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Beachy jungle vibes stole my heart in Playa Del Carmen

We just got back from our (kidless!!) tropical vacation to Playa Del Carmen and I’m feeling refreshed, inspired and ready to already go back! From exploring the city to the clear blue swimming holes, and the all-inclusive resort, we had a great time. My only complaint? It went by too fast!

I must admit, I didn’t know much about the Yucutàn Peninsula, but I had heard of popular destinations such as Cancùn and Tulum. We flew into Cancùn and shuttled about an hour to Playacar Palace.

Our entire trip spanned Monday through Friday and it was great having the weekend to recover before jumping back into work. Here’s how our trip generally went:

  • Day 1: Mostly travel, dinner and billiards with friends.
  • Day 2: Nothing but pool, sunshine and all the drinks. Tappenyaki dinner.
  • Day 3: Hang out, COVID test mid-day, took it easy rest of the day.
  • Day 4: Breakfast out, strolled around and did some shopping, visited a cenote, went to dinner
  • Day 5: Bright and early we took off — our taxi was waiting at 6:45 a.m.!

It went by too fast but that’s about as long as we can get away with since we left the littles home. It was wonderful to see friends, explore a new place and get some much-needed R&R! Here were the best 5 things about our trip.

My favorite things about our Playa Del Carmen vacation

We didn’t have much of an agenda planned other than some major R&R, endless drinks by the pool and hanging out with friends. Here are some reasons I’m already looking forward to a future visit!

1. Relaxation

Traveling to a tropical all-inclusive resort without kids meant that relaxing was at the top of our non-agenda. And I have to say, being at an all-inclusive resort made that totally possible. We never stressed about where we would eat or what we would do for the day. Most of our days included parking it at the pool and swim up bar drinking never-ending icebergs.

Don’t worry, I didn’t know what that was either before this trip but icebergs are half frozen margarita, half beer. AKA a most delicious poolside bevy.

2. The jungly beach vibes

As we flew into Cancùn, I couldn’t help but get excited over the crystal blue waters and dense jungle forest I saw below. Catching glimpses of homes and buildings tucked under the canopy of trees gave me all the feels. It’s a far cry from the arid desert we call home.

Although I must admit we didn’t spend much time on the actual beach (hello seaweed season), we were beach adjacent in the pool and that was good enough for me. Once we ventured out in the city center, I absolutely fell in love with all of the cute huts and storefronts.

3. Cenotes

Pronounced “se-note-es”, cenotes are a must-see and do while visiting this region. We called it early each night of our vacation (we’re old ok?!) and we happened to catch an episode on the Travel Channel about swimming holes around the world. We watched a couple explore a series of cenotes that was just a 20-minute drive from where we were at that very moment.

We arranged a ride from our hotel and the best part? The driver just parked and waited for us! It was glorious. We checked out Cenote Azùl and it was gorgeous. Right off the freeway, tucked away behind lush vegetation, a refreshing, clear blue oasis awaited us in the jungle.

4. Tree lanterns

Ohhhhhhh the tree lanterns. One of the most enchanting features of the playa and something I have deep, deep regrets over. On our way to the cenote, we saw an amazing streetside store bursting with bundles of artisanal lanterns. I regret so badly not having the driver stop. I have no clue how I would have gotten them home, but that’s besides the point.

While we waited to board our flight, we spent the better part of an hour trying to hunt this storefront down and we found it. No phone number or website, so you know it’s good. Sure, I can find some online, but I’d rather wander through a store and marvel at all the beauty.

5. The food

This is a given, but nothing beats comida authentico from Mexico. As someone who grew up 5 minutes from the Mexican border in Yuma, I miss those street tacos and insane salsa bars. While the resort itself was more of an Americanized version of cuisine, we did venture out for some local spots and they did not disappoint.

While did eat most of our meals at the all-inclusive resort, we did venture out to 3 places for local grub that were good:

  • La Cueva del Chango : this place was in an old bungalow hut type building, fresh ingredients, partially indoor and outdoor and makes you feel all the tropical Old Mexico vibes.
  • El Fogon: This place had caution tape up around the building so you know it was gonna be good. A local told us that’s where “tourists who want to eat like locals” go and honestly, I was ok with that.
  • Las Hijas De La Tostada: Yummy food and nestled right by the open air market so you can get all the exciting action. They took COVID protocols very seriously — to the point where the chips were given to us in little plastic bags but the food was great.

Have you ever been to Playa Del Carmen or swam in any cenotes? I’d love to hear about it!

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