Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Part 2)

When we travel, we rarely splurge on where we stay. The only exception was when we went to Vietnam and stayed on a fancy boat in Halong Bay: Cruising Down Halong Bay, Vietnam: Our Cruise Boat

My fiancé found a good deal on a hotel in Playa so we jumped at the chance to stay. Because it’s the low season they lowered their prices which we were more than happy to pay!

We stayed at the Occidental Hotel at Xcaret and we really enjoyed it there. The weather was perfect for the two days, and pretty much all we did was relaxed, swam, drank beer and ate food. Also the place is HUGE, with places even off limits only for special members. (They have their own restaurants and pools).  They even have a small shuttle car to bring you from the beach to the main lobby it’s that big!

 

There are monkeys, deer, flamingos and racoons that live in the hotel area and while we were walking back to our hotel building at night we spotted a deer walking among the trees and it was so cool. The buffet breakfast and lunch was also really nice!

Altogether we paid about 80 euro per person per night with food and drink included. So it really was very cheap! I have no idea how much it would be during the high season, and I don’t want to know either! So we were rather sad having to return to our hostel for the next 2 nights.

On our last day we went to Xel-Ha, a nature park where you can do lots of water activites! It was very unique for me, as you’d never find this in Ireland whatsoever. There were cenotes, rivers to swim in, cliffs to jump off, walking trails in the jungle, restaurants to eat at and places to relax. It’s a great place for kids and I’m sure my nephews would love it! Here is the website to check it out: Xel-Ha Park

 

There is a big river where you start at the top and swim down with the current. You can do this by snorkelling or with a floatable chair.  Because the water is mixed with sea water and fresh water, this makes the top of the water cold, but when you put your feet lower  you can feel a current of really warm water! I was shocked when it suddenly got warm around my feet. It was so cool to experience!

After we were swam down the river we got food and walked around the area. We bought a ticket which included food and drink (which also includes alcoholic drinks).

I really enjoyed my time in Playa del Carmen and the surrounding area. It’s much quieter during the low season but I can imagine it could get very busy and noisy in the high season!

It’s nice to have seen a different part of Mexico!

To check out Part 1, click here: Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Part 1)

Where we stayed in Playa Del Carmen: Las Hijas Hostel

We were told by the staff that they were closing and having checked booking.com they have indeed closed, so I won’t write a review for them.

Aisling

Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Part 1)

Before heading to Cuernavaca, my fiancé wanted to bring me to Playa del Carmen for a week. The flights where also cheaper from Madrid to there than to Mexico city. I have only been to areas around Cuernavaca and to Mexico City, so it was nice to see another part of Mexico!

We went during the low season, and my fiancé said there was a marked difference in tourists. I was a little wary of hurricanes (as it’s hurricane season) but thankfully we just got some rain for the week we were there!

While there, we visited the beach (it’s actually much warmer than I expected). Although the water wasn’t crystal clear because of the large amount of seaweed. They don’t exactly know what has caused this influx of seaweed, but I didn’t mind too much! It was still a lovely area!

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Next we visited Tulum with a tour that we booked. There was a big dark cloud on the way so we got caught in a huge torrent of rain and got soaked! Thankfully we dried off quite quickly though! It was very pretty though with the ruins right beside the sea. And I saw plenty of iguanas too.

After Tulum, we headed to Cobá, where we climbed up a huge Mayan pyramid and took some pictures of the area (which is literally jungle for miles and miles). I heard that this area in Mexico is full of jungle, and I always thought that the trees would be towering high above like what you see on tv in the Amazon. So when we were driving literally in the middle of the jungle, I realised that the trees aren’t that high at all. It’s just that it is so dense with foliage. It would be impossible to walk in it. So I was surprised with that!

Finally we visited a cenote, which is a natural pit with water in it. I didn’t manage to take photos because I didn’t want to get my phone wet, but we swam in the water and it was FREEZING! We went to an underground one, so that made it even colder. Some have open tops so the water isn’t as cold. The depth of these can go for 100’s of metres! It was a great experience and I’m glad I did it. Bare in mind, Tulum, Cobá and the cenote were done in 1 day, so we were wrecked when we came back to our hostel!

On our next day trip, we first visited Chichen Itza and I think this was my favourite place that I visited! The pyramid was very impressive! You used to be able to climb up it now unfortunately a tourist fell and died so they stopped allowing visitors up it now. I don’t mind though because I think it would be damaged by the amount of people climbing it. (plus no one will fall now)

There are also also mayan ruins in the area which are also cool to see.

We then visited another cenote, and this time it was an open top one. I also was able to get some photos of this one! The weather was a bit cloudy so the water was a little cold, but not as cold as the first one we visited.

Our last stop for the day was to Valladolid Town, a town that seemed as if it was in the middle of nowhere. It was very cute though and I loved the architecture. We only got to stop for about 15 minutes so we were in a rush to take some nice photos.

The stones that were used in this church were actually taken by the Spanish from Mayan temples to make churches like this one.

Again, another very busy day for us! But next we were going to spend 2 days at an all-inclusive hotel. To read more click here for part 2: Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Part 2)

Aisling

What We Did In El Nido Part 2

What We Did In El Nido Part 2

Still having 2 more tours to do, we next opted to do Tour A. This tour consists mainly of visiting lovely beaches and lagoons, and some of the lagoons were breathtaking! For me, I thought this was the best tour!

But I can tell you, we were both exhausted by the time we got home at 4pm… definitely in need of a nice shower to wash all that sand away… then a good nap!

Another day arrived, and taking a rest from the water, we headed to try out the zip line! I’ve never done this before, and It was great fun! Unfortunately I was too busy looking at the wire and making sure my head didn’t go near it,  that I missed catching a glimpse of  most of the scenery around me!

To get to the zip line from El Nido town, you should get a tricycle for  about 150pesos and they will drop you to the small mountain that you should walk up. It only takes about 7-8 minutes but it is a little steep. After you have finished the zip line, you need to take a rickety ladder made of bamboo down to the bottom, and then walk back. During low tide the sea will be out so you can walk across the beach.

After the zip line, we got lunch and relaxed on bean bags at Las Cabanas beach.  It had such a relaxed vibe there I could have stayed all day. There is also a bar where you can order drinks or food.

On our last day before we left El Nido, we went on Tour C. We were told the day before that it may not happen, as in and around the area of Tour C the sea was a little rough. We had to wait until the morning of the trip to confirm if it was happening, and it was!

This tour consists mostly of swimming, and I tell you… this was the most difficult tour of them all! Unfortunately the sea was quite choppy… and at one point, we had to swim to a small island with a beautiful beach. But the waves were that high and strong… swimming over to it was extremely scary! Because there were boats already there, our boat was behind them, meaning we had to swim around these to get to shore.

Our tour guide told us to swim as a group, and I tried my hardest to swim along and keep up… the current was so strong. Then we got near the shore… but the waves were huge! The problem was that there were loads of jagged rocks at the bottom… you could stand up ok… but then a big wave would come and sweep you off your feet. Because my shins were still quite tender, I was so afraid that I would hit them off the rocks.

Oh my god I was so scared. I started to panic that I wouldn’t be able to get to the shore, and I would get injured by the rocks. Thankfully I made it, but I was really shook up. I really didn’t want to have to get back into the water… and worse… swim AGAINST the current. Swimming with the current wasn’t exactly easy!

So during our 15 minutes at this pretty beach, all I was thinking about was how the hell am I going to get back onto the boat. I told my fiancee “I don’t think I’ll be able to swim to the boat… the water’s too strong”. He said he’ll help me and not to worry.

The time came to risk my life again. Thankfully I was wearing my life jacket which helped a lot! I started panicking. How am I going to do this??? The rocks are too sharp… I can either try and walk it to the deeper parts, but risk falling…. or try and swim and risk cutting my legs because of the rocks… 

In my group there was another lady  and she was holding on to the tour guide…. she was on her back floating and the man was swimming while holding onto her. So I reached her and I started floating backwards while holding her legs. Making sure I didn’t let go!

So there was our tour guide pulling two women behind him, while all the men were battling against the waves! Life and Death!

My fiancee was behind me trying to walk on the rocks and every few seconds he would should “Ok Aisling, there is a another wave coming!” and I would have to take a deep breathe and prepare myself for it! Because I was floating I couldn’t see any waves coming. I even had my snorkel goggles on me!

Before I knew it we were by the boat…. I was DEFINITELY done with the water by then! That was an experience I won’t forget in a long long time.

We picked a bad day to go on Tour C, and I’m pretty sure normally the water is much calmer than when we went.

Unfortunately the ocean became more and more choppy, so we couldn’t visit one beach. We would have had to go through a hole in the rock, and our tour guide said it was just too dangerous. He explained to us that one time he went through it and the water was that rough that he was hitting the rock wall. No thank you! I honestly didn’t mind at all… I had enough of the water for a while!

So our last trip was…. adventurous to say the least… so to calm us down we had a lovely meal and cocktails at a place called Mezzanine. The food is really good, and the cocktails are great too!

So our holiday had finally come to an end… leaving such paradise was hard…. and I was so depressed when we arrived back in China. . . . no more cheap cocktails, delicious meals or swimming in the sea.

But you can’t forget about the real world forever!

*TIP: If you want to try out the zip line, I suggest you go in the morning. If you go later in the day time they may not accept you as they may be too busy with people. This is what happened to us.

**TIP: For the Island Hopping Tours, I strongly advise you to bring water shoes. Tour B you don’t need them as much. But for A and C, there are a lot of rocks and it is much much easier to walk while in the shallow water. You can rent them in the town or you can bring your own. But I strongly recommend them!

Click here to check out part 1: What We Did In El Nido Part 1

What We Did In El Nido Part 1

What We Did In El Nido Part 1

Having over a week in El Nido, we weren’t pushed on time with regards to doing everything there was to offer there!

Most people come to experience the gorgeous surroundings; the islands, clear water, snorkelling and relaxing.

Our first full day we went kayaking. We decided to go just the two of us, and we kayaked to a big island where we visited around 3/4 beautiful beaches. We left at around 9am and returned at about 2:30pm. It was this day when I got extremely badly sunburned on my feet and legs. I put sun cream on, but of course my legs were wet so the cream didn’t stick very well. This led to the next few days being in pain, having swollen feet and hardly being able to move.

I loved the kayaking! However the return home was a bit more difficult! The wind was picking up and it was much harder moving against the wind. But we made it!

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MY FEET!!!!!!

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In just over a week I finished these two bottles!

With my new sunburnt and swollen feet, we decided to relax the day after, and we went to the beach.

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The weather was just perfect

The next day  I gingerly decided to try an Island Hopping Tour. The activities that everyone does when they arrive are these tours. The most popular are A,B and C.

With my feet still in pain and swollen, I took the courage to go on Tour B…. and it was a good choice to make! I think, out of all of them, Tour B was the less demanding one out of the others. Each tour consists of lunch, which are very tasty!

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Delicious!

Each tour goes to a different place, so there is no need to worry that you will visit the same place twice!

Another day, we decided to do an Inland Tour. On some occasions the water will be too rough to go on any tours, so many people will opt to go on this one instead. I suggest you go on the island tour when most people are on the island tours, as it’s not as busy.

This tour consists of going to a beach, then visiting a waterfall, then going to another beach. Unfortunately my feet weren’t up for walking up a hill to the waterfall, so we spent longer at the first beach called Nacpan Beach. . . and it was just incredible!

It is about a 45 minutes tricycle ride from El Nido and we went on a perfect day! And this was were my boyfriend proposed to me! It was just the perfect place to have been asked!

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I will have great memories of this idilic beach. It is definitely a must to visit when in Palawan!

After spending 2 lovely hours there, we went to another beach called Las Cabanas, and here I ordered a lovely iced coffee and sat next to the beach and chilled. It seems this is where the younger people come to lie on the beach, as we didn’t see as many older people.

To continue reading about our adventure, check out Part 2: What We Did In El Nido Part 2