One of the biggest draw cards of the Riviera Maya is the opportunity to snorkel with whale sharks in the Caribbean Sea from June to September. The waters off the coast off Cancun, less than an hour’s drive from Playa del Carmen, offer one of the best sites in the world for whale shark spotting. Condo Hotels can arrange a professional tour, including all equipment, breakfast and lunch with guaranteed sightings of these majestic creatures.
We departed Playa del Carmen at 6:30 AM, arriving at the marina near Cancun about an hour later. After a quick breakfast, we boarded the speedboat and were given a briefing on the feeding patterns of the sharks, as well as a safety briefing.
The boat ride out to the feeding site was about 45 minutes, and I would recommend taking precautions for sea sickness, as some people on our boat did suffer. Of course, once we spotted the first fins, tails and enormous heads gliding through the water with huge gaping mouths, all was forgotten.
We were in awe already, and we hadn’t even taken to the water yet.
Though there were about ten on our boat, only three people were permitted at a time with each guide, ensuring the safety of both the sharks and swimmers. It is a privilege to be able to observe these majestic creatures carry out their natural feeding patterns in the wild, so touching them is not permitted.
There were times, however, when the sharks came quite close, especially the huge tail fins which power the enormous creatures through the water.
Our guides encouraged us to swim towards the head of the shark, in the direction they were swimming, then swim alongside them for as long as we could keep up.
Staring into the eye of these magnificent fish and watching them filter water through their huge, gaping gills was an experience I will never forget.
Truly a once in a lifetime experience!
After the group had two turns in the water each, we headed to the gorgeous Isla Mujeres for lunch. The boat anchored in the crystal clear waters of the shallow lagoon at the north end of the island, and we had a refreshing dip as the crew prepared a delicious lunch of sandwiches and fresh ceviche.
It was a wonderfully relaxing end to an exciting day swimming with the giants of the sea. Check out the video for a glimpse of what to expect, although keep in mind that nothing compares to seeing them in person!
It was something I was terrified of: falling from a perfectly good airplane at 10,000 ft, and yet, something told me I had to do it. I guess that’s the beauty of adventure, it’s scary, terrifying even, but the rewards of the experience outweigh the fear.
The guys from Skydive Playa were cool as cucumbers and put my mind at ease with their professionalism and experience – they have been operating in Playa del Carmen for seventeen years and have the act of falling from a moving aircraft over the Caribbean down to a fine art.
Before the jump I was beside myself with anxiety about the unknown, and yet, once I was on my way up the tiny plane, my fear was replaced with a calm knowing that I was about to experience the ultimate rush, and all my apprehension would soon be a distant memory.
What I didn’t know was that I was about to have the most fun I’d ever had in my life.
The thirty second free-fall was exilirating, mind-blowing and utterly incomparable to anything I have ever experienced!
Not to mention providing me with the best view of Playa del Carmen and the surrounding Riviera Maya as I am ever likely to get.
I was actually a little sad when the parachute was opened, slowing our free-fall to a soaring glide. The best part was over, but flying above the bright aqua sea looking out over to Cozumel, then to the white sand beaches of Playa was pretty wonderful too.
As my feet touched down on the soft white sand, my immediate thoughts were, “I did it!” quickly followed by, “I could do it again!”
Skydiving is certainly not something everyone will experience in their lifetime, but I’m so grateful to have experienced the ultimate rush in one of my favorite parts of the world, Playa del Carmen.
Last week my partner and I decided to take a break from the beaches of Playa del Carmen, and have an adventure in the Mexican jungle. Aktun Chen Natural Park, otherwise known as ‘Indiana Joe’s’, seemed the perfect place to start, located an hour south of town.
Our van veered off the highway and took us 3 KM into the jungle, before depositing us at the entrance of the park. We signed in and met our guides for the first part of the tour – zip-lining!
It was our first attempt at this adrenaline-inducing activity, so I was a little nervous, but the professionalism and friendliness of the guides who ran through our safety briefing immediately put my mind at ease and allowed me to focus on one thing – having fun!
Zip-lining over the canopy of trees was an absolute blast and was not even a little scary, just exhilarating! When the time came, I even went upside down, as the guides showed us how to do, letting my arms hang over my head as I flew along the line.
Soon, it was time to return to earth, and explore an ancient cave system. We followed our guide into the depths of an enormous limestone cave, decorated with an impressive array of stalactites and stalagmites. It was eerily beautiful, wandering through the bizarre landscape formed by millions of years of geological processes.
Fossils of shells and sea creatures were visible in the limestone, reminders that the cave was once the sea floor. It is now home to an impressive cenote, or fresh water pool, which is not open for swimming in order to preserve its natural beauty. Lit from above, the light shone straight through the crystal clear water, creating an ‘other worldly’ atmosphere, like a scene from the movie Avatar.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a delicious lunch of quesadillas and fajitas, entertained by colorful parrots in the trees outside.
The spider monkeys, however, stole the show. Tiny babies clung to protective mothers high up in the tree tops.
While the older members of the family caught up on some much needed beauty sleep.
Next it was time for the part of the tour I was most looking forward to – snorkeling in the cenote! As you know, I love cenotes, so I was excited to see what ‘Indiana Joe’s’ had in stall for us.
We made our way down a rocky staircase and were greeted by a beautiful limestone cave filled with crystal clear, turquoise water. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Everybody gasped as they entered the water, due to the refreshingly cool temperatures!
We donned our snorkels and followed our guide around the large cavern, observing the beautiful formations below through the crystal clear water. The water was so clear, that at times it felt as though I was flying over the deep caverns and the fish who made their home there.
After our guided snorkeling tour, we had some free time to swim in the cenote and explore the different pools within it. At one point, my partner and I were the only ones floating around in a small pool, with light streaming in from a narrow opening above us. It was such a peaceful and magical moment, filling me with gratitude to be experiencing this part of Mexico and its untold natural treasures.
Like all good things, our jungle adventure had to come to an end. We zip-lined, saw beautiful animals, explored ancient caves and swam in their magical waters. We experienced the exhilaration of flying over the tree tops, as well as the peaceful rejuvenation of floating in fresh water pools created by Mother nature herself.
Most of all, we were reminded just how special this part of Mexico is, and how much we love spending time discovering the beauty, history, culture and natural wonders of the Riviera Maya, a part of the world everybody should visit at least once in their life.
Contact the concierge at Condo Hotels to book your tour to Aktun Chen Natural Park today!
Pedro´s Christmas Song
Mamacita, donde esta Santa Claus?
Donde esta Santa Claus?
And the toys that he will leave.
Mamacita, oh, where is Santa Claus?
I look for him because it’s a Christmas Eve.
I hope he won’t forget to clack his castinet,
And to his reindeer, say,
Oh! Pancho, Oh! Vixen, Oh! Pedro, Oh! Blitzen,
Ole! Ole! Ole! cha cha cha.
Mamacita, donde esta Santa Claus?
Oh! Where is Santa Claus?
It’s Christmas Eve.
This time I went to La Sirena Mar y Barrio, one of the best seafood restaurants in Playa del Carmen. Delicious, believe me, absolutely DELICIOUS food.
The staff was also very welcoming and accommodating. Soon we were in a perfect and relaxed mood, because ambiance of the quiet street and relaxing restaurant, though right next to the bustling 5th Avenue. So we decided that there could hardly be anything better for a typical Playa lunch or dinner.
I still dream about the grilled shrimp in tangerine sauce or fresh tuna fillet on the grill with tomato, saffron, white wine and champagne. We were licking our fingers…
Discover La Sirena with me and Max, the owner and our host. Thank you, Max!
Tip: Located at our Porto Playa property. If you areour guest at Condo Hotels, present your privilege cardand receive a discount.
Hi, Ken Schmidt – Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen. I’m here today with Max from La Sirena.
Ken: Hi Max, how are you?
Max: How are you?
Ken: Great. I see you poured me a couple of tequila drinks. What exactly are these?
Max: Yes, this is a favorite drink at La Sirena. It’s our creation. It’s tequila, mango, natural mango, it comes with a little bit of grenadine, and the blue one is curaçao.
Ken: Awesome! Let’s take get a quick drink before we start to make this interesting.
Max: Make it better for today.
Ken: All right Max, now tell me a little bit about La Sirena. And why did you come to Playa del Carmen?
Max: Well, I been living here for two years. I fell in love with Playa del Carmen. I used to live in Cancun, since then I came back here. I invested and we decide to re-open La Sirena.
Ken: Wonderful! So now, what kind of food can you get at La Sirena?
Max: Well, you can find all kinds of sea food, Mediterranean cuisine or Mayan cuisine.
Ken: Perfect, can you bring me some plates and we will take some pictures and some videos.
Ken: All right! So, what is the signature dish – if I want to tell people to come to Playa del Carmen and to go to La Sirena? What should they come to La Sirena for so that when they walk away, they go: WOW, that was fantastic!
Max: The fresh fish.
Ken: Here we go!
Max: It’s fantastic. We receive fresh fish every day. The catch of the day. We don’t have any special for today, we have a sea bass or red snapper. We buy fresh fish every day.
Ken: Oh, that’s awesome!
Max: Yes, it’s great! It’s very good! We can cook it in many ways – we can make it fried or we can cook it in the charcoal or with our recipe of cooking chicken. It’s very good!
Ken: Awesome! Sounds wonderful! and…. is food coming soon?
Ken: OK Max, I see the chef is here, bring us our food, you want to… Oh! OK, a bee! You want to go ahead and describe what he is bringing us?
Max: Yes, of course. Please. This is a sample, so you can see our best dishes.
Ken: Go ahead, Max.
Max: This one is our champion. This one is…. oops!
Ken: Go ahead!
Max: These ones are fish tacos, pastor style. They are the champions. The tacos have pineapple, onion and our special sauce.
Max: This is a fish ceviche, the best selling here – the people’s choice. It’s a fresh tuna tostada (fried tortilla), and it comes with a chipotle mayonnaise (kind of Mexican chile), caramel onion and black sesame seeds. It’s great! And these ones are from Yucatan – the special from the chef. It’s cochinita, which is a homemade (slowly roasted pork). The tortilla is open in the middle and filled up with black beans, cloves…. cooking cochinita takes like… How many hours?
Chef: 5 hours.
Ken: 5 hours, I’m ready to jump in! What’s the chef’s name?
Chef: Ruben Lopez.
Ken: How are you doing Ruben?
Max: He is from Merida.
Ken: He is from Merida. OK, awesome!
Max: From Sisal Puerto in Merida.
Chef: Sisal Puerto, beautiful beach.
Ken: Fantastic. I can’t wait to dig in.
Chef: Please, taste.
Ken: OK, let me start. You said, which one is the best? This one is the best.
Max: This one.
Ken: OK, this is the best. Here we go! Are you ready? Nothing like me eating on camera.
Max: Please enjoy!
Ken: Mmmmm!.. That is…. FANTASTIC! All right. Now we have to shut off the camera so Claudia can come help me finish these. Thank you so much, Max.
Max: Thank you. It’s a pleasure.
Ken: See you very soon. I can’t thank you enough for this great food!
Max: Welcome anytime!
Ken: OK, so now Max brought out another surprise, I was ready to go ….. some more delicious food so… I’m calling people everywhere. Come help, help, help. Fred, help….. So, go ahead, explain what do you brought us.
Max: OK, this is from the dinner menu. This is our favorite. It’s grilled shrimp in tangerine sauce. This is great!
Max: This one is beautiful. It’s a fresh tuna, a fillet from the grill, the way you liked it cooked, with a sauce from tomato, saffron, white wine and champagne. This is a broccoli puree. It‘s delicious. You have to try it.
Ken: I’m going to try. No questions
Max: And this one is one of our fresh fish fillet in a barrio sauce. Barrio sauce includes capers, olives, and fresh tomato. What else, chef?
Max: And olive oil. This is beautiful, very fresh.
Ken: This looks delicious! Oh my God! OK, one more here.
Max: This is beef.
Ken: For the beef people.
Max: Underneath is a portobello mushroom with a fried pepper sauce.
Ken: Oh! Looks incredible!
Max: This is great!
Ken: Fantastic! Thank you again. Max! Looks fantastic!
Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen kicks off an exclusive “Manager Welcome Party” for the guests of El Taj, Maya Villa, Porto Playa and Villas Sacbe. All managers were in attendance for the inauguration of this new special event. Just another reason why to pick Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen for your next vacation destination.
Ken: Hi! I’m Ken Schmidt from Condo Hotels. we have a special treat for our guests tonight, we are doing a free buffet at Indigo beach club and I’m here with our freshly appointed general manager of operations Frederic Bouchard, say hi Fred.
Ken: So later you are going to see some pictures and video of our special event tonight. I’ll be glad to have pictures with Jack and Mark our partners at Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen
Ok, so it started to kick off here at Indigo and the buffet is going and allot of guests eating outside already I’m here with the visionary Jack Perlman and the money man Mark Pompei.
Ken: I’m sitting here with Brenda, she is our guest in Maya Villa. she said that is absolutely wonderful here
Brenda: It’s fantastic
Ken: and she wants to come back for the BPM festival and we are going to invite her back because we had such a great time together and she sitting here eating our free buffet tonight and taking advantage and our manager special.
Brenda: Yes I am, and I took advantage of the breakfast every morning with my girl friends.
Brenda: It’s fabulous.
Girl camera: From where, from where, from where?
Ken: From Maya Villa, she said Maya Villa.
Girl camera: What city?
Brenda: Santa Monica, California
Girl camera: Thank you
Jack: All right, here we are
Ken: All right end of the night it was a great event and a lot of people coming to eat, everybody has full bellies plenty of drinking going on
And we look forward for the next event and so make sure to come stay
Guests of Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen can enjoy the mouth-watering cuisine of local restaurants like Da Gigi, a unique Italian restaurant that incorporates local ingredients into featured dishes, during their stay. Get a taste of Playa del Carmen and stay at any Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen locations for easy access to lively locations and wonderful food!
Ken: Ken, back here again. I got to get my hair cut, and one of the places I get my hair cut is at our Maya Spa, one of our amenities at Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen. I’m going to go inside and Betty is going to cut my hair. She cuts my hair every time I need it, so let’s go on in.
Betty is my favorite, but there’s plenty of people here. She’s making me look pretty.
Are you videoing me getting my hair washed?
Ken: Did a fantastic job on my hair today, and of course the Maya Spa does many other things. You know, nails, and they take care of most of our wedding people who that here to get married. They get their hair done, right, am I correct? They get their hair done, they get their nails done, all that fancy stuff done for the ladies so that you look absolutely spectacular on your wedding day.
Okay, so this is the after shot. I am beautiful again, and I look great for Playa del Carmen thanks to Maya Spa.
On the premier travel blog of Playa del Carmen you will find blogs, videos, photos, and recommendations for the most wonderful places on earth! From exhilarating adventures to luxury hotels, Playa del Carmen is a magical place. As a native Floridian living in paradise, I will help you plan the perfect vacation to Mexico. Let me be your virtual travel guide!