I arrived in Playa del Carmen in February, catching the tail end of Playa’s busy holiday season. There was an energetic vibe in the air as tourists and visitors from all over the globe converged on white sand beaches and tumbled out of waterfront beach bars. Posters for festivals and events were plastered around town, and ‘La Quinta’ was a buzzing hive of activity as stores and restaurants overflowed with happy vacationers.
Now, July has arrived along with warmer temperatures and fewer tourists, but I have to say, I’m enjoying the laid back pace of the off-season. Playa del Carmen is a thriving town, with enough locals to sustain the economy all-year ’round, so the place is far from deserted. It just feels like things have slowed to more chilled out pace, and life is moving along less frenetically.
I have to say, I’m a fan of the off-season, and I don’t think it’ll be long before other people start catching on…
For one thing, accommodation is more affordable, with many special offers and discounts available. Condo Hotels offer some excellent deals this time of year that people would be crazy not to make use of. Savings of up to 45% are not to be scoffed at, and can mean being able to afford the sort of vacation you’ve always dreamed of.
It’s not just accommodation that you can save on, however. Less tourists around town means you can bargain more at the stores along Fifth, and get much better deals on your souvenirs and handicrafts. And don’t worry, bargaining is all part of the shopping culture here, so don’t be afraid to haggle hard for a good deal!
Another gift of the off-season is quieter beaches both in town and along the coast. Visit Xcacel beach south of Playa and you’re almost guaranteed a completely empty patch of sand to relax on; a world away from the commercialism of Cancun further north.
Snorkeling in Akumal bay is a dream in the off-season, with far less tourists occupying the crystal clear waters to observe sea turtles feeding. If you get there early, you may even be the only ones out there, with prime viewing of the majestic creatures.
Mostly, though, I just love strolling the streets in off season, especially around dusk. When the sun drops into the horizon, the sky comes alive in a blaze of orange and pink, it’s the perfect time to be out for an evening stroll. Families gather in the main square, children play in the street, and the local parks host out-door fitness sessions and Zumba classes. It’s great to pull up a bench and watch, or if you’re really game, join in!
There really are so many rewards for visiting Playa in the off-season, I just wonder why the secret hasn’t gotten out yet. From making use of better deals and discounts, to enjoying a slower pace of life, it’s a great time to travel. Of course, the busyness of the peak holiday season can be fun too, but personally, I like this time of year and the relaxed atmosphere it brings. For me, it’s more true to the Mexican way of life; the manana manana lifestyle that helps me slow down and appreciate the simple things in life like the ocean, good food, and beautiful sunsets.