What To Do With 7 Magical Days In Playa del Carmen
With direct flights starting from under $200 round-trip from several major cities, you can dip your toes in the warm Caribbean waters 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 rentals but receive special airport transfer deals and welcome treats at check-in. Booking a stay directly at www.bricrental.com 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 budget-friendly accommodation options, Bric offers a host of central properties to choose from. Our modern and spacious rentals are just steps from the city’s best eateries and a short walk to beach clubs, museums, shops and dive centers. Moreover, almost 100% of Bric’s properties feature glistening pools along with fully-appointed kitchens. When staying with Bric Vacation Rentals, your assigned concierge is with you at every step of your trip. Services you can expect include arranging for transportation and excursions, providing dining recommendations, and even planning special events.
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 with your personal kitchen staples. Allow Bric’s friendly staff to stock your fridge so that you have everything you need upon your arrival (including a six-pack of chilled beer or wine!)
A Taste Of Playa
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.
For an upbeat authentic Playa food scene, we recommend Zitla on Calle 12 between 15 and 20th Avenue. Quench your thirst with an ice-cold cerveza accompanied by a wide selection of seafood dishes like their citrusy ceviche. Choose from the winning menu of tacos and fajitas to pub-style options including burgers, wings and guacamole. You’ll love the excellent food, super service staff, and happy-go-lucky vibe.
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 that boast spectacular views of the Caribbean include El Faro, Aldea Thai and Magia Playa. Not only do you have the sea nearby, but also sophisticated pool areas to relax by as 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. Plus, taste 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. You’ll get dynamic insight into Mexico’s ancient history, its rare natural beauty and 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. Alternatively, Travel Yucatan offers affordable private tour and transportation options throughout the region. If you’re 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’ll 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 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. Snorkel and swim in the alluring translucent waters and witness bats and turtles who call the cavern home.
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 use only eco-friendly sunblock to help sustain the animal life 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. Hearing the fascinating stories of this mysterious culture and the history behind each structure brings the sacred grounds to life.
On occasion, a spider monkey family will crossover above, swinging from one towering tree to another. Likewise, you’ll get up close and personal with an iguana or two. The heart-of-the-jungle setting is very serene, especially in the fall months when there are fewer visitors.
Bicycles, a.k.a. ‘Mayan Limousines’ (tricycle taxis for 2), are available to rent for $50-$100 pesos. While the rentals are not necessary, you should know that the path leading to Nohoch Mul, is about a half hour walk. This massive 137-meter Mayan pyramid is one of the few ancient temples in the Yucatan Peninsula that visitors can still climb. The view overlooks the seemingly endless green landscape and town of Coba. Standing at the top, you can feel the peace of the jungle and this mystic city.
The final leg of your incredible day trip takes you to Gitano, one of Tulum’s chic jungle haven restaurants. 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 top chefs and sip 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 pricey. However 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 be ready to put your feet up. Relaxing by the pool or lounging beachside with margaritas under the shade of a thatched palapa paint enticing pictures.
In the afternoon, when the sun begins to set and the midday heat fades, a trip to the city’s most famed cobblestone street is in order. Along 5th Avenue, you’ll discover hundreds of boutique and souvenir shops like Jula Luma to purchase a keepsake from your Mexican vacation. Or you can find a one-of-a-kind cover-up or dress from La Troupe to add to your beachwear collection. Beyond 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 main tourist hub is Luma Taverna del Mar on Calle 38. 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 prepared to perfection.
Day 5: All-inclusive hotel day plus Rauxa dinner show
25 minutes south of Playa del Carmen 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. The seductive show is a feast for the eyes and a flawless enhancement to the impressive 4-course dinner.
Choose to purchase dinner show tickets only, or you can buy a day pass for only $10US more. This all-inclusive pass gives you access to the hotel’s beach, restaurants, bars and pools for the day, as well as the 8pm show.
How To Get There
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. Tell the driver that you are going to Catalonia Royal Hotel “por favor” so he is aware of your stop.
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 with a group, splitting the fare gives you an economical means of travel throughout the Riviera Maya.
When the doors of the Rauxa show open at 7:00pm, you’ll receive a welcome drink and be escorted to your table. It’s 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. The music, the sultry spectacle, and the masterpiece menu will leave you in awe. If you’re not yet ready to call it quits by 10pm, guests of the show are invited to stay for an after party, which runs until midnight.
Day 6: Playa del Carmen Food Tour
Whether a first-time visitor to Playa del Carmen or a Playa fan looking for a unique activity, this food tour offers a full-range encounter with local flavors.
The highly recommended team of personable locals at Eating With Carmen deliver several curated tours to choose from. From vegan to gourmet to traditional Mexican cuisine, each tour takes you on a tasty expedition to the best the city offers in that category. Learn what to look for and how to order at a street food stand. Sample amazing regional food such as cochinita pibil and tamales. Compliment your dishes with a top-notch tequila or fresh fruit-infused waters. Conclude with a visit to a traditional heladería (ice cream shop.) This is a wonderful opportunity to step off the beaten path and experience the true essence of Playa del Carmen and its people. Not to mention, you can pick up a quality bottle of tequila to bring home with you.
The tours last 2.5 to 3 hours and the meet-up point is at a convenient downtown location. There is a morning or afternoon start time to choose from. But we suspect you’ll love the savory journey so much, you’ll be inclined to sign-up for another session.
Day 7: Enjoy the vista and the vibe at Deck 5 Pool & Skybar
For a change in scenery, soak up some sun at Deck 5’s dapper rooftop pool. For a minimum consumption cost, you can claim your spot by the infinity 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 eats. It’s a lively atmosphere with terrific local DJs spinning on most days.
This trendy roof bar is atop the Carmen Hotel on Calle 8 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.
Stick with Bric and you’ll not only discover the perfect Playa del Carmen vacation itinerary ideas. But other perks include stays at most desirable ocean view properties in the Riviera Maya, as well as you own designated ambassador. This professional Playa and hospitality expert has one aim— to deliver the best beach vacation experience on this side of the globe. Paradise awaits!