In our previous post “Tourist vs. Traveler” we explained how we traveled to Mexico and didn’t have the best experience. We stayed at a resort, the tour we booked wasn’t the best and we totally felt cut off from the rest of the country. We left thinking we wouldn’t go back. But, as mentioned in the post “Bang for your travel buck in Mexico”, we decided to give the land south of the Rio Grande a second chance. This time we planned to travel our way – no big resorts.
We arrived in Cancun around 11:30 a.m. and were picked up by our prearranged transfer to our hotel 45 minutes south in Playa del Carmen. The transfer was to and from the airport and cost us $90 in cash, they didn’t accept credit cards. We weren’t aware of that ahead of time, but know we should have asked. We had the money on us so it wasn’t a problem.
The Kinbe Hotel was only a block from the beach and just off the main drag in Playa del Carmen, 5th Avenue. The Kinbe is a small boutique hotel with a swimming pool and rooftop terrace. We found the multilingual reception desk helpful and the rooms spartan, clean and air-conditioned. We needed the AC those first few days with the humidity levels peaking after days of rain the previous week. The pool was nice, nestled a the shade of a courtyard bound by a cascade of trickling water running down the three stories of the hotel into the pool. It was a cool place to relax on even the hottest days. The pool, with its considerable and uniform depth, was used daily by a dive shop across the street for training and even had a window looking out onto the street. The Kinbe has an agreement with the beach club at the end of the block where we got free cushioned sun beds and umbrellas for our time at the beach (not to mention 10% off drinks and food). The beer at the club was $2.75 or 35 pesos (they accept dollars in Playa) and a margarita was 80 pesos or $6.25. Not too shabby for service on the beach.
The beach, or playa in Spanish, is a wonderful powdery white sand buffered by crystal green water. I know for someone who grew up going to the beaches in North Carolina it may have seemed a bit crowded but I didn’t find myself having to navigate around beach blankets to get to the water either. The warm water, possibly 80 degrees, had gentle surf that was easy to walk past to where you could bob up and down in the swells resting your feet on the sandy bottom. The surf was stirred up a bit because of high winds earlier in the week but the visibility was still about 4 feet. You could even see the occasional fish swimming by, if you were paying attention and not mistaking it for seaweed. We spent hours just floating in the water, talking and people watching, it was very therapeutic.
If you are interested in more than bobbing like a cork in the green sea there are plenty of options for the active and not-so-active. You will find outfitters offering parasailing, kayaking and jet skiing right there on the beach. You will also find that if you’re sore from your activities relaxing massages are offered at many of the beach clubs right there on the sand.
If you like the simple beach life of twisting your toes in the sand as you sip a fruity drink with an umbrella in it, we definitely recommend heading to Playa del Carmen, Mexico.