Week of September 14-21, 1995
Making the most of Baja's Cabo San Lucas
Do Mexico right: Head straight for the Yucatán
Q: We are planning to go to Playa Del Carmen Mexico. I'm looking for some information on possible cheap flights, car rentals, and places to stay.
A: If you're looking for beautiful beaches, affordable accommodations, and a welcome respite the tourists who crowd Quintana Roo's more popular destinations, you may want to think about skipping Playa del Carmen altogether in favor of a condo-free Yucatán experience. You don't have to go too far afield to get off the beaten track--just hop in your rental car and head south from the Cancun airport along Highway 307, the main coastal road, until you see a stretch of deserted white-sand beach that catches your eye. Or, if you want to do your planning in advance, consider the following laid-back alternative, less than 45 minutes by car from Playa del Carmen. Opt for the simple life at KaiLuum, a low-key tent village on a pristine stretch of coastline about 35 miles south of Cancun and 15 miles north of Playa del Carmen. Swim with parrot fish and yellowtails out on the offshore reef, rent snorkeling gear at nearby Buccaneer's, stretch your legs on an hour walk along the deserted beach to a freshwater lagoon, or just laze around in one of your two private hammocks. However you choose to exert yourself, you'll sleep well at night in your beachfront tent--equipped with a canvas floor, windows on each side, and a thatched roof; it's easy to forego electricity and private baths for open-fire meals and ocean breezes. Daily rates at KaiLuum start at $44-$55 per person/double occupancy, including breakfast and dinners. To get there, take the La Posada del Capitan Lafitte turnoff on Highway 307. As far as airfare to Cancun goes, prices vary depending on your departure city, airline, and when you buy your ticket; right now, you can get a roundtrip flight from Chicago to Cancun on Mexicana Air for $345 roundtrip (800-531-7921), or $242 nonstop from Dallas to Cancun on American (800-624-6262). You never know when fare wars will kick in, so keep checking with your travel agent if you're looking for really cheap tickets. Renting a car is a different ballgame altogether; no matter which company you use, be prepared to pay a lot more than what you'd pay in the United States. A good bet at the Cancun airport is Budget (800-527-0700), with compact cars for $167 per week. Be aware also that you'll need to purchase insurance on top of regular rental rates, but before you do, check with your own insurance company or credit card company to see if you're covered. Another word of advice, reserve your car before leaving for Mexico--it's cheaper and you'll be sure it's there when you need it. For more reservations and information, contact KaiLuum at 800-538-6802, check out "At Play in the Fields of the Maya" in the Destinations section of our October 1994 issue, or read "Mexico: The Mainland" in our Winter Travel Guide.