Local Classics Worth Checking Out in the Riviera Maya

Local Classics Worth Checking Out in the Riviera Maya

We have been living in the Riviera Maya since the early 1990’s and have witnessed an incredible amount of change as this destination has become one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. We love the conveniences the changes offer but still gravitate towards some old classics that remind us of our first days in the Mexican Caribbean.

Tarraya Restaurant in Playa del Carmen

Tarraya Restaurant in Playa del Carmen

Tarraya is old school and we love the location right on the beach close to the ferry pier. Tables are nestled under palm trees with a beautiful view of the sea. The menu is basic with fresh fish, ceviche, guacamole, and a few American dishes thrown in. Back in the day Tarraya was one of the few restaurants on the beach in Playa. Now it is one of the last standing iconic restaurants that reflects Old Playa.

Don Cafeto’s and Charlie’s Restaurant in Tulum

Don Cafeto Tulum

These two Tulum institutions do not highlight organic, gluten free, or GMO free anything. They are committed business owners that have watched Tulum grow and maintained their loyalty to both Tulum residents and Mexican food. What can you expect? You can expect a long line of committed locals that frequent these restaurants, true Mexican flavors that have stood the test of time, friendly waiters, and at times during the day and night, a little bit of difficultly (but not impossible) finding a table. We have days when we crave a meal at Charlie’s and other days where we crave a meal (especially their free bowl of marinated vegetables, potatoes and garlic) at Don Cafeto’s. Both of these places are the real deal and the owners are and remain long time residents of Tulum.

Chamico’s Beachside Restaurant in Soliman’s Bay

Chamico's Beachside Restaurant in Soliman's Bay

Chamico’s is an old classic that just keeps getting better and better. Located at the end of the beach road in Soliman’s Bay, the only items you need to order are the fried whole fish and the mixed ceviche. Oh and beer, don’t forget the beer. Spend the day on this glorious beach or just pop in for a quick lunch. There is no pretention. Just plastic tables and chairs randomly set on the beach under palm trees. Pure bliss.

Pavo Real Restaurant

Pavo Real Restaurant

Nestled between the Kin Sol Soliel villas and hotel rooms is an old time favorite very few have experienced. Reservations are a must. The restaurant purposefully has few tables to retain the intimate dining experience they are so famous for. Every table has a view of the sea, and every customer is treated like a king (and queen). If you are looking for a romantic evening away from the crowds of some local restaurants this is the place! We have been dining here since 2001 and love what they do.

Cenotes – Any Cenote

Cenotes - Any Cenote

This is an old classic and was around before anyone even set foot in the Riviera Maya. These century old caverns have not changed at all, they have just become more popular. Back in the day where we first started exploring caverns and caves in the Riviera Maya as cave divers, very few people would be found at Dos Ojos, Grand Cenote, Car Wash, or Ponderosa. We regularly had the cenote to ourselves. Thankfully, people have discovered the joy these fresh water swimming holes and snorkeling spots can bring, so in 2016 it is a challenge to have a cenote to yourself. These are old Riviera Maya classics, and have been part of the landscape for centuries. We love that more people, like us, are discovering these natural places in the Riviera Maya.

Check out our adventure travel guides that revisit old classics like Chichen Itza, Tulum ruins and Coba. The archeological sites have not changed but how you explore these areas have. Our guides, written by locals, provide travel insights other popular guides just don’t know about.

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