The Bus From Cancun and a Few Hours in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico…Baby Lions? Really?

After an unexpectedly AWESOME time in Cancun (swimming with whale sharks, releasing baby turtles and 25 cent Hass avocados set a new high bar for me), our week at the Royal Sands Cancun was over.   Good bye view from my balcony…

Good-bye mega-hotel with the insane army of ever friendly employees…(here they are mobilized to clean the already pristine beach in the morning…50 guys probably picking up dead baby turtles before the kids get up)

good-bye gym heavenly enough for me to go 7 days in a row.  That beats my old record by about 4 days.

Anyway, it’s time to catch the bus south.  And since we are in one of the world’s greatest areas (Yucatan/Belize), why not make a few stops on the way down home.

We took the city bus (still only $8.50 pesos ANYWHERE in Cancun) from the hotel to the ADO bus station.   Once there, they have buses running to Playa Del Carmen every 15 minutes pretty much all day.

They have this separate section for these tickets.

The ride is easy…just about an hour and only $48 pesos or $3 USD.  Mexico’s bus service is incredible in every way…a machine.

Playa del Carmen was a tiny fishing village not so long ago but due to its gorgeous beach and international restaurants and shops and amazing location, it has really exploded.  The population is now listed at 150,000!  Fifth Avenue is a pedestrian street that is certainly touristy but in many ways maintains a bunch of local and European charm.  A good place to stop for a few hours.

I’d been only once before…maybe 3 years ago…and I know they have some great shopping and restaurants.  But I also know that it can be a bit crowded on the main strip and I was really looking forward to peaceful Tulum.

Oh!  Let me throw in a Yucatan map again so you can see what an easy trip this all is.  Home base, San Pedro, Belize, is just below Xcalak, Mexico.  (Gracias Lonely Planet for the map.)

On the second floor of the Playa bus station is a storage area for your bags.  It’s not incredibly cheap…but it sure is convenient.

We ended up walking around for about 3 hours and it costs $93 pesos.  Priceless if you imagine yourself rolling suitcases up and down a cobble stone boulevard.

Some pictures from Playa Del Carmen.  There is a little chapel like area right outside the station that was being set up for a wedding…

The port where the turbo-ferries to Cozumel dock…

What’s a good tourist/cruise ship town without Senor Frog’s?

The far south of town near the ferry terminal is quite an upscale mall…

And tons of pharmacies.  I’m not judging!  Cruise shippers of a certain age, far be it from me to comment if you want to buy a bit of Viagra while on vacation.

What is Mass Relax?

Some pharmacies are right in souvenir & tequila mega stores.  Everything you need in one place!  Though be careful with the Jose Cuervo and the mass relax.

There are quite a few new stores…Haagen Das seems to have taken over.

A quick walk around the bus station/ferry terminal area had me itching to keep walking.  So many people trying to lure you to look at silver bracelets or sombreros or to have a margarita or buy some truly crappy shirts…WHO BUYS THESE THINGS?  Ick.

Classy…

You can get tiny fish to chew on your dead foot skin.  (I would not wish that one my worst enemy…and certainly not a poor little fishy.)
Or this MOST disturbing sight.  Twice I saw guys with TINY baby lions (real lions!) selling you a chance to hold them or take a picture with them.   Both cubs were exhausted, probably too young to be away from their moms and the “handlers” adamant that you didn’t take your own pictures.  (This guy was pissed.)
How can this be legal?  The guy was actually saying that you should pay for the picture “for a good cause”…so that the baby could be returned to the zoo and raised properly.
Ummmm…asshole…what zoo would that be exactly?  Where are they getting these animals?  Gross, gross, gross.  I hope no one is supporting this kind of thing.
Okay, back to my 5th Avenue walk.

This sign is funny to me for some reason.  Who wants to be considered a turista?

The farther north you go, the happier you will be.  Cute restaurants…

and very cute art and crafts…

Grab a bucket of beers or a margarita and watch all the people go by.

Time to head south.

A one hour bus ride (only $34 pesos on budget local bus Mayab)…

and I’m in Tulum!  At a very cute little hotel, VERY reasonably priced that I’ve been to a few times before:  Secret Garden Tulum.

No ruins for me this time because I’ve seen them twice this year already.  I know what you are thinking…woe is me. (Here is a post from exactly one year ago:  Tulum Beach & Ruins.  Hey look!  I’m wearing the same shorts!)

Off to my favorite beach in the world.  I’ll report back later…




Be the first to get the Scoop AND receive my weekly newsletter...

  • Our only stop in Playa del Carmen was in 2004 and we called it Isla on Crack, but they did seem to have better crafty items if you went north up Fifth Ave. 150,000! That’s shocking but I believe it. Looking forward to your impressions of the beach in Tulum because we’ve never stayed there. Glad you had a great time swimming with the whale sharks!

  • Me

    The beach in Tulum is the best I’ve ever seen in the world. Today was GORGEOUS.

  • “What is Mass Relax?” Surely that is the post pensioner viagra party?

    You are right about the lion cubs. Faced with a drunken fat bastard pseudo Che Geuvara I’d have been hard pressed not to show him how painful the receiving end revolution (revulsion) can be.

  • the receiving end ‘of’ revolution. My fingers are revolting on the keyboard…

  • Me

    Yeah! What you said! Gordo stupido bastardo. (You can change all words to Spanish with a “o” or “a” at the end. I’ve learned a few things living in Central America.)

    Supposedly they have baby tigers and jaguars too. Ugh. Those poor things.

  • Collette

    Are you still answering posts?