When planning a holiday on St. Barts, it is likely that you will repeatedly hear that the island has an array of fabulous beaches, with each offering its own unique experiences, scenery and conditions. This is most certainly true, but if you are not interested in driving around and sampling them to find the perfect beach for your needs, let us help you with this no nonsense guide to the best beaches on the island.

Without a doubt, the very finest places to while away hours on the sand or in the gentle surf include Gouverneuer, St. Jean, Salines and Flamands beaches.

For Those Who Love Quiet and Picturesque Beaches

If you are of the “I want a picture postcard beach”, then make it Gouverneur Beach. It is at the south end of St. Barts and offers truly idyllic conditions. It tends to be quiet and not the least crowded, and there is even plenty of parking.

While this is a 10-minute drive from Gustavia, it is well worth the trip for its sugary white sands and its gorgeous teal-blue seas. You will see some rather premium villas and properties near these sands, but there is no massive commercial development, leaving the area with a feeling of peace and beauty. Pack a picnic and find a shady niche beneath some of the dense native growth or right in the center of the sands – you will find it difficult to believe it is a naturally occurring setting.

For Those Who Want Popular but Picturesque

If you enjoy those beaches that have the right amount of development and activity, without feeling crowded or unnatural, then St. Jean Beach is for you. It is actually two beaches with the unusual Eden Rock Hotel sitting on a small, circular peninsula between them. Plenty of resources nearby make it a wonderful spot for families or those who want to sample some of the local foods and enjoy drinks at the hottest beach bars on the island. This is also a key destination for the windsurfing crowd, so if you want to learn or just watch the pros, this is a beach to visit.

For Those Who Want to Pretend They Are on a Private Island

Large, undeveloped and nearly pristine, Saline Beach is for those who want the gentle lapping of the surf, uninterrupted stretches of empty white sand, and true peace and quiet. Some say that it is the Caribbean as you always imagined it. It does require a short and easy hike over the sand dunes to reach the beach, but when you do, you will find that it offers an astonishing range of private little niches and areas to bask in the sun, kick in the surf and soak up the splendor of the tropical setting.

For Those Who Want Peace, Scenery, Services and Recreation

If you want a good beach that is quiet and not at all crowded, close to delicious restaurants, offers some lovely little clusters of native palms, and even has a hiking trail up a nearby volcano (don’t worry, it’s dormant), then Flamands Beach is for you. Arrange for lunch and beach chairs at Cheval Blanc Isle De France Hotel via your Isle Blue concierge and enjoy a splendid sun bathed day enjoying the views and experiencing one of the best gastronomic experiences on St Barts.

Chosen by those who like to walk along the beach, lay on the sands, and even burn up a bit of energy swimming in the typically safe surf or enjoying some hiking, it is only three miles from Gustavia (on the northwestern side of the island). It is not as often found by visitors because of its locale, and is a good one for those seeking it all, but who also want a bit more peace and tranquility than more well-known beaches offer.

While it is always smart to plan on spending time exploring any destinations you visit, you don’t want to end up wasting your precious holiday hours searching for the best spots to relax and rejuvenate. Never is this truer than when it comes to beaches, and if you are planning a visit to stunning St. Martin, you don’t want to find yourself driving around for a day or two to locate a beach that fits your wishes, wants and needs.

So, allow us to help you cut to the chase, or even avoid the chase altogether by offering you this straight to the beach guide for the many idyllic beaches in St. Martin.

The Most Famous

If you want to head to the beach that is often described as the most famous on the island, it has to be Orient Beach. Loaded with great restaurants, bars, beach shacks and water sports, it is the place to see and be seen.

Naturally, this means it can be crowded, but it does have excellent services and amenities. You can, quite literally, find or do anything you had imagined. Whether it is learning a non-motor water sport, sunbathing on sugary white sands, or enjoying good surf (though it can be a bit rough for swimming during certain times of year), this is the place to be.

Note: it is also a good day to evening beach, allowing you to spend a day along the sands and enjoy the activities before heading out for the nightlife that surrounds it.

The Alternative to Busier Spots

If Orient Bay is the most famous, and Maho Bay Beach a close second, then Mullet Bay Beach is for those who want surf-friendly waves, safe swimming, silken sands and an unprecedented level of peace and quiet. True beachgoers pick this one repeatedly, though there are no restrooms nearby, there are two “lolos” noted for their amazing food and their services.

The Romantic and Quiet Beach

If your wish is to find a secluded little beach with good sands, good water and no crowds, then it has to be Plum Bay Beach. It is close to Long Bay and well known to surfers, but during the weekdays it is nearly empty. It is truly one of the most peaceful places to relax on the sands, but if you wish to take in some scenery, just follow this beach to its northern end where you then reach “Falais des Oiseaux.” This is Bird Cliff and from here you head to the French side of the island.

Because it is so peaceful and remote, there are no chair rentals or other suppliers. This means you should be prepared to tote in and tote out, but it is well worth it, especially at sunset. With its western orientation, this beach offers a truly unprecedented place to savor a Caribbean sunset and views of Saba Island in the distance.

The Beach Even More Remote

If you are thinking along the lines of your own private island oasis of peace and tranquility, then it should be Happy Bay Beach. Set in the northwestern area of the island, you must reach this on foot or by boat. Some of the upscale villas nearby have private paths to the sands, but you should not use them. Instead, stick to the path that is located alongside the last beach bar at the far end of Friars’ Bay and remember to bring some snorkel gear as the waters here are idyllic.

The Destination

Lastly, if you want to experience an unforgettable day at the beach, why not make it one that is reached only by boat or paddle boat offshore from the island of St. Martin itself? Pinel Island is a treasure with its gorgeous snorkeling, its charming Caribbean restaurant and its little beaches and paths that provide an unforgettable day.

If you are planning a visit to Provence, it is easy to assume you have already started to develop a list of must-see destinations. This is likely to include a list of towns like Avignon and its amazing 14th century sites, Aix-en-Provence with all its history and the entire Luberon region with its gorgeous villages, luxurious villas and impressive food culture. However, even though it seems that Provence has been reviewed with the proverbial fine toothed comb by travel enthusiasts, there are still some overlooked sights in Provence. These are each “must see” destinations for different reasons, and though some are hidden gems, others are just lovely surprises nearby to more famous locations.

Let’s consider some of the most appealing towns of Provence that are overlooked due to their out of the way locations or simply because they are overshadowed by more famous neighbors:


Often noted as one of the country’s most beautiful villages it is in the Luberon area and full of stone houses, a 1500s chateau, cobbled streets and is home to the amazing Pol Mara Museum.


This is another village which constantly receives recognition as being among the most beautiful of all villages in France. Also in the Luberon area, it is home to Roman ruins, but also to Neolithic sites and even a Renaissance era chateau. This is the book lover’s paradise and also full of appealing cafes and bistros.


Home to a wonderful weekly market, it is also considered one of the most romantic areas of Provence. The town still has an official Duke in residence – in his castle in the heart of town – and it, too, has cobbled streets and all kinds of gardens tucked into every neighborhood. It is also home to Tour Fenestreelle and the world-famous Pont du Gard. This is a two-thousand-year-old Roman aqueduct that is unbelievably beautiful. Surprisingly enough, this has not caused the village to become crowded, and it remains a hidden gem.


Though situated on an island off the coast at Toulon, it is a wonderful destination. Tourism has yet to arrive and the amazing beaches, gorgeous native plant life and crystal clear sea waters are a wonderful find. The town has a small jazz festival each year, and is often described as one of those hidden gems that should be enjoyed now, before it does become one of the top traveler destinations.


Though you might think it would experience a lot of visitation simply because it was the home to such historic notables as Nicolas de Stael and author Peter Mayle (whose writings have inspired millions to visit Provence), it remains an “under the radar” spot. Noted for its beauty, it has medieval walls, 1700s buildings and gorgeous surroundings. A museum dedicated to Dora Maar (Picasso’s muse) is also here, along with a strong foodie culture thanks to the truffles and wines from the area.


This lovely town has a fantastic market, and also Le Jardin de L’Alchemiste. Whether you speak French or not, you can tell that this is a garden dedicated to magical plants and the lost medieval science dedicated to turning mundane compounds into gold. There is also the impressive La Maison d’Anais offering everything lavender.

Other overlooked sights in Provence include the Refuge d’Art, in Haute-Provence whigh is lovely in its Reserve Geologique de Haute Provence setting. Yet, the amazing public sculpture garden is truly stunning and explored from a 150km hiking trail. There is also the Domaine Hauvette vineyard (appointments are required) tucked into the foot of the Alpilles Mountains and in the St. Remy de Provence area. While there, also be sure to stop at Le Petit Duc known as one of the most impressive patisseries in all of France.

With this short list, you can see some of the loveliest and least crowded spots in Provence during your next visit – and if you head to Le Petit Duc, be sure you savor the oreilles de la bonne to taste a truly historic and unforgettable treat.

A holiday in Provence sounds like the ultimate in “grown up” getaways. The amazing architecture, the irresistible foods, the quaint towns and the endless beauty of the landscape appeal to almost everyone. Of course, if you are a family looking for a wonderful spot to escape, you might not believe that this dreamy destination is a good choice for people of all ages. The good news is that it is a perfectly wonderful place to choose for your family vacation, and when you book a villa in Provence, you guarantee that everyone will be delighted by the decision.

Why Provence?

Imagine waking in the morning in one of those idyllic, picture book settings that make Provence so famous. There are rows and rows of lavender stretching into the distance, gorgeous gardens of roses and blooming flowers, curving lines of cypress that frame the rolling hills. Of course, with a well-chosen villa, you can savor this scenery from your private retreat, and enjoy such luxurious amenities as a pool, tennis courts, gaming rooms, outdoor kitchens with full gardens, and more.

Let’s look at three luxury rentals that would prove the perfect setting for the ultimate family vacation in Provence.

Villa Belle Des Press, Vacations in Provence

Belle des Pres

A true, private estate in the heart of the Provence countryside, it is a 10-bedroom dream in the Luberon region. It is tucked into 200 private acres and features those famous rows of lavender along with picturesque grounds and woodlands. The property itself is surrounded by a working gentleman’s farm with a lovely hen house, a kitchen garden, tennis courts, a large swimming pool, play area for kids and even a petanque strip. There is even a summer kitchen by the pool for those unforgettable dinners at sunset.

This property features a main house and a charming dovecot for up to four guests. The main house is amply supplied with terraces and charming outdoor living spaces. Inside, there is a library, two separate living rooms, and multiple fireplaces for year-round enjoyment.

Lavender Blue

Yet another Luberon location, it is a fabulous seven-bedroom property set within an immense, 750 hectares of lavender, olive groves and landscaped gardens. The property features an enormous range of outdoor living spaces – most with views over the lovely Bonnieux area. There is an enormous saline swimming pool, an outdoor or summer kitchen, and al fresco dining along the different terraces.

Inside, the property is done in a classic style and features a games room for the kids, bedrooms decorated specifically for children and teens and enormous shared living spaces in addition to the bedrooms. The kitchen, with its rustic cabinetry and enormous island will be a constant attraction for all.

Les 2 Vaches

This eight-bedroom property is a fully restored, authentic French farmhouse. Set at a distance from the entry, a trolley can bring visitors and their belongings to the villa. The amazing landscaped grounds include playgrounds for kids, a large pool with terrace, a petanque field, and a barn redone to serve as a game room for children and teens.

Choose one of these lovely, private paradises and settle in for a dreamy and utterly relaxing holiday, and always just minutes from the delights of the nearby town.

Can you keep a secret? If so, and you are planning a holiday to St. Martin this year, you are in for a real treat. That is because the island is home to 37 impressive St Maarten beaches, but some of them are truly underrated or even unknown to most travelers, and can become one of your best kept holiday secrets.

While it is impossible to point to any beach on the island as unworthy of a visit, after all, most of them are simply stunning, pleasant and appealing – and almost all are dotted with shops, bars, some of St Martin’s best restaurants and visitor services. Still, if you would be fine without all the amenities in exchange for a bit more privacy, quiet, and even seclusion, these most “underrated” or secret beaches are for you.

Happy Bay

This requires a 10-minute walk from either Friar’s ay or Grand Case. The trail is flat, and you may be surprised to encounter a few local (friendly) cows also wandering along the path. Once you get to the beach, you will begin to wonder why so few have found it. It is one of the most family-friendly (i.e. wading and splashing) beaches with its gorgeous golden sands and calm waters. There is great snorkeling at the edge of the bay and it is but a two-minute swim to reach some gorgeous underwater scenery. Because there are no services, you do need to pack in your supplies, but the hike is easy enough that this is not a problem. Arrive early to get a spot beneath the large shade trees at the edge of the sands.

Petit Cayes

This one is also described by islanders as the Wilderness because it requires you to take a, roughly, 30-minute hike to reach the beach. It is at the northernmost point of the island and the lovely hike brings you to an even lovelier destination. It is often nearly empty and features a cove with white sand, a forested perimeter for shady meals and leisurely naps out of the sun.

To get there, take the trail from Anse Marcel or the shorter and less strenuous walk from Transfer Station Road. The latter features a beautiful coral path that takes you up a cactus covered hillside and a gorgeous rock maze. The views are unprecedented and you will marvel at the bays and islands in the distance. You don’t see the beach until your last few steps, up and over a coral wall, and then, suddenly…a gorgeous, hidden beach of your own. Remember there are no services, so bring water, blankets and a good picnic basket.

Baie Blanche

Also known as Tintamarre, this is a beach that is actually on an island along the northeast coast of St. Martin. It is well worth the boat trip as it is an uninhabited destination with more than 80 acres of pristine land. The beach on the western shore is the best and offers everything from jolly sea turtles floating by to some of the calmest and shallowest waters imaginable. It is a nature preserve, so be sure you pack in and pack out. You can arrange your travel by a private charter and get the very best options for picnics, gear and services.

Though any beach in St. Martin is sure to delight, these underrated and lesser known destinations are sure to become your favorite St. Martin’s secrets. Remember that you will need to make plans for bringing all your own supplies and wear shoes suitable for the short hikes, but if you want to find some hidden gems, it will be well worth it.

As one of the most exclusive and high quality destinations in the Caribbean, St. Barts is also a choice location for beach houses and luxury villa rental opportunities. With a full array of amenities, services, and some of the most astonishing design and décor, you may find it challenging to leave your St. Barts vacation home, but leave you must. Why? Because no luxury vacation to St. Barts is complete without at least one day of exploration and experiences.

To ensure that you make the most of your day away from your villa during a family vacation or getaway, we suggest the following fail-proof itinerary for an idyllic day in St. Barts:


Skip your morning coffee on the terrace and set the alarm early. Today, you watch the sunrise as you walk, cycle or drive to Gustavia. The unending charms of this harbor town are at their absolute best as the day dawns. The boats may be heading in and out of the harbor, and the smells of the cafes and bakeries are apt to make you swoon.

We suggest that you go European and sit at one of the waterfront or harbor side cafes to enjoy a classic breakfast of croissant or local pastry accompanied by the ultra-French beverage – café au lait. If you don’t get your adequate level of caffeine from this beverage, just enjoy a second!

When you are energized enough from this early morning boost, do a bit of window shopping along the Quai de la Republique. We encourage the early morning, pre-business hours because this street really comes to life quickly each day and begins to get crowded long before lunch.

If you spot a must-have item, you can go ahead and return before lunch. The next must do activity is to put on your hiking shoes and head out towards Colombier. From Gustavia there is a clearly marked path that will take about 30 – 45 minutes to complete, and it takes you to one of the lovelies and most secluded coves in Colombier.

You can opt to book some snorkeling right from the cove or you can head to the harbor for a chartered boat ride or fishing trip. If you just want to enjoy a truly peaceful swim, this is the spot. When done, head back along the trail and make your way to Saint Jean. It is only a short drive to this quieter harbor town, and here you can grab an unforgettable lunch at Nikki Beach, On the Rocks or the always pleasing Sand Bar.

By this time, you are probably a little tired, so spend a short time doing some shopping along St. Jean’s peaceful streets and then head home to rest up for a few hours. This is because you are going to return to Gustavia at the classic  “cocktail hour” around 6-7 PM. Start your night at one of Gustavia’s world-famous restaurants. Spots like Bonito, L’Isola, Orega, Eddy’s and Black Ginger are good bets – and you may want to get a reservation.

Enjoy your meal, toast the sunset, and make your way to a hotspot like the famous Le Ti tavern. This is a traditional gathering place and nice spot for a dessert and cocktail or two. However, it is also a jovial location and a late-night party spot too. If you want to paint the town red, dance until dawn and toast a sunrise, Gustavia offers you a great way to complete an idyllic day in St. Barts.

Too often we head to a wonderful destination with every intention of taking some memorable photographs only to return home with a handful of postcards and some less than stellar shots of the destinations we chose. This is an avoidable frustration, and one we want to ensure you don’t experience if you have booked a stay at a luxury villa in Turks and Caicos.

Now, we won’t be able to turn you into an Ansel Adams or Annie Liebowitz in a single article, we can point you to the right spots and make a few helpful suggestions that will allow you to really capture some of the great scenes and even moods of the island.


This is an obvious suggestion, but don’t limit yourself to the standard, postcard-style shot, i.e. finding somewhere to stand a bit above and shoot down on the beach. Instead, turn things upside down and shoot low – as in at the same level as the sand.

Footprints in the sand, writing or drawing, piles of shells, or simply the graceful curve of the shore as it forms a bay in the distance…these are stunning ways to really document your personal experience of the beach. Choose your favorite spot and pay a few visits at sunrise, sunset and midday to see what gets the greatest results.

While you’re there, don’t neglect any of the colorful shacks that line some of the island’s best beaches. There are so many things you can do with the palm trees along the beaches, including using them to frame the shacks or even a sunrise or sunset.

If you are near the shacks, be sure you head inside to capture some fun and unique memories. The conch shacks are great for “collecting” conchs without the hassle of carrying them home (remember, you can’t buy more than three anyway!).

Half Moon Bay is a beach popular with photographers due to its limestone cliffs and palms, but be sure to get down to the rocks and look for the iguanas too!


Turks and Caicos also happens to be a world-class bird watching spot, particularly the areas around Provo. However, don’t neglect the flamingos that so often show up at the island’s golf course (yes, you’ll have to play to find them, but it is a great experience either way).

To get the best bird shots, you will have to go on a bit of an adventure. After all, Northwest Point National Park is one of the best birding areas, and a simple walk along its one mile of coastline from southwest to the lighthouse at Northwest Point is sure to provide countless opportunities.

Head southwest to West Harbour Bluff for the best pelican viewing, and drive along Tom Lightbourne Rd. in Frenchman’s Creek Nature Reserve, stopping three miles in to get some of the best birding on the island. If you are the type who likes to be scared, visit the coastal area of Frenchman’s Creek and book a guided tour into the Malcolm Roads Beach. Why? This is where the giant land crabs live and where you can watch Yellow Crowned Night Herons do some amazing fishing on land and where small sharks can be seen swimming in the shallows nearby.


You might love the look of a boat bobbing in the bay, and a visit to this island is going to give you many chances to photograph this sight. Remember that midday is going to wash out the colors and you will want to always try to document boats in the mornings or late afternoons when the sunlight is less potent. Silhouettes of boats at sunrise or sunset are great and there is little that compares to the calm and stillness of a harbor or marina at sunrise.

Don’t forget to capture the people, markets, gardens, and even the special details of luxury rentals – zooming in close rather than attempting expansive images – and you’ll have personalized, and even frame-worthy art to remember your luxury holiday.

Almost everyone who travels likes to pick up something to remind themselves of their adventure or vacation. Additionally, many of us like to bring home gifts that reflect some aspect of the journey. This is not always easy, and if you are among those who want to dodge the “made somewhere else” products, it can be tough to find a good quality item.

Fortunately, anyone visiting Turks and Caicos has a long list of must buy items that can also serve as champion souvenirs. Just consider Bambarra rum! Known as the island’s brand, it is the one thing that you know is unavailable elsewhere and yet you can pick from a range of varieties (hint: almost everyone who sips their Trouvadore 15-year-old variety loves it). Of course, you can also scout around for the Lucayan and Turks Head brands as they are both authentic island brands too.

What else should you consider picking up during a visit to Turks and Caicos? Let’s consider some of the best options.

Local Art

One of the wisest items to purchase would be a locally made good. The artists of Turks and Caicos are busy making everything from wood carvings and painted silks to hand-woven baskets and unique prints. You should also consider locally made dolls with their bright and cheerful local fabrics, wind chimes made of native shells, local pottery and even consider buying CDs from the local bands who perform in restaurants, bars and other venues.

Of course, wall art is a wonderful thing to take home, and many villas and rentals have original works. Ask about any of the pieces you particularly like and find out if the artist is selling somewhere on the island. One thing that everyone will appreciate are the small, catch all baskets available from the Turks and Caicos National Trust. They are made of native fanner grass and make fantastic souvenirs for everyone at home – and yourself too!

Many travelers find that beach glass jewelry makes an especially memorable item and you can also find some artisans using conch shells or conch pearls to make one of a kind jewelry items.

Some island artisan shops include Greensleeves (at Central Square), Anna’s Art Gallery in the lovely Salt Mill Plaza also has great local goods, the Turks and Caicos Hand Crafts at Blue Hills Artisans Studio are also popular and almost everyone purchases a handmade, island t-shirt from Mama’s at Ports of Call.

With the mention of conch a bit earlier, we need to consider it as a must-have souvenir.

Conch Shells

This is something everyone wants, but you need to know that the Queen Conch, with that stunning and majestic shell, is now protected and exporting it or its shell can mean getting a permit. Limit your purchase to three shells or less and you will have no problem. Even wiser may be to purchase locally made jewelry that was made from small parts of a shell. This ensures that you can travel easier, but keep in mind that you are still limited to three items – be sure to keep your receipt for your conch shell purchases.

Sea Salt

Gourmands will probably know about the salts of Turks and Caicos, but if you are unfamiliar, it is a wonderful story. During the 1700s and 1800s, the island had sugar mills but was also known for its regular harvests of sea salt. This is still something available today, but be sure you are buying authentically crafted island salt. The foodies on your gift list will love you for it, and you’ll appreciate the authentic island flavor it adds to your foods at home.

There you have it! The must-have items you will want to purchase for yourself and loved ones each time you pay a visit to Turks and Caicos.

Long noted as one of Mexico’s exclusive and luxurious resort and holiday areas, Punta Mita has many fantastic activities to enjoy. While three of Mexico’s most luxurious resorts are within the area, it is famous for its lovely beaches too. Surrounded by truly stunning landscapes and dramatic coastline, it has roughly 25 miles of beachfront to savor. Many beaches are remarkably private or secluded, with some of the best reachable only by boat.


This means that one of the best things to do during your visit to Punta Mita is to plan plenty of beach time. You can reach some by car, relying on a driver if you wish to savor the scenery, or you can charter a boat to take you to the more secluded spots. When you book a private or resort villa, you typically have access to a concierge, and this can make it much easier to arrange transportation as well as catering to bring along and enjoy during your hours at the shore.

Don’t forget that many options for horseback riding or four-wheel adventures along the beaches and dunes are possible as well. If your luxury accommodation includes private waterfront, you will still want to savor the fantastic water sports that are key activity in Punta Mita .

Water Sports

Endless days of sunbathing, strolling or even horseback riding along the beaches is sure to please, but the waters around Punta Mita are amazing too. It is often described as the water sports enthusiast’s paradise where you can spend days sailing or scuba diving. Charter opportunities make it easier and safer to enjoy the very best experiences, but there are also ways to do some kayaking, parasailing, water skiing and windsurfing too.

Naturally, fishing is a huge activity in Punta Mita and sports fishing operators and charters are available for individuals as well as groups. If you would rather use your eyes to “catch a big one”, then make sure to visit from November through March, which is the peak of whale watching season. One of the finest experiences will be with an “eco boat” tour that knows the right places and remains a respectful and safe distance from mothers and their calves.

Eco Adventures

With the mention of eco boat tours, we should also consider the rise in popularity and options for high quality eco tours. While the vast majority depart from Puerto Vallarta (just 45 minutes from Punta Vista), the best are well worth it. Do some jungle touring, tropical bird watching, or even head to a working turtle sanctuary to see these fragile and amazing creatures. There are many local groups also offering guided hikes or bike tours to some of the beautiful places inland.

If you have access to a concierge, you can ask them to help you book some of the premiere inland adventures. This can include tours of colonial era sites, four-wheel drive excursions, visits to local ranches, or even a hot air balloon ride that will take in such sights as the Sierra Madre Mountains.


Golf enthusiasts have access to one of the finest golf courses in all of Mexico while visiting Punta Mita, this is the course adjacent to the Four Seasons resort, but there are also other courses in Puerto Vallarta too.

Day Trips

When visiting Punta Mita, you are also within easy reach of several nearby locations that offer unforgettable day trip experiences. For many a visit to Sayulita is unforgettable. A rare, “boho surf” town, it allows visitors to spend hours at a chic, beachfront location with cobblestone streets, delicious “taquerias” to sample, and galleries full of locally made goods.

You might also book a hike in Cerro de Mono or Monkey Mountain to enjoy amazing views from the highest point in the region. And a day at the Marietas Islands, only 15 minutes away, is going to prove unforgettable.

Noted as a destination along Mexico’s Riviera Maya, it is part of the Yucatan Peninsula and features a long expanse of Caribbean coast. While it is noted for its luxurious shops, restaurants and amenities, as well as its nightlife and palm-lined Quinta Avenida, there is much more to any experience of Playa del Carmen.

Natural Destinations Growing in Popularity

If you wish to experience Playa del Carmen in an unforgettable and positive way, it helps to know that it is growing in popularity for its gorgeous beaches, water sports, fishing, and even its activities like golf and spa holidays. It began as a charming fishing town, and has rapidly grown to include many high-end amenities and services. It is most noted as a diver’s destination, and its sea life is something to behold.

What this means is that anyone planning a holiday to Playa del Carmen must first ensure they book some time scuba diving, snorkeling or touring the waters that draw so many. Keep in mind that there are guided tours and dives, and there are also many eco-friendly options that are ideal for families and small groups.

Eco-friendly is a term you will hear often during a visit to Playa del Carmen, especially if you have booked an accommodation away from the more crowded tourism areas. This is because there are some remarkable natural wonders here, and for most, it is best to experience them in the hands of a knowledgeable local guide.

Just consider, you may want to spend a day exploring the many cenotes that dot the entire peninsula and coastline. There are also a huge number of gorgeous caves to explore and even mangroves and underground rivers. What better way to experience them than to explore them with a guide who ensures these beautiful natural wonders remain undisturbed and pristine.

The Rio Secreto is one such destination and is a popular place for those visiting Playa del Carmen to explore. There are also some Mayan villages that offer zip lining activities that take you above the jungle canopies and allow you to see sights unavailable in any other way.

If you are fortunate enough to have booked one of the many premiere villas available to visitors, inquire about private tours and eco-friendly activities. These will introduce you to the unique setting that is the Maya Riviera and the Yucatan Peninsula.

Local Favorites

Of course, if you want to truly experience Playa del Carmen, you may also want to take the opportunity to enjoy some of the many popular classes and interactive options readily available. For instance, a great many travelers to the region will book a cooking class at one of the noted restaurants or resorts. This allows them to master their ceviche, learn about the drinks and ingredients native to the area, and more. If you are in a villa, you might also inquire about your chef giving you custom courses as well.

The learning doesn’t stop with the cuisine, and many travelers enroll in salsa dancing lessons, local language classes and other culturally relevant activities for a day or more of their visit.

Of course, one unforgettable experience for those visiting Playa del Carmen is to witness a sunrise on the water. Kayaking tours are available, and can take you to destinations like Sian Ka’an or nearby Tulum where you will witness the morning mists rising from ancient Mayan pyramids.

Don’t let the popularity and high numbers of visitors steer you away from an experience of the Maya Riviera and Playa del Carmen. It is a world of delicious foods, amazing sights, gorgeous beaches, guaranteed-to-be-beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and so much more.