Due to our three hour delay we did not arrive until the evening. Our pre-arranged transfer was still waiting for us and it took about an hour to get to our hotel in Playacar.
Playacar itself has a strange set up, a paved road, guarded at each end with Playa del Carmen at one end and only taxis and buses are allowed through. There is a small shopping Plaza with a variety of shops and some stalls.There are a mixture of private houses and hotels. Most of the hotels on this strip are 4-5* chain hotels, mainly on the beach side. There are a couple on the other side with golf courses either on the property or nearby. It is roughly a half hour walk to Playa del Carmen or a short taxi ride from most of the hotels for a bigger choice of shops, restaurants, a huge market along the Avenida and free wi-fi.
We spent the first day just relaxing and unwinding round the beautiful pool and white sand beach at our hotel
An early start for Tulum at 7.30am. Tulum was further than we thought. Mexico and even the Yucatan Peninsula are deceptively vast. Tulum is certainly impressive and covers a wide area overlooking a beautiful beach. Different species of iguana roam freely among the ruins. Tulum is almost 2000 years old and ancient Mayans, it is said, invented both chocolate and chewing gum. A lot of modern Mexicans from the Yucatan region still, after all this time have a very distinct Mayan shape, very short only about 5ft 5in, stocky and dark with a very short neck.
Our next stop was the even more impressive Coba. We chose the bike taxi, uncomfortable but definitely better than the five kilometre walk to see the most complete Mayan ruin in existence, the Observatory and finally the huge pyramid which some chose to climb
After this, we had lunch in a Mayan Village. I had expected this to be some sort of made up place for tourists but in fact we were shown some genuine dwellings consisting of simple windowless huts, without furniture or possessions, just hammocks and a few pots and pans. One had a spider monkey as a pet. The village oddly seemed to have more restaurants and tiny churches than homes or people. The whole experience was very humbling.
Our next trip was to Cozumel, Mexico’s largest island, less than an hour away by catamaran.We carefully chose our day to avoid cruise ships, but in fact, contrary to what we were told, there were seven including the largest, Oasis of the Seas and also Norwegian Epic. We were also told, that in any case, the presence of cruise ships would not affect our visit. That was true as most of our visit was to the Eco Park at Playasur which does not seem to be visited by cruise excursions. Our visit was by a large open truck starting with a snorkel stop with lunch and nice cold beers. Our next stop was the lighthouse and museum. In this region were also large pieces of coral, fossils and sponges and finally the Cozumel ruins, an ancient Mayan relic of a hurricane warning system replicating the effects of a conch shell. Right opposite was a walkway leading to a Crocodile swamp. Even without the crocodiles, this was such an eerie place especially with the setting sun.
The eco park is also full of birds and nesting turtles and rugged bays full of vegetation and just the odd beach bar here and there. By the time we got back to the main town it was already nightfall and we had only a short time for shopping there,
We were absolutely amazed at how much there is to do in the Yucatan Peninsula. For the family there are natural theme parks built into the existing caves and rivers and preserving the nature of the region. For the adventurous there are opportunities for 4WD, swimming with dolphins, golf courses and zip wiring. Cozumel has some of the world’s best dive and snorkel sites. For those looking for culture there are literally thousands of Mayan ruins including Chichen Itza, Tulum and Coba. For nature lovers, there are rainforests and many indigenous animals like the Tejon which looks a little like a raccoon and the Sereque which is rather like a hare without ears.There are also many iguanas, birds and huge butterflies.