I started going to the Eastern side of Mexico in 2013, it was before I started diving but I missed snorkeling which you really cannot do in Puerto Vallarta. We decided to go to Playa del Carmen for our first trip to that side not on a cruise. After doing some research and looking at our budget we decided to stay at an all inclusive with an adults only section. We were hoping for an environment that had character and hopefully some local animals. We were not disappointed. We checked into our room at the Sandos Caracol Eco Resort and quickly got on our swimsuits to hit the beach.
The animals did not disappoint either. We had monkeys, coatis, racoons, many different birds, iguana and lots of rescued cats.
Most of this vacation was spent at the beach but we did take an amazing day trip to Tulum, Cenote Snorkeling, Yal-Ku Lagoon and Akumal Beach to swim with sea turtles. We used Riviera Adventours, we like smaller groups and they were 4-7 people, only 4 on ours. We booked the Extreme Tulum Expedition but were able to customize it to add more snorkeling and took out the zip-lining as we have done that many times. We started the day at Tulum, it was about 8:30/9:00 am when we arrived and it was already almost 90 degrees out. We beat the rush of tourists so had the ruins pretty much to ourselves and of course mating iguanas. I have done the official tour before but I prefer to wander about on my own and thank goodness at the end of our visit there is an air-conditioned Starbucks on the main entrance to the park #gottahavestarbucks.
Our next stop was to snorkel in Cenote Chaak Tun. this was my first time to go into a cenote and it was amazing! A few trips later I would jump into Ik Kil and go cavern diving a year after that. After the cenote we went to Yal-Ku Lagoon in Akumal. The lagoon connects to the Caribbean which brings in fresh water from surrounding cenotes which then escapes to the sea in this area. The result is a calm waterway that mixes both fresh and salt water called brackish water and creates a home for many fish species. This natural estuary is full of both fresh and salt water fish in an area no deeper than 10 feet.
Our final stop of the day was Akumal Beach. The sand is white and so soft, the water is like bath water and filled with Sea Turtles. We saw about 30 turtles while we were there and then spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the shallow waters. I also had a friend get married here so if you happen to be looking for a special place to tie the knot, her pictures were amazing.
Since we came to snorkel we also took a day trip to Puerto Morales. Eddie with The Snorkel Tour met us at our hotel for a private tour. One thing I will tell you to do is physically print your reservation as the taxi drivers in Puerto Morales are crazy and they thought he picked us up in town and were stealing their business. Thankfully all of that happened after our amazing day snorkeling had finished. The reef was beautiful and the water was warm and the visibility was endless. I do however still have to say that the best snorkeling in Mexico is on Cozumel.
For a trip filled with unique experiences make sure to put Playa del Carmen on the bucket list.