Trade hopping through the jungle for relaxing on the beach. Start out at the Jungle Smoothie Café (La Quinta and Calle 10; no phone), where you can’t go wrong with any option made with mango ($4). Next, get ready to purge bodily toxins and clear your mind at Maroma Resort’s Kinan Spa during a 90-minute temazcal ritual ($120), a traditional, centuries-old saunalike treatment. Once you cool down, head over to Avenida Benito Juárez, not far from the pier where boats leave for Cozumel, to find half a dozen street carts that line up here daily. Don’t miss the shrimp tacos ($1 each), and the torta filled with cochinita pibil, a Mayan preparation of pork inside of a banana leaf ($2). Then pick up a rental car from Avis (from $26 per day) and take a short drive to one of the dozens of secluded beaches south of town, such as Paamul or Akumal. At the latter, you can rent a snorkel and fins ($12) from the Akumal Dive Center to explore the reef just offshore, but you’ll find long white stretches of sand no matter where you end up. You might also come across boat owners offering rides out on the water; there are no set prices, so feel free to bargain. After you head back to town, stop by La Sirena (La Quinta and Calle 26; 984/803-3422) to see kitschy Mexican art focusing on skeletons and wrestlers. Have dinner at the trendy Indigo Beach Club, where Sicilian chef Gianpaolo Ferrera serves small plates including red tuna tostadas ($8) or pizzas ($12) from a wood-fired oven while you relax on Asian-inspired beach chairs. From here, you can explore the low-key, no-dress-code nightlife on La Quinta, where options range from rooftop bars to raucous discotecas, the most popular of which stay open until dawn.
The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan
Go Off the Grid in Playa del CarmenShareThis
5. Oddball Day
Published on Dec 6, 2012 as a web exclusive.