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!

Confessions of a Reformed Gym-a-phobe

Can I let you in on a little secret? I’ve never been much of a gym person. My boyfriend has tried to drag me along to various gyms over the years, and in that time I have come to the conclusion that gyms are not my favorite places to hang out. I’m more of a yoga, dance-class or swim-in-the-sea sort of person when it comes to doing exercise, not a ‘run on a treadmill’ sort of gal.

Gym machines in Playa del Carmen

I don’t want to feel like I’m exercising when I’m exercising, you know what I mean?

I’ve held on to my opinion that gyms are sterilized, soulless places, and therefore thought it highly unlikely I was ever going to step foot inside one again.

That was until we stayed at the El Taj in Playa del Carmen and were given free passes to The Gym for the entire length of our stay.

But to tell you the truth, even then, I was just being polite when I accompanied my boyfriend to check it out.

“Just come and see what they have on offer,” he suggested to me, “who knows, you might enjoy this one.”

I just about choked on my breakfast at the thought that I would actually enjoy a gym, but decided to go along and prove my point that gyms are boring, lifeless places I have no intention of spending time in, in the hope of silencing him forever.

Upon entering the shiny glass doors of the entrance, I have to say I was quite impressed by the stylish design and pleasant color scheme. To the right of the reception area was a juice bar and cafe, selling delicious looking healthy snacks and smoothies.

“Hmm, maybe there is hope I’ll enjoy it here,” I said to my boyfriend, picturing myself passing the time over a chaya smoothie and a tuna wrap whilst flicking through a glossy magazine.

“That’s for afterwards,” he said, knowing me too well. “Just have a look at the timetable to see if there are any classes you’d like to do.”

I sighed, and took the paper timetable from him begrudgingly, not expecting to find anything I liked.

My eyes widened as I looked over the class schedule packed with options; some pretty unique and interesting ones at that.

the gym playa timetable

“Woah, look how many yoga classes they have!” I said, surprised that a gym would have so many, at different times of the day. Gyms I had visited previously only ever had a few yoga classes at times which didn’t suit me. I like to do yoga in the morning, with a few different time options in case I feel like sleeping in. This gym, however, had numerous classes from 7am to 10am almost every single day, as well as evening classes just in case the mood struck.

Not only that, but along with the usual suspects of Spin, Fat Burner and Step, there were some classes that seemed like they might actually be fun!

“Where is the Aquatone class held?” I asked the fit looking girl behind the counter, looking around for the pool inside the building.

“Oh that is held in the pool at the El Taj hotel,” she informed me matter-of-factly, referring to the beautiful oceanfront Balinese style pool we’d just swum in that morning.

El Taj Pool small

I couldn’t believe my luck that three times per week, a water exercise class was going to be brought to me! I wouldn’t even have to leave the hotel!

It didn’t stop there. Afro-jazz dance classes, Ballet Fit classes and Cuban Salsa would cater to my love of dance, while Yoga and Tai Chi classes on the beach every weekend would allow me to exercise in the great outdoors just as I enjoyed.

A smile crept across my boyfriend’s face as he saw my look of shock and surprise.

“We might make a gym junkie out of you yet!” he teased as he threw me a clean white towel from the orderly pile. We entered the stylish premises lined with flat screens as the state of the art sound system pumped out upbeat tunes.

He headed for the cross trainer as I headed for the yoga studio, which was filled with the aroma of burning incense as the calming sound of yogic chanting emanated from the speakers.

‘Yes,’ I thought to myself as I positioned myself on the mat to begin the class, ‘maybe we will.’

yoga studio in Playa del Carmen

yoga at the beach

Access to The Gym including all of the classes is free for all Condo Hotel guests.

Create Custom Lunches at Limoneros

Limoneros is the coffee shop and deli next to the Hotels Playa del Carmen’s GYM at any of the four Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen properties. Here you can order a wide spread of healthy food, like salads and sandwiches, and even customize each dish to include your favorite ingredients!

Ken: Hi! This is Ken Schmidt. General manager of Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen and today I’m here with the owner Juan Carlos of “Limoneros”

Juan Carlos: Hola (hello)

Ken: Limoneros is located right next to gym, one of the free amenities when staying in our properties, El Taj, Porto Playa, Maya Villa or Villas Sacbe and right in are Porto Playa location. Ok, I’m here with Amy translator for Juan Carlos, so, Amy tell me about Limoneros!

Amy: Ok, Limoneros is a coffee shop, our concept is healthy food, we have salads, we have sandwiches, we have sodas and coffee, so in here you are gonna have a great experience, because you can combine and a nice sandwich with a salad plus you you are going to get a coffee, because we also do this kind of package.

Ken: Ok Amy, can we ask Juan Carlos, What the favorite dish here that I want to have at Limoneros.

Amy: Ok, sure. Juan Carlos. Cual es tu platillo favorito?

Juan Carlos: Mi platillo favorito son los sandwiches, lo fabuloso de nosotros es que lo podemos fabricar como queramos! Ahora les voy a preparar un sandwich de pan integral con roast beef y queso americano.

Amy: The main point here and the good point here is that everybody can have their own favorite dish because you can choose all ingredients, but, he’s favorite sandwich is roast beef and american cheese.

Ken: Ok great, let’s watching make this!

Juan Carlos: Listo! (Ready!)

Ken: Here is lunch! Fantastic! Look delicious!