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Mexico: Quintana Roo travel guide

To the point From Playa del Carmen to Bacalar and Tulum, discover Gabrielle's tips for a great vacation in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

In Mexico, I can’t get enough of the landscape, the sun, the white sandy beaches, the Caribbean Sea, the colors, the food, but also the culture and the people.

Murale Taco

Why Quintana Roo?

I’ve been there many times for :

  • Cheap airfare;
  • The short flight ;
  • The right temperature guaranteed, even at the end of the rainy season;
  • Easy transport;
  • English-speaking people.

Playa Del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is known for its festive nightlife, but there’s something for everyone. Accommodation is inexpensive and there are countless restaurants. The beach itself isn’t the best, but there’s plenty of choice nearby. There’s something for everyone!

Local activities include a trip to Xcaret Eco Park, which offers snorkelling and caving.


On the food front, the Fusion Beach Bar Cuisine, located opposite the sea, offers good food. It’s a friendly place, with its feet in the sand.


We had very good service at Zitla and the food was excellent. There’s a great atmosphere in this restaurant.

What To Do In Quintana Roo – Mexico

There’s no shortage of choice in Playa del Carmen! Here are the best restaurants in this corner of paradise.


Akumal is a well-known spot for turtle watching. You’ll discover a beautiful beach, not too crowded. The restaurant LoI Ha is a pleasant place to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat.

Swimming with turtles in Akumal Bay is the must-do activity to put on your agenda.


You could take the Ultramar or Winjet ferries to the island of Cozumel. The journey takes about 30-45 minutes. If you’re seasick like me, this will be difficult, but manageable!

The island is quite large: 30 miles long by 16 miles wide, with an airport. If you love snorkeling, this is the place for you!

Activities include :

  • Snorkeling in the turtle sanctuary, Casa Blanca reef, El Cielo and El Cielito ;
  • Jeep tour, discovery of the famous Jade cave and bathing in a cenote;
  • Snorkeling and transparent boat trip ;
  • Catamaran trip and snorkeling.
Coucher De Soleil

If you have a car, you can use Transcaribe, just make sure you’re covered with your insurance in Cozumel.

La Côte

Once there, I decided to rent a car and visit the whole island. It takes about 1 hour 40 minutes to complete the loop.

Please note that sea views are only available on the east coast. On the other side, there are only trees. I really enjoyed the ride in my Jeep convertible.

Along the way, you’ll see several stalls offering cheap beers and fresh coconuts.

The first restaurant on the road is Freedom in Paradise Reggae Beach Bar & Grill. A fun little place for a drink.

Rastas Beach Club

The advantage of renting a car is that you can stop at any point along the way to admire the different views.

Here is a list of all the beaches on my itinerary:

  • Playa Bosh
  • Punta Chiqueros
  • Playa San Martin
  • Playa Chen Rio
  • Punta Morena
  • Mezcalitos beach (the last place before heading back to town)
Plage De Sable

We chose to stop at Playa Chen Rio for a snack. There was a lot of coral, creating a very pleasant natural pool. I was surprised to see that surfing was an option here.

Our final stop was at the last bar, an ideal spot for a drink and a nap in the hammocks before getting back on the road (less than 10 minutes away).


I really liked this unspoilt, natural side of the island. The Punta Sur Eco Beach park remains an interesting option. You can also visit it by electric bike.

What To Do In Quintana Roo – Mexico


Tulum pueblo has grown considerably over the years; a new international airport has been in operation since December 2023, and Air Canada now offers direct flights from Toronto. To get to the beach downtown, it’s a 25-minute bike ride or cab ride. Tulum has a hippie vibe with a touch of “rich and famous” luxury. Many celebrities come to this Quintana Roo village.

There are so many cenotes: nearly 6,000 on the Yucatan Peninsula. Ik-Kil’s is the most famous. It’s worth taking a day trip with several activities. You could book an excursion to Chichén Itza, Coba and the Ik-Kil cenote.

For our part, we chose Gran Cenote on the recommendation of the lady at our Airbnb, but also because it was close to our accommodation. It was really crowded! But around 4 p.m., just before closing time, it was the perfect moment. We took the opportunity to rent some snorkeling equipment.

I saw lots of turtles, but only when the crowd had gone. It’s interesting to rent equipment, especially to see the light as you leave the cave. There are also lots of bats.


Tulum is full of places to practice yoga, but the Sanara Tulum (the establishment has changed ownership and is now called the Lula Seaside Boutique Hotel) is very special to me.

This is one of the best yoga studios I’ve been to! You can hear the sound of the ocean in the background, and the view is simply breathtaking.

Yoga En Bord De Mer

Playa Paraiso is a beautiful beach for a relaxing day out. Choose from a variety of beach clubs: we stopped off at Villa Pescadores.

It was a perfect beach day before heading off to Bacalar.


Our bus to Bacalar was at noon, so we had time to visit the ruins of Tulum in the morning. I suggest going at the opening.

By 9 a.m., it was already very busy. The tour lasts around 1 h, and you can hire a guide if you wish, or swim in the sea as the site is right on the ocean.

If you have time, book an excursion to Tulum and Cobá, which is also an archaeological site.

What To Do In Quintana Roo – Mexico

On the restaurant front, I loved Kitchen Table. The restaurant is in the middle of the jungle, with an open kitchen. They are very attentive to detail. There’s little choice on the menu, octopus, ribs or fish, but all the dishes were delicious.

What To Do In Quintana Roo – Mexico

Batey is a must when you visit Tulum. There’s always someone working on the sugar cane machine. Each cocktail is served with a piece of sugar cane, so good! They have the best mojitos!

What To Do In Quintana Roo – Mexico

Best burrito ever! At Burrito Amor, they’re incredible. The restaurant is equally charming. You should definitely add this place to your list.


Oh Bacalar! Certainly the favorite spot of my trip to Quintana Roo. It’s such a special place!

The lagoon is 55 km long and 2 km wide. There’s no beach here: we use stilt bridges to get to the water. Every restaurant on the water has its own.

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There’s plenty of free public access. In other places, you’ll need a drink to enjoy the facilities.

My favorite spot was the Parque Ecologico because it was so shallow that you could relax on the grass, more comfortable than the stilts. But beware of itching!

Activities include :

What To Do In Quintana Roo – Mexico

On the catering side, Rafael, the owner of Mr. Tacowill give you a warm welcome in its small restaurant. It’s very inspiring to see someone who is so passionate about what they do, even though they work six days a week from 8am to 11pm.

The tacos are really good, with a good variety (12 choices) and the burritos are so big! It’s pretty cheap to eat here.

At La Playita, the food was decent for the price. The place is truly magnificent, and we went there in particular to enjoy the terrace and, above all, the view.

Don’t forget to use your American Express Cobalt® Card at the many restaurants and bars to earn 5 points per dollar.

Quintana Roo - Saving with points

Marriott Bonvoy is Canada’s best-known hotel loyalty program. As a member, you can earn points that can be exchanged for free nights.

The following two credit cards earn Marriott Bonvoy points directly:

These cards include a handsome welcome bonus, numerous insurance benefits and an annual one-night free certificate worth 35,000 points.

If you’re not going to a Marriott hotel, there are also strategies for saving money by booking independent hotels in Quintana Roo.

In terms of transportation, you’ll need to use at least 12,500 Aeroplan points for a one-way economy flight from Montreal to Cancun or Tulum airports, according to Air Canada’s points predictor.

Not familiar with the Aeroplan program? In our beginner’s guide, we explain how to easily collect points for your next trip.

Where to stay in Quintana Roo?

You’ll be spoilt for choice, depending on your budget, from Playa del Carmel to Tulum. Reward points from credit card loyalty programs are a great way to save on the price of your hotel.

Which hotels to book in Tulum?

It all depends on your taste and budget. The Papaya Playa Project, Tulum, a Member of Design Hotels is ideally located, with its feet in the sand.

What's Cancun, Mexico like?

Cancun is a seaside resort where festivities and Mayan history are the order of the day. Snorkeling, swimming in a cenote, excursions to archaeological sites: the activities on offer in the surrounding area are sure to meet your expectations.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!
For the past few years, I was lucky enough to work for an airline company and travel often for cheap, but still felt like I needed more. I also wanted a big change from the usual 9@5 lifestyle. So I quit my job and started travelling Central/South America. Follow my journey as I discover what the latin culture has to offer.

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