Sometimes, there's nothing better than getting a group of friends and heading to the beach for some relaxation. And by relaxation, I mean...starting the day with a walk around the local area, before the shops even open to get morning coffee, walking along the beach to the beach cafe down from our villa and starting the day with mimosa's, and floating in the warm water without watching the clock for your next meeting - no plans, no itinerary. A dream. :)
We had 10 girls for a friend's birthday celebration and shared two condos right on the beach in the heart of Playa Del Carmen - we could walk most places. We didn't go through a resort or travel agent for our booking...you can find some great options on sites like VRBO.com.
The picture above is the view from our condo patio. We were located right on the beach and we had a team of locals that would come and set up their massage tent each day. We took full advantage of their location! They gave great massages and they were very inexpensive!
Beyond the massage tents is the ocean. It was amazing to wake up and have coffee on the patio with the site, smell and sound of the ocean to welcome your day. The water was warm and welcoming, but very salty (making it easy to float).
The majority of our days were spent just down the beach at one of the resort/restaurants that host a bounty of lounge chairs and umbrellas. Fair warning - most of them don't open until around noon (even though they have breakfast on their menu). We typically got there before they opened and counted down until we could order food and our daily dose of champagne!
Playa has some great food options. We loved being in walking distance to so many. We had a great time at Ula Gula. The server was very attentive and fun, and they had a DJ by the time we were leaving, who was also a lot of fun. The food was pretty good, but atmosphere is what you go for. Make sure you get a table on the patio so you can sit in the open air and people watch as the crowds walk by. We also went to Aldea Corazon, and although the place was beautiful (we ate in a beautiful jungle courtyard), the food alright and the service didn't compare to Ula Gula. One restaurant we had to drive to and I have mixed reviews - Alux. It's in a cave. I think you have to experience it if you go to Playa, but I would go there patient. The food was good, not great. The service was okay...a bit slow and not as attentive as some of the others we had been to already. However, the restaurant itself and the fact that you're in a cave is all very cool. My favorite restaurant of the trip, I'm looking for the name and will have to add it as an update later. :)
What else do you do when you're in paradise besides go to the beach and great restaurants at night? You have to enjoy the water activities, and check out some nightlife!
I was set on getting over to Akumal Bay to swim with the sea turtles. A few of the girls decided that it was something they wanted to do as well, so we went for it. We hired a taxi by popping into one of the local hotels. The taxi driver was really great and he gave recommendations on what else we should do if we were already going out to Akumal. We decided to hire him for the day and he would take us to swim with the sea turtles and then we'd go check out the Mayan Ruins of Tulum. I was so happy that we made that decision and this was definitely one of the best days we had while in Playa Del Carmen (in my opinion).
In terms of nightlife, there is plenty. There are open air clubs all over the place! They don't really get busy until later in the evening. The clubs are really not our speed any longer (we'd prefer a nice 3-4 hour dinner with drinks and then home), but we did check out the clubs near our condo one night because a few of us wanted to dance!
My group did not do Xterra or any of the adventure parks, but I'd definitely like to do that the next time I go. This trip was all about relaxation and no stress. We had a lot of fun and I'd love to be back on that beach with a coconut drink in hand right now!