Mexico Travel Diary
Hi lovelies! As you probably know, I just came back from a relaxing trip to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, so I'm sharing my thoughts and experience staying at Ocean Riviera Paradise below. It was my first time visiting Playa Del Carmen, as I've been travelling to Cabo San Lucas since I was a wee little tot (my aunt and uncle used to own a place there!). I absolutely loved the jungle, and the resort was so incredible. It was pretty big, but it wasn't too big where you weren't able to walk from one end to the other - I would say the size was perfect. Now let's dive into the vacation, so I can relive it all over again.
My expectations weren't overly high, because my previous all-inclusive experiences were mediocre at best; the food usually sucks and the decor is meh, not gonna lie! Then I looked up this resort a week before my trip - and OMG. I was absolutely blown away by the photos.
After about a 6 hour flight, we arrived at the resort, and I remember just staring at the entrance of the lobby from the shuttle bus, in complete awe of our new home for a week. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was, and this resort was hands down, the nicest place I've ever stayed at (I'd even say the design was nicer than the prestigious Ayana Resort in Bali!).
Once we walked into the lobby, we were immediately taken aback by the signature lobby scent - clean, refreshing citrus-ey goodness that I'm still dreaming about to this day. The design of the entire resort was so well thought out - every detail was accounted for. The lobby was decked out with modern, beachy boho accents, so if you know me, you know that's exactly what I love. The high ceilings were graced with bold beams and straw pendants, surrounded by palm leaves, plants, wicker and leather furniture, library walls - the works. If you love design as much as I do, you'll loooove staying at this resort. The designers really did think of every detail in every single space.
Continuing my obsession with the design, the rooms were so beautiful, with dark wooden beams across the ceiling, luscious, fluffy beds, a relaxing sitting area, and a ground floor patio with your own tanning bed, swing chair and sitting area. Talk about a relaxing hideaway!
Now like I said before, my expectations for food in Mexico is never very high based on past experiences, but I was pleasantly surprised. The resort had 10 restaurants and 12 bars in total. My favourite was La Locanda, the Italian a la carte restaurant. The burrata was mind blowing!
The steakhouse, Mexican restaurant, and all day buffet (plant walls for days) were also very good, and I loved being able to eat overlooking the beach at Pez Vela.
The resort also has a diner called Route 66, teppanyaki restaurant called Sakura (Vancouver's obviously better), a fine dining restaurant called Blue Moon (didn't get to try it, but I'm sure it's bomb), and a few snack bars (including a fresh crepe bar - omg yum) by the pools.
My favourite bar was the main lobby bar, because I mean, look at the decor! And their cocktails were top notch. If you wanted a good drink served in a real glass (lol), the lobby bar or adjacent piano bar is where it's at. I'm still dreaming about their fresh pressed espresso martinis! Lastly, there's an ice cream parlour dishing up 10 flavours every day. Let's just say I wasn't mad at that.
Now for coffee, I'm a little bit picky, so I was ecstatic that the resort had its very own coffee shop for my daily caffeine fix. Yes, everything you wanted and more was included! It was by far one of my favourite hang-out spots (before and after the gym). It was designed to be a cool, masculine-style space with top-of-the-line espresso machines, freshly baked pastries, and fresh fruit smoothies, too! Another thing I loved at this resort is that they didn't put straws in anything, unless you asked for one. They're definitely doing their part in order to waste as little as possible. I'm an avid straw user, so I use these amazing silicone straws at home!
To make the most of the trip, my brother, dad and I worked out (or did something active) every single day, and it made us feel so much better throughout the trip. I've typically been on tropical vacations where nobody else wants to work out or do anything (whaaaat a buzz kill), so it was a nice change to be pushed and motivated by the boys. It also prevented us from making terrible choices at the buffet and at dinner, so A+ for that. We usually started our morning with an espresso shot, then an early morning workout at the gym, followed by a fresh smoothie before breakfast.
Other mornings, we did yoga on the beach followed by fresh pressed juice, just the 3 of us and our amazing instructor. Shout out to everyone else for not attending sunrise yoga - you gave us private classes!! It was so relaxing; I couldn't believe how lucky we were to be on the beach greeting the sun, breathing in the ocean air and being one with the sand - definitely one of my highlights. Inhalo, exhalo.
Throughout the day, we'd swim in the pools, the ocean, play beach volleyball (still have sand burns from that, and my team almost beat Tristan's), do zumba on the beach (reluctantly, for everyone to watch), then workout again, if we weren't too tired. I have received a few questions about the seaweed on the beach, and yes, it's there, but it's still a beautiful beach, and I honestly don't mind swimming next to a few plants.
Back at the resort, there were also multiple foam parties (sooo much fun - s/o to Ash for sneaking in and getting a squirt shot right before being kicked out), aquafit classes, a bowling alley, salsa lessons, and so much more. To say that there was enough going on throughout the day was an understatement!
The entertainment team at the resort did such an incredible job making sure everyone was having a great time. They're literally working almost every hour of the day - I don't know hoowwww they do it! Throughout the day, they'd get everyone involved in whatever was happening, and remind us what was on the schedule for that day. Every night, they put on a theatrical show in the theatre (which was massive, by the way) and I was actually really impressed with their talent. We watched a pop show, the lion king (amazing), and a circus show similar to cirque de soleil (the best of the 3 - omgggg these people are strong!).
Outside of the resort, we did a day trip to Tulum to see the Mayan Ruins and the beach. It was a super hot day, but I'm not one to complain about that! The ruins were beautiful, but next time I'd like to go to Chichen Itza instead.
We also went to Rio Secreto, the secret underground river. Yes, we went in a cave while everything was happening in Thailand... but that didn't stop us! It was by far one of the coolest experiences I've ever had, and I can't wait to do a different route. Basically you walk through the jungle, and walk down a staircase into a fully enclosed, all natural cave. Some parts have the clearest water you ever did see, while other parts are dry, with crystals and rocks surrounding you everywhere you turn. I could spend hours in there - I absolutely loved it!
All in all, this was a vacation to remember, and I'd definitely go back to Playa Del Carmen to explore more of the town, see more ruins, explore more cenotes, and stay at this resort again (at least for a few nights)! If you want more info, feel free to reach out by commenting below or sending me an email.