Your flight tickets are ready, your room at Playa Palms Beach Hotel is booked, luggage is packed and you even googled Playa del Carmen and know which places you want to see. In other words, you are all set for your vacation in the Riviera Maya. But there is one more thing you could do that will have a big impact on your trip: learn some useful words in Spanish!
Holbox is a small island, located 8 miles off the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. If you want to spend a day or two far from the crowds, this is the place for you. Candles were replaced with electric light less than 30 years ago and there are no paved streets on the island. Time seems to have its own pace. You come for the remote beaches, breathtaking sunsets, wildlife, and to relax, relax and relax some more!
Swimming with whale sharks is a once in a lifetime experience and the best destination to do so happens to be here!
The Riviera Maya is home to hundreds of resorts, many of them all-inclusive, where the price of your room includes meals, drinks, and entertainment. Many people love traveling this way. However, traveling not all-inclusive, with an accommodation that only includes the room and a breakfast, comes with many advantages too.
All-inclusive doesn’t always mean all-inclusive
As above mentioned, the room rate includes all meals, drinks, and entertainment, what helps to plan the expenses of your vacation ahead. But some extra expenses should be considered, such as tips, and extras like spa treatment or tours. Also, you usually must pay extra for Wi-Fi access in your room. Besides, tours can turn out more expensive, since the travel agents work on commissions.
Staying at a non-all-inclusive, you can wander around and check out the prices for tours from different agents. Since this means more competition, the agents or concierge at the hotel usually offer better prices for tours. At Playa Palms Beach Hotel, you get free Wi-Fi in all the hotel, not only in the lobby but also in your room and even at the beach.
Are you a foodie?
If you’re a big eater, an all-inclusive sure has its perks. Especially if you’re traveling with kids, having all meals included is a big plus. But the quality of the food can vary greatly and sometimes the quantity just can’t make up for it. The dining choices are limited and can be repetitive after a few days. If you decide to go on a tour or visit the nearby town, you end up paying twice, since your meal at the hotel is already paid for.
At a non-all-inclusive on the other hand, you can go and explore the restaurants and bars in the area you are vacationing, eat always what you’re in the mood for and try authentic, local food. At Playa Palms Beach Hotel, you also have the option of staying in to eat, since all our studios feature a kitchenette and the restaurant next door offers serving you dinner right to your room.
Do you want to get to know the real Mexico?
Do you know these people, who rave about how beautiful Mexico is (or wherever they spent their vacation), and how friendly the people… but they’ve never left the resort? Often, it’s the location of the resort, miles from the next town, that prohibits from easily exploring other parts.
Spending your vacation at a non-all-inclusive, you get the chance to see the real Mexico. Staying at Playa Palms Beach Hotel, for example, you are not only directly at the beach, but also in the center of Playa del Carmen, a few steps from the lively 5th Avenue with restaurants, bars, shops, clubs and whatnot. Stay where you like the crowd and explore the area like locals do, discover hidden treasures, swim in cenotes, visit Mayan ruins and hidden beaches!
Do you like to party?
Don’t expect the best nightlife at a resort. They do have bars and usually one or two clubs, but, depending on the resort, they serve rather cheap alcohol. And they are just not as cool as the legendary Playa del Carmen or Cancun nightlife, with many bars, beach bars, and clubs, for example, the famous Cocobongo.
To sum it up, if you like to travel independently, discover the country, its culture, people, and food, you’ll feel more comfortable spending your vacation at a non-all-inclusive hotel.
Your vacation in Playa del Carmen doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are 10 free and low-cost ways to enjoy the spectacular Riviera Maya.
1 5th Avenue
If there is one place in Playa del Carmen that never gets boring, it’s the 5th Avenue. The eclectic pedestrian street is one of the main attractions of the city. 22 blocks of shops, restaurants, bars, and street performers.
Enter an underwater world for only $15 USD! Nature lovers will enjoy the beautifully displayed tanks, exhibiting more than 200 species. The entrance is at the Plaza Corazón, between 12th and 14th Street, just off 5th Avenue. Opening hours are daily from 11 am to 9 pm.
3 Parque Fundadores
This park between the 5th Avenue and the beach, just next to the Cozumel ferry, is a very entertaining place. Watch the famous “voladores de papantla” fly, Mayan dancers performing under the “Portal Maya” statue, or just watch the beautiful Caribbean Sea. There’s also a playground for kids, and vendors sell snacks and fruits.
4 Playacar Ruins
You don’t need to play for a tour or drive far to see Mayan ruins. In Playacar, about 20 – 30 walking minutes from Playa Palms Beach Hotel, there are 2 small Mayan structures. The ruins are close to the entrance of Phase 1 in Playacar, across the street from the Fisherman’s Village Hotel. And the best thing is, you can visit them for free!
Did you know you can go to Cancun for as little as 36 pesos one way? That’s what a colectivo charges you. They leave from 2nd Street on the corner with 20th Street and between 20th and 25th Avenue (these are called Playa Express) and leave whenever they are full, usually every 15-20 minutes.
If you don’t want to eat at an expensive restaurant, we recommend you walk further away from 5th Avenue. Between 10th and 30th Avenue you find plenty of places! Try for example Nativo on 30th Avenue between Constituyentes and 20th Street.
7 Playacar Beach
Playacar has beautiful beaches, which usually are less crowded than the ones downtown. You can easily get there by taxi or walking, just pass the ferry to Cozumel.
There are also colectivos that bring you to Tulum, for about 40 pesos one way. They leave from the 2nd Street too, between 15th and 20th Street. Just listen to the guy shouting “Tulum! Tulum!”. They also take you to the ruins, if you don’t want to take a tour.
Just outside of Playa del Carmen are 3 gorgeous open cenotes next to each other: Cenote Azul, Cristalino and Jardin del Edén. Enjoy swimming in their crystal clear, cool water! Entrance fee is between 100 – 150 pesos, and they are open until 6 pm. You can take the colectivo to Tulum to get there, just let the driver know that you want to get off at Cenote Azul.
10 Laguna Yal-ku
This beautiful little lagoon in Akumal makes for a unique snorkeling adventure as well as for a relaxing afternoon in its calm waters. It’s an inlet from the ocean, where the salt and fresh water mix. Watch sea turtles, tropical fish and manta rays in their natural habitat! Entrance fee is 200 pesos (130 for kids), and they are open from 8 am to 5 pm every day.