Two Nights in Playa del Carmen

by Lydia Linton Pontius (Oct. 2014)

My favorite articles to write are always the recap stories about my trips to the Yucatán; this one was specifically the Riviera Maya. I traveled with my friend Jamie and, yes, we felt entirely safe at all times.

We flew through Atlanta and arrived before noon at Cancún. One of the amazing things about traveling in September is NO LINES. We were through Immigration and Customs with our carry-ons as quickly as we could walk.

We chose Fox Car Rental and picked up our car—no worries. We were stopped before getting in our car by the most delightful and funny saleswoman. She was selling timeshare meetings and was so humorous and honest, saying "I get $100 if you go." We decided it was a good idea to check out the property anyway so we agreed, but that is another story.

Off we went to Playa del Carmen to check into Acanto. Acanto is a small boutique hotel that is one of the best values we have ever found. It is special in every way and the staff is wonderful, and you cannot beat the location, nestled in a quiet side street between 5th and 1st Avenues; it also has secure, private parking. You'll hear more about this special gem in future reviews.

We spent two nights at Acanto and it was great to finally have time to enjoy Playa. The day we arrived was Mexican Independence Day. Everyone was out enjoying the holiday. The beach bars were full of locals and we stopped to have a snack and beer at one of them. Later that evening we walked up 5th Avenue to the newer section and found an Argentinean restaurant for dinner. We had the special, which was a huge platter of assorted meats. Stuffed to the gills, we decided a walk back down 5th Avenue was in order. We then returned to Acanto to enjoy the Jacuzzi on the roof and the firework display over Playa. Yes, we both decided it would have been great to have Mike and Jason there with us—but we had a great start to our eight-day girls' adventure.

Day two, we did not let our saleslady down. We headed to the all-inclusive for our tour. Our 45-minute breakfast presentation turned into several hours but we did manage to get our cash, which paid for dinner that evening. We looked at it like working for our food. More on this timeshare story at another time.

As we headed back south, we decided to check out Chaak Tun. We get a lot of inquiries about this cenote located just west of the city of Playa del Carmen in the ejido section. We stopped in and were amazed at the place. Minutes from the city you are in the middle of the gorgeous jungle, with cenotes, underground caves and even a temazcal (sweat lodge). We wished we could have stayed and enjoyed it and wanted to return the next morning, but time was not on our side. I recommend it.

We were getting a little hungry, so we headed to Babe's, one of my favorite spots and go-to places. We split a Pad Thai and margarita and walked it off on 5th Avenue.

It was time to cool off in Acanto's pool. Our concierge, Italia, greeted us and confirmed our dinner reservations and driver. It was so nice to relax someplace where you knew the details were being taken care of for you. That night we had the best experience at Alux Restaurant. I have always avoided it, thinking it would be touristy, however I was pleasantly surprised.

Two days in Playa and I must say I loved it. If you have only a couple of days to visit the Riviera Maya, this just might be the best spot for you to consider. Playa has been the fastest-growing city in Latin America for many years. Yes, it is huge, but you can still find some amazing places and things to do: nightlife, great restaurants, beach bars, cenotes, shopping and a long, beautiful beach.

Next month, I'll continue our tale as we head south to Tulum.

Alux Lydia

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