A perfect example of a place caught somewhere between old and new. A country that has something to offer everyone. Where party-goers meet backpackers in search of unspoilt land. Welcome to Mexico.
It’s 8am and I am woken by the lively sound of birds and brilliant sunshine beaming across my room, illuminating the whitewashed balcony overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Having spent an evening with a group of American fun-seekers dancing the night away in the bustling party capital Cancun, I am in need of a return to the sublime.
I leave my hotel and wander along the stunning white sands to the Beach Cafe for coffee and pancakes. A rustic, family run tavern situated close to, but out of sight of the multimillion dollar hotel complexes that line this part of the coastline. The view is breath-taking. Situated adjacent to a fresh water spring meandering down into the sea – this is worlds apart from the theatrical night scene of Coco-Bongo I was experiencing just hours ago.
I am staying in Playa del Carmen; just 30 minutes from Cancun and isolated enough to make me feel shipwrecked at times. Pure paradise.
Buenos días! Juan arrives with breakfast, smiling and regaling me with stories of his son’s wedding – a traditional celebration of food, music and dancing that had been held on this beach 2 days previous. Everyone is welcomed by Juan at the Beach Café.
I finish my food and leave to catch a boat to a nearby uninhabited island where the sea is as warm as bath water and crystal clear. Locals call me over to meet ‘Maria’ – the resident stingray – completely devoid of fear for humans; she ripples along the shore terrifying unsuspecting tourists and intrigued by the splashes of fishermen reeling in lunch (its ok – she has had her sting removed as locals couldn’t dissuade her from visiting).
We dine on the sands – a feast of BBQ chicken and fresh fish accompanied by salads, beans and local beers. Before long, it’s back on the boat and we are on our way back to the mainland; but not before stopping off for a spot of snorkelling to take in the wonders of the coral reef. Here you are likely to meet a variety of sea creatures, including sharks and dolphins. We don’t spot any sharks today but on our way back into the harbour, the captain shuts off the engine and points out to the horizon. Dolphins.
Back at the hotel, I prepare for a trip to the authentic, less tourist-infused town of Playa del Carmen. A feast of fresh lobster awaits.
Tucked away down a side street overlooking the beach is an understated seafood restaurant. I choose my lobster and relax with a marguerite to the faint beat of steel drums as the sun sets; signalling the end to another day in paradise.
Mexico; a Mayan metropolis with something to offer everyone.