condo Hotel, and I met her at Indigo Beach Club. While we spoke, she mentioned she was a writer for the Harvard Gazette. Today she tells us about how she fell in love with Cozumel island and why… Read on if you are planning to visit this beautiful island, easily reachable by ferry from Playa!

-Ken

 Que rico!

Mexicans like to say qrico when something is incredibly delicious, sumptuous, and otherwise irresistible. You’ll hear it on the beach, over fresh ceviche; while twisting open the first beer of a hot day; and it’s the common reply from the long-worked taxista, asking you how long you’re in town for. Vacation. This is the life. Qué rico, indeed.

My qrico moment came last year, when I landed on the island of Cozumel for the first time, and fell in love hard with the small-town charm of Mexico’s largest island. I’ve since returned three times, with never a shortage of fun and food to keep me wanting more.

The Mayans dubbed Cozumel the Island of the Swallows after Ixchel, their goddess of fertility and marriage, who sent swallows to the isle in appreciation of the Mayans’ devoted worship. Today’s denizens are likewise as hospitable, and impressions of swallows dot the walkways down Avenida Rafael Melgar, Cozumel’s main drag.

Besides being home to world-class reefs — Cozumel’s premier attraction — the island is just a short jaunt away from the mainland, a mere 30-minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen. Though it’s the busiest cruise ship destination in the world, the island is unabashedly laid-back — think Laguna Beach without the proximity to Los Angeles pretentiousness (and the garish mansions).

True relaxation awaits on the island — whether it’s an unforgettable afternoon of snorkeling or diving, a remote beach on Cozumel’s rugged eastern side, or a dreamy dinner overlooking a melted sherbet sunset.

So grab your pesos and sunscreen — we’re leaving El Taj in our rear view and hitching a ride to Cozumel!

From the ferry, head south along Av. Melgar to Prima Trattoria for a quick breakfast. Too many margaritas the night before? Prima’s chilaquiles are a legendary cure-all ‘round these parts, and soon you’ll know why. If you’re cautious when it comes to chile, choose the salsa roja — it’s decidedly milder. But for stomach’s of steel, the salsa verde is ripe with the bright, crisp flavor of tomatillos. Shredded chicken couched in tortillas, smothered with cheese can’t be wrong. Sit outside on the patio overlooking crystalline turquoise water and watch the boats go by while savoring a michelada — beer with tomato and lime juice — or just a coffee. A glimmer of the mainland can be seen on the horizon on the clearest of days.

Stomachs full, let’s work up a sweat. Grab one of the idling taxis waiting and careen to the oceanfront Money Bar, planted in the middle of the famous Dzul-Ha reef. You can rent snorkel gear from the on-site dive shop, or guided excursion from the dock for roughly $35-40 USD. Not too shabby for a three hour tour and unlimited ice cold Coronas — once the snorkeling is out of the way, of course. Safety first! Check in with Chac-Choc Tours — they’ll take you to the famous El Cielo, Cozumel’s white-sand beach of waist-high water. Not a lot of marine life here, save for the gigantic starfish, and they’re everywhere. Afterward, you’ll check out two of Cozumel’s most majestic reefs: Palancar and Colombia. A sea turtle is almost always guaranteed, as well as barracuda, parrotfish, and grouper. If you’re lucky, a spotted eagle ray will make a guest appearance, too.

Back on land it’s high time to veer off the beaten path. Cozumel has no shortage of amazing restaurants, but for a bit of local flavor, try a cocina economica. Cocinas economicas are restaurants run out of someone’s house, and there are some delicious, one-of-a-kind meals to be had here. Il Giardino, situated in Cozumel’s central Corpus Christi neighborhood, is run by Maria, who offers everything from jerk chicken to pasta to Sunday’s comfort food du jour — classic lasagna. Sit al fresco in her lush but shady garden. The bread with chimichurri salsa is a meal in and of itself, but don’t skimp on a main course — Maria’s love comes through in every bite.

For a classic Mexican lunch, tacos are boss. Los Otates  is a local favorite, and they make a mean al pastor — pork roasted on a spit, replete with a slice of pineapple. But I prefer the suadero, tender chunks of beef, garnished with onion and cilantro and a spoonful of the house salsa. Perfection. And you can’t beat the price — around $3 USD per person for three tacos.

To let things digest — and why not throw in a mild siesta? — head to the east side of the island. You’ll need a rental car (advertised all over downtown or easily available from the ferry pier) or if you’ve got pesos to spare, taxis will gladly chauffer you and wait for a negotiated flat rate. Cozumel’s undeveloped side has no hotels or houses, but is home to thatched roof, open-air bars, like Mezcalito’s. Plop yourself down in a one of their beachfront hammocks with a bucket of beer and forget everything. The current on this side is stronger, but the water is worth it.

To round out the day, and save some time to catch the return ferry to Playa, Casa Mission is a classic Cozumel must-do for dinner. The punchy décor is a nod to early 20th-century Mexico, Frida Kahlo style. Pepto-pink sofas, white enameled chairs, chandeliers of fruit, wooden crosses on the wall, and rounded archways leading into the restaurant’s famously maintained gardens. Did I mention there are caged parrots in almost every corner? They talk too, and they’re quite nosy, so do be careful. Order anything from fajitas to fish to steak — Casa Mission has a bit of it all and they’re reliably good at everything. Just don’t forget to take up the free tequila tour in the garden. The tequila is the smoothest I’ve had in a long while, and won back-to-back tasting contests in Chicago and San Francisco. Can’t you taste it now?

Qué rico, you’re probably muttering to yourself. But it’s time to head back to the ferry. But don’t worry — you’ll be back for more. It wouldn’t surprise me. This is Cozumel. That kind of thing happens all the time.

“PLAYA STORYTELLER” CONTEST


It’s a pleasure to introduce…

OUR  “PLAYA STORYTELLER” CONTEST

Do you think you have it in you to be the next great travel storyteller? Here’s a great opportunity to get your work published! Do you have an interesting story to tell that happened to you while staying at Condo Hotels? What about a romantic one? Funny story? Surprise us!

Applications are now open on Condo Hotels Facebook page. We’ll be selecting one talented story EACH MONTH in the following categories:

LOVE STORY – Did you get engaged in at Condo Hotels? Met the love of your life in Playa del Carmen? Let us know!

FAMILY STORY – Was it your first family vacation? How did it go? Your kids’ first trip to Mexico? Or was it your 10th time staying at Condo Hotels, and this time you had some special experience? Share your story!

FUNNY STORY – This category is open to anyone willing to share their funny experiences at Condo Hotels or in Playa del Carmen. Make us laugh!

HOW:

Through the official page Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen on Facebook.


1. If you have not already, become a fan of Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen.

2. Write your story with pictures. (no more than 300 words) or

3. Film your video (no more than 3 minutes)

4. Post your story on our page.

PRIZE: Your story will be highlighted as the winner of that month and will be published in our newsletter that goes to thousands of readers.

 

WHO IS THE WINNER? Every month, we will select a storyteller of the month.

 

COMPETITION RULES:

1 – Only one story per contestant.

2 – You can participate through video or written story.

3 – Entries must be in English.

4. We reserve the right to remove stories with inappropriate content or the content that is poorly written.

TERMS

1 – All submissions become the property of Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen.

2 – This is a family page, so keep that in mind when you write your stories

3 – Stories must have a maximum of 300 words.

4 – Videos have a maximum limit of three (3) minutes. Video must be uploaded to Vimeo.com or Youtube.com.

5 – The story needs to have happened at Condo Hotels and/or Playa del Carmen.

6 – Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen reserves the right to reject or exclude those stories that conflict with the ethics and morals, or do not comply with the contest rules.

7 – Competition is open only to individuals who are 18 years old and above.

8 – By submitting an entry, each entrant agrees to the official rules and warrants that his or her entry complies with all requirements set out in the official rules.

9 – Condo Hotels reserves the right to examine the original work material in order to confirm compliance with these rules.

10 – Competition is open to all countries, except where prohibited.

Fresh Water in the Jungle

Amazing natural swimming pool! 

You know that I am in love with the Riviera Maya, especially my home, Playa del Carmen, and today I will teach you about one of the least known but most fun things to do here. I will give you a perfect option for a great weekend with your family or your friends.

It’s fun, interesting and ….refreshing! 

So… have you ever heard of cenotes? 

The word “cenote” comes from the Mayan word ‘dzonot’, meaning ‘well’, considered by the Mayans to be the entrance to the spiritual underworld. Cenotes were sacred places to Mayans, and were used to make sacrifices and rituals. 

Cenotes are natural water-filled sinkholes, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. This creates a natural pool which is then filled by rain and underground rivers. 

Fresh water “pools” conecting to submerged caverns and other cenotes.

Cenotes are spectacular in many ways – either for swimming, snorkeling or diving. You can find many of them between the area of Playa del Carmen and Tulum on the Caribbean cost.

What about swimming and enjoying the transparent fresh water after your visit in Chichen Itza, Coba, Tulum?… Imagine a hot day, tired feet, and suddenly – a cool, pure and refreshing water! Or diving, and discovering the underwater secrets,  stalactites and stalagmites, mixed history and mystery, all of this surrounded by the wild jungle.

You can’t miss this incredible experience, this natural beauty surrounded by the jungle, which has been a source of life for local people for centuries. In ancient times, the Maya civilization relied on fresh water of cenotes for everything ranging from drinking water to crop irrigation, building and burial.

Tip:

  • For divers – you never go into a sinkhole without the proper training and equipment.  
  • For snorkelers – anyone can snorkel in cenotes!
  • Our concierge can suggest cenotes around Playa del Carmen.   

Here are the list with the principal cenotes near Playa del Carmen:

  • Chac Mool (Claw of the Jaguar)
 Location: 22 km south of Playa Del Carmen/Almost across from Puerto Aventuras.
  • Ponderosa (El Eden)
Location: 3 km south of Puerto Aventuras.

  • Chikin Ha (Points of Direction)
Location: 5 km south of Puerto Aventuras just before Xpu-Ha/Across from Barcelo Maya Hotel/Long way down bumpy road.

  • Kantun Chi
 Location: Just past Chikin Ha Cenote.

  • Cristalino 
Location: Just past Kantun Chi/Close to highway.

  • Azul 
Location: Just past Cristalino Cenote/Close to highway.

  • Taj Mahal 
Location: 26 km south of Playa Del Carmen/5 km south of Puerto Aventuras/Just south of Xpu-Ha.

  • Dos Ojos (Hidden Worlds)
Location: 48 km south of Playa Del Carmen/3 km south of Xel-Ha/On right 4 km down dirt road.
  • Temple of Doom (Calavera/Skull)
Location: 2 km from Tulum on road to Coba on right/Very rugged rocky unmarked jungle path approximately 50 yds from road.

  • Gran Cenote (Sac Aktun/White Water)
Location: 5 km from Tulum on road to Coba on right.

  • Aktun Ha 
Location: 8 km from Tulum on road to Coba/4 km past Gran Cenote on left.

  • Cristal (Naharon)
Location: 4 km south of Tulum on right.

  • Escondido (Mayan Blue)
Location: 4 km south of Tulum on left/Across from Cristal Cenote/2 km walk in Jungle.