Playa del Carmen
It’s been a busy year for us, and we sadly missed our annual trip to Kauai. In need of a beach getaway, Greg and I decided to try something new by going to the Yucatan peninsula. Greg had already been to Mexico with friends earlier this year. I on the other hand, hadn’t been to Mexico since I was a really young. It seemed like this was the best time to try something different by heading to Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
I never did the college spring break excursion to Mexico, so this was truly a new experience for me. And while Mexico is so close to us here in California, going there truly felt like new country. While Chicago had a ton of planning, we had a lot less plans for Mexico. Our biggest plan while being there was doing a little bit of sightseeing and a lot of relaxing.
We also did a day trip to Tulum, in addition to getting around to some of Quintana Roo’s sights. Despite the exhaustive heat and humidity, we managed to accomplish a lot in the short time we ventured outside our resort. Our resort, the Andaz Mayakoba, was beautiful and offered us a ton of beautiful pools and beaches.
After an early morning flight, we landed in Cancun and spent time getting to Playa del Carmen. After about 40 minutes in our rental car, we arrived. The Andaz really did an amazing job preserving a lot of the mangroves and forests that are native to the area. Like any weary traveller, we were starving. We headed over to OllaTaco within the resort for some much needed fuel. Nothing says Welcome to Mexico like some delicious fish tacos!
After doing a little bit more relaxing and scoping out the resort, we decided to head in to downtown PDC for dinner and walking around. The beachfront area has definitely the most foot traffic with restaurants and tourist souvenir shops aplenty. We walked up and down the main drag, mostly checking out what was good. Ultimately, hunger struck again and we set off for dinner.
As a native Californian, I’ve had a lot of Mexican food. I never really did a ton of adventuring on Mexican menus, mostly sticking with things I was familiar with. Tacos and burritos are the obvious, but what about something new? Like say, aguachiles. While the dish is native to Sinaloa, it was certainly the first time I had ever had ever heard of it. Los Aguachiles was a place Greg pinned on our must-eat map, and I’m so glad he did. Marinated raw shrimp and octopus in lime, red onion, and cucumber, the margin for error here was small.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting the heat in Mexico. I’m not sure what I should have been expecting, but it wasn’t this. It was just straight hot and humid. To fight the humidity and heat, Greg and I sought out reprieve in some ice cream. Ice cream, as it seems, is everywhere in Playa del Carmen. Ah Cacao had some quick ice cream options and we were more than happy to try them!
By that point, we were both exhausted from both the heat and the day. We made our way back to our hotel room and some amazing air conditioning.
After getting a quick workout in at the hotel gym, we headed to Cocina Milagro for breakfast. The breakfast here was amazing with an incredible blend of both Western and Mexican breakfast options. Throughout the rest of our stay, we would come back for breakfast each time and try new things! Greg would get whatever Mexican inspired item was on the buffet, and I would try different Mexican pastries. An amazing assortment to be honest! We both loaded up on breakfast since our excursion out to Tulum meant it’d be awhile until our next meal.
Jarden del Eden cenote
One of the big things that everyone says to do in PDC and Tulum is to visit the cenotes. What are essentially large watering holes that are filled with both fresh and saltwater, cenotes are popular places for both locals and tourists. On our way to Tulum, we stopped off at one that seemed to be pretty popular and not nearly as crowded. Jarden del Eden cenote was everything pictures show it to be. Unfortunately, it rained a little bit, and the clouds made it hard to enjoy the cenote. Nonetheless, it was still beautiful! I did a brave thing and jumped off a platform into the cenote, all caught on video and seen on my Instagram (@lisaguadzuka).
Despite getting chewed up by mosquitos and bogged down in some rain, we had a great time seeing the cenote. We set off for Tulum in search of more adventure and eats! I’ve got a separate blog post for Tulum since we did so much and saw so much albeit in a short timeframe. We got back late from our travels after Tulum. I can tell you this much, I was never so happy to take a shower.
Day 3 started off again with another hotel gym workout. After the gym, it was some green juice and breakfast at Cocina Milagro.
From that point on, there was a lot of nothing on the docket. And I couldn’t be more happy with that. Because I got to do a lot of catching up on reading and my tan.
I normally choose chicken in my tacos. But after hearing Greg endlessly about the tacos al carbon at El Fogon in downtown Playa del Carmen, we had to check it out. After days of luxurious eating, having a solid cheap meal was well in order. The tacos we had came out to about a dollar each. This basically meant that water was going to be more expensive, and my mango agua fresca was worth at least three tacos. But I digress, the tacos. The chorizo and al carbon tacos were probably some of the best eats we had in PDC. The chorizo taco was probably one of the best tacos I’ve had ever.
And of course, what’s another dinner without some dessert. We stopped off at the local sorbet/ice cream shop Aldo’s for a quick scoop. I finally got something that’s tropical with passionfruit and it was incredibly refreshing.
Our last full day in Playa del Carmen started off the same as the other days. Gym workout in the early morning, breakfast following that at Cocina Milagro. We had originally planned to go see more ruins. But after yesterday’s sunburn and my bites increasing by the minute, we decided against it. Instead, I sent myself to the spa to get a massage while Greg busied himself with some reading and relaxing. We did a lot of milling around before deciding to go on the resort’s eco-cruise in the afternoon. Because the resort is located inside a lagoon, there are a number of birds and animals that live in it. The cruise took us through all of the other resort properties in the lagoon, and we saw some amazing birds. But of course, nothing could beat the crocodile we saw. Sure it was a little one, but still cool nonetheless!
Our last dinner was meant to be at another restaurant that was outside of our resort. We saw that our reservation had been canceled, so we had to scramble to make new plans. We ended up going to the Fairmont’s Asian-Latin restaurant, El Puerto. Not knowing how good this would be, we ordered a few starters and shared plates. In the end, everything we had was delicious, particularly the chicken empanadas and the duck and shrimp fried rice.
It was definitely sad having to pack everything up to go home, but I think we both were ready to come back. We missed Kohi, and we missed the comforts of being home. I would definitely would go back to Playa del Carmen, especially to sit under an umbrella at the beach!