Puerto Aventuras is the Portofino of the Mexican Caribbean. There are sidewalk cafes along as lagoon where dolphins frolic; snow-white beaches where vacationers play. It has Riviera Maya’s only marina and an exclusive yacht club. And, it’s close to the wonders of Xcaret. From Xcaret south to Kantenah, you can enjoy golf, fishing, diving and every watersport under the warm Mexican sun…
A pristine eco-archaeological park with sun-splashed lagoons, spectacular cenotes and a mysterious underground river, Xcaret lies only five kilometers south of Play del Carmen. Xcaret offers numerous adventures for the young and young-at-heart. There’s an interactive aquarium, a butterfly pavilion, an orchid garden, two dolphinariums, a bat cave and sky tours over the park arranged through Alas.
Scuba dive for an close-up look at exotic marine life. Swim with playful dolphins. Go horseback riding and romping on a beautiful beach, or snorkel in crystal-clear waters. Plan to spend a day, so you can see and do as much as possible. Stay for Xcaret’s night show at the new Tlaxco amphitheater and watch Mayan dances, traditional Maya ball games and one of the best folkloric ballets in the country.
Once an important commercial center for the Maya, the park houses eight groups of structures dating from the Late Post Classic period (1400 – 1517). It also shelters a host of living creatures like jaguars, crocodiles and a stingless bee.
Just south of Xcaret is the international port of Calica. Its dock provides services for commercial vessels and some cruise ships traveling to different destinations.
Best known as a motor-home heaven, Paamul lies about 14 kilometers from Playa del Carmen in a sheltered bay nestled against the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Recreational vehicles (RV’s) and motor homes with license plates from Canada and all over the continental United States – everywhere from Texas and Florida to Michigan and Wisconsin – are lined up on well-kept ground and surrounded with attractive, palapa covered patios. Rates for RV spaces with hookups run about US$16 a day.
Paamul is believed to have been a Maya port for loading and unloading merchandise from trading vessels that navigated routes throughout the Caribbean. It has become a spot for European backpackers who enjoy its laid-back, bohemian-type atmosphere. An ideal hideaway, Paamul has several beachfront cabanas for rent nestled amid the shade of coconut palms. The Willis family runs a small hotel, Casa Willis, which offers handsomely furnished, air-conditioned rooms at reasonable rates. There’s a beachfront restaurant, Brasil En Paamul, which serves casual fare like hamburgers, fish and nachos.
Within swimming distance to the barrier reef, Paamul is a popular site for snorkelers and divers. A variety of dive sites are just a few minutes offshore. Even on a 10-day dive adventure, you rarely visit the same site twice. Scuba Mex, a family-owned dive shop on the beach, rents snorkel gear and arranges dive trips. Fishing is another popular pastime.
Lots of visitors flock to the masterfully designed upscale community of Puerto Aventuras, south of Paamul. Spanish-Mediterranean style architecture in warm hues of pink and orange stands out against the backdrop of blue skies and sun-kissed white beaches. Cross streets reveal all-inclusive seaside resorts playing neighbor to private homes, condominiums and villas for rent and sale. Real estate companies including Costs Realty and Max Realtors can arrange rentals and sales. From one end of Puerto Aventuras to the other, new construction of several hotel and condominium complexes is underway.
In the heart of this Caribbean community lies a full-service marina, the only one of its kind between Cancun and Belize. Restaurants and shops line the water’s edge like an elegant Parisian sidewalk. Souvenir, clothing, jewelry and craft stores are tucked alongside tobacco and dive shops. Impressive yachts, dive and fishing boats are anchored nearby. Dolphins and swimmers frolic in the lagoon. Residents and visitors in this neighborhood-kind-of-place all find Puerto Aventuras so inviting.
Golfers can play the nine-hole course situated close to the community entrance gates. Other popular activities include catamaran excursions, tennis, bicycle tours, parasailing, fly and deep-sea fishing, windsurfing, kite surfing, snorkeling, diving and sailing. Local dive operators can arrange trips with professional guides to cenotes and dive sites nearby. Night dives can be scheduled and several operators offer scuba diving for beginners. Be sure to dive only with a licensed guide.
For anyone interested in chartering a boat, Puerto Aventuras is the place. With the barrier reef only 200 yards from shore, boat charters zigzag up and down the coast to favorite fishing spots where the catch of the day is generally grouper and snapper. Further out is an abundance of sailfish, tuna, marlin and wahoo. Serious spot fishermen from all over the world flock to Puerto Aventuras for the Silver Lighthouse Tournament (usually held in April/May) and the Golden Marlin Tournament (held in August), while plenty of cruising yachtsmen spend the winter season here.
On any given day, the first thing to catch your eye at the marina are fun-loving visitors splashing in the water with playful dolphins. Participants in Dolphin Discovery’s swim with the dolphins program are guaranteed “the experience of a lifetime” with the world’s Friendliest mammals. The new Sealife Discovery program (2 – 3 hours) allows you to interact with stingrays, manatees and dolphins. Learn how they are cared for, assist in preparing their food and caress and feed these graceful creatures.
A visit to the CEDAM Maritime Museum, displaying various artifacts and wreckage recovered from 18th century shipwrecks, is worthwhile. Located at the northern end of the marina, the museum is open Monday – Saturday from and .
Whether you’re having lunch or dinner, dining in Puerto Aventuras is an unforgettable, romantic waterfront experience. There’s nowhere else you can enjoy great cuisine while watching dolphins jump through the air. Omni Puerto Aventuras hotel has several restaurants and bars open to the public. DaVinci is the place if you’re in the mood for Italian cuisine, and there’s even fresh sushi and sashimi at Arigato Sushi Bar. The Pub serves international fare including great pizza.
Pass Puerto Aventuras and you could easily miss scantly marked dirt road entrances off Highway 307 that lead to a beautiful stretch of beach next to the all-inclusive Hotel Xpu-Ha Palace Resort, Cenote Manatee and a lagoon for snorkeling and swimming are on the north side of the beach. Just south of Xpu-Ha and the Copacabana resort, is the spot known as La Playa where you’ll find a lovely beach and amenities including a beachfront restaurant with Mexican specialties, a dive shop, souvenir and craft stalls and a sprinkling of cabanas.
Further south, on the way to Kantenah, there’s a display of local handicrafts, including clothing, jewelry, woven rugs, hammocks, souvenirs, gifts and pottery. The beach at Kantenah is perfect for a refreshing dip in the sea, snorkeling, sunbathing, or napping.