From my short time in Mexico I have learnt one thing – that it is a country of opposites. On one hand you have the vivacious nightlife. Despite this being as touristy as you can get, it’s a good opportunity to let go and enjoy as many cocktails as you can handle (you’re on holiday you deserve it!). On the other hand, and after you have rested that hangover. Mexico offers sensational white beaches and clear oceans protected by palm trees for you to lounge under. If that wasn’t enough it’s also soaking in years and years of Mayan history. Nope, Mexico is not a place that is going to bore you.
I started my journey around Central America in the sun seekers paradise of Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. The first place I was told to go was Fifth Avenue, as this is the main area. The entire street is lined with bars, restaurants, another bar and gift shops. It reminded me of those old children’s cartoons, where two characters would be running and the background would move behind them and keep repeating itself. There are people stood outside each of their establishments trying to get you inside, which I find annoying but that’s typical of any holiday destination.
Fifth Avenue is really great for food. You could spend an entire two week holiday eating there and still go to a different restaurant each night. For our first meal we went to an Italian and got pizza with ceaser salad, which was not needed because it came in a massive bowl! We couldn’t even finish it all. The prices were surprisingly cheap for a restaurant overlooking the strip. Fifth Avenue is also for you if you enjoy bars and nightlife. There’s loud music blaring out and it’s a very vibrant atmosphere. Things don’t seem to get out of hand either, we were on the street quite late (around 11pm) and families were still walking around with their children. I think it’s perfect for those holidays where you just want to relax and enjoy the food and drink – or drinks!
(Photo Credit: Megan Lurkins)
Despite Playa Del Carmen being the centre of all things tourist it also has very good connections to other places worth a visit. It is just a boat ride to the island of Cozumel, which is famous for its diving and snorkelling activities – you can even go swimming with dolphins! We decided to hop onto a ‘collectivo’ which is kind of bus/taxi hybrid. When you are close to your destination you tell the driver you want him to stop, or pray that a local is getting off at the same place. We actually wanted to go somewhere else but ended up in Tulum as a means of poor communication between us and the driver. We weren’t disappointed however because we had arrived at another paradise.
Tulum is a famous Mayan site. When you arrive you are heckled by a number of people at information stands. After that you stand at the entrance of the famous Tulum ruins. They are worth a visit if you are just staying in the Tulum/Playa Del Carmen area. However, we were visiting other places in Central America so we were saving our Mayan ruin fix for then. It is approximately 35-40pesos to enter the ruins so it’s not even that expensive for you to get a real insight into the history of the place you’re staying. Through the flashing lights and loud music of the tourist strip it’s hard to imagine what was there before. I feel that it’s important to experience some culture of the country you’re visiting.
We wondered down the path to Tulum beach. Here we enjoyed a meal on the beachfront before finding a more private place to dump our stuff. Before I went to Mexico people told me that the sea isn’t cold when you first step in. I didn’t believe them so I got changed and raced down the beach. I wasn’t disappointed the water was so warm and clear, it was like being in a bath, nothing like I had experienced back in Europe. After I got bored of swimming I just sat in the water for about half an hour letting the waves push me back to shore, completely relaxed in paradise!
Playa Del Carmen is a perfect location for a number of reasons. The first being Fifth Avenue, if you’re only going to stay in that area then it has everything for you, both the atmosphere and the shopping. If you’re wanting to go further afield then Playa Del Carmen is in the best location as it is a short ride from places such as Cozumel, Akumal and Tulum. Try to be brave and take the Collectivo instead of a taxi! Aqui Senor Aqui!