Why Are So Many People Who Travel To Playa del Carmen Repeat Visitors?

Playa del Carmen has earned the moniker “The heart of the Riviera Maya” and rightly so! For centuries, this area was simply a mid-point supply post for Mayan traders, who transported goods back and forth from ancient mainland cities to the island of Cozumel. Years later, only a few families remained and settled in the region.

In its early years, Playa del Carmen was a secluded, undeveloped fishing village, shrouded by dense jungle. It wasn’t until the early 1960’s that word began to spread about this virtually undiscovered paradise. Thanks to Jacques Cousteau’s documentary on the Great Mayan Reef, (the world’s second largest barrier reef) Cozumel became recognized as one of the top dive sites on the planet. Soon thereafter,  cruiseship tourists and dive enthusiasts from quaint island began broadening their explorers’ radar out towards nearby Playa del Carmen. A few short years later, the sleepy, seaside village emerged as a globally recognized tropical playground.

Cozumel became a prominent Caribbean port-of-call for cruiseships and thousands of travelers each year sailed across the turquoise waters on day trips, to visit the pristine beaches of Playa del Carmen. In the past fifty years, the once sleepy fishing village has morphed into a bustling, multi-cultural city in the center of the magical Mayan Riviera.

The history and culture of Playa del Carmen derive mainly from the region’s deep-seated Maya heritage. Throughout the area, preserved remnants of magnificent stone structures in the forms of pyramids, stadiums and astrological observation towers still stand. Recipes passed down from Mayan ancestors are present day menu items woven into the city’s impressive gastronomy scene. Annual festivals are held to celebrate and sustain the sacred customs and traditions of this fascinating indigenous civilization.

Two of the most popular celebrations that take place each year near Playa del Carmen are the Sacred Mayan Journey and the Spring and Fall Equinox at Chichén Itza. The sacred journey begins on the shores of Xcaret park and continues seven hours, as rowers paddle Mayan canoes across the Caribbean Sea to the island of Cozumel. The reenactment of this arduous crossing happens each year in May. Participants honor those who made this momentous pilgrimage to convene with and give thanks to their gods, principally Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of fertility.

The awe-inspiring, twice anual equinox spectacles at the ancient ruin site, Chichén Itza, draw spectators from around the world. In the late afternoon, as the sun descends, it casts a shadow on the side of the pyramid, El Castillo. It appears that a giant snake slithers down until it joins a massive, carved serpant’s head at the base of the notable structure. Witnesses of this phenomenon continue to be marveled year after year by the ingenious creation of these early expert mathmeticians and astrologists.

In the summer of 2015, El Teatro De La Cuidad, Playa del Carmen’s modern performing arts theatre, opened its doors to much fanfare. The community has since enjoyed riveting live performances including ballets, folkloric cultural dances, and plays. For a schedule of upcoming events, visit www.facebook.com/teatroplayadelcarmen.

Nearly one thousand restaurants line the effervescent streets of Playa del Carmen. The influence of a large expatriote community has produced hundreds of extraordianry eateries serving an abundance of options for international cuisine. Whatever you have a hankering for, Playa del Carmen is sure to rise to the challenge to satisfy your tastebuds. Whether it be an Argentinian sausage wrapped in fresh, warm bread, an Italian pizza with a robust tomato sauce, an Asian-inspired wok or sushi roll, a Greek souvlaki, a Pad Thai, an Indian curry, or a vegan dish, visitors will be impressed by the plethora of choices.

When in Rome… or Mexico rather, authentic dishes such as enchiladas, aracherra, pozole, tacos al pastor and chile rellenos are a must! Along the charming, cobblestone 5th Avenue, Yaxche (Mayan cuisine), La Parrilla (live mariachi performances), and Aldea Corozon offer some exquisite national favorites. Other options for delectable Mexican cuisine throughout the city include La Cueva del Chango, Nativo, El Fagon for tacos al pastor, and Doña Paula for pozole (look for the blue exterior on Calle 6 and 15th Avenue.)

Since the city sits on the breathtaking Caribbean shores, there is never a shortage of sumptuous ‘catches of the day.’ From casual to fine dining, Playa offers top-notch seafood selections prepared by nationally and world-renowned chefs. Foodies travel from far and wide to savor a taste of the gastronomy scene in Mexico’s youngest and fastest growing city. Allow your palate to explore the unique flavors and exotic essence of the rich regional fare, but proceed with caution when the server places a fresh batch of habanero salsa in front of you! This spicy  Mexican sauce is not for amateurs! Buen provecho!

The most intiguing quality of the Mexican culture is the warmth of the country’s people. There is a deep appreciation for family, children and friends. If there is any occasion, big or small, from baptisms to quinzcenieras, (our version of a sweet 16, but in this case the child is 15) Mexicans never pass up an opportunity to affectionately join together with music and much laughter.

In addition to pleasant countrymen, Playa del Carmen has a diverse and very social expat community. Whether you are in town for a week, a month or a year, there are several manners by which to meet people and form budding friendships. From the multitude of gyms, yoga studios, classes, dive centers, paddle board and meetup groups, the young city’s hospitable nature encourages singles, couples and families alike to unite to enjoy the boundless treasures of this magical region.

Many of the friendly residents speak some English, but if all else fails, charades and a good translator app can come in handy! Strike up a conversation. Keep and open mind. Try learning a few key Spanish phrases. The more travelers are willing to delve into the culture, the more meaningful and memorable the experience will be.

Speaking of memorable experiences, this fascinating area provides limitless entertainmaint options. From unforgettable, natural beauty to mesmerizing cultural performances, a pulsating nightlife including world-renowned music festivals to exquisite gastronomy, Playa del Carmen is continuously transforming into a highly acclaimed vacation destination.

Head off the beaten path to discover scenic, cool oases, otherwise known as cenotes. Formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock, thousands of these extraordinary freshwater swimming holes speckle the entire Yucatan Peninisula. Many of the private cenotes have snorkel and life jacket rentals included in an entrance fee, usually from $60-$100 Mxn Pesos. Larger cenotes parks such as Kantun chi and Rio Secreto charge a higher admittance fee, but visitors have the opportunity to explore the properties’ multiple cenotes and caves.

For over one hundred kilometers, the magnificent Mayan Riviera shores border breathtaking, translucent waters. The alabaster sand attracts millions of tourists each year, who come to wet their feet in the warm Caribbean waters and soak up the over three hundred days of sunshine.

Glass-like turquoise waters invite early morning paddle boarders to glide across the sea. Kite surfers, sail boat captains and catamaran excursionists take advantage of the sea breezes as they skim atop the rolling waves. Sport fishermen crews set out for their catches of the day. Twenty-somethings, honeymooners and retirees sip cocktails under thatched-roof palapas, while families frolic in the sand and surf from dawn to dusk.

Within forty five minutes of Playa del Carmen are several adventure parks which each offer unique ways to experience the sublime beauty of the region. Xcaret, located just five minutes South of Playa, is one of the largest eco-parks in the region. Visitors can float along an emerald river through caves, snorkel, observe hundreds of species of animals, marine life and butterflies, as well as witness one of Mexico’s most engaging cultural performances.

Xelha invites guests to take an exhilerating journey through lush jungle paths by bike, zip car or fastened to a rappel. Explore the warm tropical waters and colorful ocean creatures during a Snuba tour, cliff jump into the ‘Lazy River’ and create priceless moments at Children’s World with its Flinstone-like water slides, lily pads and elevated bridge obstacle course.

Another all-inclusive park which presents endless family fun is Xplor, the zipline park located just outside of Playa del Carmen. Xplor boasts fourteen of the highest zip lines in the Mayan Riviera which run over hundreds of feet of verdant jungle canopy. Adventurers can paddle on rafts over cool, crystalline waters and behind waterfalls, discover incredible rock formations, drive amphibious vehicles through caves and view stalactites and stalagmites that leave one in awe.

A guided tour through Go Natives Park takes ATV riding enthusiasts over the fascinating terrain of the Yucatan Peninsula. Discover Mayan ruins, caves, cenotes, and meet with a Mayan woman to learn of her heritage and deep-rooted customs.

For a taste of true Mexican nightlife in a unique setting, climb aboard the colorfully decorated, illuminated trajineras in Xoximilco. While floating along the area’s many canals in wide, flat canoes, guests will become absorbed by the classic Mariachi music, sample authentic regional dishes, and drink, well, tequila of course!

Several tour companies in the area offer package tours in which you can combine two or three excursions in one. Some also give the option of customizing a tour itinerary for their clients. To give you an idea of available tour choices and prices, you can visit Paradise Transfers and Tours, Xcaret Experiences, Alltournative,  Playa del Carmen Tours, or Wow Excursions.

Sailing, fishing, yaghting,

Golfing

History

Culture

Safety

The U.S. Passports and International Travel Department declares that there is no travel advisory in effect in the state of Quintana Roo. http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/mexico-travel-warning.html

In a statistical comparison provided by numbeo.com, when comparing Playa del Carmen to other countries, people feel as safe or safer than in other cities such as Vancouver, Canada, Seattle, Washington or Houston, Texas in the United States.

http://www.numbeo.com/crime/compare_cities.jsp?country1=Mexico&country2=Canada&city1=Playa+del+Carmen&city2=Vancouver

All You Need To Know About Grocery Shopping In Playa del Carmen

I remember the good ol’ days, when we first arrived in Playa del Carmen. On a cultural mission to test out the waters, (literally: those glistening, turquoise waters… ahhhhh) our family wished to understand and partake in Mexican traditions, to live the beach life for a year or so, and to learn Spanish. I imagined that by immersing myself into the community, I would be completely fluent in a couple of months. Four glorious years have come and gone. Yet, there are still times when my brain feels as though it’s being squeezed in a vice, as I attempt to form a proper sentence or to remember the correct Spanish word.

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Grocery shopping in those initial months was particularly excruciating! I bought the necessities and prayed that the cashier would say nothing more than ‘Buenos Dias’. The greeting I could handle, but beyond that, he could have spoken Martian and I would have understood as much. Embarrassingly for me, more questions similar to “Tiene usted una tarjeta de puntos?’ (Do you have a points/rewards card?) or ‘Le gustaría donar?’ (Would you like to make a donation?) would leave me with a blank stare and flushed cheeks.

Fortunately, I can now understand enough Spanish and reply to these questions (in my very best spanglish). However,  for visitors who are new to the area and to the language, a simple trip to a Mexican supermarket can result in utter frustration.  For this reason, we have compiled some helpful suggestions and tools intended to alleviate some of the stress that may occur when navigating through a grocery store in Playa del Carmen.

Grocery Store Jargon

Translator apps can save some anguish when traveling in a foreign country. Two helpful offline apps used for quick translation are Yocoy: Intelligent Translator and WayGo. If you have a Wifi connection, Itranslate and Google Translate can help to make your experience more pleasant. But just for fun, here is a short list of common words you can keep in mind that will serve you well when perusing the grocery superstores.

Leche- Milk Huevos – Eggs Queso – Cheese Sour Cream – Crema
Pan – Bread Pescado – Fish Carne- Meat Cerdo – Pork
Camaron – Shrimp Pollo – Chicken Jamon – Ham Res- Beef
Cebolla- Onion Ajo- Garlic Lechuga – Lettuce Arroz – Rice
Sal – Salt Pimiento – Pepper Café – Coffee Platano – Banana
Manzana- Apple Naranja – Orange Agua – Water Mantequilla- Butter
Azucar – Sugar Harina – Flour Galletas – Crackers/cookies Papel Higienico- Toilet Paper
Efectivo – Cash Cambio – Change Tarjeta – Card Firma – Signature

Where To Find Food Products In Playa del Carmen

The gorgeous variety of vibrant, exotic fruit is as abundant as the ‘fruterias’ (produce markets) in Playa del Carmen. These corner stores often have fresh cut, multi-colored fruit salads for your convenience or delicious blends of freshly squeezed concoctions, such as carrot and orange, beet or vitamin-packed green juices.

Dac on 30 Avenue, between Constituyentes and Calle 20 offers quality fruits, vegetables and an assortment of international grocery products. If you are willing to venture out of the way somewhat, Pasca Deli on Constituyentes between 70 and 75 Avenue in the Ejidal is an excellent source of hard to find international items, baking supplies and quality food products.

Dac Produce Market
Dac Produce Market

For more selection, there are several superstores around the city including Walmart, (30 Avenue and Calle 10) Comercial Mexican, (30 Avenue and Constituyentes), Chedraui (45 Avenue and Calle 2 Sur) and Soriana (in the Centro Maya Mall on the South end of town or on 30 Avenue, between Calle 38 and 40). Sam’s Club and City Club, also on the South end of town along the Carretera Federal, provide a wide variety of bulk goods, but a membership card (usually $300 – $400 pesos annually) is required.

Mega/Comercial Mexicana
Mega/Comercial Mexicana

An Introduction To Mexican Products Worth Trying

Visiting a foreign country presents a terrific opportunity to introduce your tastebuds to new flavors. Although supermarkets around the world are beginning to supply consumers with more choices in exotic and imported goods, there are many mysterious Mexican products worth getting acquainted with.

Nopal

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This thick, flat, oval shaped pad from a cactus plant is packed with fiber, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. Consuming nopales has shown to boost immune systems, optimize metabolic functions, regulate the digestive system and protect the skin from certain cancers. These firm, green paddles can be diced and added raw to salads or juiced, fried or roasted and added to tacos, scrambled eggs and stews.

Chayote

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The Chayote is from the gourd family and provides an adequate source of vitamins including C, riboflavin and thiamin as well as minerals such as iron, copper, zinc and manganese. Incorporating this low calory, high fiber veggie can help to control cholesterol and aid in weight management. Julienne this pear-shaped vine vegetable and add it raw to salads and slaws or dice it in stir-fries, soups or casseroles.

Tomatillos

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These green tomatoes are roughly the size of apricots and are packed with vitamins and minerals known to reduce the risk of diabetes, increase digestive health, boost the immune system, improve vision health and increase energy levels. The sweeter, citrusy flavor goes well with slow cooked pork and is a staple in tangy, green Mexican salsas.

Jamaica

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These dried red leaves from the hibiscus flower are found packaged in clear plastic bags or in bulk bins near the dried chile section of the market. Consuming agua de jamaica or hibiscus tea has been proven to regulate blood pressure, as well as increase HDL or good cholesterol, which in turn lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Chaya

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Known as the Mayan green superfood, Chaya has incredible health benefits including aiding with diabetes, acne, digestion, obesity and kidney stones. Studies have shown that chaya contains more protein and calcium than kale, while possessing twice the amount of iron and fiber than spinach. This nutrient-rich leafy vegetable can help to improve memory, vision and also prevent coughs. Simply chop it and add it to scrambled eggs or blend with whole limes, a natural sweetener and water for a refreshing beverage.

Piloncillo

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This natural sweetener is derived from the sugar cane and is an unrefined sugar. Since it has not undergone a heavy processing stage, vitamins such as calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and potassium remain intact. This unprocessed, raw sugar can be shaved and substituted for brown sugar in baking or used as a sweetener in coffee and tea.

Farm Markets, Organic and Vegan Products

Every week, vendors gather to sell local, organic and homemade goods at farmers markets around Playa del Carmen. Organic produce, fresh, homemade baked breads, empanadas, French tarts and pastries, jams, nut butters, bar soaps, lotions, and honey are just some of the products offered at these popular community markets.

On Tuesdays from 11a.m. – 1p.m, Kava Kasa (Calle 22 between 5th and 10th Avenue) hosts the first weekly market. El Papalote (25th Avenue between Calle 30 and 32)  is the chosen location on Wednesday afternoons from 1-3p.m. Fridays, the market moves to Coco Beach (pool area of Condo Les Alizes on CTM and Flamingos)  from 9-11a.m.  Finally, every third Saturday of the month, Parque La Ceiba (Calle 1 Sur and 60th Avenue) opens its door and invites vendors to present their wares from 12-6p.m.

For organic and health food stores, Bio-Natural (10th Avenue between Calle 16 and Constituyentes), Bio Organicos (Calle 26 between 5th and 10th Avenue), Dac (30th Avenue between Constituyentes and Calle 20), or Organik Boutique (Plaza Paseo Playacar in Playacar Fase 2) offer the best selection in town.

Grocery Shopping Tips

  • The supermarkets here offer a high US dollar exchange rate, so save your dollars for groceries!
  • The bigger chain stores are open from 7:00a.m. – 11:00p.m. Dac and the smaller markets close earlier.
  • Taxis are readily available outside every main supermarket.
  • It is customary to tip the people who bag your items. A rule of thumb to follow is $1 peso per bag.
  • The sale of alcohol products is prohibited after certain hours but the time varies from store to store. Typically between 9a.m. and 5p.m, you can buy alcohol anywhere, except for on Sundays, many places stop selling alcohol at 2:00p.m.
  • Wednesdays are commonly a much busier day than usual in Playa del Carmen supermarkets due to the specials on produce. If you are not keen to waiting in long lines, you will save yourself some time by choosing to shop on an alternative day.
  • For fresh herbs such as dill (eneldo) or basil (albahaca), ask the clerks at Dac to retrieve some for you. They almost always carry  herbs but they are kept in the cooler in the back of the store.
  • If you find an imported product that is not easy to find in Playa del Carmen, stock up! Chances are, you will not see the rare item again for months, if ever!

Fuimos a Nadar con el Tiburon Ballena en Holbox – No Teníamos Idea de Todas las Maravillas que Nos Aguardaban…

Al despertarme temprano, salí a echar un vistazo al sol levantándose en toda su grandeza rosa-naranja sobre el mar caribeño.Respirando profundamente, me sentí agradecida de encontrarme en primera fila para presenciar este espectacular evento. Pensé, por qué viviendo tan cerca de aquí en Playa del Carmen, había esperado 4 años para visitar esta pintoresca isla? Y aunque solo llevaba unas cuantas horas en Holbox, ya estaba completamente cautivada.

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Al fin, llego el momento el momento del tan esperado evento, abordar la lancha que nos llevaría a nadar con los majestuosos tiburones ballena. Nos reunimos y caminamos al muelle donde fuimos recibidos por un lanchero de ojos azules y un diente de oro. Era el capitán Cholenco, quien nos invitó a abordar su bote y nos presentó a su marinero Misael.

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Nos acomodamos, nos pusimos nuestros chalecos salvavidas al tiempo que escuchábamos a Misael instruirnos con las instrucciones de seguridad y precauciones con respecto al nado con el tiburón ballena. No nos advirtió de los riesgos que pudieran ocurrir mientras estamos en el agua con estos gigantes marinos, en lugar de esto, nos habló de su gentileza a pesar de su gran tamaño, que va hasta los 6 o 7 metros en promedio. También nos explicó que para que estas criaturas conserven sus niveles de energía, necesitan consumir de 30 a 40 libras de plancton al día. Por lo tanto, nos aconsejó no usar bloqueador solar, ya que contaminan las aguas destruyendo así su fuente de alimento.

Durante la hora y media que dura el trayecto al área del tiburón ballena, el capitán Cholenco, diviso una tortuga marina. Su habilidad para advertir algún cambio en la apariencia en la superficie del agua a una distancia de 100 y ardas era sorprendente. Aunque para mí, cada ola oscura y espumosa, parecía como una criatura saliendo a la superficie.Los otros pasajeros y yo tratábamos de ver una aleta o una cola. Finalmente llegue a la conclusión de que poca gente tiene el sentido marino tan agudo como el del capitán.

Disminuyendo la velocidad, regreso en círculo para que pudiéramos observar a la tortuga asomarse a la superficie por unos segundos para después desaparecer bajo el agua. Esta fue la primer oportunidad de muchas en que nos encontraríamos vida marina en su habitad natural.

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Esta ave viajo con nosotros durante la última media hora del trayecto.

Poco después, llegamos al área de alimentación del pez más grande del mundo. En minutos, nos dieron nuestras aletas, visor y snorquels. Listos y entusiasmados para encontrarnos con estas criaturas, de 2 en 2 entramos al agua. Al tiempo que nadábamos junto a estos maravillosos gigantes, pudimos observar rémoras en las barrigas de los tiburones, esperando recibir lo que cayera de las gigantescas bocas. Después de haber compartido incomparables momentos con estos gigantes, nos pidieron regresar a la lancha. Me sentí un poco aliviada de dirigirme a la Playa y volver a andar en tierra firme, aunque al mismo tiempo no lo deseaba, ya que no quería que terminara ese mágico encuentro.

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Poderoso tiburón ballena. Cortesía de Daria Mexmix

Haber nadado junto al tiburón ballena nos abrió un gran apetito. El capitán tenía un as bajo la manga que haría nuestro apetito desaparecer! Se dirigió a una lancha de pescadores donde compro unos cuantos huachinangos y seguimos nuestro camino. Este mercado flotante en medio del océano, en si fue una experiencia surreal. Y aun había mucho más! 15 minutos después, llegamos a una playa privada, la blanca arena y la vista del agua azul transparente nos dejaron a todos sin aliento.

Buying fish from the fishermen in the middle of the sea.

Compra del pescado en medio del océano.

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Un paraíso secreto cerca de Holbox.

En las aguas cristalinas, varias especies de pájaros se encontraban sobre una rama sobresaliendo del mar. Peces gato salieron hacia nosotros para darnos la bienvenida al tiempo que saltábamos a las cristalinas aguas. El tiempo pareció detenerse por estas 3 horas en esta caleta inspiradora. Los niños se pusieron a snorkelear e intentaban atrapar a los peces con sus manos.

Mientras nosotros sentados en la blanca arena a la orilla del agua disfrutábamos unas refrescantes bebidas, Misael y el capitán nos preparaban un rico ceviche utilizando la salsa secreta patentada por el capitán Cholenco.

Misael prepping the snapper for the ceviche.

Misael preparando el ceviche.

El sol se dirigía al oeste listo para descender, señal del final de nuestra aventura. Cuando pensábamos que nuestro día no podía ser mejor, un grupo de 5 delfines nos dieron un gran show durante unos 10 minutos. Sonrientes y con los ojos bien abiertos, observamos a estas graciosas criaturas salir a la superficie en perfecta sincronía. Parecían tan curiosos como nosotros, ya que dieron 2 vueltas al bote antes de alejarse aprisa.

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Había sido un día sumamente caluroso. El capitán Cholenco accedió a nuestras peticiones para detenernos a refrescar en las aguas turquesas. Al final de nuestra jornada, pudimos observar cientos de flamingos rosados en los manglares a unos cuantos minutos de la marina en Holbox. Nos explicó el guía que los flamingos obtienen esta coloración debido a su dieta de camarones. El capitán apago su motor para no asustar a los flaminos y nos contó que debido a la fragilidad de las largas y delgadas patas de los flamingos, estos necesitan tener un adecuado despegue cuando comienzan a volar. De otra forma, si intentan levantar vuelo precipitadamente, pueden romperse las patas y terminar muriendo.

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Flamingos rosas

Agradecimos a Misael y al capitán por un maravilloso día en el mar.Nos acomodamos en las hamacas del hotel, conversábamos sobre los increíbles momentos de nuestro viaje, y después de una ducha, decidimos salir a la calle principal de este pueblo. Murales de colores vibrantes cubrían construcciones, carritos de gol sobre los caminos de grava y aromas marinos en el entorno.

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El Chapulín cumplió su promesa de mariscos frescos.No había propiamente un menú, pero el chef vino a nosotros y nos mencionó las 4 selecciones del platillo principal, de los cuales 2 contenían un filete de suculento pescado blanco con salsa de chile poblano, así como pasas salteadas con calabacitas, champiñones y chiles en una salsa de mantequilla al ajo. De beber, disfrutamos los cocteles de la casa, de mango y ron. Estos sabrosos alimentos, fueron el final perfecto para un día perfecto en esta paradisiaca isla de Holbox.

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CONSEJOS IMPORTANTES PARA SI VUSITA A HOLBOX:

  • La temporada de avistamiento del tiburón ballena típicamente empieza el 1 de Junio y hasta el 15 de Septiembre de cada año.
  • En temporada baja, Holbox ofrece pesca, buceo, snorquel y paseos para ver la puesta del sol por diversión y aventura.
  • En el muelle deberá pagar $30 pesos mexicanos por persona para ingresar a la reserva de la biosfera de Yum-Balam. Este es un costo adicional al tour del tiburón ballena.
  • Maneras de llegar a Holbox http://www.holboxcollection.com.mx/guia/horarios-ferry-holbox.php
  • Existe una tarifa en la autopista de Playa del Carmen de $80 a $83 pesos mexicanos dependiendo el tamaño del vehículo.
  • El tiempo de viaje a Chiquila es de aproximadamente 1 hora y media. En Chiquila existen dos opciones de ferry. La 9 hermanos y la Holbox express que pueden llevarte a Holbox en un trayecto de 25 minutos. Los precios son de $100 pesos por adulto y $70 pesos por menor.
  • E primer cruce a la isla es a las 6:00 AM y el ultimo a las 9:30 PM
  • Nosotros nos hospedamos en el Hotel & Spa Amaite, el cual se encuentra a más o menos 20 minutos caminando del embarcadero del Ferry de la calle principal hacia la Playa. Si lo deseas, existen carritos de golf que pueden llevarte a este destino por $30 pesos. El hotel se encuentra en el Centro, ofrece vista al mar y habitaciones familiares espaciosas hasta para 6 personas. Un desayuno continental estaba incluido en la tarifa. También existe un restaurante bar y que proporciona servicio completo de bebidas y alimentos. Se pueden agendar masajes y clases de Yoga proporcionadas 2 veces por semana. Un plus adicional si te quedas en este hotel, es su proximidad al muelle de salida de los botes, a menos de 100 metros.
  • Un amigo quien había encontrado otras opciones para ver al tiburón ballena por varios años, nos recomendó Cholenco Tours. Y después de pasar 1 día en el mar con el capitán, estoy de acuerdo que la calidad del tour que ofrece es de primer nivel. Pero también existen otras operadoras autorizadas que pueden checar en línea. Con el capitán Cholenco tienes bebidas no alcohólicas, sándwiches básicos, fruta y ceviche fresco para al almuerzo. El equipo de esnorquel y chaleco salvavidas también son proporcionados.
  • Se recomienda que lleves contigo toallas de playa y gravol o dramamine para el mareo.
  • No lleves bloqueadores solares, pero sombreros, gorras, lentes de sol y camisetas de manga larga son recomendados.
  • No olvides de usar aceite de bebe por las noches, ya que es la mejor protección recomendada contra los misquitos.
  • Para unos ricos tacos de pescado, cocteles accesibles y excepcional música en vivo, te sugerimos el restaurante Viva Zapata.

Autor: Juanita Rodriguez. Llegó de Canadá y ha estada viviendo en Playa del Carmen para 4 años con su familia. Le encanta la vida en la playa y la naturaleza maravillosa.

Traducción de Abril Lebrija. De La Ciudad de México, Abril llegó en Playa del Carmen hace 9 años y ha estada trabajando para Bric Vacation Rentals durante 6 años. Le gusta el football NFL y explorando la Península de Yucatán con sus hijos y su familia.

Playa Del Carmen Kicks Off The First Segment Of The Corona Elements Music Festival

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The first ever Corona Elements Music Festival captivated an audience of an estimated 35,000 people last Saturday, September 12th at the world famous Mamitas Beach Club. Beginning at 4:00p.m, festival goers gathered on the white sand in front of the performance platform beset by an enormous serpent’s mouth. The dazzled crowd danced until the early morning, with hands towards the sky, to the electronic beats spun by superior DJs Kaskade, Chromeo, Borgore and Jorge Nava.

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Just a few steps down the pristine shoreline, sat the VIP section in the buildings of Mamitas Beach Club. The sultry Caribbean climate provided a perfect setting for the festival, as VIP guests cooled off in the posh pool on the lower level. On the upper level, patrons were served premium bottles of liquor and Corona in cans specially designed, commemorating the event. Whether on the beach or as a VIP,  any seat in the open air venue provided a prime position to take in the hypnotic sounds and explosive light shows blasting from the entrancing stage.

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This was the inaugural spectacle in a series of four which will be held in upcoming months elsewhere in the Yucatan Peninsula. Each theme is inspired by nature’s most powerful forces. Last weekend’s epic production in Playa del Carmen was created around a ‘Water’ vision. Three more electrifying festivals will be held in Merida on October 24, December 5, and January 30. The next music fest’s theme is ‘Earth’ and will present talented musicians in the Rock genre. The third will feature the element ‘Air’ with some of the world’s best Indie/Pop artists, and the final will showcase top Latin performers amidst a blazing ‘Fire’ element.

The concept for Corona Elements was established to invite the people of the Yucatan Peninsula to discover revered national and international artists encompassing a diverse range of genres through four unique experiences. It is a movement which is intended to connect the public with music in a manner so dynamic and unlike any other in this region.

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Organizers, promoters and attendees were blown away by the brilliant talent and success of the phenomenal event. Tickets ranged from $335.00 pesos for general admittance to $1010.00 pesos for access to the luxe VIP lounge with its newly renovated pool area. Check ticket release dates for upcoming Corona Elements Music Festivals in Merida at www.eticket.mx.

We Went To Swim With Whale Sharks In Holbox – We Had No Idea How Much More Was In Store!

Awaking early, I tiptoed out to catch a glimpse of the sun, rising in all its pink and orange grandeur, over the Caribbean Sea. Sighing deeply, I felt grateful to have a front row seat to the spectacular event. I thought to myself why, living so near in Playa del Carmen, had I waited four years to visit this pitcturseque island. Although I had only been in Holbox for a few short hours, I was already completely captivated.

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It was time for the highly anticipated moment, to board the boat that would take us to swim with the majestic whale sharks. We gathered the group together and walked to the nearby dock where we were greeted by a stalky, Mexican man with blue eyes and a gold tooth. Capitan Cholenco invited us onto his boat and introduced us to his assistant, Misael.

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We settled in, strapped on our lifejackets, as we listened to Misael run through the safety instructions and precautions regarding the whale sharks. Chole’s helper gave no warnings of the dangers that might occur while in the water with these giants of the sea. Instead, he spoke of their gentleness despite their massive sizes which stretch six to seven meters on average. Misael also explained that in order to sustain their energy levels, they need to consume about thirty to forty pounds of plankton per day. Therefore, he advised us to refrain from using sunscreen, which contaminates the ocean waters and ultimately kills their food source.

Along the hour and a half journey out towards the whale shark area, Captain Cholenco spotted a sea turtle. His ability to notice a change in the appearance on the water’s surface a hundred yards out was nothing short of amazing. To my untrained eye, every dark, rolling wave seemed to look like a creature surfacing. As intently as the other passengers and I tried to spot a fin or a tail, I came to the conclusion that only few people have a sea sense as sharp as the Captain’s. Slowing down, he circled back so that we could view the tranquil creature bob at the surface then vanish into the underwater abyss. This was the first opportunity of many, that we would encounter wild and free marine life in their natural habitat.

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This bird caught a ride with us for the last 1/2 hour of our trip.

Soon after, we arrived in the feeding area of the world’s largest fish. Within minutes we were geared with flippers, masks and snorkels, ready to join the spotted whale sharks. Two by two, we jumped nervously into the water, heads submerged, as we swam alongside these marvelous giants. Our crew was able to witness feeder fish hitching a ride on the beast’s belly, eagerly waiting for any leftovers that might spill out the sides of its enormous, open mouth. After having each shared a few rounds of priceless encounters in the sea with the whale sharks, we were called back to the boat. Partly relieved to be heading to shore to regain my land legs, I was also reluctant to climb aboard, not wanting the magic of the breathtaking moment to end.

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The mighty whale shark. Photo courtesy of Daria Mexmix

The ocean swim and attempts to keep up to the whale sharks had made us ravenous. The Captain had a surprise up his sleeve that would satisfy our hunger. Pulling up to a small fishing boat containing three good-natured fishermen, Cholenco purchased a few red snapper for a couple hundred pesos and we continued on. The fish-market in the middle of the ocean was a very surreal experience in itself. However, there was much more in the way of enchanting scenarios in store. Fifteen minutes later, we came upon a private beach area. Floating towards the white sand, the vast views of transparent, aqua-blue water rendered us speechless.

Buying fish from the fishermen in the middle of the sea.
Buying fish from the fishermen in the middle of the sea.
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A secret paradise near Holbox

Across the crystal clear water, varius bird species were perched on a sandbar. Catfish darted up to the boat to great us as we leapt into the refreshing, shallow water.  The world seemed to stop for those three hours of bliss at this awe-inspiring inlet. The kids snorkeled and tried to catch fish with their bare hands. We sat in the glistening water, enjoying an ice-cold beverage while Misael and the captain prepared for us some fresh ceviche, served with Cholenco’s secret, patented sauce.

Misael prepping the snapper for the ceviche.
Misael prepping the ceviche.

The sun was heading west, about to begin its decent, a sign that our adventure would soon come to an end. Just when we thought the day could not possibly get any better, we came upon a pod of five dolphins who performed a splendid, ten minute show for us. Giddy and wide-eyed, we observed the graceful creatures explode through the surface in perfect synchronization. They seemed to be just as curious about us because they circled the boat twice before swimming off in a haste.

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It had been a scorching, hot day. Cholenco patiently obliged our periodic requests for pit stops and a chance to cool off in the turquoise waters. At the final leg of our journey, we were able to view hundreds of poised pink flamingos in the mangroves a few minutes from the marina in Holbox. The tour operators explained that the rosy-colored birds obtain their bright pigment from eating mainly shrimp. The captain had ceased the engine so as not to startle the flamingos. He fascinated us with more facts such as, due to the fragility of their long, thin legs, the birds need to have a proper take off as they begin to fly. If they are scared and attempt to fly off without ascending gradually, they can break their legs and often end up dying.

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Pink Flamingos

Sailing lazily back to the dock, we thanked Misael and the captain for a thrilling day at sea. Settling into our hammocks on the beach at our hotel, we recalled the many highlights of our memorable trip. Later, after cleaning ourselves up, we ventured on to the main street of the small town. Vibrant murals covered entire buildings, golf carts motored across the gravel roads and seafood aromas filled the air.

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El Chapulim enticed us with its mysterious promise of fresh catch of the day offerings. There was no menu, however the chef came out to recite the four choices of main entree, two of which included a fillet of succulent white fish with a poblano sauce, as well as prawns sautéed with zucchini, mushrooms and mild chiles in a garlic butter sauce. To drink, we enjoyed the house mango and rum cocktails. The savory meal was an ideal end to our final evening on the heavenly island of Holbox.

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IMPORTANT TIPS FOR YOUR HOLBOX TRIP:

  • The whale shark season typically runs from June 1 to September 15 each year. When spending time in Holbox during the off season, there are also year round fishing, diving, snorkeling and sunset cruise tours offered for fun and adventure.
  • On the dock, you will be asked to pay a $30 Mxn Peso entrance fee per person into the Yum-Balam Biosphere Reserve, a separate cost not included in the whale shark tour.
  • There is a toll highway from Playa del Carmen (cost $80-$92 Mxn Pesos depending on size of vehicle). The travel time to Chiquila Port is approximately 1.5 hours.
  • In Chiquila, there is an abundance of overnight parking options. 2 ferry companies, 9 Hermanos and Holbox Express can take you on the 25 minute ride to Holbox Island. Prices are $100 Mxn Pesos/adult and $70 Mxn Pesos/Child. The first crossing to Holbox Island is at 6:00a.m. and the final is at 9:30p.m.
  • We stayed at the Amaite Hotel and Spa which was approximately a 20 minute walk from the ferry dock down the main street towards the beach. For your convenience, there are taxi golf carts that will take you to your destination for $30 Mxn Pesos. The Amaite Hotel and Spa is ideally situated in the town center, offering sea views and spacious family rooms which accommodate up to 6 people. A continental breakfast was included with our stay, but a restaurant and bar provides a full dining menu and beverage service. On-site massages can be booked with advanced notice and yoga classes are given twice weekly. An additional plus to staying at this ocean-front hotel is its close proximity to the tour boat dock, less than a hundred meters away.
  • A friend, who had used various whale shark tour companies in Holbox over the years, recommended Cholenco Tours. After spending a day at sea with the Captain, I would concur that the quality of tour he offers is top-notch. However, there are several qualified tour operators who are licensed on the island that you can review online.
  • On board with Cholenco Tours, you can expect a selection of non-alcoholic beverages, basic sandwiches, a piece of fruit and the freshly prepared ceviche for lunch. Snorkel equipment and lifejackets are also provided. It is recommended that you bring towels and something to counter nausea such as Gravol or Dramamine, non-drowsy.
  • Leave the sunscreen at home. Pack hats, sunglasses and long-sleeved swim shirts for the children.
  • Do pack baby oil with you to lather on at dusk, which is the best recommended protection against the  mosquitos.
  • For excellent fish tacos, a reasonably priced cocktail menu and exceptional live music, we suggest Viva Zapata.

10 Ways To Conquer The Urge To Abandon Your Fitness Routine While On Vacation

Is it possible to use the words fitness and vacation in the same sentence? For thousands of people who have made exercise and healthful eating a way of life, maintaining their fitness regime is as natural as brushing their teeth, whether on vacation or not. For those of us who have good intentions but find futile the effort to keep active or to resist recurring trips down the buffet aisles, here are some tips on how to stay fit on a future getaway.

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  1. Sitting at the airport hours before your flight (on which you will incur a stretch of many more motionless hours) can leave you feeling restless and bloated. If you find yourself with ample time before you board, plug into your favorite playlist and take a walk around the terminal. Every step counts!

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2.Determine ahead of time to eat two healthy meals each day, while allowing yourself to choose whichever foods entice you for your third meal. This approach will stave off feelings of deprivation while keeping the excess pounds at bay.

3. While the sunshine, ocean and reggae music in the background set the perfect atmosphere in which to enjoy a cool, tropical cocktail, opt for a less sugar-laden alcoholic beverage. While vodka or tequila with soda water and a squeeze of fresh lime juice may lack in colorful, visual appeal, your waistline will thank you by the end of your holiday.

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4. Book tours which promote activities such as swimming, biking, hiking, snorkeling or walking. This not only gets you away from your hotel and presents the opportunity to explore the culture of a new city, but also makes it easy to incorporate exercise into your trip.

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5. Set a goal to get in even a 20 minute sweat session each morning whether that means a quick circuit at the hotel gym or a run on the beach. Working out first thing in the morning will motivate you to make more healthful choices throughout the day.

6. Throw a health and fitness magazine in with your beach read repertoire. Skimming through wellness articles will inspire you to keep your mind focused on maintenance while you are out of your regular fitness routine.

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7. Choose to take the stairs over the elevator, try a recommended restaurant within walking distance of your hotel or dance the night away at a local club for extra fitness points.

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8. If you choose a beach holiday, by all means, do not succumb to body comparisons with the 21 year olds pounding shots of tequila at the pool bar. As jealousy over the supermodel-like abs of your fellow sun seekers soars, motivation to stick to your own fitness goals plummets, causing you to throw in the towel. Ignore the urge to compare and instead focus your thoughts on achieving your personal best. You’ll be proud of yourself for not giving up and you’ll reap the rewards that come with perseverance.

9. Make reservations at the á la carte restaurants on the resort rather than eating from the buffet at every meal. There is often such an overwhelming variety of savory foods on a buffet that it’s easy to end up with a heaping plateful. With wait staff serving you at the á la carte eatery, you’ll be less inclined to ask for seconds.

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10. Have you ever considered a fitness vacation? Companies like Inspirations Fitness Retreat in the Mayan Riviera are popping up in exotic locations around the world.  These luxury retreats offer a wide range of health and wellness classes which are incorporated into an all-inclusive schedule. You can dine on a fresh, healthful menu prepared by private chefs, partake in ocean-side yoga classes, indulge in spa treatments, zip-line through lush jungle, all the while enjoying sublime outdoor scenery with like-minded individuals.

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Paddle Boarding In Paradise

One morning, as I walked along the beach near my home, I was struck with awe at the sight of a paddle boarder as he glided over the calm sea, the sunrise his backdrop. That peaceful and picturesque moment lingered in my mind for the rest of the day. I knew I had to try it for myself!

Three separate attempts to play swan on the water produced nothing but fails. Either the water was too rough, the water sport shop was closed for lunch or one of the boards was in disrepair. I began to wonder if my time would ever come try this popular Caribbean activity.

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In the meantime, as I scrolled through images of friends on Facebook out boarding across the turquoise waters, my heart longed to have a paddling adventure of my own. As luck would have it, I ran into an old friend who had developed a passion for the sport herself. She had two boards and encouraged me to join her. It took hardly a half second of convincing before I was booking a private lesson with her.

It was a classic beach scene from a movie as we pulled up to the bay in Puerto Aventuras, a community fifteen minutes south of Playa del Carmen. Her jeep coasted up to the path, boards strapped to the roof rack. The smooth-as-glass ocean drew me near as I scrambled to the shoreline lugging paddles and beach bags.

The long-anticipated moment had finally arrived! It required every ounce of patience to wait to hear the necessary beginner’s instructions. My concentration seemed to be more focused on the question of whether I would be able to stand up and hold my balance on the teetering board.

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At last, we placed our paddle boards in the pristine water and took a test drive around the scenic cove. She guided me through the quiet canal areas past a magnificent stretch of homes lining the waters’ edge. Turning back towards our starting point, we paddled facing the direction of the vast, greenish-blue seascape. Being out on the still water, under azure skies, gently rowing and taking it all in, I let out a deep sigh of satisfaction. The experience had definitely lived up to and surpassed all of my expectations.

We spent an hour gliding, laughing, and practicing yoga poses atop our boards. The Mayan Riviera sun, as usual, was a constant companion on this glorious morning. I reluctantly left, but with a wide grin slapped across my face and resolved to join my friend again soon. These simple connections with nature are what fill my life with the purest sense of joy. These bonding moments with Mother Earth in all her glory are precisely what my husband and I had envisioned in our wildest dreams and what we were willing to risk our too comfortable and convenient lives for.

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As a friend recently declared after her first exhilarating paddle boarding session, I can “Knock that off my bucket list!” Now on to the next!

If you enjoy the outdoors and are planing a trip to “The Heart of the Mayan Riviera” in the future, I highly recommend that you add paddle boarding to your list of things to do. There are several companies offering lessons and board rentals speckled along the sublime Mayan Riviera coastline. In town, paddle boards are available to rent for approximately $25 USD per hour. If the open sea is a tad intimidating for you, there are tours which include rentals and transportation to calmer lagoon or cenote waters near Playa del Carmen.

For more information, visit http://www.pdckiteboarding.com/SUP.html or http://www.supyogatulum.com.

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