I want to start a travel guide for every city I visit, so here is hopefully the first of many! I am always looking for the best places to eat and shop, so all the dirty work is already done. Kind of like your little secret pocket book of all the best places in the area! Let’s jump right in…
Typically when I travel to Mexico it’s to an all-inclusive resort. Yes, sure, I love the unlimited food and many things to do while there, but after a few days I start to get antsy. The kind of antsy that I want to get out of the resort and get into the city, eat at the places the locals eat at, and get a feel for the culture there. While it is still possible to do this and stay at a resort, it’s kind of a pain in the ass to book transportation from place to place. Plus, the all inclusive resorts seem to all be in BUFU and not near the locals. This vacation was different. We stayed at a boutique hotel in the middle of downtown Playa and I LOVED it. I was able to walk right out from the hotel and instantly be right in the middle of the town. Yes, please!
First let’s talk about the kind of vacation I’m into so you can see what kind of vacationer I am. Everyone is different when it comes to what they look for in a vacation: relaxation, beaches, history, good eats, excursions, culture, shopping, artitecture, etc. I’m most into relaxation, good eats, culture, and shopping. So my travels typically will be focused on those. While on the other hand, Brennan loves history and excursions so those may be thrown in there from time to time. Let’s be real, you gotta make everyone happy. He would be hype over a vacation full of museums and life-threatening excursions, but thats not my vibe. I am way too much of a chicken and get bored staring at old building, sorry. Sometimes he will venture out and do his own thing for a second and that’s totally fine by me.
For this vacation, we did a bit of everything! In the mornings we would wake up early, get some coffee, and go get a massage on the beach. They were only $20/hr, so we took advantage of that and went a few mornings. Most of the days were spent up on the rooftop pool lounging around, reading, and eating lunch. It was so peaceful and the views were amazing! After a while, we would go shower and get ready to either go venture into town, get dinner, or go on an excursion. We went out on a catamaran one day and went out near a sand bar. It was a blast- we went off the slides from the top of the boat, swam to the sand bar, and cooked out on the grills. So fun, I highly recommend! The boys were all about it and were doing backflips off the boat.
The downtown area was full of hundreds of shops. From local owned trinket/junk shops to Zara, they had it all. One side was more junky barter shops and the other was more of an outdoor mall feel. As you got deeper into downtown, there were super fun and trendy restaurants with some awesome branding (you know I love a good aesthetic). Playa has so many amazing restaurants… I would have loved to stay longer just to try out a few more.
Here are my recommendations:
The Fives Downtown (where we stayed, so good)!
I would also recommend the Thompson Hotel in Playa del Carmen. If we go back I want to try this one!
Get a massage at Inti Beach (only $20/hr!)
Shop the downtown area. Its huge and is miles long!
Relax on the rooftop at PuroBeach, the views are great (get lunch there too, its so good!) We loved coming back up to grab a drink before we headed out for dinner!
Schedule a catamaran excursion (ours went to a sandbar and stayed there for a few hours while they served drinks and cooked dinner). There were plenty of other excursions like snorkeling, swimming with the whale sharks, zip lining if you are into that!
Marley Coffee is a cute coffee shop on one of the corners of Playa that has amazing coffee and baked goods! There are couches and tables to hang for a bit or get some work done. Or take it down to the beach and relax for a bit while you drink your coffee!
PuroBeach is the rooftop of The Fives Downtown and they have a great menu for lunch and dinner. The dessert there is amazing so save room for it!
Yum Yum is a newer restaurant that is to die for! It has mostly Thai and Indian food and I promise you it did not disappoint! The atmosphere is cool and laid back with the perfect aesthetic. Seriously everything we got was so good! The owner of Yum Yum also owns one of the best French restaurants in Playa called Oh LaLa. We didn’t find this out until arriving to Playa, so we weren’t able to get a reservation. The locals said you usually have to call a couple weeks ahead of time to get in. Next time we are for sure booking it!
Venture into the city market area and try all of the food from the local food carts. Everything was amazing and so cheap!
Inti Beach has the BEST margaritas (mango and strawberry were delish)! They are made on a cart right in front of your table or couch (did I mention beachside? Such a relaxing and fun atmosphere! Also, probably some of the best guac i’ve ever had!