With direct flights starting at as little as $196 round-trip from Dallas and under $400 from Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver, you can dip your toes in Mexico’s turquoise Caribbean for much less than you think.
While some are prepping for back to school, others have the opportunity to take advantage of fantastic fall savings on flights and accommodations. Reduced prices plus this ideal itinerary equals the perfect combination for an epic vacation in Playa del Carmen!
Day 1: Settle in with Bric
If you feel overwhelmed by the deluge of options when searching for a vacation rental on sites like Airbnb, a cost-saving alternative is finding a local full-service management company like Bric. Guests will not only save money on the rental but receive complimentary transportation at arrival and special treats at check-in. Booking direct can save travelers significant money.
During the fall season, guests can rent ocean view condos such as this 2-bedroom Elements luxury home for around $1500USD per week – divided by 2 couples or 4 friends, a stay at this sought-after property is an inexpensive dream!
For an even more budget-friendly accommodation option for two, Bric Hotel and Spa in the downtown core presents 14 charming rooms to choose from. Its prime location means you are just steps from the city’s best eateries and 2.5 blocks from Mamitas Beach Club. The property features a plunge pool engulfed in a tropical garden, a highly rated spa as well as a hot breakfast served daily in the poolside restaurant.
When staying with Bric Vacation Rentals, guests receive exceptional services from designated Bric Ambassador's. From arranging transportation, excursions and providing dining recommendations, to booking spa appointments and ensuring your stay is a comfortable one, your go-to Playa del Carmen expert will help you coordinate your most memorable beach vacation.
Tip: Grocery packages are available through your Bric reservations agent or ambassador for an additional fee. Choose from a pre-arranged order or customize your shopping list and let Bric’s friendly staff stock your fridge so that you have everything you need (including a cold six-pack of beer) waiting for you upon arrival.
After you have settled in, you’ll be ready for a bite to eat. Il Baretto (Calle 26 & 5the Avenue) is a great option for casual eats and cold cocktails. Their famous brick-oven pizzas are as close to authentic Italian as you can get and their pasta selection is divine.
If you’d prefer a more elegant dining experience, Catch on the rooftop of Thompson Playa del Carmen offers tables with exceptional views of the turquoise see by day and the best cityscape view at night. The delectable fare is fresh and inventive, all within a perfectly posh ambience.
Day 2: Hit the beach!
You can hear the waves calling your name and can’t wait to feel the soft sand in between your toes. The majority of Bric’s rentals are within a 5-minute walk to the beach or right along the alabaster shoreline.
At The Elements, for example, guests have access to an exclusive beach club with a volleyball court, shaded loungers and a snack and beverage bar. Other superb properties such as El Faro, Aldea Thai and Magia Playa, not only boast spectacular views of the Caribbean but also sophisticated pool areas to relax around while the warm Mexican sun kisses your skin.
One can never have too much beach time, so for dinner, your table in the sand awaits at Fuego Restaurante and Cantina on Calle 38 (turn left when you reach the sea!) The waves, the candlelight and the stars overhead create the ultimate romantic atmosphere. This is one of the few fine dining establishments in Playa del Carmen to find certified Wagyu organic beef on the menu as well as a succulent selection of seafood dishes including grilled octopus and Caribbean lobster.
Day 3: See the sensational sites of the Riviera Maya!
For this full day of fun, you will visit 3 amazing places that will give you insight into Mexico’s ancient history, its rare natural beauty and the chance to taste it’s world-renowned cuisine.
For this day trip, you have a couple of options for transportation. A rental car with Orbitz costs approximately $45USD for the day with collision insurance. Travel Yucatan offers affordable private tour and transportation options throughout the region for those without the desire to rent a car. If you are traveling together with another couple or with a group of friends, this is the way to go. You can split the cost, while enjoying the freedom that comes with customizing your own itinerary. A cooler stocked with drinks is typically included with the service. Sandwiches and snorkel equipment may be added upon request for an extra fee.
From Playa del Carmen, you will drive south for 40 minutes towards Tulum. The highways are in excellent condition and there is good signage for the upcoming stops on your road trip. Just 5 minutes from the beach town of Tulum is Grand Cenote, a scenic limestone sinkhole fed by the world’s longest underground river system.
For a $10USD ($180 peso) entrance fee, you can spend a couple of hours taking in the breath-taking surroundings while you snorkel and swim in the alluring translucent waters.
There are hammocks scattered throughout the lush park as well as bathrooms and change rooms. Snorkel equipment and lockers are available to rent, but bring your own towel. Please be sure to use only eco-friendly sunblock to help sustain the turtles, fish and vegetation that live within this Riviera Maya gem.
After your refreshing stop at the cenote, you’ll continue on to the recently excavated archaeological site of Coba. The entrance fee to this centuries old Mayan ruins site is well worth the reasonable $75 pesos ($4USD). Once inside, you can hire a guide ($500-$600 pesos), which is recommended if you want to hear the fascinating stories of this mysterious culture or the history behind each structure.
There is a good chance that you will see spider monkeys and you’ll most definitely get up close and personal with an iguana or two. The setting, in the heart of the jungle, is very serene and during the fall, there are fewer visitors.
Bicycles or a ‘Mayan Limousine’ (a tricycle taxi for 2), are available to rent for $50-$100 pesos. These rentals are not necessary as the path leading to the massive 137-meter high pyramid, Nohoch Mul is under a half hour walk. This sacred Mayan temple is one of the few ancient structures in the Yucatan Peninsula that visitors can still climb. The view overlooks the seemingly endless jungle and town of Coba. Standing at the top tends to leave one with a deeply peaceful sensation.
The final leg of your incredible day trip takes you to Gitano, one of Tulum’s chic jungle havens. Chandeliers hanging from the trees and a friendly, creative dishes and a professional wait staff come together to present an exceptionally unique dining experience.
This is your chance to test the samplings from a top chef and sip on smoky mezcal cocktails prepared by innovative mixologists. You may want to ask your Bric ambassador to make a reservation ahead of time. Be forewarned that the drinks are a bit pricey, but the atmosphere, music and cool setting make Gitano a must on the itinerary.
Day 4: Shopping on Playa del Carmen’s famous 5th Avenue
After your ambitious, yet exhilarating outing on Day 3, you and your party will love the idea of putting your feet up by the pool or lying under a thatched palapa on the beach with a margarita.
In the afternoon, when the sun begins to set and takes with it some of the midday heat, there are hundreds of boutique and brand name stores to visit along the city’s most famed cobblestone street. This is a good time to purchase a piece of jewellry from Jula Luma as a keepsake from your Mexican vacation. Or add a one-of-a-kind cover-up or dress from La Troupe to your beachwear collection. Amidst the window-shopping, there are plenty of quaint bars along the way where you can hydrate and people watch.
A local favorite to check out for dinner just off the touristy 5th Avenue is Luma Taverna del Mar on Calle 38 just before the beach. The service is impeccable as is their fresh menu of seafood and other outstanding entrees. The sautéed mussels are exquisite, while the steak and risotto are also highly recommended.
Day 5: All-inclusive hotel day plus Rauxa dinner show
25 minutes south of Playa in the Catalonia Royal Tulum Hotel, Rauxa wows audiences week after week. Touted the best dinner show experience in the Riviera Maya, this audacious burlesque-cabaret show features acrobatics, theatrical elements, song and dance performances. It is a feast for the eyes, which the impressive 4-course dinner has a hard time competing with.
You have a choice to purchase tickets to attend the dinner show portion only, or you can buy a day pass for only $10US more and have access to the hotel’s beach, restaurants, bars and pools for the day before the 8pm show.
There are a couple of ways to get to Catalonia Royal Tulum from Playa del Carmen. You can catch a colectivo from the pick up point at Calle 2 between 15th & 20th Avenue in the morning. Listen for the assistant on the sidewalk calling out “Tulum” and board this shared taxi van. The cost is $40 pesos per person and be sure to tell the driver that you are going to Catalonia Royal Hotel “por favor”.
A second option is a taxi. For 1-4 passengers, a ride to this hotel costs roughly $300 - $350 pesos each way. Again, if you are traveling with a group of 4, this is an economical way to get there when you consider splitting the cost.
The doors of the Rauxa show open at 7:00pm and you will receive a welcome drink once you are escorted to your table. It is an intimate venue so each table presents a complete an unobstructed view of the main stage. For the ensuing 2 and a half hours, there is never a dull moment and you will be left in awe. If you are not yet ready to call it quits by 10pm, guests of the show are invited to stay for and after party, which runs until midnight.
Day 6: Playa del Carmen Food Tour
Whether you are visiting Playa del Carmen for the first time or you have been before but would like to have an authentic, local experience, this food tour is a fantastic option.
There are few different companies to choose from, but the Food Hopper Mexican Street Food Crawl in Playa del Carmen is a top-notch tour. For $65US, the personable and knowledgeable guide leads you on a tasty expedition to popular local street food stands. You will have a chance to try amazing regional food such as cochinita pibil and tamales, as well as end with a tequila tasting. This is a good opportunity to step off the beaten path and experience the true essence of the city and its people. Not to mention, you can pick up a quality bottle of tequila to bring home with you.
The tour lasts 3 hours and begins at a convenient downtown location. This gives you plenty of time before and after the savory journey, to spend some final moments under a palm tree at the beach or sip ice-cold daiquiris by the pool.
Day 7: Enjoy the vista and the vibe at Deck 5 Pool & Skybar
For a change in scenery, soak up some up the sun near the rooftop pool at the dapper Deck 5 on Calle 8 in Playa del Carmen. For a minimum consumption, you can claim your spot by the pool, which offers a mesmerizing 180-degree view of the blue-green Caribbean. Make your way down their list of signature cocktails and nibble on dishes like tangy cured prawn aquachiles, ceviches and other casual pub-style eats. It is a lively atmosphere with terrific local DJs spinning on most days.
This trendy roof bar is atop the Carmen Hotel and is open from 10am to 9pm. If you decide to go, the consumption requirement for the chairs and sun beds is less on Mondays to Wednesdays.
Great flight and condo rental prices, your own Bric ambassador and the perfect one-week itinerary– sounds like you have all you need to book an unforgettable Playa del Carmen vacation!
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About the Author
Juanita grew up in a small town in the middle of Canada. Having experienced twenty years of ruggedly cold climate, she had seen enough snow to last her a lifetime. After moving to and working in Vancouver for thirteen years (where she was ecstatic to see the odd palm tree) she jumped at the opportunity to move with her husband and three children to Playa del Carmen. She calls it a ‘dreamy existence’ and cherishes year-round, backyard barbecues with friends, road trips and watching the sunrise over the Caribbean. She writes for Bric Vacation Rentals.