About Monica U
Lives in Sydney, Australia
Since Jan 2014
35-49 year old female
Globetrotter, foodie and lover of good festivals, digital marketing and writing. I have visited more than 80 cities around the world but have called Sydney home for the last 10 years. Previously , I lived in Cancun, Mexico and Playa del Carmen for 5 years and learnt to scuba dive. Having a partner that skies, Queenstown is one of our favourite destinations both in winter and in summer, and just a little "jump" from Sydney. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to cook a meal and share it among friends.
Nature & Wildlife Areas, Zoos
Other Outdoor Activities
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Nature & Wildlife Areas, Parks
Water Parks, Scuba & Snorkeling, Zipline & Aerial Adventure Parks
Xaman-Ha is a wonderful aviary located a little south of Playa del Carmen, in a residential area called Playacar. It has a great collection of plants, trees, and over 200 tropical birds. The private tours take about 45 minutes and offer valuable information about the plants and animals native to the territory. Kids will marvel at the numerous iguanas, butterflies, and other small mammals that call Xaman their home. All the birds are kept in their natural habitat too, making it a really pleasant experience.
Swimming with dolphins is one of those 'must do' activities for the whole family, and Dolphin discovery — located only 10 minutes from Playa del Carmen, in Maroma Beach — is one of the best places to do this. Here, kids can pet the dolphins and swim with them in the same pool, while wearing a protective vest. The highlight of the day is definitely the moment when two dolphins propel you to the surface, by nudging the soles of your feet!
No trip to Playa del Carmen would be complete without strolling along the 'Quinta Avenida.' This cobblestone street — located just a block away from the ocean — is filled with hotels, restaurants, internet cafes, souvenir shops, and trendy clothes stores. You'll also encounter street performers' mimes, and even a snake show! It is best to stroll along the avenue in the morning if you are traveling with small children. In the evening the street comes alive with music, bars, performances, and fantastic restaurants lit by candlelight.
For a great family excursion, rent a car and head about 10 minutes' drive from Playa del Carmen to natural eco-park Tres Rios. This beautiful park consists of 123 hectares of tropical forest and features three natural rivers, 10 cenotes, and more than 90 species of animals and 120 species of plants. Here, the whole family can hire snorkeling gear (kayaks are also available) and discover fascinating coral reefs beneath its crystalline waters, plus swim in the river in the middle of the jungle and discover more about the process of reforestation at the botanical gardens. An unforgettable natural journey that will surprise and delight all your loved ones!
If Chichen Itza is too far a trek or too long a day out for the kids, the whole family are sure to enjoy the ruins at Tulum instead. Located just an hour away from Playa del Carmen, Tulum is a 700-year-old Mayan city that was built late in the 13th century, during the Mayan post-classic period. These amazing ruins are right next to the ocean — so kids can have a swim here too — and one of its most popular features is 'El Castillo,' a 12 meter-high limestone cliff overlooking the Caribbean. Tulum (which means 'the wall') is the only Mayan city built on the coast and well worth a family trip.
An inexpensive yet tasty restaurant for a family meal out, El Fogon is conveniently located just a little way off 'La Quinta Avenida' (30th Avenue and Constituyentes). It is a typical tacos, tortas, and 'tacos al pastor' place, and though the salsas can be a bit spicy, the servings are big and there are plenty of 'aguas frescas' (cold drinks) to keep the kids happy. Sharing is definitely encouraged and this place won't break your budget!
For a quick chocolate treat, this beautiful cafe offers 'everything chocolate' and is a guaranteed kid-pleaser. Its cacao beans are native to Central America, where the old Mayan and Olmec civilizations first planted them around 3000 years ago. Don't miss the sipping chocolate and of course the chocolate cakes. Kids will also love the ice-chocolate served here on a hot day.
Xel-Ha is one of the best places for snorkeling with the kids. This natural aquarium park is the largest aquarium in the world and the water here is very calm. If you are traveling with smaller children, there is a special pool for them to play in, plus the 'Lazy River' attraction is the perfect spot to hop on a tube together and simply relax.
Cozumel island is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful islands in the world! Located only 45 minutes by ferry from Playa del Carmen, it has plenty of activities suitable for the whole family. It is home to the second largest coral reef in the world, and its beautiful and tranquil beaches are perfect for snorkeling, diving, playing, relaxing; and of course, enjoying some delicious food. Plus, kids' favorite theme park, 'Discover Mexico,' is here, where they can explore replicas of real archaeological sites and experience authentic Mexican culture and traditions. In short, Cozumel is guaranteed fun for the whole family!