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 http://www.kkisproject.org. For more information, photos and blogs of their success you can also visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-KKIS-Project/230592130368921?sk=info

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!

Cerveza!

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!

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/

“Did She Really Just say Ditch the Heels?” A Ladies Guide to Packing for Playa!

“Did She Really Just say Ditch the Heels?” A Ladies Guide to Packing for Playa! - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenPacking for vacation can sometimes be a stressful task! You don’t want to forget anything so you bring it all! And yet you still feel that you have forgotten something! After having traveled here so many times, and saying a little prayer every time I got my suitcase weighed in at the airport, I started to realize the things I could have actually done without.

Lose the stress of forgetting something!

First I want to point out that traveling to this heavily populated and major touristic destination, which comes complete with a centralized Walmart, means that you can stress less and even ditch packing heavier items such as full containers of sunscreen, bottles of body wash, body lotions, shampoo and conditioner! Those things are heavy!

If you have actually, in fact, done the scariest of all, and forgotten your phone charger (oh my!), you may not be in such a huge dilemma as you think; given that even the local convenience stores located on every corner will sell universal USB’s.

And with stores like Mac and Ultrafemme, even forgetting your makeup bag wouldn’t be the worst thing in the entire world!

And FYI…Advil, Claratin, Pepto, and all your favorite over the counter medications exist here! No need to bring an 80 count of Advil or a boat load of “just in case you get tummy sick” meds. Bring just a few and if you need more I promise you, there will be more!

Ok ladies, on to the closet!

I say ladies because let’s face it boys, over packing usually isn’t your dilemma! First remember where you are going! The beach should be one of the easiest vacations you’ll ever have to pack for! A few bathing suits, your favorite cover up, flip flops a couple of your favorite sun dresses, shorts, tanks, undergarment and you are done! Easy right?

If only it were that easy for us to logically keep the long jeans out of our suitcase in the hot summer months – but we can’t because we just feel better that they are there, just in case!

I’m here to tell you – unless you are traveling in December or if you love the feeling of sticking to your jeans, leave those non essentials at home, you won’t be using them! Save the space for a cute new sundress and some of the other purchases you will most likely be carting home from Playa!

Stick to the basics girls – beach, pool, causal, and a little bit of elegance for the evenings!

Cobblestone is a high heel nightmare!

The first time I traveled to Playa del Carmen I brought 3 different pairs of high heels with me, not to mention my sneaks, my wedges and everything else that fits on my foot!

After about a half a night out I realized that wearing high heels out was the worst idea I could have ever had especially since I headed out to two dance clubs located on the beach! And good luck walking the cobblestone streets from your hotel to the night clubs in HIGH HEELS! If you do choose to brave it out, make sure you have someone to hold your hand very tight or a nice companion that will offer you a piggy back ride! That is only a slight exaggeration but still you get the point!

While I can’t discourage heel wearing 100 percent – I would like to point out that perhaps limiting to one pair is sufficient! Your classic black go with everything heel will do just fine! After all – the option does make us feel better!

I do still brave the high heel every now and then but it usually just ends up in a routine walk back to the car to get my sandals!

Even though Playa hosts some of the most brilliant night life it still remains a casual beach town; and while your hot city life may call for high-end everything, a night out Playa remains cool and calm with the dress code. A good pair of flat strappy sandals to go with your hot summer dress will help you to stay comfortable while fitting in just fine!

Keep your towels and Linens at Home!

You know what else can put suitcase right over that dreaded 50 pound limit? – A big beach towel! Leave them at home! All resorts and hotels will provide towels as well as most beach clubs in the area. If you are truly without, you can purchase very well priced light and decorative beach linens all over the 5th Avenue; which also serve as nice, and I should say light for travel, souvenirs!

Think before adding on International Plans for your cell phone!

It’s not that it isn’t a smart idea to add international minutes or special plans with your cell phone carrier, it’s just that if you are traveling here it might find it simply unnecessary. While international plans are not heavy on your suitcase, it can be heavy on your wallet and skype can do the trick very nicely.

All you need is your smart phone, Wi-Fi and a skype account. Adding some minutes or paying a very cheap one month rate to skype, will allow you to make unlimited international calls over Wi-Fi, to any phone number, in any country you choose to set it up for.

There are also fantastic WI-FI text messaging options like Whatsapp, Viber or Facebook messenger to keep in close contact with family and friends.

Wi Fi is available for free in many hotels and establishments in the area, including multiple Starbucks locations. Now you can even access free Wi-Fi zones on the 5th Avenue, so you are really never as disconnected as you think! Just put your phone on airplane mode and connect to Wi-Fi wherever you are!

And finally, things you shouldn’t forget!

Your Passport, money, camera, a call to your bank to let them know you may use your card in Mexico, a good wristlet or over the shoulder purse with zipper, your beach bag, flip flops, bathing suits, sunglasses, some fitness gear (if that’s your thing), an I-pod, a great beach book, and a laid back vacation style attitude!

Imprevist Resto and Wine – A Cozy Creative Experience you Shouldn’t Dare to Miss!

 

Imprevist Resto and Wine - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenLet’s face it! Food is a big part of vacation. Many of us diet strong weeks before taking the flight, just so we can arrive with freedom to ignore calorie counting for several days in a row.   With that being said, if you are going to give yourself some extra freedom, you mines well use it on, not just any meal, but something truly fantastic!

If you are looking for a great spot to enjoy during your vacation I would like to share with you one of the most special little gems in Playa – Imprevist Resto and Wine!

Located on a quaint and quiet street, IMPREVIST invites you to enjoy a real culinary experience that will surely leave you with special feeling.

Imprevist is a Catalan word meaning “Unexpected”! And here you will truly see how the name fits with its true meaning!

There’s something to be said about Small and Cozy!

Their cozy intimate dining room is inviting! The service is warm and attentive! And the food is simply delicious and memorable!

What I love most about this restaurant is that you really feel good while you are there. Whether you are having date night with your honey, enjoying an evening with friends or having a classic family dinner – Imprevist is a place that accommodates a particular at home feel that many can only find in the coziness of their own homes.

Salmon with Mango Sauce - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenInnovative Menu!

Their dinner menu features classic International cuisine with Chef Juan Diego’s special flare as well as an alternative Asian Fusion menu that will truly give you a twist on the ordinary.

Inspired Culinary Favorites!

My absolute favorites are the chicken risotto, salmon with mango sauce and the chicken Thai Salad (also served with shrimp at your preference). Steak lovers and seafood lovers you are also in for a real treat! And for tuna lovers, let me offer a piece of advice that you will be glad you took – you must experience their famous Tuna Tar Tar which had been a true and unchanged staple on their amazing menu!

Let’s talk Risotto, shall we?

By far the best Risotto I have experienced, not only here in Playa, but anywhere for that matter. Chef Juan Diego has mastered the art of Risotto with sheer grace! The menu features a choice of risottos blending different flavors and using a variety of different meats and seafood to top it off.

The Chef behind all the Magic!

Over the last year I have gotten to get to know Chef Juan Diego Solombrino and have become really interested to understand his style. I can tell you is that Chef Juan Diego puts a lot of love and pride into his kitchen and puts a lot of care in what he brings to the dinner table!

He loves to play with different flavors and aromas which is why you will likely notice seasonal changes in his menus allowing him to take advantage of the seasons freshest ingredients, flavors and colors.

The Best Sunday Style Brunch in the Region!

Really, who doesn’t love a good brunch! Imprevist puts on a great breakfast and bunch social every day! Perfect for early or late risers. The breakfast menu always includes fresh fruit, yogurt and granola, a basket of freshly baked pastries, fresh juice and coffee! For me, this is hands down the best breakfast experience in Playa del Carmen!

Tuna Tartare - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenWhere to find Imprevist!

You can find Imprevist locate on 1st Avenue between 16th and 12th street!

If you visit Imprevist you will most likely be greeted at some point by Christine, Juan Luis or Chef Juan Diego as they are always there to personally insure the best experience for all of their guests.

Imprevist opens for breakfast every day from 7 am to 2 pm. Dinner is served Monday thru Saturday from 6 pm to 11 pm.

I should also mention that the owners of Imprevist, Juan Diego Solombrino along with Juan Luis Wehncke, have also partnered up to create a secondary amazing experience just down the road from Imprevist, called PLANK! If you have the chance to try both during your trip you will definitely be in for a real treat!

Xcaret, Xel-ha or Xplor? Which Experience is Best for You?

 

Xcaret, Xplor and Xel Ha are three of the Riviera Maya’s most well-known excursions, mainly because of the positive reputation of Xcaret Xperiences and also because of rave reviews. It is most likely that your concierge or tour representative will recommend you to visit one of these parks. But if all of them are so wonderful then how to you choose which one is best for you!

I have visited all three of these wonderful parks and can tell you that each of them offers a completely different experience quite unique from one another. There is something for the adventure lover, the aquatic lover, the nature lover, history lover and of course the open bar lover!

Xcaret Xperience

Xcaret - Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen

 

Xcaret Park is probably the most magnificent excursion that I have done in the Riviera Maya. It is an excursion that can be done over and over and still be enjoyable! That park is so big that actually you may not even cover the whole park in one day depending on how quickly you move along through the beautiful path of nature!

Xcaret is meant to be a full day activity starting in the morning and ending in the nighttime hours as they do have a spectacular nighttime performance in which they are famous for. You don’t have to stay for this but if you are already there it’s truly a must see!

Xcaret is absolutely family friendly but you must be prepared to walk a lot and be prepared for the hot sun by wearing bio natural sunscreen! Everything is done at your leisure so you have plenty of opportunities to stop and relax along the way, grab a bite to eat, drink a cocktail or take a swim in one of the beautiful lagoons or cenotes.

Xcaret combines water activities with exciting nature sites and lessons of the Mayan history. You may also choose to add an extra experience such as swimming with the dolphins for an extra fee!

If you purchase the deluxe package which I highly recommend you do then you will also get to enjoy a 5 star buffet meal in one of their many amazing restaurants along the way (you get to choose one)! On that note: My favorite has always been their Mexican buffet! There are also many stops along the way where you can purchase snacks and drinks!

Xel-Ha Xperience

Xel Ha - Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen

This is usually the park that mostly gets compared to Xcaret and sometimes people believe that it is the same kind of park, just with a different location however it is actually much different. While Xel-Ha is a nature park it is really is a more laid back experience with a much more aquatic focus overall.

They have various cenotes for swimming or just grab a tube, float and relax. It’s also a beautiful place to snorkel as you can discover colorful fish and other beauties underwater world. There are some mild jump off points for those dare devils as well as other over the water activities like zip lining. I should note, these zip lines are not the adventurous ones flying high above the jungle. Rather they are very kid (and kid at heart) friendly; and are really meant to be a fun way to make a water slide type splash landing in the water.

It is a great excursion for families with younger children (swimmable age) because you spend more time in the water than actually walking around the park site seeing. This is also a very nice and relaxing day to spend with your friends or as a couple. Swim, take a beautiful nature walk or grab a bicycle along the way and take a nice bike ride through the walking and bike trails.

The perk of this excursion is that it is all inclusive with open bar and all you can eat, throughout the entire day! You may also purchase extra experiences such as swim with the dolphins or other unique underwater experiences.

Xplor Xperience

Xplor - Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen

This park is for all you adventure lovers! Xplor combines an aquatic experience with breathtaking adventure through the jungle! And you can do it by day or by night!

You will be wet the entire time so wear those water shoes and your bathing suit! Even if you are just doing it for the zip lining you will end the circuit with a splash landing in the water so keep that in mind!

You may want to start off your adventure with a swim through the underground river. I won’t give away the surprise but I will tell you that your swim ends with a simply breathtaking site that you will not want to miss!

Your next activity brings you to a 4 wheel drive through the amphibious jungle! During the night excursion, this circuit adds a little bit more mystery! Don’t worry, as there will be light and there are Xplor employees along the way to insure your comfort and safety.

The zip lining is always the main headline of the park, featuring a circuit of zip lines sending you flying high above the jungle! I should note that I have done other zip lining excursions in the Riviera Maya before and this is the one where I have definitely felt the best comfort level! I am a scardy cat at heart but I love this excursion! Once you do the first one you will want to do the rest.

Xplor also features an all you can eat buffet which you can take advantage of all day! Alcohol is not served at this park for obvious reasons.

This can be a family friendly activity but remember that it is a much more adventurous experience!

My Friendly Advice!

Remember at all three of the parks it is highly recommended to wear water shoes (very important in my opinion), proper attire for getting wet, and apply eco-friendly sunscreen!

No matter which of these excursion you choose, it is for sure you will have a great time! While you might not be able to fit in all three in one visit I definitely recommend you trying all of them at some point in time!