Playa del Carmen

playa

After cutting our visit to Cancún short we headed about an hour south to the former fishing village turned resort town of Playa del Carmen.  Cancún’s tourist area consisted of several kilometers of spectacular beachfront lined with resorts, high-end shopping malls and an array of American themed restaurants and bars.  While strikingly beautiful, the beaches at Cancún are narrow and accessing them without an all-inclusive resort package wristband requires, at times, near mission impossible style maneuvers.  Separated from the town by several kilometers of highway, there is very little about Cancún’s beaches that feels authentically Mexican.

A much more relaxed and enjoyable base from which to explore the Riviera Maya is Playa del Carmen.  Equally beautiful, Playa caters to more than just the spring break crowd.  Here you can still buy your “one tequila, two tequila, three tequila…floor” t-shirt, conduct  all financial transactions in U.S. dollars and speak only English, though your dining options aren’t limited to Hooters or Señor Frog’s and it’s possible to take in a bit of Mexican culture should you so desire.  Our realization that these few resort areas are the most of Mexico that many visitors ever see was disappointing.  Even so, the perfect turquoise water and white sand beaches of the Yucatán are hard to resist. 

Now we’re headed for what will be our last stop in Mexico, the beachfront Maya ruins at Tulum.

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