Three girlfriends and I just got back from a "girls week" in #6 at Playa Caribe (Feb 3-10). The unit was pretty much perfect: spacious, clean, air-conditioning worked great, beds comfortable, plenty of hot water in the showers and good pressure, the kitchen extremely well-equipped - everything we had been led to expect through reading reviews beforehand. The staff was always friendly and eager to help. We rented a golf cart for the week: if someone was around when we returned at night from dinner, they would help us plug it in and every morning we would find it fully charged, unplugged and the charger neatly stowed. We only requested maid service every other day or so, but housekeeping did a fabulous job on those days.
We loved the artwork/decorations in the unit -- they worked perfectly. Even after being there for a few days, I would suddenly notice something on the wall or on a shelf I hadn't really looked at before -- major kudos to the owners for assembling and placing the pieces in a way that was very Mexican and reflective of the area without being in any way overwhelming or tourist-tacky.
#6 is on the 2nd floor, on the south side of the building, overlooking the pool. The view from the quite spacious balcony is not as panoramic as the center units -- obstructed on one side by the center units and on the other by a derelict building we referred to as "our someday fixer-upper" :), but looking out over the bay was very relaxing -- we saw lovely sunrises almost every morning, pelicans and other birds flying by, iguanas and yes, occasional turtles coming up for air in the afternoon. The jungle-facing balcony off the 2nd bedroom has a table and two comfortable chairs and provided a nice outdoor place to sit when the morning sun got too fierce for the ocean-facing balcony. The master bedroom also has a small balcony facing the road and overlooking the condo office building -- no furniture, not much of a view, but it was perfect for drying our snorkel equipment and shorty wetsuits -- even has hooks for hanging the latter.
The beach is smallish compared to the resorts/condos we've stayed in previously in Playa Del Carmen, and not as scrupulously-kept, but it was perfectly adequate and prettier -- we accept that the ocean has seaweed that washes up on shore, it never bothered us. The tradeoff, of course, is being only steps away from wonderful snorkeling. The first few days we were there it was quite windy and HMB was pretty rough, so we snorkeled at Yal-Ku and Akumal Bay, but it calmed down by the end of our week and we were able to go out a couple of times. Yes, getting in and out of the water is...challenging due to the rocks. I wore fin socks -- water shoes would probably be better, but I wanted to be able to use my fins once I got deep enough to put them on. I had to take it slow and be careful, but the socks worked. And it was definitely worth the effort -- saw some really interesting fish and reefs -- I wish I'd been able to go out there more.
The location is perfect, roughly half-way between Yal-Ku and the Akumal "Arches". It's walkable to either location, but hot; we were glad we'd rented the golf cart. La Buena Vida restaurant is only a short stroll -- it quickly became one of our favorite places to eat dinner, although we did enjoy others in "town" (Turtle Bay, Pancho Villas) and ventured over to Akumal Pueblo one night for really good hamburgers at Tequillaville as well.
A couple of very very minor nitpicks: as others have said, the internet was intermittent at best and there was no pattern to when it did and didn't work. None of us really needed it for earning a living or anything, but it was occasionally a little frustrating when you would be out all day, have a limited time to contact home before going out again for dinner and it would turn out to be one of the mysterious "outage" periods. We also had an issue with the TV in the living room, which didn't work for several days -- it turned out the two TVs (the other one is in the master bedroom) worked off the same box and there was some problem with the "mirroring" capability -- eventually Agustin just brought in a different set. Only one of our party really cared about having the TV, so it wasn't a huge problem, but it was a minor annoyance (and once it was fixed it was nice being able to catch a little of the Winter Olympics at night).
Our last couple of days, we suddenly began to experience an occasional very high-pitched sort of whistling noise emanating from somewhere above the kitchen, loud enough to wake us up early in the morning or later at night and lasting about 5-10 minutes each time it happened. We never fully figured it out: our guess was that it had something to do with the water pipes from the unit above us -- it was only on those days that we'd even heard anyone walking around up there, it may have just been whenever they took a shower or something.
We discovered about halfway through the week that being located directly over the pool had its liabilities. Our first few days were very serene and calm -- people occasionally swam or just floated around in the pool -- everyone was quietly friendly, it was very nice and exactly what we'd wanted for our vacation. One afternoon, we arrived back to the condo to discover the pool chock-full of very active and noisy children; fortunately, we never saw that particular bunch again -- they must have just been visiting for the day -- but it did make us think twice about our location. Also, on our second to last day, a family moved in below us with 3 youngsters who were in the pool by 6:30 am, loudly doing what children do. I can't really blame them -- they were very excited -- but it wasn't exactly conducive to the beautifully tranquil mornings we'd come to expect out on the balcony up to that point. Fortunately, this only happened on their first day; either someone else complained (we didn't) or the parents read the rules stating that the pool didn't open until 8 am. Kids will be kids; they're loud, especially around pools -- I'm not really complaining. Just something to think about when selecting a unit -- I suspect the ones on the North side, away from the pool, would be a tad quieter.
A couple of other points of information (not complaints): There is no land line phone in the unit and really the only place we got any kind of cell service (Verizon) was out on the balcony off the 2nd bedroom. We generally just called home when we were in town -- cell service was quite good there. The WiFi was good when it worked, but as I've said, oddly intermittent. The 2 TVs "mirror" each other, so you cannot watch two different stations at the same time. There are quite a few stations on the satellite TV but they're all pretty much in Spanish -- don't expect to keep up with your favorite programs while down there. There are a couple of little stores very close to the condo where you can get ice and beer, and a couple of slightly larger stores by the Arches with a decent selection but we only used that for filler; we stopped at Soriana to stock up on breakfast and lunch stuff on our way down from the airport, which worked out great. There's no laundry at Playa Caribe, but there is a wash-n-fold next to one of the stores in town which was very convenient -- after doing a horse-riding excursion, we all needed to wash our "going home" jeans. Dropped them off at 8 am and got them back by 6 pm that day (closed on Sundays), very reasonable prices.
We definitely plan on going back next year -- we've been traveling down to the Riviera Maya every year now for 7 years and our stay at Playa Caribe turned out to the be the best trip we've had so far.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Playa Caribe consists of twelve 2 bedroom condos and 3 studios. Generally regarded as the best on Halfmoon Bay. We have the only water treatment (RO) system that allows you to use and drink the water safely just like home. We have a pool and are centrally located to all that the Akumal area has to offer. Some of the best snorkeling is right off our beach. You will see turtles all year round right from our patio. Hope to see you soon in paradise. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Playa Caribe Hotel Akumal
- Playa Caribe Riviera Maya, Mexico - Akumal