During the month of September I spent 6 full days in the Riviera Maya, and even that wasn’t enough to explore all of it’s wonders. Before I start this blog post I will note that I did not stay at a resort. From an early age my dad instilled in me that all inclusive resorts can hinder you from exploring the destination on your own. (In some not all cases) Also I’m on a budget so AirBnb’s are the best option for me when I travel.
We stayed at Playa del Carmen, I chose that area because it’s the most central to Tulum and Cancun, and I knew there was a bus station close by that we relied on. I’d recommend to find an AirBnb with bikes so you can get around the beach and not have to rent one.
Transportation – getting around
This was my first time staying at Playa del Carmen, but my second time staying in the Riviera Maya. And let me tell you, everything is pretty far so you could rent a car or ride ADO buses. From the airport you could take an ADO bus to Playa del Carmen, but I’m not too sure they will drop you off right outside your hotel or AirBnb. Luckily for us, the bus station was a 15-20 minute walk, so when it was time to get back to the airport we all used that service.
To get to Tulum we used the ADO bus service, and no this is not a sponsored post but I wish it was. Someone did recommend taking a “colectivo”, a van that transports locals and is very inexpensive. The only down side is that most of the times it’s very crowded and they don’t have set departure times, and they also make frequent stops. So the ride on a colectivo can take over an hour.
Another local recommended us to take the ADO since it’s more spacious, comfortable and reliable. Once in Tulum we decided to rent some bikes and make our way to “El Gran Cenote.” The bike rental guy told us it was too far too bike. We decided to go anyway, it’s a 3 mile bike there and 3 miles back. You will bike on a busy highway so be careful. “Cenote la Calavera” is on the way so if you get tired you can make that your stop instead. Unfortunately we ran out of time and didn’t get to visit Tulum’s beach. I’d advise leaving before noon so you have time to explore the town.
Isla Mujeres is the island closer to Cancun, while Cozumel is the island closer to Playa del Carmen. In oder to make it to Isla, as the locals call it you need to get to Cancun first, and that’s about 1 hour away from Playa. As mentioned before we could have taken the colectivo or even ADO to Cancun but instead we used Ultramar. We didn’t do this, but you get a better deal buying the Island Hopper package that also includes Cozumel. Our package with Ultramar provided us with ground transportation in a van to a port in Cancun and from there off we went to Isla.
Another great perk about this package is that you have priority so you basically get to be first in line while boarding the ferry. The ferry is super cool, it has an open roof deck where you can sit an enjoy the view of the clear water. The staff is very helpful and will give you instructions upon returning to the Cancun port. You also have the ability to stay in Isla for a few since you have about 5 days to use the tickets. ( I would double check). The ground transportation leaves around 9 a.m. so make sure you are up early and at the location prior to departure. They may also pick up from your hotel or resort at Playa, because they did pick up a couple before we left Playa.
This park that is not too far from Playa del Carmen. Prices can vary, online the ticket price for the package we got is at about $200. (dollars not pesos) You can enjoy the Riviera Maya without going here, because it is a bit pricey so I’d only recommend this if you feel like splurging on an experience.
We got lucky and bought our ticket from the ADO Playa del Carmen tourist terminal. So our ticket was $180, with transportation, food and beverage, and photo package / Xcaret Plus. This meant we had access to lockers to put or belongings while we explore the park. My favorite attractions are the underground rivers, worth checking out. They provide you with a life jacket so if you don’t know how to swim no worries. Another must see is the Mexican Spectacular performance at the end of the day. There are plenty of other attractions, the park opens up at 8:30 a.m., as usual I’d recommend getting there early to get your money’s worth.
Stay tuned for the next blog post with food content during our beach travels : D