Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Playa del Carmen - Riviera Maya

This beautiful region of the Yucatan in Mexico has two major cities. Cancun, the most famous and Playa del Carmen, the most charming. I've been to both and I confess that I prefer the latter. In Cancun everything was made for tourists, it is not a real city. At Playa del Carmen one can really feel Mexico although it's growing fast and losing its essence. At night at Playa del Carmen the immense (more or less 40 blocks long) 5th avenue is the place to be. Dozens of restaurants of different styles and cuisines, a large variety of shops and thousands of people of different nationalities walking around.

This region offers many options for fun, most of them related to water. The exceptions are those related to Mayan culture. There are many amusement parks like Xcaret and Xel-ha with first class facilities and in most of their attractions you will be in contact with water. Diving with dolphins, walking (below?) the sea, swimming or floating in rivers are some of them.

Mayan artcrafts
Last time I was there I went on one tour where I could explore a real cenote, a cave half filled with cold water. Even kids can go on that tour but I found it very different from anything I've experienced before. For the ones who like to dive, Cozumel is the place to go. It's incredible how transparent that water can be.

As an admirer of the Mayan culture I always have been impressed with the pyramids and their stories. Tulum is the easiest to go to, and the more crowded. Coba is more impressive, is emptier and is relatively close to the city. The most impressive of all but it's far (3hrs driving) is Chichen Itza. It's fantastic. To have a guide there is essencial otherwise you will lose a lot only looking at the ruins of Chichen Itza without hearing their incredible stories.

Photos & text: Leonardo Dobbin

Mayan masks
Birds at Playa del Carmen

Mexican hat - sombrero

Stairway at Coba


Crowd floating in a river at Xel-ha


Beach close to Tulum
Mexican musicians