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Our van passed through the small town of Temozon, and I knew we were almost there. I gazed out the window up at the old cathedral, gazed longingly at my favorite taco stand in town wishing we would stop there for breakfast, and admired the beautiful chairs sitting on the curbs of the local wood shops as we pulled out of town.

Ten minutes further into the jungle, and we had reached our destination: the Mayan ruins of Ek Balam.

I hadn't been here since 2010, when I was too scared to climb more than halfway up the main pyramid known as the Acropolis. This time, an entire group was by my side to motivate my climb, and I hoped not to get left behind.

But first, we snaked our way through the crumbled outer walls of the ancient city while our guide, Gustavo, explained how these well-preserved constructions were built so many centuries ago.



As we passed through the Mayan ball game court, I couldn't help but notice how small it was compared to the court at Chichen Itza, and wondered if they two civilizations ever existed at the same time, and if so, did they ever play against one another?


After walking right through the ball court, we reached the Acropolis and began our ascent, stopping along the way to admire beautifully preserved plaster murals and statues that have somehow managed to survive the centuries. The trick to successfully ascending any Mayan pyramid is simple: don't look down! And so our entire tour group made it to the apex, where we could see the rest of the city of Ek Balam and the jungle treetops for miles around.







We all slowly made our way back down and headed back to the van for a 30-minute ride through low jungle and tiny Yucatan villages to reach Cenote Maya, Alltournative's impressive cenote complete with an organic orchard.

The organic orchard was our first stop, taking us along a winding path as we learned about which plants grow best in the rocky terrain of the Yucatan Peninsula. What a wonderful experience to see so many fruits and vegetables growing in their true form, before being cut and reaching the market stands. Along the way, we learned that Alltournative has been working directly with local Mayan communities for over a decade, offering employment opportunities in their different tour areas, like the cenotes, the orchard, etc. Many modern-day Mayans end up leaving their communities to work in cities like Cancun or Playa del Carmen, but Alltournative allows them to earn a living without leaving their towns.




Entering the jungle, a Mayan elder welcomed our group to the cenote in a cleansing ceremony, saying a prayer and purifying us with nopal smoke. Once we were spiritually clean, it was time to clean our bodies: we stripped to our swimsuits and took showers to rinse off any chemicals, sunscreen, or lotions from our skin before entering the pure waters of Cenote Maya.



What I was not prepared for: our guides told us we were to rappel 22 meters into the cenote cavern. We all nervously made our way to the platform and strapped on our rappel gear. Then, two by two we trusted the ropes as we descended into the abyss. Once inside, the cavern opened up and the immensity hit me; never had I seen a cenote this size, and now I was seeing it from the top. Once I reached the water, the cool temperature immediately relieved me of the jungle heat, and the entire group was glad to spend the next half hour falling off the zipline, braving the 3-meter platform (nobody braved the 6-meter platform), or simply relaxing in an inner tube.



Upon exiting the cenote, the bartenders had a tray full of their "Mayaritas" waiting for us, a welcome refreshment after a day full of daring adventures. I indulged in two Mayaritas before changing into dry clothes and heading to the buffet, where we had Yucatecan cuisine and some other goodies awaiting us. (Word to the wise: If the staff tells you the salsa isn't that spicy, don't believe them.)

Our group took an extra long time enjoying the buffet, reliving our experiences of the day, before getting back into the van to head back to Playa del Carmen, napping the entire ride.


To book this day tour to Ek Balam and Cenote Maya, or to see Alltournative’s many other eco tour options, visit www.Alltournative.com They have transportation that will pick you up right at your hotel in the Riviera Maya or in Cancun.

Savor, sip and swing your way through this beautiful upcoming event in the Riviera Maya!

The Mayakoba resort complex will be hosting their first Masters of Food, Wine & Golf event June 2 – 5, 2016, giving guests and locals the chance to savor incredible cuisine and wines while playing on one of Mexico’s best golf courses.

Riviera Maya food wine and golf event 

Highlights of this upscale three-day event include cooking classes, golf clinics, wine and tequila tastings, innovative drinks and hors d’oeuvres at the American Express Lounge, a signature Mexican dinner with Chef Richard Sandoval, a spa day and ladies luncheon, a farmers market at El Pueblito, plenty of impressive dinners and brunches, a Latin Night party, and the star of the event: the two-day Mayakoba Cup golf tournament! Click here to see the full events calendar.

Carl Emberson, VP of Operations and Marketing for Mayakoba, states, “We look forward to welcoming such a celebrated gathering of chefs, wine and spirit masters to Mayakoba for our first Masters of Food, Wine & Golf. Foodies, oenophiles and golf enthusiasts alike will appreciate the specially-curated events that highlight the culinary and cultural bounty of Mexico but also bring an international flair to the Riviera Maya. It's a unique way for our guests to experience the destination through food and wine, and we hope this is the first of many more events to come."

Playa del Carmen golf course 

Riviera Maya fish tacos


Playa del Carmen gourmet cuisine 

The Mayakoba Masters of Food, Wine & Golf promises to be a memorable event in a stunning location, with all the natural beauty and impeccable luxury that the Mayakoba resort and golf course have to offer. Located just five minutes north of the city of Playa del Carmen, this event at Mayakoba will be within easy reach for local residents who wish to experience a taste of upscale cuisine in a gorgeous atmosphere.

Mayakoba resort 

Several packages are available, including a special events package for locals (Quintana Roo state residents), a 3-night resort stay with event access, or an a la carte option for tickets to specific events. Click here to visit the Mayakoba Masters of Food Wine & Golf “Packages” page for all the details and prices. 

Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue might be mostly for tourists, but that doesn’t mean the locals can’t get in on the fun!

La No. 20 Cantina (Cantina #20) sits right on the hottest corner in Playa, where 5th Avenue meets 12th Street. This Thursday night, the restaurant will be hosting a fun-filled Mexican Night especially for locals living right here in Playa del Carmen. When you purchase the minimum consumption, you’ll have the chance to experience a night full of excitement; you can play the classic Mexican Lottery game (“Lotería”), participate in the raffle, and try your chances with the Bird of Luck (“Pajarito de la Suerte”), a popular tradition at Mexican events where a little bird picks your raffle number for you. There will also be live Mexican music to set the mood.

Playa del Carmen Mexican party 

La No. 20 Cantina has planned this night as a way for Playa del Carmen locals to relive some of Mexico’s most charming and colorful games and traditions, and of course try some of the restaurant’s Mexican cuisine and drinks! This sleek modern restaurant serves mouthwatering Mexican classics like cochinita tacos, a variety of chiles rellenos and Yucatecan panuchos, and of course there’s a full bar offering a wide variety of cocktails and specialty drinks made with tequila, mezcal and more for a night out on the town on Playa del Carmen’s famous 5th Avenue.

Playa del Carmen Mexican restaurant 

Playa del Carmen Mexican cantina 

Mexican Night at La No. 20 Cantina starts this Thursday, April 21 at 8 pm (because no true Mexican fiesta starts early, as we all know).

For the latest news and photos of the restaurant and cantina, click here to follow La No. 20 on Facebook. They also have their own website at LaNo20.com.mx

Playa del Carmen Mexican restaurant 

Thanks to La No. 20 Cantina for celebrating Mexico and its great parties filled with vibrant traditions!

A growing trend in wine-drinking, the increasing popularity of Mexican wines, more and more international awards given to incredible Mexican wineries... all these elements came together to inspire the first edition of the Mexican Wine Festival here in the Riviera Maya back in 2011. Developed by Grupo Quinta, Xcaret, the Riviera Maya Tourism Board and the Riviera Maya Hotel Association, the first edition of the festival was so successful that a multidisciplinary organizing committee has met to resume this great event for 2016.


With more than 2,300 attendees at the various events during the three days of the festival, the 2nd edition of the Mexican Wine Festival reunites big names in wine, tourism and food.

BuyPlaya attended the festival's press conference at one of Playa del Carmen's most iconic restaurants: La Casa del Agua, which is also among the 25 restaurants hosting the pairing events.

Hans Spath De Cayón (owner of Casa del Agua), Clementine del Tel Tejo Corral (Director of Tourism for Solidaridad), Javier Martinez (President of the Festival Committee), Edna Vega (PR and Marketing Mayakoba) and Chef Pedro Abascal (Thompson restaurants C-Grill and Catch)


The goal of the 2nd Mexican Wine Festival is to promote the country's wine industry by bringing together producers, winemakers, chefs, sommeliers, distributors and educational institutions for one big cultural event. The festival hopes to promote wine culture through tastings and cuisine designed to appeal to various markets: tourism industry suppliers, wine lovers, academics and the general public.



The 2nd Mexican Wine Festival will hopefully lead to the creation of even more events in the Riviera Maya, setting it apart as the perfect travel destination for culinary and cultural festivals.


  • Conferences, workshops and tastings: April 13th and 14th (from 10:00am to 2:00pm, and from 4:00pm to 6:00pm)

Oenologists, sommeliers and opinion leaders will become the protagonists, spreading their invaluable knowledge about Mexican wine in a cycle of conferences, workshops and tastings offered at the festival. 

Venue: Hotel The Royal Playa del Carmen, for hoteliers and restaurateurs in partnership with Hotel Association of the Riviera Maya and CANIRAC.

  • Food pairing dinners at local restaurants

25 restaurants in the Riviera Maya will open their doors to present wine and food pairings, where the knowledge of each restaurant's chef will merge with the knowledge of each sommelier to create unique pairings. The cost will be unified, and averaging limited seating will be between 20 and 30 people for each pairing. With 450 people per day, a total of 900 people can indulge in this food festival.

Restaurants hosting the pairings:
Playa del Carmen: Almirante Pech, Ágora - UT, Asiana (Hotel The Royal Playa), Axiote, Bovinos, Byblos, Catch Thompson Playa del Carmen, C-Grill Thompson Playa del Carmen, Di Vino, Frida Kahlo, Imprevist, La Casa del Agua, Madre Tierra, Koba Casa Club, Off the Vine, El Envero, Plank, Salciccium Class, Sushi-itto and Yaxche

Tulum: Ana y José, Cilantro's by Hotel Coral, Hip Hotel, Ziggy Beach and El Tabano

Puerto Morelos: La Triada

  • Harvest Night, the closing night event at El Pueblito Mayakoba: April 15th (from 9:00pm to 2:00am)

An evening of Mexican feasting! Indulge in tastings from Mexican wineries, mouthwatering cuisine, artisanal chocolate, traditional Mexican candies, and even artisanal cheeses from the states of Queretaro, Chiapas, Puebla and Mexico State. The fiesta will also include dancing, live music and grape-stomping. All this will take place at El Pueblito at Mayakoba resort, an authentic Mexican pueblo created for memorable events. Of course there will be lots and lots of wine to drink, so the price of admission to this event includes transportation to and from Mayakoba. (Drink responsibly!) Attendees must be at least 18 years old.

Tickets to Harvest Night can be purchased April 13 & 14 from 10:00am to 6:00pm at The Royal Playa del Carmen for $900 pesos. Click here for details.




Visit www.festvinomex.com to find out about prices of the wine pairing nights, conferences and closing events. 



andrea-ruiz-perron Andrea Ruiz Perron was born and raised in Montreal by a Mexican mother and a French Canadian father.  She studied cinema and photography in Argentina and Montreal, and has now been living in Playa del Carmen for a total of 6 years. Both her Mexican and Canadian roots are an important influence on her identity and how she perceives the world through her photography and writing as the content creator for BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors www.buyplaya.com



That’s right! The famous Dog Whisperer will be hosting an event here in Playa del Carmen in the heart of the Riviera Maya April 23 and 24 in order to benefit local animal shelters.

Cesar Millan will be at Sandos Caracol Eco Resort for two days of events designed to spread awareness about dog adoption. And best of all, event tickets aren’t just available for Sandos hotel guests… they’re open to Riviera Maya locals, as well!

Cesar Millan Sandos Caracol 

Here’s the full itinerary for Cesar Millan Live from Sandos Caracol:

  • Meet & Greet Cocktail Party

Saturday, April 23 at 5:00 pm

Price: $75 USD

2-hour cocktail party with open bar and vegan hors d’oeuvres where you’ll have the chance to take a picture with Cesar Millan or get his autograph. Includes parking at the hotel.

  • VIP Dinner with the presence of Cesar Millan

Saturday, April 23 at 7:30 pm

Price: $250 USD

An outdoor VIP dinner with a surprise show! In addition, this ticket also includes: a day pass to Sandos Caracol on April 23 starting at 9:00 am, access to the Meet & Greet Cocktail Party at 5:00 pm, access to the Cesar Millan conference on April 24 at 3:00 pm, and parking at Sandos Caracol.

  • Conference with Cesar Millan

Sunday, April 24 at 3:00 pm

This conference is included for all Sandos Caracol hotel guests or with your VIP Dinner ticket. The conference will be held in English at the hotel theater. There will also be a market to support animal shelters, and several local Riviera Maya shelters will be there to help you start the dog adoption process.

The total sum from all ticket sales to the Meet & Greet and VIP Dinner will be given to local Riviera Maya animal rescue associations.

Cesar Millan event 

Sandos Caracol Eco Resort is located in the Grand Coral area on the northern edge of Playa del Carmen, making it easy for Playa locals to reach the event by car or taxi.

To buy your tickets, click here to visit the Cesar Millan Live from Sandos Caracol website.

Most of us who have been living in Playa del Carmen have been in that situation where you’re planning a last-minute late night get together with friends… and all of the Oxxos have stopped selling beers! Alcohol sales hours change depending on the day of the week, and the city’s dry laws can be unpredictable, not to mention the fact that each convenience store has its own set of hours. For this very reason, we decided to write up our very own little guide to buying alcohol in Playa del Carmen. We hope you find it useful!

Buying alcohol in Playa del Carmen 

Note: This guide applies only to buying alcohol from stores in the Playa del Carmen area. You’ll find different laws when traveling to nearby areas like Cancun, Akumal or Tulum.

Alcohol sale hours: Playa del Carmen stores are only allowed to sell alcohol during certain times of the day. On Sundays, for example, stores are not permitted to sell alcohol after 5pm. Monday through Thursday have later hours, while weekends have the latest possible hours for alcohol sales. That being said, if you’re looking for late-night drinks, you can always head to one of Playa del Carmen’s bars or nightclubs for some beers or cocktails.

We took the time to visit some of the most visited stores for alcohol sales in Playa del Carmen, including the main supermarkets, a few wineries, and of course the most central Oxxo convenience store locations in town, and got the alcohol sales times for each. Here’s our list:

Playa del Carmen Oxxo on the beach 

Oxxo (Shangri-La beach entrance on 38th Street)

  • Monday – Saturday: 9am – 9pm
  • Sunday: 9am – 1pm

Oxxo (10th Ave and 36th Street)

  • Monday: 9am – 9pm
  • Tuesday: 9am – midnight
  • Friday and Saturday: 9am – 1am
  • Sunday: 9am – 5pm

Oxxo (5th Avenue near the Cozumel ferry)

  • Monday – Saturday: 10am – 9pm
  • Sunday: 10am – 5pm

La Europea (Quinta Alegria)

  • Monday – Saturday: 11am – 10pm
  • Sunday: 10am – 5pm

El Campeon (5th Ave and 38th Street)

  • Monday – Thursday: 8am – midnight
  • Friday and Saturday: 8am – 1am
  • Sunday: 10am – 5pm

Off the Vine Wine & Liquor Store (1st Ave between 26th and 28th Street)

  • Monday – Saturday: 10am – 11pm
  • Closed Sundays

Winery & Plus (10th Avenue and 28th Street)

  • Monday – Saturday: 10am – 10pm
  • Closed Sundays

Mega Comercial (30th Avenue and Constituyentes)

  • Monday – Saturday: 9am – 9pm
  • Sunday: 9am – 5pm

Cava del Duero (Constituyentes and the highway)

  • Monday – Saturday: 10am – 9pm
  • Sunday: 10am – 2pm

City Club (Centro Maya)

  • Monday – Saturday: 9am – 10pm
  • Sunday: 9am – 5pm


  • Monday – Saturday: 9am – 9pm
  • Sunday: 9am – 2pm

Sam’s Club (on the highway across from Centro Maya)

  • Monday – Saturday: 9am – 10pm
  • Sunday: 10am – 5pm

Chedraui (on the highway near Benito Juarez)

  • Monday – Saturday: 9am – 11pm
  • Sunday: 9am – 5pm

 La Europea Playa del Carmen

Ley Seca / Dry Law: On election days, Playa del Carmen stores (and sometimes bars and nightclubs as well) have to adhere to what’s called “Ley Seca” (Dry Law) where for 24 – 48 hours during the election period, alcohol sales are strictly prohibited. The Ley Seca hours are determined on a case-by-case basis by each state, and Playa del Carmen tends to be less strict about alcohol sales in restaurants, bars, and nightclubs during this time due to the high level of tourists (but stores will always be closed to alcohol sales during Ley Seca). You will want to check news articles in the days leading up to elections for the latest Ley Seca regulations.

Drinking age: The minimum drinking age in Playa del Carmen is 18 years.

Drinking alcohol in the street: Drinking alcohol in public streets is not allowed in the state of Quintana Roo. Yes, this means that walking along 5th Avenue with a beer in your hand is against the law. Oftentimes the local police will be lenient about this law in tourist-heavy areas, but we still recommend not drinking any beer or other drinks outside bars, restaurants, or homes in order to save yourself some potential trouble.

As you can see, there are very few hard-and-fast rules when it comes to alcohol sales in Playa del Carmen. In our opinion, your best bet is to buy in advance to make sure you don’t get stuck with no beers at your late-night party.

Once upon a time, a small beach town in what most of us call paradise began to grow and grow. That beach town became a new start for many and a booming opportunity for many others who saw that Playa del Carmen had the potential to become one of the most beautiful, thriving and enchanting cities in the world. After Chicago, Toronto, London, Miami, Cabo San Lucas and Seattle, Thompson Hotels have decided to set foot in our paradise after they discovered that "je ne sais quoi" in Playa del Carmen.

Thompson boasts two locations in Playa, each with its own unique experience:

  • Thompson Playa del Carmen is located on 5th Avenue, ideal for those who want to be in the midst of the buzz and vibrancy of the Downtown area
  • Thompson Beach House sits on the beach at the corner of 8th Street, the perfect spot for beach lovers searching for that ocean breeze, stunning views and feet in the sand

While Thompson Hotels also encourages guests to experience Playa del Carmen's local restaurants and bars as they are not "all inclusive hotels", they also host 3 of the finest restaurants in the city, all signed by world famous Mexican Chef Pedro Abascal.


C-Grill, Thompson Beach House (8th Street and the beach)


This restaurant is located on the spectacular downtown white sand beach of Playa del Carmen. Imagine having dinner and a cocktail with your loved one, your group of friends or your family while looking at the turquoise crystal water of the Caribbean Sea and feeling this perfect ocean breeze. After dinner, why not end the perfect evening by walking straight from your table to a walk on the beach... This, ladies and gentlemen, is C-Grill.





Chef Pedro Abascal created a fresh Mediterranean-inspired menu and has chosen the most responsible local farmers, fisherman and suppliers in the area. The menu focuses on wood oven-fired seafood and vegetables.

Heirloom Tomatoes (feta cheese, cucumbers, kalamata olives, red onions, garlic chips, lemon vinaigrette)

Mezze (hummus, tzatziki, babaganush, cucumber, pita bread)

Salmon Carpaccio from Chile (dill, greek yogurt, mixed greens, honey mustard vinaigrette)

Shrimp and artichoke in tomato sauce

Catch of the Day (Served with sauces: tamarindo, spicy chimichurri, lemon butter with capers, tropical relish, spicy oil)

Wagyu NY Strip (Served with roasted garlic)

Side dishes (Fire-roasted whole beet with greek yogurt. Grilled asparagus with feta and balsamic vinegar. Tabouleh: couscous, peppers, red onions, parsley, cucumber, mint, lime and olive oil. Potatoes Brava: baby potatoes, scallions, bacon, spicy aioli, parmesan and truffle oil.)

Tapioca in a jar (coconut milk, raspberry jam, coconut crumble, citrus gelatin)

From a fabulous lunch or dinner on the beach, to a cozy cocktail with your toes in the sand, C-Grill is an outstanding local culinary experience experience you don't wanna miss. A perfect way to connect with the the beach life of Playa del Carmen.



Catch, Thompson Downtown Playa del Carmen (Corner of 5th Avenue and 12th Street)

A rooftop view you could only dream of: Breathtaking 360 degree views from sea to city, sunset and drinks, live music, DJs, special events... but most of all, delightful cuisine designed to blend with Mexican Caribbean flavor: seafood, raw bar, rolls, cold and hot menu, grilled section and even a kids menu! The menu was created with sharing in mind: a "streaming, sharable style of dining", so you can experience every bit of it with your friends and family, and try something different with every visit.


Sitting on the 5th floor of the Thompson Playa del Carmen, gazing at the stunning panorama and experiencing a culinary adventure through an audacious menu will make you realize just how much Playa del Carmen's culinary scene has stepped up its game.






Catch's fresh and delectable menu was inspired by their New York restaurant and adapted to our beach town. This is why every meal blends a sense of refinement, ocean flavors, colors and exquisite scents.

Tartar Trio (salmon, hamachi, tuna, American caviar, wasabi, crème fraîche)

Truffle Sashimi (tuna, hamachi, chili oil, ponzu, American caviar, shaved black truffle)

Grilled Octopus (crispy potatoes, sofrito, garlic aioli)

Picaña (charred spring onions, chimichurri, roasted potatoes, kabayaki sauce)

Wagyu on a Rock (yuzu soy, garlic oil, sea salt, sesame)

"Hit Me" Chocolate Cake (liquid "Klondike", roasted white chocolate, ice cream, brownie and devil's food)



After dining, or if you're just wondering where to spend a night of dancing under the stars, looking over the city lights with a touch of ocean breeze, live Djs and a wide selection of cocktails, wine and champagne...  Catch might be just right for a night of entertainment in paradise. Visit their website to find out more about their menu, events throughout the week and weekends.


Cinco, Thompson Downtown Playa del Carmen (12th Street between 5th and 10th Avenue)

Just across from Catch on the same unbelievable rooftop of the Thompson Playa del Carmen, Cinco welcomes a breakfast and lunch crowd. This eatery is only open during the daytime so you can appreciate a clear and perfect view of the turquoise Caribbean Sea from above. Chef Pedro Abascal created a special morning-a-day menu during the week, as well as a fabulous brunch menu for the weekends.





Lunch or brunch at the upscale Cinco is idyllic, or you can just go to spend the day. The special weekend menu has been carefully crafted with high end ingredients in order to make your brunch a flavorful and outstanding experience. 

Eggs Benedict

Smoked salmon (from Chile) served on a French baguette and scrambled eggs

Oysters served on chamgane

Wagyu cheeseburger with french fries

Cinco's brunch features an impressive option... Bottomless mimosas for $25 USD!! A perfect addition to an already fantastic weekend set-up.



Be as passionate or as healthy as you wish when choosing from Chef Pedro Abascal's extensive menu, featuring everything from artisan Mexican bread basket, classic chilaquiles or crab enchiladas, to local fish tacos, lobster tostadas and delightful smoothies.


The three restaurants of the Thompson Hotel in Playa del Carmen are a great and smart way to have an upscale local culinary experience with fresh ingredients from local suppliers. This experience, topped with entertainment, movie nights (Thompson Beach House), dancing, cocktails and breathtaking views, take Playa del Carmen's restaurant scene to a whole new level!

BuyPlaya Food Blogs are a great way to discover what is out there in Playa del Carmen. Whether you're just here on vacation or permanently living here in paradise, follow us to discover the city's hidden gems, trendy hotspots, traditional cuisine and can't miss restaurants. Our photos will show you just what you're missing out on so you can plan your next meal in Playa.


Special thanks to Thompson Playa del Carmen and Margot Tovar for welcoming BuyPlaya foodies for such an amazing experience.




Andrea Ruiz Perron was born and raised in Montreal by a Mexican mother and a French Canadian father.  She studied cinema and photography in Argentina and Montreal, and has now been living in Playa del Carmen for a total of 6 years. Both her Mexican and Canadian roots are an important influence on her identity and how she perceives the world through her photography and writing as the content creator for BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors www.buyplaya.com


Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/andreita_ruiz/


This month, BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors is sharing our new “Why to Buy” series. In these articles, we’ll showcase different Riviera Maya destinations in order to highlight the perks of buying property in the area, according to our very own Riviera Maya real estate experts.

 Playa del Carmen vacation home

With its stunning white sand beaches, vibrant social vibe, booming cultural scene and laid-back vibe, the city of Playa del Carmen has become a hotspot for buying vacation rental properties as well as family homes and personal residences. Throughout town, you can find a wide variety of properties for sale at any budget, ranging from studio condos with “old Playa” style to large homes with lush tropical gardens.

But buying a condo or a house in a foreign country can seem overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin. To get you started, we directed some of our most frequently asked questions to Rob Kinnon, owner of BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors, to help you decide if buying property in Playa del Carmen, Mexico is right for you.

38th Street Playa del Carmen 


What makes Playa del Carmen a good vacation rental property investment?

Playa is by far the most well-known tourist destination in the area, and as such has the highest demand for rentals across all price strata.


Financially speaking, what makes Playa del Carmen a good place to buy a home?

There is a lot of inventory on the market in Playa at this time, and as such buyers will have the choice of many units to choose from at each price point.  Furthermore, with the level of activity in Playa, you have a much broader audience to sell to when it comes to selling your property down the road.  The obvious last benefit is that the demand for rentals is much higher in Playa del Carmen than most any other place in the area.

 5th Avenue Playa del Carmen

Rooftop pool Playa del Carmen 


One of the big decisions when buying a home in Playa del Carmen is deciding which is the best neighborhood for you. The most popular, especially when it comes to vacation homes, are the Downtown area and the exclusive Playacar neighborhood. We asked Rob Kinnon for his take on the pros and cons of these areas:


What are the pros and cons of living in Downtown Playa?

The pros for buying in town are:

  • Generally you will be very close to the beach
  • Close to 5th Ave
  • Higher level of rental demand
  • Generally speaking newer units
  • Much higher amount of inventory to choose from


  • Smaller units
  • Noisier
  • Generally speaking no green spaces
  • Parking can be more difficult

 Affordable Playa del Carmen apartment

White hammock 



What are the pros and cons of living in Playacar?


  • Generally speaking larger units
  • More green spaces
  • Larger pools
  • Very easy to rent long-term (from 1 month to 1 year)
  • Tend to be a bit cheaper per square foot or square meter
  • Access to Playacar golf course
  • Access to the beach club at The Reef


  • Lower demand for vacation rentals
  • Depending on location, a car might be necessary to get to town and the beach
  • Has a more suburban feel
Ocean view bedroom


Playacar condo 


If you’re a non-Mexican looking to purchase in Playa del Carmen, you might be wondering about the process for buying property as a foreigner in Mexico. Yes, foreigners absolutely can buy property in Mexico, although we always recommend having a local expert on your side to help you find the perfect property then walk you through every step of the purchase process. If you’re interested in buying your next vacation home, vacation rental investment or residence in Playa del Carmen or any other part of the Riviera Maya, visit us at BuyPlaya.com

For the fourth time in Playa del Carmen, artist photographer Gary Dillard presented a stunning photography exhibition at Quinta Margarita Suites and Art Gallery. His particular photography techniques are the result of precise infrared photography.


In infrared photography, photos are taken on special cameras that have been modified to capture images within the infrared spectrum. These images are then converted and mixed with traditional color or black and white media to create a unique and eye-catching photograph.

Gary Dillard, photographer

From San Antonio, Texas, Gary Dillard has now been living in Playa del Carmen for 8 years. His 30 years of experience in photography are portrayed through his work, not only with infrared photography, but also with fine arts, scenic and portraits. Published twice in "Creative Photoshop" magazine, Dillard's photography instills a feeling of serenity while taking us to a world somewhere between reality and fiction.


Playa del Carmen's art community gathered last week for Beyond The Visible II at the Quinta Margarita art gallery, showing the artistic community that continues to grow in our beachside city. The art culture in Playa del Carmen is now becoming a part of our identity, and with events like last week's Gary Dillard Photography exhibition, last year's opening of the brand new and grandiose City Theater, and a variety of dance and theater festivals, we can only assume that Playa del Carmen's tourists and locals will now ask for more!





If you missed Gary Dillard's amazing photography exhibition and want to find out more about his fascinating work, he will be presenting some of his work this coming Sunday, March 20th at Quinta Alegria (at the corner of 5th Avenue and Constituyentes). You can also follow Gary Dillard Photography on Facebook to find out about his latest work and upcoming shows.

BuyPlaya Real Estate is always proud to support art and culture in Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya. For us, it's an honor to showcase all of the amazing things happening in our beautiful city on the Caribbean coast. Follow along with our blog or our BuyPlaya Facebook page to keep up with what's new in the local cultural, culinary and music scene in Playa del Carmen!









Andrea Ruiz Perron was born and raised in Montreal by a Mexican mother and a French Canadian father.  She studied cinema and photography in Argentina and Montreal, and has now been living in Playa del Carmen for a total of 6 years. Both her Mexican and Canadian roots are an important influence on her identity and how she perceives the world through her photography and writing as the content creator for BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors www.buyplaya.com



Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/andreita_ruiz/

All photos by Andrea Ruiz Perron of BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors

Playa del Carmen’s cultural scene has been growing by leaps and bounds in the past few years, with a new city theater, plenty of free family activities, and non-stop community events. Just a few months ago, Playa del Carmen welcomed yet another beautifully designed space for culture and education: Sayab Planetarium.


The name Sayab comes from the Mayan word that means “endless vein of water”. The new planetarium is a scientific, technological and cultural center whose mission is “the social appropriation of knowledge through science”. The fascinating and colorful exhibits at Sayab are focused around four main principals: underground water, biodiversity, culture and space.


First, they have two workshop areas designed especially for kids (but grown-ups can enjoy them, too!) with workshops entitled Fun Science, Through Mirrors, Newton’s Disco, Fossils, Plastiball, Spiders, Non-Newtonian Fluids, The Microscopic World and Microscopic Bugs, along with 15 touchscreens with interactive games.


You can even experience virtual reality on your visits to Playa del Carmen’s planetarium! The virtual reality experience features adventures ranging from a roller coaster ride to a trip to Mars.


The museology area is dedicated to our region: the Yucatan Peninsula. Learn all about the caves, biodiversity and history of this stunning and mysterious part of the world.




Of course, no planetarium would be complete without a way to peer into outer space. Sayab Planetarium’s observatory features two impressive telescopes for gazing at the sun and other stars.




Outside the building is a beautiful jungle area with a learning path called “Sacbé” (which means “white path” in the Mayan language), an idyllic place to experience the plants and trees of Quintana Roo while learning about the state’s amazing wildlife.





The planetarium also has an immersion dome with several captivating films: Flight Adventures, Two Pieces of Glass, Invaders from Mars, Lamps of Atlantis, The Secret Life of Stars, and Mayan Skies. 



The auditorium seats up to 190 people, and features showcase conferences every Saturday.



Sayab also features a water museum, and soon they’ll be opening a museology room. They also host a variety of community events like a bike-a-thon, chess tournaments and more.

Sayab Planetarium is part of Quintana Roo’s state planetarium network, which also includes Yok’ol Kaab Planetarium in Chetumal, Ka’Yok’ Planetarium in Cancun, and Cha’an Ka’an Planetarium on the island of Cozumel, as well as two mobile units that make visits to smaller communities within the state of Quintana Roo.

We’re proud to say that we at BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors even made our own donation to support the new Sayab Planetarium! Here is Cristobal Carrión, Chief of Workshops and Museology, with our very own BuyPlaya plaque at the planetarium. We’re happy to support Playa culture!


Sayab Planetarium is open from 11am to 7pm, and closes on Mondays. It’s located just behind Plaza Las Americas, on Avenida Paseo Central between Avenida Kantenah (11 Av North) and 125.

At this time, all exhibits and most shows are in Spanish, but Sayab is able to provide English-language guides on request.

To find out about upcoming shows and exhibits at the new planetarium (and to learn some cool science stuff), click here to follow Sayab Planetarium on Facebook.




Laura Winfree


Originally from Virginia, Laura Winfree moved south of the border in 2005 to major in tourism at La Salle University Cancun. Today, she works as a copy writer for a local travel agency in addition to freelance blogging, writing and translating. Laura writes about her life as an expat in Mexico at http://gringationcancun.com and http://www.facebook.com/gringationcancun. Nightclubs and weekly beach trips are her favorite part of living in Cancun!



The 1st Aitana Foundation Golf Tournament is coming up this weekend! Hosted at the Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Course in the Riviera Maya on Saturday, March 12, this charity golf tournament will benefit children with cancer and their families in our state of Quintana Roo.

The 1st Aitana Foundation Golf Tournament is a private event organized by Cancun Golf, and it will feature a delicious buffet, premium open bar and some pretty impressive prizes with over $100,000 pesos in raffle prizes. However, the most important reward is supporting the community – all proceeds from this Riviera Maya charity golf event will go to the wonderful Aitana Foundation.


The Aitana Foundation (Fundación Aitana) is a local Quintana Roo organization created to support children with cancer as well as their siblings and families. The foundation has a lovely house called Casa Aitana where the kids can go to play, have fun and leave their cares behind. Activities at Casa Aitana include swing sets, slides, a playroom, movies, arts and crafts, and more, as well as some memorable outings for the kid like field trips to the movies, cenotes, the beach, and even theme parks. (Click here to follow the Aitana Foundation on Facebook to see all the amazing work they do and the fun they have with the kids!) Participation in the upcoming golf tournament would help the foundation to offer even more joy to these small children and their families.



Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Course is an 18-hole, par 72 course designed by world-renowned golf course architect PB Dye. It’s located at the beautiful Iberostar Paraiso Maya resort complex just a few minutes north of Playa del Carmen, an easy trip for a wonderful morning of charity golf.


The sign-up cost is $2,800 pesos per person, with a go-go and twosome formats available. For more details and to sign up, visit www.CancunGolf.com.mx If you have any questions, you can contact Cancun Golf via e-mail at info@cancungolf.com.mx or call them at (998)214-6538

And to keep up with the latest details on the event, click here to follow the 1st Aitana Foundation Golf Tournament on Facebook.




Laura Winfree


Originally from Virginia, Laura Winfree moved south of the border in 2005 to major in tourism at La Salle University Cancun. Today, she works as a copy writer for a local travel agency in addition to freelance blogging, writing and translating. Laura writes about her life as an expat in Mexico at http://gringationcancun.com and http://www.facebook.com/gringationcancun. Nightclubs and weekly beach trips are her favorite part of living in Cancun!



Over the years, Playa del Carmen has become not only one of the world's most visited cities, but also a cultural and culinary mecca. The world-famous 5th Avenue is home to a panoply of delightful restaurants, and many of the other streets and avenues in our beachside city have also earned the recognition of Playa's finest foodies. Located on 16th Street between 1st and 5th Avenue, a delightful luxury eatery called Plank Gourmet Grill & Patio Bar started as a small idea by Chef Juan Diego Solombrino and soon became one of Playa del Carmen's finest restaurants.


Chef Solombrino, who is also the chef at nearby restaurant Imprevist, started by cooking a salmon directly on a cedar plank; fascinated by the idea, he decided to create different dishes based on this concept. Other techniques, like the use of Himalayan salt blocks and the art of gourmet smoking, were also added to the restaurant's culinary experiment, and the rest is now history.


This week, Plank Gourmet Grill & Patio Bar hosted a very special event. BuyPlaya Real Estate was invited along with local press and social media to witness and celebrate a very unique and honorable distinction.



Matt Adcock (Del Sol Photography), Sol Tamargo (Del Sol Photography), Carla Toledo (Soy Playense), Ariel Urtaza (Soy Playense)

Right: Seth Dewey (Everything Playa del Carmen)

Maria Azanza and Rodrigo Iberra (Asociacion de Relaciones Publicas del Caribe Mexicano)

"The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences has for the first time, awarded a restaurant with such high honors, not only in Playa del Carmen, but in the entire Riviera Maya region. The Academy recognizes Plank as the first stand-alone restaurant in the Riviera Maya to receive our 5-Star Diamond Award for 2016," said Joseph Cinque, President of the Academy.

Kenneth Schmidt (Co-owner), Juan Luis Wehncke (General Manager and part owner), Mark Pompei (Co-owner), Joseph Cinque (President of the Academy), Juan Diego Solombrino (Executive Chef) and Jack Perlman (Co-owner)

Juan Luis Wehncke (Co-owner and general manager), Juan Diego Solombrino (Executive Chef)


Center: Jack Perlman (Co-owner)

Founded in 1949, The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences is the very first organization to globally award excellence in luxury travel. Only the best luxury hotels, resorts, fine dining restaurants, chefs and personalities are honored with the 5-Star Diamond Award; recipients are nominated by the Academy Board through recommendations followed by strict inspections for quality and service.

At the big event, The Academy also honored Dario Flota Ocampo, CEO of the Riviera Maya Toursim Board. He proudly received the award,which he received for his vision, dedication, leadership and significant contributions to Mexico's tourism industry.


Dario Flota Ocampo was honored to receive such distinction and underlined that Mexican cuisine is becoming a very important asset to our local tourism. People from around the globe visit the Riviera Maya not only for the white sand beaches, history, culture and traditions, but also to feel and taste the flavors of our colorful country. He also stated that he is glad to see Plank and Mexican chef Juan Diego Solombrino receive such an important recognition by the Academy, showing that Mexican cuisine is not only made of tacos and tequila, but also the infinite flavors of traditional and modern cuisine.


Make sure to stop by Plank Gourmet Grill & Patio Bar next time you're in Playa del Carmen to indulge in an upscale culinary experience. The staff will kindly guide you through their unique menu and help you relax with exquisite cuisine, a large wine selection and amazing cocktails from the bar.

Thank you Plank for setting Playa del Carmen on the map with the very first 5-Star Diamond Award in the Riviera Maya!







Andrea Ruiz Perron was born and raised in Montreal by a Mexican mother and a French Canadian father.  She studied cinema and photography in Argentina and Montreal, and has now been living in Playa del Carmen for a total of 6 years. Both her Mexican and Canadian roots are an important influence on her identity and how she perceives the world through her photography and writing as the content creator for BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors www.buyplaya.com


Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/andreita_ruiz/



Experiencias Xcaret has created some of the Riviera Maya’s most famous parks and attractions, including Xel-Ha, Xplor, Xenotes, Xoximilco, and of course Xcaret. Now, they are bringing the X to an entirely new name: Xenses.

Xenses park Riviera Maya 

Xenses will be the 6th park by Experiencias Xcaret, opening in Summer 2016.

The idea behind the new Xenses park is to explore all of your senses and challenge your mind using a blend of optical illusions, sensory experiences and mind-boggling activities. Experiencias Xcaret says,

“Here you’re going to reconnect with the power of your senses through innovative water, land and air activities. By the end, you’ll return to reality transformed into a Xensei, your own master.”

“Xenses is an unparalleled park, a place as fun as it is magical, as amazing as it is enigmatic, and as crazy as it is rational. Here, you’ll be the protagonist of this experience, in a place with real and imaginary settings that will surround your senses and take you to a fantastical world where your perception will be challenged.”

Xenses park Riviera Maya 

Over the past few weeks, Xenses has begun to reveal some of the 17 new attractions we can expect to find at the new park, although we’re sure that the sensory nature of the park means that these are the kinds of attractions you have to experience for yourself in order to truly understand the concept. The experience begins in an area called the Pinwheel, a space where reality is perceived in a different way. Then, the attractions and activities at Xenses will be divided into two circuits:

The first circuit will have The Way of Dwarfs and Giants, Xensatorium, Underground Arteries, The Eden and Xítrico Garden.

The second circuit offers The Heartbeat, Townville, Recamara, The Breather, A Slip on a Slide, Flutterfly, Sludgerie, Riverlaxing, Rain, Cloud and Marblelous.

Xenses park Riviera Maya 

Xenses park Riviera Maya 

Xenses is designed as a half-day tour, with two times available per day. You’ll be able to explore both circuits in about 5 hours or just enjoy some time in the relaxation areas and at the on-site eatery “Xnack”. The new park is located at Kilometer 282 of the Chetumal – Puerto Juarez Highway, setting it right by The Riviera Maya’s famous Xcaret and Xplor parks.

The park is set to open to the public in June 2016, and tickets will be on sale at www.XensesPark.com starting as early as April 1. Pre-sale tickets will be 20% off, and ticket prices are $59 USD for adults and $30 USD for kids (5 – 11 years old) and senior citizens.

Xenses park Riviera Maya 




Laura Winfree


Originally from Virginia, Laura Winfree moved south of the border in 2005 to major in tourism at La Salle University Cancun. Today, she works as a copy writer for a local travel agency in addition to freelance blogging, writing and translating. Laura writes about her life as an expat in Mexico at http://gringationcancun.com and http://www.facebook.com/gringationcancun. Nightclubs and weekly beach trips are her favorite part of living in Cancun!



Next week, Explayarte Productions is putting on a live performance of the famed Broadway musical Hairspray. March 10 – 12 at 7pm, you’ll have the chance to see Hairspray at the beautiful new Teatro de la Ciudad (City Theater) right here in Playa del Carmen.

Hairspray musical Playa del Carmen 

Hairspray is an upbeat musical comedy based on the 1988 John Waters film of the same name, set in the 1960s and featuring incredible music (by a live band!) and plenty of dancing. This performance of Hairspray is a Playa del Carmen production performed by Playa del Carmen locals, so yes, it will be in Spanish.

Explayarte is the first school for the scenic arts in Playa del Carmen, teaching areas like music, performing arts, visual arts and sound engineering.  Over the past few years, Explayarte has put on numerous productions of well-known plays and musicals for the Playa del Carmen community, including Jesus Christ Super Star, Cats, Les Miserables, Pippin, All Shook Up, Seussical and Aida.

Playa del Carmen musical theater 

Image from Explayarte's 2015 production of Aida at Xcaret

The main goal of Explayarte is to “offer a completely professional space for students so they can express their talents, helping them in their personal development as artists and as people, and to expand the cultural scene in Playa del Carmen to create a society with more culture and less violence.”

Playa del Carmen theater school Explayarte 

Playa del Carmen theater school Explayarte 

BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors is thrilled to be a sponsor of the upcoming Hairspray production; it is always an honor for us to support the arts here in Playa del Carmen, and Explayarte ranks among the very best organizations in the city in their dedication to art, culture, theater and teaching.

For a night of music and culture, come see Hairspray Thursday, March 10 – Saturday, March 12 at 7pm at Teatro de la Ciudad, located on Circuito Chinchorro and Avenida 115, right by Walmart La Cruz. (And if you haven’t seen the new theater yet, it’s time for you to experience this beautiful new performance space!)

There are two ticket prices available: $175 pesos for mezzanine seats and $248 for lower level seats. Tickets can be purchased online by clicking on this EventBrite link, or you can stop by the Explayarte school (Arco Vial and 70 North, across from the Soriana at Centro Maya mall) to buy tickets in person between 12pm and 8pm.

To keep up with the latest info on this production of Hairspray, follow Explayarte on Facebook

On Saturday February 20, Ventura Park opened its gates to a large group of specially invited guests for a preview night of what the new park has to offer. Located at the southern end of the exciting Cancun Hotel Zone, the new park is an expansion of the original Wet’n Wild water park, now with all kinds of cool attractions to explore. It opens to the general public on March 1, 2016, and let me just say that Ventura Park exceeded my expectations! (Please forgive my photos... my cell phone takes decent nighttime images, but not the best.)

Ventura Park Cancun 


Ventura Park Areas

If you have ever been to Wet’n Wild Cancun before, you’ll remember that the water park was pretty extensive with lots of unused space. I was worried at first that Ventura Park had cut down a lot of local plantlife to build the new attractions, but what they have managed to do is basically just fill in the empty spaces of the original water park to make it feel more vibrant, colorful and exciting. The new Ventura Park has a few new restaurants and bars, plus an ice cream stand. It has been classified into many different areas, each with its own unique theme:

Wet’n Wild: Cancun’s water park attractions haven’t changed much, featuring a wave pool, a lazy river running through the park, plenty of water slides, a Bubble Up for kids, and a kids’ splash area.

AaahVentura: Probably the most exciting part of Ventura Park, this area has a jungle expedition theme with a heli jump, beautiful rope bridges to explore, and a few ziplines that cross the entire park.

Fun World: The carnival-style atmosphere of this area lets you enjoy attractions like a small but thrilling roller coaster, a classic chair swings ride with amazing ocean views, and a traditional carrousel for little kids.

Underworld: This indoor arcade has a bunker-style feel to it, featuring its own bar, Star Wars Battle Pod games, a laser maze called “The Mission”, and lazer tanks (similar to bumper cars, but played in giant spinning tanks. Underworld attractions come at an extra price unless you purchase one of the upgraded packages.

Grandprix: This small go kart track has plenty of curves! You can choose to ride in an individual kart or a double kart. (Kids 1.0 meters - 1.40 meters tall must ride with an adult.) Grandprix has an extra cost unless you purchase one of the upgraded packages.

Beach’O: Ventura Park’s beautiful beach club has a small infinity pool by the Caribbean Sea and a cevicheria, along with plenty of loungers, palm trees and shaded bali beds to create a serene atmosphere. Access to the beach club and snacks from the cevicheria come at an additional price.

For more info, this Ventura Park blog post has a detailed description of the rides and attractions available.

Ventura Park Cancun 

Ventura Park Cancun 

Ventura Park Cancun 

Ventura Park Cancun 

Ventura Park Cancun 

Ventura Park Cancun 

Ventura Park Cancun 

Ventura Park Cancun 

Ventura Park Cancun 


 Ventura Park with Kids

My main thought throughout my time at Ventura Park was that this would be a great place to come with kids. The water park and carnival-style rides especially make it an attractive option for a day out as a family. However, one thing to consider is that most of the rides and attractions have minimum height requirements (1.07 meters tall for most of the water park rides and games, 1.40 meters for some of the bigger rides like the roller coaster, and varying heights throughout the park) We saw more than a few kids get upset when they didn’t meet the height requirements for the roller coaster or the go karts, so keep that in mind especially if you have kids between the ages of 5 and 10.


Pricing and Packages

Ventura Park just released its prices on Facebook this week, with varying prices for tourists and locals. You can choose from a daytime pass (10am to 5:30pm every day) or a nighttime pass (5:30pm to 11:00pm Wednesday through Saturday), or upgrade to get both. Prices only include certain areas of the park, depending on which package you choose, but all passes have all inclusive food and beverage. You can also purchase packages with transportation to the park.

The most basic package for tourists has a price of $79 USD for adults, including the main areas of the park like Wet’n Wild, AaahVentura and Fun World. (See all prices below)

 Ventura Park Cancun prices

If you’re a local living in the state of Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun, Playa del Carmen, the Riviera Maya and far beyond, you can access the park’s discounted local pricing, which starts at only $499 pesos for adults with the most basic daytime package. Not bad! Unfortunately, Ventura Park has confirmed to me that they DO NOT accept Temporary / Permanent Resident cards as local ID. They only accept IFE cards, driver’s licenses and social security booklets as ID in order to access the local prices.

Ventura Park Cancun prices 


After visiting Ventura Park, my first impressions are that it’s a wonderful option for families with kids, groups of friends, and even couples looking for a fun way to create memories and enjoy a fun day or evening that will make you feel like a kid again. For the latest updates, follow Ventura Park on Facebook.




Laura Winfree


Originally from Virginia, Laura Winfree moved south of the border in 2005 to major in tourism at La Salle University Cancun. Today, she works as a copy writer for a local travel agency in addition to freelance blogging, writing and translating. Laura writes about her life as an expat in Mexico at http://gringationcancun.com and http://www.facebook.com/gringationcancun. Nightclubs and weekly beach trips are her favorite part of living in Cancun!



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