5 Reasons to Visit Mexico’s Riviera Maya – Playa Del Carmen
Shark’s El Camaleón Course, Fairmont Mayakoba and More
By Chris Duthie
All photography courtesy of Chris Duthie
Fans of the PGA Tour golf enjoyed great tournament action last year when 41-year-old journeyman Pat Perez claimed his second Tour title at the OHL Classic Mayakoba, played at the Greg Norman-crafted El Camaleón Golf Course 40 miles south of Cancún near Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Perez’ celebratory victory was a gripping scene, but no more compelling than Norman’s 7,024-yard, par-72 routing, a rollicking romp through tropical jungle, limestone canals, ancient Mayan cenotes and mangrove wetlands that oh-so-diabolically team up with a blissfully sublime Caribbean coastline.
The Shark’s decade-old, critically acclaimed signature design is just one reason why club-toting travelers should visit the Riviera Maya in the coming months (and especially when the PGA Tour revisits El Camaleón in November).
Here are four more:
- The Fairmont Mayakoba: Located within Mayakoba’s 3,500-acre master-planned luxury community, the AAA Five Diamond Fairmont immerses its guest clientele with exquisite indulgences like lagoon-fronted guest rooms and suites; three Chef Richard Sandoval orchestrated restaurants, including beachfront Las Brisas; 37,000-square-foot Willow Stream Spa; a 10,000-square-foot freeform pool; expansive white sand beach for recreation and sun worshipping; and an adventure kids camp for ages 4-12.
- Jim McLean Golf School: If El Camaleón proves daunting, take respite at McLean’s celebrated Mayakoba swing school. The top-ranked facility includes an indoor swing station, 40-yard-wide putting green, 350-yard double-sided practice tee and state-of-the-art swing analysis technology. After a lesson or two, test your game at other regional courses like Playa Mujeres (Norman), Playacar (Robert Von Hagge), Riviera Maya (Robert Trent Jones Jr.), Moon Palace (Jack Nicklaus), Grand Coral (Nick Price) and the Nicklaus-crafted par-3 layout, El Manglar.
- Playa del Carmen: Ride Fairmont’s complimentary shuttle six miles south to Playa’s vivacious collection of hotels, beach clubs, restaurants and spas. Go explore no-vehicles-allowed 5th Avenue for boutique shopping, listen to the eight-piece mariachi bands, or just people watch. Playa is also hot for beach sports like jet skiing, parasailing, sea kayaking and scuba diving, and it’s a popular jump-off for ferrying to nearby Cozumel.
- Tulúm Ruins: Satiate your inner Indiana Jones touring this UNESCO World Heritage Site located 45 miles south of Mayakoba. From 564 A.D. until just before the end of the 16th century, Tulúm was a strategic Mayan gateway that connected the Yucatan Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico with inhabitants of Honduras and modern-day Central America. Another worthwhile tour is found 30 miles further inland at Cobá Pyramid.
For more about Mexico’s Riviera Maya region, go online here.
What are your favorite memories of Playa del Carmen? Share your comments below.
Chris Duthie is a Durango-based contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer.