Livin’ la vida Mexicana in Playa del Carmen

As we are learning to live this travelling life, we find that every so often we need to stop and rest. So after travelling around the US and Canada for 6 weeks and covering huge distances, we were looking for somewhere warm by the beach where we could do a bit of home cooking and exercise more regularly to recover from all the melted cheese we had enjoyed! Enter Playa del Carmen, a small town on the Caribbean Sea south of Cancun, Mexico.

It’s very much a beach destination and the whole coastline is stunning however there are also colonial towns and ruins to explore and cenotes (fresh water sink holes) to swim in.

First time we’ve seen a Fly Board in action, these guys looked like they have super powers as they glide over the water. The paragliders were very high but not as high as it looks on the photo

Tourism has exploded over the last 15 years and it’s no longer a quiet fishing village. 5th Avenue, the main tourist drag is side-by-side t-shirt shops and bars and restaurants catering to tourists however a few blocks further away from the beach it feels like a regular Mexican town with a taqueria (taco restaurant) on every street corner.

We had an AirBnb apartment just around the corner surrounded great little eateries

It’s Nick’s first visit to Mexico and it met his expectations fully when one evening we encountered a lone mariachi playing to an audience of two stray dogs!!

So Mexico!
The church in Playa
The church in Playa

It was Halloween during our stay and local kids and their parents (and dogs) went ‘trick or treating’ on 5th Avenue. The US expats also put on a good show.

Malene meets the Little Mermaid / Catrina, a symbol for Day of the Dead / Undernourished Chihuahua

Angels come in all shapes...
Angels come in all shapes…

About a week into our stay, we got the bus down to Tulum, about an hour south. We first visited the Mayan ruins right by the beach.

Tulum ruins
The Mayan ruins at Tulum

The ruins themselves are not the most amazing however their location by the beach is spectacular and after wandering around, we were very happy that the sea was nearby for a dip.

The beach by Tulum ruins
The beach by Tulum ruins

From there we went to the main beach in Tulum to see Papaya Playa Project (that I worked with at Design Hotels). The whole coastline suffers from sargassum seaweed invasion (which in the last two years has affected beaches from Florida and Texas all the way to Brazil) however it’s a beautiful setting. If I was still living in London I couldn’t think of anywhere better to come and chill for a week!

View from the beach club at Papaya Playa
View from the beach club at Papaya Playa
For the tourists: Mayan warriors and pole flying
For the tourists: Mayan warriors advertising their restaurant and pole flying

We’ve now spent a month by the beach in Mexico… From Playa del Carmen we have gone to Isla Mujeres, a tiny island 20 minutes by boat from Cancun and if possible it’s even more chilled here. Will share some photos soon.

Prickly Pear cactus, in Mexico the tender leaves are eaten as a vegitable
Prickly Pear cactus, in Mexico the tender leaves are eaten as a vegitable



  1. Hege says:

    Hey there, just took some time off from power gardening (read: chopping and mulching trees and clearing undergrowth to get rid of snakes…) to catch up on your travels. Wow… is all I can say, looks and sounds like you are having a fantastic time, I know you’ve been doing it for a good while now, but I am still soooo excited for you!!!
    All we’ll at the funny farm, the cottages are “pulling their weight” with better than expected occupancy, and we are both enjoying the much more healthy lifestyle as well as the flexibility this change has brought. Still early days though, kinda looking forward to in about 6 months time when we hopefully have done most of the big projects we feel we need to prioritise (yup, back to chopping back trees and bush etc, plus painting cottages and other minor tasks…. 😉 and can take a step back and relax a bit. And thanks for your email a while back Malene, you are spot on re the personal touch of course, and it being difficult to write! It’s on my to-do list….. 😉

    Anyway, just wanted to say hello, gotta get back to it. Take care and travel safely!!


    • Hi Hege
      So nice to hear from you again! We are happy our photos provide some light entertainment and an excuse for a break. Sounds like you need a few of those with all the work you’ve got on… Have seen some great photos on FB – shows you don’t need to travel for exotic wildlife (the koalas) and adventure.
      Lots of love
      Malene and Nick

  2. Hej Malene. Det ser ud som om I nyder livet og rejsen. Ser fabelagtigt og misundrlsesværdigt ud! Min mor og far fortalte at din mor kommer til Cuba og fejrer jul med Jer. Håber det bliver dejligt. Husk at I selvfølgelig er velkomne her hvis vejen går forbi New York/Nee Jersey. Knus fra din kusine Henny

    • Hej Henny
      Hvor hyggeligt at høre fra dig! Vi nyder helt sikkert vores rejse og kan anbefale Playa del Carmen eller Isla Mujeres hvis I savner lidt solskin – der er jo ikke så langt hertil fra NY. Men jeg ved godt at jeres ferier mest vil blive brugt på at besøge DK… Jeg håber I får en god jul også. Vi glæder os til Cuba med min mor selvom det nok bliver mindre julet.
      Tak fordi du skrev og nu vil jeg også følge lidt med hos familien Nielsen.

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