After our 4 days in Tulum, we drove back up the coast a little ways to Playa del Carmen. It definitely has a charm of it’s own, and it’s not as touristy as Cancun, but much more so than Tulum.
We decided to make our trek out to the Ek Balam ruins and cenote “on the way” to Playa. It was a lot of driving, and not much to look at on the way, but the ruins were amazing, and they’re the only ones you can actually climb on anymore, and there’s also a cenote on the property that you can swim in or zip line across.
To note: make sure you have change with you for tolls on the highway. We didn’t come across any from Tulum to the ruins, but we did from the ruins to Playa del Carmen. (2 hour drive between each).
Since we didn’t stay on the beach in Tulum, we wanted to be near the water in Playa. We booked The Carmen Hotel through Hotel Tonight. Hotel Tonight is a great option if you’re ok with doing things a little last minute (not sponsored) – the only issue I had with it was the resort fee was not included in the quoted price, and at that hotel it was pretty steep – on top of the room rate.
It was a fun hotel – very funky and modern with a party vibe up at the pool. The best part was that it was right on the beach and had chairs reserved for hotel guests, but I’m not sure I would go out of my way to stay there again. We were right next to the Thompson Beach Hotel, which looked beautiful.
There is some great food to be had in Playa. I think that’s my favorite thing to do in Mexico; eat all the fresh Mexican food.
El Fogon – a few blocks away from the beach – great for lunch and their al pastor! (also right across the street from a supermarket if you want bottled water, etc.)
Playa Maya – hotel right next to The Carmen – we cheated and laid on our hotel’s side of the beach and then snuck over to Playa Maya for lunch. The guacamole is a must and the ceviche was incredible – but split it between at least 2 people; portions were very large.
Catch at the Thompson – one of the most beautiful rooftops I’ve ever been on – I would love to stay here next time. The bar is gorgeous, and right next to the pool. We had a sampling of the food, which was very good. The only thing that could be improved was the service.
Trattoria del Centro – small, family-owned Italian restaurant, with incredible, fresh pasta. Very friendly service, and just past the hustle and bustle down a quieter side street.
Axiote – this was a fun restaurant, also a little off the beaten path. I had tacos, which were fresh of course and very tasty, and if you’re feeling adventurous, they have things like guacamole with grasshoppers!
Nau – on the gourmet side of things with great food and wine, but the real highlight were their truffles. They had just started selling them when we were there and we almost went back for them the next night.
Things we wanted to do, but didn’t quite get there:
Cozumel – the island you can see off the coast of Playa. Easy to take a ferry and explore for the day.
Xplor & Xcaret – between Playa del Carmen and Tulum (closer to Playa I think). They’re amusement parks of sorts. Xplor zip lines through the jungle, canoeing, and apparently a really good buffet. There is also an option to go at night, which could be really fun. Xcaret is a more natural setting with snorkeling and things like that.
Cenotes – Gran Cenote and one called “Car Wash” came highly recommended, but we didn’t make it there.
Coba – other ruins I wish we’d seen.
What I Wore:
Black one-piece bathing suit: Here and Here
High-Waist denim shorts: Here and Here
High-Top Converse: Here
Black Two-Piece: Top, Bottom
Red Two-Piece: Top: Here and Here, Bottom: Here and Here
Tie-Dye Leather Wrap: Here
Yellow Dress: Here
And a special hat’s off to my amazing friend and stand-in photog on the trip, Miss Jamie Herrick.