We stayed at the Sandos Caracol Eco Resort in Playa del Carmen, and while I would normally run the other way from an all-inclusive option, we went for it partly because it was a “safe”, conservative choice for our first trip south with our son and partly because they emphasized the 7 different restaurants they had (the same kind of marketing that cruise ships do). But just because it was all-inclusive didn’t mean we weren’t planning on leaving the resort.
- Wake-up at 7:30
- Breakfast at Laguna at 9:00 — pancakes!
- meet with BD Travel guy
The Air Canada Vacations package included a link with a local company called Best Day Travel (i.e. BD Travel), and they have a small “hook” to get you to try to book excursions with them — they set an appointment for your first day there, and you have to go to it to arrange and get your ticket for your return shuttle ride to the airport. Which was fine with us, we wanted to talk about excursions. We chatted about a few things with them, came up with a few options, and ducked out with a bunch of brochures.
- Played pool
- Swam in pool — COLD!
- Shirley Temple – Tasty!! 🙂
- Walk by water-park
- Laguna for lunch
We checked out the pool and the waterpark, but I think the biggest surprise for me was J’s taste in drinks. J doesn’t like any soft drinks, far too sweet; he isn’t particularly enamoured of Kool-aid or Crystal Light but he will drink it if we get the proportions right. He mainly drinks water, apple juice, or milk. Mostly water during the day. Just for fun, I tried him on a Shirley Temple at the pool. And surprise of surprises, he liked it!
- Went to room and changed
- Swam in cenote — coldish, fun
- Used goggles to see underwater
- Back to room for showers, bath
There is a cenote near the Main Reception, and we learned later that it is fed by an artificial pump but has caves that go off under the rest of the resort. For us, it was just a chance for J to try swimming in a lifejacket (he’s used to that), with a bit of semi-salt water (new), and his goggles to look underwater (also new). We goofed a bit on the outing as J normally finds lakes and pools quite cold (one of the side effects of having extra tone in his body, it makes it somewhat harder to retain body heat) and normally we put him in a neoprene swimsuit that makes him a water baby. For the cenote, we went with just a bathing suit and rashguard shirt, and he found it quite cold. Even the pre-shower was cold. But he stuck with it, had a good time, and we felt it was a good “starter” attempt for future snorkeling, etc.
- Dinner at Mexican restaurant — good
- Tamales vs. fried tacos?
- “Lion” show at the beach
- Saw constellations ! ! ! (J,P,A)
We went for the buffet at the Mexican restaurant, and while it was good, I was a bit disappointed they had “pure” Mexican options for fajitas and tacos with small thin tortillas rather than more of a Tex-Mex option with larger thicker tortillas. The ones they had were more authentic, of course, but they also split really easily if you put anything bulky or wet in them. The restaurant was buffet-style, and it wasn’t very busy at all. Decent food though, and lots of Shirley Temples for me too.
After the dinner, we headed down to the beach for their Xcalacoco cultural show; they honour a local god called Xcalacoco, and they have a show at the beach to demonstrate a white man coming upon the tribe for the first time, and the love story between the daughter of the tribal chief and the strange man from over the water. It was advertised as a “Mayan” show, but J wrote it in the book as a “lion” show. It was a bit cheesy, of course, and no real way to know if any of what they did had any link whatsoever to do with the actual legends, traditions, or customs of the ancient culture. I often see these types of shows and wonder if the performers view it as honouring their culture and traditions, or it’s the local equivalent of amateur musical theatre.
The real treat for me though was lying on the loungers staring up at the stars — the moon was quite bright the first couple of nights, and Venus was off the charts. This second night, the three stars of Orion’s belt were easily visible, as was the constellation around them. I would have loved to just lie there without the show going on, and would have stayed afterwards except it was getting even further past J’s bedtime and it was kind of cold and windy on the beach.
We all agreed though that swimming in the cenote and seeing the constellations were our two favourite parts of the day, although J also flagged his enjoyment of the large jacuzzi tub in the room for his bath before dinner.