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10 Things To Do In Playa Del Carmen
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Playa del Carmen, Mexico may be a little Caribbean beach town, but you'll never run out of things to do while you're there and everything in the town is within walking distance. However, out of all the possibilities, some activities stand out from the rest:
1. Relax - Mexico runs at a slower pace, and it's even slower in the Caribbean. As you arrive in Playa del Carmen, take a deep breath and step out of the rat race. Stroll around town; enjoy the great cuisine, drink ice-cold beer, relax on white, soft sand or swim in warm Caribbean waters.
2. Stroll in Playa - Strolling down La Quinta, or 5th Avenue, is a popular pastime, and the street is "pedestrian only" a large part of the time. While walking down the Avenue, you'll find the cutest shops and boutiques, eat at open-air restaurants with authentic local cuisine and enjoy the pause of the occasional siesta break.
3. Bird watching in Xaman Ha - The Xaman Ha Aviary is a natural habitat with over 60 species of native, tropical birds. Roughly 200 individual birds live, eat, fly and reproduce within this little jungle, mingling with iguanas, butterflies, turtles, fish and other animals. This open-aired sanctuary, with paths leading to the birds' nesting areas, provides ample opportunity to view the Great Egret, Yellow Tailed Orioles, White-fronted Parrots, Keel Billed Toucans, the Long-tailed Scarlet Parrot and many more.
4. Diving off of Cozumel - Cozumel is a typical "tourist trap", with generic shopping, the Hard Rock Cafe and other franchises for tourists off of cruise ships. However, it's also been a diving destination since the 1960s. Jacques Cousteau introduced the area's incredible reefs and the rest is history. Cozumel is now world-famous for those reefs; diving, deep-sea fishing, kayaking and snorkeling are the games of the day.
5. Visit the Mayan Ruins - Mayan ruins are all over the Yucatan peninsula; some are even inside Playa del Carmen: one on La Quinta, another one by the beach and still another in Playacar. Near Playa are the Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum sites, which offer amazing structures such as: the Temple of the Frescoes, with detailed carved masks at each corner; the Nahoch Mul pyramid, the tallest pyramid in the entire Mayan world; the pyramid El Castillo, with steps that end in huge serpent heads.
6. Catch a deep-sea fish - Year-round, Playa del Carmen is a great place to go deep-sea fishing. In the spring and summer, sailfish and marlin migrate through the Cozumel channel. The sailfish is abundant from March to July and dolphin-fish, barracuda, kingfish, tuna and wahoo are available all year. If you don't want to cook your catch, you can always find a restaurant to prepare it for you.
7. Spend a day at Xcaret - Xcaret is the biggest natural eco park on the Mayan Riviera. It's full of beautiful lagoons, natural pools and underground rivers. Well worth a day trip, you can swim with dolphins or sharks, ride down a river on a raft and see the Yucatan Peninsula's rich flora and fauna. As the day winds down, join an ancient mystical ritual and watch a performance celebrating pre-Hispanic times to the rhythmic sound of pounding drums.
8. Spend a day in Cancun - If the relaxed atmosphere of Playa del Carmen gets to be a little too much and you need a little fast-paced action, take an hour-long ride to Cancun. Huge shopping malls and discos give you plenty of ways to spend money and step back into the rat race. The market, Mercado 28, will help you bone up on your bartering skills for Mexican handicrafts, and, in the spring, you can dance the day and night away during the well-renowned Cancun Jazz Festival.
9. Take an ATV tour through the jungle - If Cancun isn't enough to get your blood moving, you can always take an ATV tour and ride through the jungle on rough dirt tracks. Stop at a crystal clear cenote for a swim and visit an underground, water-filled cavern, then hop back on the ATVs for another fun-filled ride.
10. Visit the past in Valladolid - Valladolid takes about 2.5 hours by car from Playa del Carmen, but it makes a wonderful day trip; you can combine it with the Chichen Itza ruins. A colonial town founded in 1543, entering Valladolid is like stepping into the past. The convent and church of San Bernardino de Siena - one of the oldest churches in the Americas - was founded in 1552. As you walk through the town, you'll pass under archways, see weathered Spanish coats of arms and eat Mexican food. Bring your swimsuit, because you'll also have the change to swim in a beautiful, underground lake.
It's a definite that you won't run out of things to do while in Playa del Carmen. This little part of the Caribbean gives a whole new meaning to "relax and have fun" - in a great big way!
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