Dear Playa del Carmen,
You will forever hold a special place in our hearts. Exploring your natural wonders, eating the best tostadas EVER, enjoying a rooftop spicy margarita (or 2) and dancing – all the dancing! – you have been a second home for us for the past 5 years. The city’s energy and vibrancy continue to lure us back year after year, and we find something new to love with every visit. I can’t wait to uncover more secrets. Until next time…
Anyone that knows us knows that we ADORE Mexico, and that we travel there at least once every year. While true that it’s a cheap stay and quick 3.5 hour flight from Chicago, those aren’t the only reasons we keep going back. Andrew and I love venturing out into the cities we travel, and Playa del Carmen is the perfect walkable travel destination if that’s your thing as well. 5th Ave is a long, cobblestone road that allows pedestrian traffic only, and it has a little bit of everything: restaurants, shopping, fancy bars, hole-in-the-wall bars and (my fave) clubs for dancing. Keeping it real, I have to say the negative thing – you will be hounded by someone on almost every block, asking if you’re interested in going to Cozumel or some other random touristy activity. If you’re male, you’ll almost certainly encounter at least one, “You want some weed? Some coca? Free sample.’ It’s just how it is – say no and keep walking. Also worth noting is that you can purchase tickets yourself at the actual pier so there really is zero need to stop. Beyond that, the city is full of fun surprises – beautiful wall art, dive bars, churro stands and simply put, picture-perfect streets.
When we went in 2016, we happened upon the Danza de los Voledoras, or ‘Dance of the Flyers.’ This was quite the surprise in the very best way! An ancient Mesoamerican ceremony/ritual, Danza de los Voledoras consists of dancing and the climbing of a 30-meter pole from which four of five participants, tied with ropes, free-fall to the ground. The fifth remains on top of the pole, dancing and playing a flute and drum. According to one myth, the ritual was created to ask the gods to end a severe drought. The Dance of the Flyers was quite the show! It occurs at Parque Los Fundadores, which is near the pier, and a fabulous photo spot you shouldn’t miss (it’s where the Portal Maya statue photo was taken). We stood mouths agape as we watched men hurl themselves from the tall pole – CRAZINESS! Afterwards, they do come around and ask for donations, which was totally fine with us given their performance.
The street shows typically occur earlier in the evening, but a wonderful time to explore 5th Ave is early/mid morning, when there aren’t so many tourists or locals out yelling as passersby to buy something. You’ll have some shadows in your photos, sure; but you’ll also have much of the street to yourself so you can take in everything as slowly as you like.