The Perfect Riviera Maya Day Trip

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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!

Sacred Mayan Journey, a self journey…

The urge to know more about the place were I live, brought me to path to investigate about the  7th Sacred Mayan Journey that is celebrated this year from May 23th to May 25th 2013.

I started asking the locals about it, but they only told me that it was a recreation of something our ancestors did to worship Ixchél goddess of the moon, from Xcaret to Cozumel Island.

This information was not clear at all for me but guided to know who could be the perfect guide to learn more about it. My searching started looking for an oarsman who is participating this May 23th.

I found Carlos, he is one of the oarsman this year, we met a coffee and I shocked with all the information he had about this topic. He began explaining how this started, 1000 years ago, yearly pilgrimage was made, exchanging products at a Kii’ wiik wich means marketplace, that after will be offer to the goddess.

My question: Why Ixchel Goddes? Carlos explain that she ruled over fertility, health, water and vegetation, represented by the Moon. Who takes care of the Caribbean Ocean, source of food, transportation and the Cenotes which represents the entrance of Xilbaba (The Underworld).

"300 oarsmen this year"

“300 oarsmen this year”300 Oarsmen in 30 canoes are participating this year, departing from Xel-há and arriving at Chankanaab in Cozumel, and then finishing their journey in Xcaret. This have not been easy for the participants who have been training since 6 months ago.

They start at dusk with a ceremony to bless, they are welcome at Cozumel and at night the oarsmen visit Ixchel Sanctuary to present their offerings also to hear her message: “Should live in peace and harmony, care for their life and of the living beings around them”.

The next day they will meet at shore, to cross toward Xcaret, before the Ruler of the Land of Cozumel, will bless them and remind them Ixchel message:  Inside us we carry strength, hope, life and seeds of corn that we must share with those close to us.

The Chief of land of Cozuel Island, reminds the oarsmen the message of Ixchel Goddess

The Chief of land of Cozuel Island, reminds the oarsmen the message of Ixchel Goddess

The oarsmen arrive to Xcaret, and will be welcome with the wise words of Batab ( the chief) telling them that the corn was taken to the 4 corners of the world in 4 different colors, so the sacred nourishment will never been lacking.

 painting sacredI was completely amazed with this story, making me think hours later after I say goodbye to Carlos, that maybe we are not physically making the journey to Cozumel, but everyone is making a full journey inside of our self’s, this is a new era, a new opportunity to start over, create a new world, and a different story, as better beings, bearers of the seed of a new life. So plant this seed in others, so in a couple of years our descendants can pick up the crops.


Foodie Paradise: Playa del Carmen

Where to Eat on the Beach

Restaurants in Playa del Carmen

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

International Cuisine:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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Snorkeling with Turtles in Akumal

Snorkeling with turtles in Akumal was top of my list of things to do during my stay in Playa del Carmen. Akumal welcomes visitors all year round to swim with the sea turtles who come to feed on grasses in its protected bay, just a 40 minute drive south of Playa.

Akumal beach

Arriving at the entrance to the cove, I was blown away by the beauty of the still, glass-like water and blazing white sand dotted with swaying coconut palms.

I hired my snorkeling gear and life jacket at the small hut near the entrance and found myself a shady spot under one of the palm trees that lined the shore. Thankfully I had arrived early enough to beat the crowds and immediately took to the water in search of some shelled creatures.

playa del carmen activities

I didn’t expect to see one so soon. Just off the shore in the shallow depths of the bay, a huge sea turtle chomped slowly on the sea grass, not seeming to mind having company while he ate. I hovered above, careful not to disturb him (or her!), but being unable to pull my self away from the majestic creature.

playa del carmen activities

After eating for a while, he rose up to the surface to take a deep breath of air. Being so close to such an amazing creature in its natural habitat was such a treat that I lost track of time, and before long the waters were busy with other snorkelers. There were more turtles and sea life to meet, however, so I swam away from my first sighting to meet some other residents.

Soon I found myself gliding over an impressive reef system, chasing a school of shiny fish as they darted over the colorful coral. I was a little taken aback when I spotted a huge barracuda hovering in the reef, his black scales reflecting the light like mirrors. He was a little scary looking but seemed pretty relaxed and uninterested in me.

Soon, I made my way back to the shore, and took up residence under the palm trees, laying back to bathe in the speckled sunlight.

playa del carmen activities

By then, quite a few other people had arrived and were donning their snorkeling gear, wading into the water in the hope of seeing a turtle eat their lunch. I listened for the cries of excitement as they spotted their first turtle of the day, happy that they saw what they came for.

I know I did!

Akumal snorkelers

Excited snorkelers in Akumal bay

Akumal exceeded my expectations on every account, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone visiting Playa del Carmen. Even if you don’t snorkel, the beach itself is truly magical. The peaceful, protected bay is a great place to spend the day, either in the crystal clear waters or in a hammock under one of the many coconut palms.

The main attraction is, of course, snorkeling with the turtles. They are truly a sight to behold and don’t seem to mind all the attention they receive from well-meaning tourists.Thankfully, Akumal is a protected ecological area, which means the turtles will have a safe place to feed for many years to come.

You can reach Akumal by car, van or organized tour. My tip: Visit on a week day if possible, and arrive early to beat the crowds!

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

Hotels Playa Del Carmen  are a Flight Away

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

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

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

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

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

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

El Taj Oceanfront & Beachside Condo Hotel

Maya Villa Condo Hotel & Beachclub

Porto Playa Condo Hotel & Beachclub

Villa Sacbe Hotel and Beach Club

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