Beautiful beaches, diverse cuisine and all-inclusive comfort await at the Royal Hideaway Playacar, Occidental at Xcaret Destination, and Barceló Maya Grand Resort, all located on the Mayan Riviera on the coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico. During your stay, you may want to do a little exploring in (and around) Playa del Carmen, one the region’s most exciting destinations. Here are five spots that will get you off the beaten path.
Spider Monkey Paradise: The Jungle Place
Go say hello to some amazing Playa primates! The Jungle Place is a sanctuary for the endangered Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) – it currently provides a safe home for more than 80 of these remarkable, highly intelligent creatures. On a tour of the grounds, you’ll get to see Spider Monkeys at play and have an up-close-and-personal experience with some of nature’s most amazing animals. Be forewarned: you may leave wanting to bring a Spider Monkey home with you!
Underground Eats: Alux Restaurant
Playa del Carmen is home to many fantastic restaurants. But as far as we know, there’s only one that’s located in a cave. For a meal at Alux Restaurant, you’ll descend into a 10,000-year-old cavern (right next to a cenote) to enjoy authentic and innovative Mexican cuisine in an otherworldly setting. Don’t miss the extensive selection of tasty cocktails, including several made with the Mayan liquor Xtbentun. Word to the wise: make your reservations well in advance.
The Secret River: Rio Secreto
Your Alux Restaurant culinary adventure might get you in the mood for another subterranean journey. Try the Rio Secreto – AKA The Secret River. A literally hidden gem, Rio Secreto is an underground river and system of caves that boasts stunning, mocha-colored stalagmites and stalactites and luminous, crystal clear turquoise waters. You can swim in the natural pools and explore the caves, discovering a world beneath Quintana Roo. A perfect activity for adventurous families.
Eco-Adventure: Sian Ka’an Biosphere
A designated Biosphere Reserve since 1986 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sian Ka’an Biosphere is one of the Playa del Carmen area’s most eye-opening eco-adventures. Located near Tulum, there are an array of experiences to be had for all ages at Sian Ka’an, including snorkeling on the Mesoamerican Reef, cruising a canal built by Mayans more than 1,000 years ago and boat tours that offer encounters with the biosphere’s amazing wildlife. Keep an eye out for friendly dolphins …
Aquatic Ecosystem: Yal-Ku Lagoon
Located about 20 minutes south of Playa del Carmen in Akumal, the Yal-Ku Lagoon is a snorkeler’s dream come true – no matter what your level of experience may be. As you float through the calm, clear and shallow waters, you’ll come across dozens of species of tropical fish, coral and sea turtles. It’s an absolutely pristine ecosystem that you can spend a full day exploring – and the shallow areas are great for younger kids. See what’s happening under the waves!