The Perfect Riviera Maya Day Trip

Riveria Maya Cenote Image - Condo Hotels Playa Del Carmen Riveria Maya Beach Image - Condo Hotels Playa Del Carmen Akumal Beach Image - Condo Hotels Playa Del Carmen Riveria Maya Beach Image - Condo Hotels Playa Del Carmen

The Riviera Maya opens up a world of amazing things to see and do! It is natural to want to cover as much ground as you can while still being able to stick in a little bit of relaxation by your hotel pool or the ocean.

I would like to share with you my ultimate day trip, which takes you to the beautiful cenotes, eco-friendly beaches of Akumal and blissful Tulum! This day trip combines exploration, relaxation and amazing food!

My husband created this little makeshift tour, and it was one of the first adventures I had while visiting the Riviera Maya (before living here). And now whenever we have family or friends visiting we are always sure to make the same rounds!

Trip Logistics

To give yourself the most freedom on this trip I do recommend renting a car. Getting around in the Riviera Maya is pretty easy with bus transportation and van service but having a car will give you the most freedom and convenience.

I would suggest waking up early and having a good breakfast before heading out! The earlier you leave the better, but if you leave Playa del Carmen or Cancun by 10 am or Cancun by 9:15 am you will have plenty of time to enjoy a full day!

Cenote Swimming

The first stop (about 15 minutes away from Playa del Carmen), takes you to some of the most beautiful cenotes in the area. A cenote is a natural fresh water sinkhole. They are stunning to the eye and incredibly refreshing to swim in – especially on hot days! There you are surrounded by nature in its purest form. There are a few different cenotes located on this path, each with different features. My absolute favorite is cenote Cristalino! Every cenote has a small entrance fee but it’s not that expensive and totally worth it! Cenote Cristalino is a bit more expensive but more organized and offers more for the price. They offer life jackets, snorkel gear (at a small extra cost), cleaner bathrooms and picnic areas. And it features a nice jump off point for those who are looking for a little bit of a thrill. Other amazing options are Cenote Azul and Jardin de Eden. All of these choices are great for swimming and cliff jumping. When I say cliff jumping I mean about 10 feet high!

Akumal Snorkeling

We tend to spend a couple hours swimming in the cenote before heading off to Akumal! Akumal is only another 15 or 20 minutes south of the centotes. You will want to make sure you enter Akumal from the right hand side of the highway which takes you to the beachfront of Akumal. At the entrance you will find yourself in a small little village where you are able to park. The village itself is quite charming and you can find small cafes and shopping options. Here you are only steps away from the beach. Akumal is a beautiful beach town known for the amazing sea turtles. This is a very eco sensitive area as this is where the turtles lay their eggs before being released into the ocean. This part of Akumal features very calm waters which is perfect for snorkeling. I highly recommend anyone visiting Akumal brings along snorkel gear as the sites under the sea are amazing. The most well-known adventure in Akumal is to swim with the giant sea turtles. If you bring your own snorkel gear it is completely free. If you don’t have snorkel gear with you, it can be rented for a small fee. You will also find plenty of fish and a sting ray or two. The beach itself is super relaxing. Just find yourself a spot under the palm tree and relax. If you are hungry there is a great restaurant under a palapa right on Akumal beach, or you can jump back into your car and head a few minutes down the road to the famous “La Buena Vida” restaurant where you can enjoy a great meal, cocktails and a beautiful view of Akumal bay.

Shopping, Mayan Ruins, Relaxation

Once you have had a couple of amazing hours in Akumal it’s time to head on to Tulum! Tulum is typically known to tourists for the history of the Mayan Ruins but it is also very well known for having the most pristine virgin beaches. Tulum is a special town with a very Bohemian feel. If you are interested in seeing the Mayan Ruins I suggest that being your first stop before heading to the beach as you want to make sure you have sufficient daylight. It doesn’t take very long to walk around. You can do this with a tour guide or go out on your own. After visiting the ruins you head down to the well-known bohemian path of beaches where you will find plenty of small boutique hotels, cabanas and beach clubs. My favorite is “OM” beach club which is a further ways down along the route. It has been famously known for their bench overlooking the ocean which says, “The only chair you will remember for the rest of your life.” Perfect spot for picture taking! At the beach club you will find comfortable beach chairs, umbrellas and a full food and bar menu! Happy Hour normally starts after 5 pm! Although the sun does not set over the ocean you will still experience a beautiful view while the sun is getting ready to go down, as the sky turns beautiful colors over the ocean. Once the beach day has come to a close I recommend heading into the central part of town just to walk around, have dinner or have a coffee or ice cream in one of the small cafes.

Then, you will head back North on the high way back to your destination. If you are staying in Playa it will be about a 45 minute drive. If you are staying in Cancun it will be around 90 minutes. For those of you who do take this trip I certainly hope you enjoy every second of it! Eat, drink, swim, relax and soak up the beautiful Caribbean sunshine! That’s what vacation is all about!

The Uniqueness and Beauty of the Mayan Wedding Ceremony

Photo of Mayan Wedding in Mexico - Condo Hotels Playa Del Carmen

There is no doubt that the Riviera Maya is one of the hottest destination wedding venues for people visiting from all over the world. It is a truly magical location whether you have a beachfront or island wedding, a small ceremony at a cenote surrounded by the jungle, or simply have a breathtaking view from the rooftop hotel.

But what is most unique about tying the knot in the Riviera Maya is that you have the option to partake in a non –traditional, extremely beautiful, Mayan ceremony. I attended my first Mayan ceremony as a guest a couple of weeks ago and was completely taken back by how seamlessly lovely the entire process was.

The Mayan ceremony is not a religious one, rather a spiritual one performed by a Shaman. The whole ceremony is focused around peace, love and harmony from the universe.

The ceremony I attended was held on a beach on secluded island just 15 minutes by boat from Cozumel. As the ceremony began, all attendees were asked to gather round in a circle on the beach to participate in the universal blessing of the marriage. We were handed maracas and given instructions on when to use them. The groom was centered in the middle of all of us surrounded by rose petals, as he patiently awaited his beautiful bride. The bride then made her stunning entrance as the Shaman blew the horn through a rather large and pretty seashell. We all greeted her by shaking our maracas and inviting her to the middle of the circle with her soon to be husband.

It was a beautiful day and all seemed right in the world! The Shaman then started the ceremony with kind words and inspiration. Under the light of the day the Shaman guided the couple in a circle stopping at each directional point – North, South East and West – to ask for the blessing of the universe to unite this couple in marriage. Each direction had its own meaning as the shaman asked the universe for love, stability, commitment, strength, fertility, compassion, understanding and all the precious things that we wish for to maintain love and faith throughout the life of a marriage. Before heading on to the next point in the circle the bride and groom were showered with flower petals by participating guests.

Image of Mayan Ceremony - Condo Hotels Playa Del Carmen

After making way around the circle the Shaman gathers the bride and groom back to the center to complete the ceremony where the couple exchanges their vows and accepts their rings as a symbol of their love and commitment to one another. Finally the shaman pronounces the couple as husband and wife and the famous, well awaited, kiss takes place, as the guests shake their maracas in harmony with one another.

Guests are then invited to the center one by one to give their best wishes and congratulations. Everything is so personal and meaningful during this part of the ceremony.

The entire ceremony lasted around one hour. My favorite part of the Mayan ceremony is that it is a moment that is kindly and truly shared with family and friends. The words of the Shaman reminded everyone about the solitude of marriage and how love is the most precious thing we can hold. There was a certain peacefulness that I wasn’t expecting and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of this special day.Image of Mayan Wedding - Condo Hotels Playa Del Carmen

It’s important to mention that the Mayan Ceremony is simply spiritual. Many who partake in this kind of ceremony will have already arranged their legal marriage with the civil registry and will have already received your marriage certificate. If you do wish to have your marriage legalized make sure you have obtained the proper steps prior to your ceremony. You may also choose to hire a judge to conduct a legal portion of the ceremony and combine the two together.

If you are thinking of getting married in the Riviera Maya I highly recommend this lovely and unique experience.

Sargasso Affecting Tourists and Businesses Throughout the Riviera Maya

beach in Mexico - Condo Hotels Playa Del Carmen

Every morning I always make it a point to visit the ocean for at least 15 minutes, before letting the craziness of the day get the better of me. I started doing this a couple months ago as the ocean always gives me peace. Over the course of this time, nearly every morning in the same spot, I have witnessed our beautiful beaches and glistening Caribbean Sea transform by the day as Sargasso has swarmed up on the shore like on what some days can seem like an alien invasion. Some days it’s a monsoon of Sargasso, other days it’s livable and others it’s just barely there!

On Friday I made my daily visit and saw the ocean the worst I have ever seen it as mounds of seaweed (Sargasso), not only piled onto the shore, but also consumed about the first 10 feet of the ocean – completely packed in seeming as if it could actually be land and not water. Only the brave would have walked past it to enter fairly clear swimmable conditions.

As the weekend went on I missed a few days of my visit and, when I returned, only a few days later I was completely baffled to see that the seaweed had diminished about 90 percent leaving completely swimmable waters and fairly pretty beaches. Like magic! I mean, don’t get me wrong, there was still some seaweed sprinkled along the shoreline and floating pieces hanging around in the ocean but it was nothing like what we have seen in the past couple of weeks.

I share my story to stress to people that this is a true act of Mother Nature! And while tourists, as well as locals, are extremely disappointed, it’s important to be educated and remember that this is out of human control. The local hotels and beach clubs are suffering dearly facing negative Trip Advisor reviews, angered guests at the front desk and even diminished tips to beach club wait staff.

While some can be rational and understand that this is not the fault of a beach front business owner there are many people who arrive shocked, not understanding the circumstances and coincidentally look for someone to put blame on. This has made it extremely difficult for local beach front business owners during this time as they are still working to try and maintain a good reputation for their property and service.Image of people on the beach in Mexico - Condo Hotels Playa Del Carmen

What you need to know about the Sargasso situation!

You can’t forecast, in advance, what the situation will be like. Unlike weather patterns such as rain, wind and temperature, which we can successfully forecast in the near future, we truly have no idea how the Sargasso will behave from one day to the next. Some have studied the patterns and can make guesses based on forecasted weather patterns but even then it’s been really difficult to nail down. When making hotel reservations your reservations department may update you on the current situation as of that day, but they will have no way of giving notification on the conditions you can expect during your upcoming stay.

Cleanup is out of your hotel’s control and here’s why! Research shows that the Sargasso is actually quite beneficial for our beaches at it prevents erosion. It should not be thrown away, rather properly buried to allow it to do its job at keeping our beaches beautiful in the future. For this reason, and due to the ecological respect in the region, hotels, beach clubs another beach front ownership is generally prohibited from participating in any clean up activity. Some select resorts are given permission based on how much property they have to properly burry the sand but this permission is only issued to a select few. For those who don’t have this clearance, the government contacts a special crew called Zofemat who makes routine stops throughout the Riviera Maya for cleanup activity.

It should be noted that more action is being taken by the local government, that in conjunction with cleaning up the beaches themselves, they are also going to try and work to catch the Sargasso in the water before it hits the shore – hopefully creating better control of the situation.sargasso clean up Mexico - Condo Hotels Playa Del Carmen

Sargasso smells, after about one hour sitting in the sun. Unfortunately the smell you smell at your local beach club has nothing to do with how the ownership maintains their beaches. It stinks and until it goes away once and for all we have to make peace with it. Although this might be upsetting to travelers it’s important to keep in mind that the hotel, your beach club, your waiter or beach attendant have their hands tied. They are working extra hard to provide you the best service possible despite the circumstances.

This problem is not isolated to one area! The Sargasso which we are experiencing is affecting those all over the Caribbean and even those beaches in Florida and Texas. The Sargasso comes from the Atlantic and when the conditions are exactly right it flows down in abundance right to our shores. In our immediate area we have seen heavy problems in Playa del Carmen, Akumal and Tulum. If it’s a heavy Sargasso day you can’t simply escape it by heading in another direction.

What can you do about it?

Try to understand. All of us who live and work here understand your disappointment and all hotels, concierge departments and beach clubs will all work hard to make sure you have a wonderful experience despite the situation.

If you do have to experience the wrath of Sargasso during your vacation, there is plenty to still love and appreciate when visiting the Riviera Maya. It might be a good opportunity to tour through the Mayan Ruins, visit and adventure park or simply explore nature. And if you are looking to keep cool, visiting a cenote is an amazing way to see something beautiful and new while spending time in the water.

And remember, the sun still shines beautiful and margaritas still flow freely in this paradise!

Cirque Du Soleil Rivera Maya – An Unforgettable Performance!


Cirque Du Soleil Rivera Maya – An Unforgettable Performance!Something extraordinary and exciting has arrived to the Riviera Maya. An artistry that is truly fitting for this beautiful Caribbean paradise, and a venue that is long overdue to hit the entertainment scene in the region! The Riviera Maya is now host to an intimate Cirque Du Soleil experience which is truly one of a kind! Joya is a special Cirque Du Soleil performance that showcases the roots and culture of the Yucatan and the beauty for which it beholds. Joya can only be experienced in at its home stage in the Riviera Maya and is truly a must see when traveling to the region!

Joya is set in a very intimate permanent Cirque Du Soleil venue surrounded by the beauty of the jungle! This is the first Cirque Du Soleil of its kind to offer an intimate dinner show experience! And one you will likely remember fondly for the rest of your life!

When booking your tickets you will start off by choosing your experience! This includes an option of show only, show with champagne or an entire dinner show experience with champagne and preshow! There’s even an option for a total VIP experience which includes the best seats in the house, dinner, champagne and extra VIP perks!

Cirque Du Soleil Rivera Maya – An Unforgettable Performance!

When I booked my tickets I wasn’t sure that the dinner experience would be worth it and since there was quite a price difference I proceeded to book regular show seats! To my surprise the seating was quite wonderful with a great view, comfortable chairs and the option to order drinks, champagne or wine if desired. I was absolutely happy! I should note that there are no bad seats in the house! Every seat is perfectly situated to enjoy the intimate performance with clear view! But I must say, after having seen the dinner set up and heard reviews about the food I am definitely pumped up to do the whole experience all over again and include the dinner and champagne package! I believe it is totally worth it and it also creates more depth to a special evening out!

The storyline of the show is lighthearted and funny; combining beautiful music, graceful acrobatics, dancing and amazing special effects and features – all of which are completely in tune with the vibe and harmony of the Riviera Maya environment! I won’t give too much away!

For those who decide to buy only the show tickets you will be intrigued to find a creative and artistically design restaurant and bar for you to enjoy dinner and/or drinks before or after the show!

Cirque Du Soleil Rivera Maya – An Unforgettable Performance!Photos are also taken as memorabilia! My husband and I always purchase the photos! After all, the memory is part of the experience as well!

The experience of this Cirque Du Soleil goes far beyond what one normally expects! And if you’re already expecting spectacular you will be completely blown away!

Sweet November in Playa del Carmen – Feeling Thanksgivingy and All that Jazz!


Sweet November in Playa del Carmen - Feeling Thanksgivingy and All that Jazz! - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenAs I walked to work this morning I felt so compelled to share the fact that this time of year is simply an amazing time to be in this lovely town. For me, it truly is “Sweet November”!

Whether you live in Playa del Carmen or are vacationing here, the fall season brings upon us many reasons to be extra in love and fascinated! Not only is this the time of year to experience jackpot weather but it also brings much excitement with upcoming events and the introduction of the holiday season.

If you are traveling to Playa del Carmen this coming Thanksgiving you will be pleasantly surprised to know that Thanksgiving is a tradition that is a highly celebrated, and by no means ignored. All of us have plenty to be thankful for no matter where we come from. And with the strong American influence in Playa del Carmen, Thanksgiving has become a warmly embraced holiday tradition in the region.

Going on vacation or living abroad does not have to mean giving up your holiday traditions. It’s simply an opportunity to create new and different ones! This I have learned with certainty!

Talking Turkey!Sweet November in Playa del Carmen - Feeling Thanksgivingy and All that Jazz! - Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen

Most restaurants in Playa del Carmen will be offering traditional Thanksgiving dinner celebrations, each with their own twist and style! Make it a Caribbean affair on the beach, complete with a day time buffet full of Thanksgiving Favorites at your local beach clubs, or join hands around the table for a traditional American style thanksgiving at a classic upscale restaurant! There are plenty of options to choose from that will suit your style!

If you are like me, some of you won’t shake the desire to smell the turkey cooking on Thanksgiving Day! If you are among the many travelers who forgo the condo, or otherwise Condo Hotel, option in Playa del Carmen, why not cook your own bird in paradise? Stores like Sams Club, Walmart and Mega are easily accessible and stocked with all the ingredients you need to make your own “at home” feast a reality!

Sweet November in Playa del Carmen - Feeling Thanksgivingy and All that Jazz! - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenNo Parade but we’ve got Music and Beach!

And while there’s no Macy’s Day Parade or Turkey Trots happening in Playa del Carmen you may be sweetly intrigued by our own yearly tradition in Playa del Carmen, which always coincides perfectly with the Thanksgiving Holiday–The Riviera Maya Jazz Festival. It’s cool, it’s smooth, it’s beachy and it’s super FREE!!! From November 27 thru November 29 grab that blanket and perhaps a picnic basket with some snacks and refreshers, and enjoy wonderful musical acts under the Caribbean stars.

Excited for way more to come!

Traditionally, Thanksgiving is just the start of the buy holiday season! There is no doubt that as Christmas and New Year’s approach there will be plenty of more holiday love and fun to embrace in the beautiful town of Playa del Carmen!

Stay tuned for my holiday edition blogs to make the most out of your holiday here in Playa del Carmen!

Hey Golfers! How does 18 Holes of Good Karma Sound?


Hey Golfers! How does 18 Holes of Good Karma Sound? - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenIt is no doubt that the Riviera Maya is the landscape for some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world which coincidentally attracts many golf excited vacationers every year! And lucky for us, we have some the most prestigious golf courses right in our own back yard here in Playa del Carmen, including Grand Coral and Maya Koba!

But if you are planning a trip down to the Sunny Rivera Maya to conquer those 18 holes, you might want to consider adding a little extra love to your game by entering a charity golf tournament (Good Karma Free of charge)!

How often do we have the opportunity to do what we love and support an amazing cause at the same time?

Last week I had a fantastic opportunity to tag along with the Plank and Imprevist team as they participated as a Gold Sponsors for the Lorena Ochoa Charity Classic at the Grand Coral Golf Club in Playa del Carmen.

Hey Golfers! How does 18 Holes of Good Karma Sound? - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenWe participated in a casual cocktail hour, providing some of Chef Juan Diego’s creative specialties to re-boost everyone’s fuel and keep them going until dinner time! It was so nice to be out there and interact with the community and get to know some of the players.

While the morning rained just a bit, it did turn out to be an incredible event! Plenty of local and vacationing golfers came out to play along the beautiful green for which the Grand Coral hosts.

It was a full day event starting with breakfast, a round of golf, cocktail hour, some expert golf advice and lessons from world champion golfer, Lorena Ochoa; and ending the day with a magnificent dinner and celebration.

All proceeds for the event went to the La Barranca Educational Center in Guadalajara, Mexico. By raising money it is possible to help underprivileged children get the tools they need for a better and stronger education – ultimately resulting in opportunity for a brighter future!

If you missed this excellent event to raise money for a fantastic cause, you have plenty more opportunities to do so, as similar events will be organized throughout the year!

The next, most anticipated, charity golfing event is being held by the Seaside Rotary club in Playa del Carmen; whose constant charitable initiatives have helped to bring more and more smiles and true good to the community!

The Second Annual Seaside Rotary Golf Tournament will be held Saturday November 1st, 2014 at the beautiful Grand Coral Golf Course. It will be a full day of golf including great food and prizes!

El Taj, Plank Restaurant, Imprevist and the GYM are extremely glad to be sponsors in this incredible event. All proceeds for the Seaside Rotary Second Annual Golf Tournament will be divided up to numerous charitable causes such as KKIS (Keeping Kids in School), Cruz Roja (Red Cross), DIF Solidaridad, Christmas Dreams and Kick4Kids.

All of these are local charities that truly work hard to help out the community and are super geared towards extra smiles and better lives for children!

If you are interested in participating in tournament you can find more detailed information on the Seaside Rotary Playa del Carmen Website.

We are always happy to see our tourist community come out and join us for all our wonderful community events!

Sheer Simplicity will Capture You in Tulum!


Sheer Simplicity will Capture You in Tulum! - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenTulum is a place very special in my heart! It is a destination with deep history and beauty, but also an extraordinary feeling for all that set foot on its paradisiacal soft white sand beaches! It is a true escape from anywhere you are in your life! Even when you already come from paradise!

Many people associate Tulum as an excursion with the existence and tour of the Mayan Ruins! While this is a beautiful and wonderful treasure of Tulum, which adds magic and mystery to the town, it’s certainly not the only secret to what makes Tulum such a special paradise!

What does create all the amazement is the feeling of calmness, the tropical attitude, the involvement with nature and the site of virgin beaches and turquoise Caribbean waters so pristine it will take your breath away! If any place is going to make you forget your woes for a day, it will be here!

The first time I traveled to Mexico was to Playa del Carmen. That was beautiful enough in my eyes but at the time I truly had no idea how beauty travels and changes throughout every few miles of land.

I had my first encounter with Tulum when I ventured out back to the Riviera Maya to visit my boyfriend (now husband) whom I had met on a previous vacation there. Yes, love sparked and now here I am!

He took me on adventure to the beautiful Cenotes, to beaches of Akumal and ultimately to Tulum – a place where I swear you could feel rays of astonishment shine right through me! It was just so beautiful!

After exploring the intriguing Ruins, which were the stomping ground of the Mayan Community many years before our time, we set out on a Bohemian Jungle road where we found a beachfront cabana to stay the night!

We had dinner outdoors at a charming Mexican restaurant situated along the tropical jungle path! I should mention that many of the restaurants along the way have a casual yet romantic feel; and so far, I have experienced the food and atmosphere to be amazing everywhere we have tried.

After dinner we sat on the beach watching the night sky as it was completely mesmerizing! At night the lights diminish giving the perfect setting for the shining stars to miraculously steal the show! A blanket, a glass of wine and those amazing stars! A simplicity so seamless and perfect it could never be replaced.

We awoke at sunrise with a view so serene you felt like you had died and gone to heaven! Really! I know that sounds like a cliché but I’m not really how else you could actually describe it! The water was gleaming and sparkling like nothing I have ever seen in my life!

And in that moment, all I could imagine was the shattering possibility that I almost went through life without ever knowing such a place. I felt such a sense of gratitude that I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to experience this once in my lifetime! Of course not knowing that in fact, my future would take me back time and time again!

Sheer Simplicity will Capture You in Tulum!My husband and I make our escape to Tulum usually about once a month, as it is only about a 40 minute drive south from our home in Playa del Carmen. We always visit the same spot – at OM Beach Club in Tulum, where you will find a chair which has gained fame in its painted striking words – “The only chair you will remember for the rest of your life”! Well, isn’t that the truth!

Sometimes we take a little walk around the town center of Tulum, located away from the shore, where you can find great eats and small shops. It is a very small town and holds plenty of charm!

Tulum is always a place where we go to be free from our normal everyday life! From cell phones, from work, from our never ending to do list! And it’s always wonderful to continue to see a place that remains exquisite and unchanged!

I would most certainly recommend anyone vacationing in city-like environments, like Cancun or Playa del Carmen, to take a day out to spend in Tulum; simply to understand the true Mexican Caribbean vibe!

When we book of vacations we dream of being secluded; yet we tend to choose spots where conveniences are available – That is normal! But a day trip to Tulum allows you to make that escape, if only for a day, so that you can truly let yourself be free in nature and the beauty surrounding you! Visit the Mayan Ruins, Relax on the Beach, Eat Delicious and come home with memories that will live with you forever!

A Tour so Surreal and Magical, it Will Feel Like a Dream – Swimming with the Whale Sharks Riviera Maya!

Swimming with Whale Sharks - Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen“Today was the best day of my life”, my sister in law said after we got off the boat; ending a miraculous day in the open sea, swimming with one of the most magnificent creatures I’ve ever witnessed – The Whale Shark!

My sister in law was visiting, and we always do something a little out of the ordinary for my husband’s birthday, so the three of us picked from a list of options! Since we were in the exact perfect season for it, we decided the whale sharks would be the one!

To be honest with you, when we decided to book the tour, I was not so sure that I would love it so much. I mean, I wasn’t scared but at the same time it seemed something “normal” to me like swimming with the dolphins or the Sea Turtles in Akumal. Maybe living here in the Riviera Maya for 2.5 years, you get a little numb to the excitement of swimming with sea creatures!

But to my surprise, this experience topped any and all adventurous experiences I have had in the Riviera Maya thus far! I mean just miraculously incredible and unexpected!

We booked the tour through one of the most respected whale shark tour operators in the area called Ocean Tours. We were picked up in the center of Playa del Carmen and taken to the dock in Cancun where we would embark on our journey!On the Boat - Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen

Once we arrived to the dock we were assigned to a group and a tour guide. Each boat is good enough for a group of about 10 people!

Our tour guide was named Rod and he was not only knowledgeable but very friendly and entertaining! On our boat we had English speaking people, French Speaking and Spanish Speaking. He spoke all three languages to accommodate everyone and to be sure everyone understood the proper instructions.

It takes about 1 hour to reach the destination where the whale sharks are feeding, which is somewhere between the Islands of Isla Mujeres and Holbox. It is not always certain where the whale sharks will gather that day so it can take more or less time to arrive depending on the day! So until then you just sit back and enjoy the ride, the sunshine and the view of the open sea!

Finally we had arrived to see a swarm of large whale sharks swimming and feeding at the ocean’s surface! It was then that I understood that this was about to be an experience of a life time!

We were sent out to swim in groups of two, for a total of 3 separate jumps! The timing has to be very specific as the tour guides do their very best to get you to swim right up close and personal with the whale sharks as they are moving by! The whale sharks are not curious creatures and won’t be interested in your presence, so you must adapt to them as they will just continue on swimming in their own direction.

Swimming with Whale Sharks - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenReady, set, go… and we were in the water swimming rapidly alongside the whale shark! Wow! It was invigorating. You just find yourself with unexpected power to swim, as you just want more and more!

There you are, in the beautiful blue Caribbean Sea, surrounded by these massive and glorious creatures! Even without the presence of the whale sharks, the feeling of being in the deep ocean, surrounded by the brilliant rays of sunlight which gleam and sparkle underneath the ocean waters, is so beautiful and surreal!

Actually the whole experience is somewhat surreal! I never imagined that I would ever be here! But I was and it felt amazing – almost like being in a dream!

Our second jump was the most incredible, as our tour guide led us right over the whale shark – literally almost on top of him (or her)! It was in that moment in which you realize how small you really are compared to the shark! Did I mentioned that whale sharks weigh up to 4 tons? Yes, they do! But not even that fact is scary when you are in the moment.

When you first start the tour and they tell you that you have 3 jumps – your first thought may be something like… “Only 3 jumps? What am I paying for then?” But believe me, after jump number 2 you are wiped out and tired from the intense swimming. You really don’t realize it in the moment when you are in the action, but afterwards you will feel like you just put yourself through an intense total body workout!

After jump number 3, they did give us an option for an extra jump but nobody wanted to take it as we were all exhausted and needed the break! But still it’s an option if you are still roaring to go!

As a part of the complete tour, the day did not end there! The next part of our adventure sent us to a beautiful coral reef just meters away from Isla Mujeres! This was my first swim in a larger coral reef; and again, simply amazing! They allowed us to explore for about 20 minutes before entering the boat, which will then took us meters away to the beautiful Island of Isla Mujeres!

Lunch - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenWe docked close to the shore and enjoyed free time to swim in the pristine crystal waters which touched the Island! They also provided us with a delicious fish ceviche lunch with guacamole, beer and soda, which were served on floating tables inside the water! How cool is that?

We spent about an hour there relaxing, enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful scenery! Then we headed back to the dock in Cancun and found our transportation back to Playa!

It was a happy day! A day that will never be forgotten!

Suggestions and Considerations for your comfort!

My first piece of advice is if you are lucky enough to be in the Riviera Maya during this high season of whale sharks you must do this tour! You must!

Second, if you are someone that has the tendency to get sea sick- do take the Dramamine Pill! They are provided to you free of charge for your comfort! Yes, it makes you tired and there’s no way around that (be prepared) but being sick is worse. Take the pill and rely on the excitement to revive those sleepy eyes!

Floatation devices must be worn by law. They do provide standard life jackets free of charge but they do give the option to pay a little extra for a wetsuit. The wetsuit also acts as a floatation device and is very comfortable option to swim freely! I do highly recommend the wetsuit! If you own one then bring it along! It was my first time using it and I must say it is wonderful!

If you have a Go Pro or waterproof camera – DO NOT forget it! If you don’t have one, borrow one! And if you can’t borrow one then you may purchase the photos as your tour guide will be taking pictures along the way! We did both and we were glad we did!

A Backpack for a Smile worth a Million Bucks!


KKIS Project - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenAs the days of summer come to a close those across the world are preparing to head back to school. Here in Playa, a very special group of expat volunteers are proudly showing the results of a year round operation geared towards helping less fortunate children of the community get all the tools they need for a successful school year.

The KKIS project is an outstanding organization that dedicates time and money to collecting, packing and delivering school supplies for those who may have otherwise not had those proper essentials. The initiative has been ongoing for a few years and has grown greatly as new volunteers and increased donations proudly pour in.

Last year I had the pleasure to spend some time volunteering with the group who spends their summer afternoons stuffing backpacks one by one based on each applicant’s particular needs. Example of items are lined notebooks, pens, pencils, calculators, dictionaries, colored pencils, scissors, and much much more!

After several weeks of packing backpacks in a very organized fashion shipments are then made to various area schools where backpacks are handed out to each individual child. As I was happy to witness last year how genuinely happy these kids were to receive their backpacks -a true joy for them and also a real reward for all those who helped in creating that moment.

KKIS Project - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenThis year the news is pouring in of their continued success! The appreciation of the families and children goes far beyond what anyone could even expect! And it is all thanks to those who either volunteered, donated funds or have simply brought a backpack with them to drop off while headed out on vacation to Playa. One backpack is worth a huge smile! And that to me is priceless!

While this year’s efforts are coming to a close their goal never ends! The KKIS project will continuously be collecting donations from now until next summer where they will once again shed light to the hearts of the community.

Just a side note that I feel is important to mention: As I have lived here for over 2 years now, I have realized that those families who are truly in need are all hard working people. Unfortunately, some poverty is not caused by the lack of hard work, rather that the salaries are not always ideal especially if for those who were not brought up having the opportunity for a good education. The initiatives that are being done here by KKIS have a very good possibility of breaking the circle and giving children the opportunity to be educated property – ultimately resulting on better opportunities for the future.

If you are planning to travel to Playa del Carmen or nearby in the Riviera Maya, and you would like to help by bringing along a backpack or even some excess school supplies, all donations are always greatly appreciated!

You can contact a KKIS project representative by visiting their website at For more information, photos and blogs of their success you can also visit their Facebook page at:

I should also mention that there are also several other expat run initiatives which gear themselves heavily towards making a difference by helping the Playa del Carmen community. This includes a number of charity collections, shoe drives and those who are geared towards getting schools better equipped with technology. Two other well-known organizations are The Amigos network or the Seaside Rotary Club.

Small gestures are powerful and have the fuel to travel far!

When the Sun Goes Down the Night Shines Bright in Playa del Carmen!


Cocktail - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenThere is no doubt that Playa del Carmen gives you a little piece of every kind of world! And all wrapped into this small big world of Playa del Carmen is the brilliant nightlife that turns Playa into the place to be after dark!

Whether you are searching a quiet spot for a glass of wine and conversation, a live band, or place to let your dancing shoes own the night, it’s all right here in the little town we all know and love!

For those of you who don’t know me I’m just a tad bit over 30! I still enjoy a good party every now and then and every so often find myself in the night club still dancing at 4 am. But in between those every now and then days I love mix it up a bit! So I have compiled my thoughts and recommendations for a good night on the town!

Dance your Little Heart Out!

The 12th street is not just a street, rather an experience that everyone should most definitely do once – even if it’s just for a little while! The 12th street houses the infamous and well known Coco Bongo but also a glorious variety of well-known and reputable establishments such as Mandala, Salsanera, Palazzo, La Vaquita, Blue Parrot, Coco Maya and more!

Here you will find nightclubs ranging from cheaper super party experiences for a younger crowd or a pricier night out highlighting top notch service and an experience worth spending your money on!

Many people get really excited about Coco Bongo as they should! Coco Bongo really makes for a spectacular night out and is a place that everyone should experience just once!

Mandala provides the best service and goes all out to create the best experiences with somewhat more upscale standards! Excellent choices for bachelorettes or bachelor parties, after wedding parties, or any special occasion! Dress up and get ready to dance!

La Vaquita is great for a cheap liter and is great for a younger crowd and a good old fashioned party!

Blue Parrot and Coco Maya are great for dancing underneath the stars with the beach being your dance floor!

La Santanera, previously located on the 12th, has been relocated to 5th avenue with 10th street. This is a great after hour hot spot for those who don’t want to quit once the sun comes up!

The party street starts the music around 10 pm but really comes alive around midnight! Most places will offer the option of open bar which is almost always worth it if you are planning to make a whole night of it (I should mention that most open bars do not feature premium liquors – keep that in minding when preplanning your hangover for the morning)!

Don’t’ be surprised when the music takes you all the way to 5 am making you wonder where the time went!

Caguameria - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenIt’s Wine O’clock Somewhere!

Sometimes we just need a bottle of wine and a good talk! Two of my favorite places to enjoy a good glass of wine are Off the Vine and Imprevist Resto and Wine!

Off the Vine is a little establishment selling reasonably priced wines by the glass, or by the bottle, accompanied by an elegant tapas menu and entertainment during various nights of the week! Tuesday nights are ladies night which gets you ladies 2 glasses of red or white wine, plus a nice pasta dinner with dessert for only 150 pesos! Great value – great wine – great night out!   They also feature excellent wine pairing dinners on Thursday night and special pizza nights on Fridays – of course with wine included for a special price!

Imprevist Resto and wine is an extremely cozy place to meet with friends either on the patio or in their cozy air conditioned dining room! This experience is casual yet upscale, featuring a beautiful gourmet menu for appetizers or dinners. Imprevist is located on a quaint quiet street which makes a nice setting for a good conversation without disruption! The service is outstanding as well!


In Mexico beer is found everywhere, but there are some hot spots which provide great settings to chill out and have a casual beer, with or without entertainment.

I love Caguameria located on 1st Avenue with 20th street! The beer is cheap – the service is great – ambiance is cool, and yes they do have a food menu for you multi-taskers! My favorite spot is in on the terrace where you can find neat and comfortable furniture inviting you to relax and let loose!

Fah, located on 5th Avenue is also a great place to stop and have a few beers or drinks with friends! They feature excellent live bands and entertainment daily, always keeping you upbeat and in good spirits!

Tequila Barrel is also a well-known staple in Playa del Carmen – awesome for casual drinks and food! Take a table outside and do a little bit of people watching! The music is always going! And ladies, you can dance on the bar in exchange for strong tequila shot!

Other great suggestions would be La Fe, La Chopperia, or La Ambassad or Club de la Cerveza!

Casual night out with friends!

Nightlife - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenFor some great cocktails in an environment that is neither too loud nor too quiet there are some great places for that as well.

Sala Rosa is very cozy bar located on 38th street, just off of 5th. I love this place because it has a really comfortable setting, they make great cocktails and the vibe is always good! Come with your friends or just as a couple and you will definitely enjoy!

Plank Patio Bar and Grill also features a beautiful sleek bar, perfect for those who want to enjoy a couple of creative cocktails, a couple of casual apps and perhaps like the idea of getting a little bit dressed up. The environment and music are both trendy and upbeat, providing you the perfect setting for causal meets classy.

La Bodeguita del Medio also serves for a fantastic and fun evening out! They are famous for their mojitos and live salsa nights! Dance or just enjoy the music! But definitely try the mojitos!

The Dirty Martini! Well the name says it all! And the martinis are indeed fantastic! It is a smaller establishment close by to the area nightclubs and is a great place to lavish in creative and classic martinis and other lovely cocktails – either for a full evening or a few drinks before heading out for the night!

Feet in the Sand and the Stars Shining Bright!

The reason why we are all here! The beautiful beach! Both Zenzi and Fusion beach clubs offer excellent nighttime entertainment and a causal beachy environment to enjoy your favorite drink! Both offer dinner service and a variety entertainment ranging from live music to incredible dance shows and even salsa lessons!

Whatever you decide, one thing is for sure – you will never be bored when the sun goes down in Playa del Carmen!