We arrived in Playa del Carmen in the evening, just enough time to take a shower (after a hard day of snorkeling around Tulum–see our previous blog). Somehow, in contrast to our typical practice of staying in hotels in the center of down, we ended up at a resort a few miles outside the city. Even more inexplicably (Joyce can’t recall how or why she ever did it–we discovered that our reservation included dinner. We virtually never eat at the hotel at which we are staying, not at least, without checking all surrounding restaurants first.
Although the Petite Lafitte resort is lovely, it was a bit too far out of town to hope in and then get back for dinner. But, the hotel has a nice tiki bar, and a very good two-man band (imagine a guitar and violin duo of Pink Floyd The Wall!).
The fun, however, ended when we walked into the dining room to see a relatively pedestrian (except for the mushroom soup and the artichoke heart salad) salad bar and a choice of chicken poblano or lasagna entrees. Neither was memorable.
Although we missed our evening stroll of what is supposed to be a hoping Fifth Avenue, we did make it too our primary destination for this leg of our trip. We took a morning Ferry from downtown Playa del Carmen to the island of Cozumel
We only had four short hours on the island. After a brief walk through the downtown tourist area (some interesting art, jewelry and black coral galleries) we rented a jeep for a drive around the island. Parts of the coast, especially the south and southeast coasts, are lovely, with sandy beaches interspersed among rock outcroppings. Much of the drive, however, was surrounded by dense tropical forests, which were indistinguishable from roads in the interior of the mainland.
We did find time for a lunch stop, at a causal beach restaurant (with a very fun taste in sculptures) along the east coast, at Playa Bonita. After a guacamole appetizer, a huge dish of wonderful mixed ceviche and a couple of beers, we were off to complete our circuit around the south half of the island.
Although reports from friends and the Internet about the state of the post-Irene coral, we decided to pass on the opportunity to snorkel along the reef. This, of course, left me with a sense of post-non-purchase dissonance. Perhaps next time.
Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is a working city with lovely beach, but relatively few of the tourist amenities (not to speak of the huge resort hotels) that characterize most of the Mayan Riviera. But, since the city is the departure point for many of the ferries to Cozumel, it too has its share of tourist-oriented shops and services–the vast majority of which are concentrated around 5th Avenue. Also, if you have a chance, there is a lovely gated community just south of the ferry terminal, filled with lovely homes.