Xcaret Eco Park is one of our guests’ favorite places to visit during their Playa del Carmen vacation. The huge park is like a mini-Mexico, representing the country’s vast culture, history, and nature. Here’s an overview of Xcaret’s best attractions.
A vacation in Playa del Carmen would not be complete without lying at the beach and devouring a book. Your first choice might be to bring the latest New York Times bestseller. But why not read a novel set in Playa del Carmen or one about the Mexican culture? It will give you just that more appreciation about life here. From easy reads to historical fiction, here are our top picks for the best books on Mexico and the Riviera Maya.
Every culture has a different way of dealing with death. Mexico’s way, besides of being known worldwide, sure is the most colorful and joyful.
In pre-Columbian times, death didn’t have the moral connotation it has today. The indigenous didn’t believe in paradise or hell. Instead, death was the beginning of a journey to the underworld, and depending when or how someone died, they would travel to different places. The deceased were buried with objects they’d need on their journeys, sometimes even with their pets to accompany them. After the Spanish conquest, the indigenous beliefs merged with catholic customs, which resulted in a very special way of Catholicism in the Americas.
El Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is such a product of the syncretism of pre-Colombian, indigenous culture with the catholic religion, brought by the Spaniards. It’s celebrated from October 31 to November 2, which coincides with All Soul’s and All Saint’s Day. October 31 until November 1 is dedicated to the children, while November 2 is dedicated to the adults. During these days, the living and the dead are joined. It’s believed that the deceased come back to earth, to spend the day with their families and to comfort them. Altars are prepared, with food and offerings, ofrendas, for the deceased and their graves are visited and decorated. Some families have proper picnics on the graveyard, hiring even mariachis. Children’s graves are often decorated with colorful garlands and balloons.
The most prominent feature in the Day of the Dead celebrations is the altar, since it shows the souls the way to their homes. Families build their altars on the days leading to October 31. It’s usually arranged on a table top or from stacks of crates and draped with table cloth. The altars can be very sophisticated, or simple – but they all contain the same basic ofrendas:
- An image of the deceased – so they recognize their altar.
- A crucifix
- Copal and incense. Copal is said to purify and clean the house from bad energies, while incense sanctifies it.
- Papel picado, perforated, colorful paper, to decorate the altar and remind of the cheerfulness of this festivity.
- Candles are lit, one for each deceased, to light their way.
- Water, because they arrive thirsty from the long journey.
- Salt is said to purify the souls.
- Flowers, traditionally Cempasúchitl, its strong smell guides the soul towards the altar. Some people also display a path from the door or the window to the altar.
- Skulls, mostly made of sugar, symbolizing death and the afterlife.
- Food, since the souls arrive hungry. It’s part traditional food, like tamales or mole and seasonal fruits, but also any kind of food they liked.
- Pan de muerto, a sweet bread decorated with bone shaped pieces, as a representation of the Eucharist.
- Alcohol, usually tequila, or whatever the deceased’s favorite drink was.
- Personal objects, like for example books if they loved to read, or toys for children.
The Day of the Dead, is celebrated in several Latin American countries, but nowhere as extensive as in Mexico.It’s a beautiful way to commemorate our deceased, where death isn’t seen with contempt, but simply understood as a part of life, and cherished as such. Day of the Dead truly is rather a celebration of life – instead of mourning our loved ones they are remembered with joy and love.
If you’re staying at Playa Palms Beach Hotel check our out our beautiful altar!
One of the first things that come to mind when you think of Mexico is the Mariachi music. With its beautifully dressed musicians playing this oh so very Mexican music. Mariachi is indeed such a fundamental element of the Mexican culture that in 2011 UNESCO inscribed it on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
This traditional Mexican music style is a result of indigenous music mixed with European and African influences. Its Mexican origins lie in Western Mexico, probably in the state of Jalisco. Originally Mariachis played only string instruments, and the trumpet, today an established component, was added until later. Still, the most remarkable instrument remained the guitarrón, a large, deep-bodied acoustic bass that’s solely played by Mariachis.
Initially Mariachis were associated with the rural lower class, since mostly ranch workers played this kind of music. In the early 1900 however, they began to gain acceptance in the upper class. Around the same time Mariachis started dressing in the particular black or white charro suits they are famous for today: a short jacket and high tight pants, both often with silver decorations, and a wide-brimmed sombrero. Women sometimes use a long skirt instead, with the same decorations.
In almost every city in Mexico you see them playing in restaurants and bars, serenading a señorita on her birthday, or waiting in a plaza for someone to hire them. They are the heart and soul of any real Mexican celebration. As anywhere in Mexico, also in Playa del Carmen Mariachis are often hired for weddings.
If you want to make your Mexico vacation real Mexican, you definitely can’t miss a Mariachi concert. We checked out the best places to listen to Mariachi music in Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya:
If you want to taste, listen and experience Mexico in the Riviera Maya, this is the place to go. Board one of the traditional trajineras, some kind of gondolas. You will be served Mexican dishes and Tequila while you listen to Mariachis play. At latest after the second Tequila you feel like dancing along.
2 5th Avenue
As you stroll along the 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen at night, you’ll sure stumble over some fancy dressed Mariachis playing outside a restaurant or on the street.
3 La Parilla
One of the most typical Mexican restaurants in Playa del Carmen, from the food they serve, to the decoration to the music. Every evening at 8 pm they have Mariachis play. On Constituyentes between Avenues 5 and 1.
4 Mi Pueblo
Taste authentic Mexican delicacies prepared in the open style kitchen while you sing along with the Mariachis. On the 5th Avenue with Street 8.
Are you planning your destination wedding and feel like Mariachis are a must? Contact us, we at Playa Palms Beach Hotel are happy to make your dream come true.
Join the party! Here is where you’ll have the best time in Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Independence Day and how to celebrate it.
September 16 is one of Mexico’s most significant public holidays: Independence Day. Entire cities are decorated in the national colors green, white and red. On the night before, the colorful and blithe celebrations begin with lots and lots of parties and fireworks. But what is it exactly about?
In the year 1810, early in the morning of September 16 to be exact, Miguel Hidalgo put into words what every Mexican was feeling: That they’ve had enough of the Spaniards. That their government wasn’t taking care of things the way it’s supposed to. Miguel Hidalgo was a priest in a town called Dolores, in the state of Guanajuato in North-Central Mexico. It’s said that on that day he rang the bell of his church to gather his parishioners. In a fiery speech he motivated them to finally stand up against the unwanted Head of State. He called for redistribution of land and racial equality. It caused a revolt that within a short time turned into a war that lasted for 11 years until Spain acknowledged Mexico’s independence.
September 16 is now a national holiday, and Hidalgo’s Cry for Independence is commemorated on September 15. At 11 pm the nation’s president steps out on the National Palace’s balcony in Mexico City to ring the original bell, what marks the beginning of the ceremony of El Grito de Dolores. He then shouts the names of the most important heroes of the War of Independence and ends by shouting 3 times Viva México! What is answered by the crowd shouting Viva! He then rings the bell again and waves the Mexican flag. And the fireworks start. A similar celebration occurs at the zócalo in cities all over Mexico, and in Mexican embassies around the world.
Of course, there are also a lot of places to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day in Playa del Carmen. It’s a very fun time to be around and you should definitely visit one of these places:
Playa Palms Beach Hotel – Experience Mexico
At Playa Palms Beach Hotel we celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day with a special surprise for our guests. Make sure to pass by our front desk if you’re staying with us! If you’re not a big fan of huge crowds, enjoy the fireworks from your balcony.
La Parilla – Eat Mexican
Start your evening with a Mexican dish at La Parilla, just two blocks from Playa Palms Beach Hotel. Traditionally you eat Chiles en nogada on this day, chile poblano stuffed with meat and dried fruit and topped with a walnut-based cream sauce with pomegranate seeds. Another traditional dish is Pozole, a soupy stew based on white corn kernel and meat.
Plaza 28 de Julio – Be Mexican
The park in front of Playa del Carmen’s City Hall is where Playa del Carmen commemorates El Grito. Expect a huge crowd! Be part of it and feel more Mexican than ever. (On Avenue 15 between Streets 8 and 10)
12th Street – Celebrate like a Mexican
Just around the corner of Playa Palms Beach Hotel, all the 12th street will be filled with cheering and partying people. If you want a very Playa del Carmen version of El Grito, be at La Vaquita. The Grito will be broadcast live from Mexico City and you are in the middle of the party already!
5th Avenue – Take away Mexico
Stroll along the 5th Avenue and cheer along with the crowd. Or stock up on patriotic souvenirs that are sold throughout the month and admire the colorful decorations.
Canibal Royal – Party like a Mexican
Celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day on the beach at the Independanza Festival. Doors open at 3 pm with famous DJs such as WhoMadeWho and Rob Garza of The Thievery Corporation.
¡Feliz Día de Independencia! Happy Independence Day!