Charleston has been a little unseasonably cold and rainy this winter and I find myself dreaming of warm tropical breezes, sandy beaches and a vibrant downtown area. Playa del Carmen has it all!
I'm remembering my visit there back in 2015 and thinking about what it might be like to live there on a part time or maybe even a full time basis. I may at one time have asked myself how I would get along in a spanish speaking country or how would I assimilate to the culture however I remember that the livin was truly easy. Playa del Carmen is a tropical beachside city an hour south of Cancún. It has every modern convenience—including high-speed internet—plus the added delight of coconut-laden palm trees. The Caribbean sea is just one of my most favorite things about Playa del Carmen. The beach has crystal clear waters, lush palm trees swaying and waves that gently crash on the shore. Beach vendors stroll the sand balancing glass boxes on their head full of snacks. It was easy to figure out how to get food and water delivered to me on the beach. Another reason I really loved Playa, as the locals all called it, is because it's international city. It attracts Europeans, South Americans, Australians, Canadians, Americans, and Mexicans from all over the country. I was there at between Christmas and New Years with a friend and we spent the holiday with people from 5 different countries. I love the fact that the city is friendly and diverse. It's not only diverse in nationality but also in age. Several of the people my friend and I spent time with were much younger and we had a blast!
Playa is also very affordable which is very attractive when traveling within a budget. Even though Playa is considered an expensive part of Mexico, it's still much cheaper than the U.S. We ate a huge freshly-made salad with sweet potato hummus for about $15, including cucumber water. And that was for both of us. Sometimes we'll indulge in 3-for-2 tacos for $12, total. A nicer dinner with wine runs $25 to $30. They have literally thousands of restaurants of all types and in all price ranges in Playa with one street - 12th street - dedicated to nightlife and featuring the Coco Bongo. Our rental was very inexpensive as well. If I remember correctly we had a pool, daily pool service, a housekeeper and laundry service all for about $35/ night.
If you stay in the center of town you will be able to walk everywhere you want to go. You can walk to the beach, to restaurants, to yoga class etc. Within an eight-block radius there is virtually everything you need. And if you do need a ride? You can WhatsApp one of your favorite taxi drivers or walk out on the street where there are dozens driving by.
The Culture there is wonderful. People are so friendly. I think the kind of friendly that Mexico is inherently known for. They go out of there way to help you. We had people offer to share their umbrella with us at the beach, shoppers stopped to help us find things in the grocery store, my girlfriend had to see a dentist while we were there and he gave her his personal cell phone number.
Next time you are considering a warm tropical retreat, consider Playa! You'll be amazed at it's beauty, warm culture and how far your budget will actually stretch!