On Friday we took a day trip to Puerto Morelos, a fishing village just 30 minutes north of Playa del Carmen. I didn't know until putting together this post that there is an important marine terminal at Puerto Morelos; it's actually the largest sea port in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo (source: Wikipedia).
We walked over to the ADO bus station here in Playa and bought our tickets, which cost us just $24 MXN (less than $1.75 USD) each, an incredible deal for such a comfortable "first class" bus. Immediately after boarding, it began raining, then pouring. Since it looked a little threatening out before we left our rental, I'd checked two weather sites before we made the decision to go; one of which said 40% chance of rain (MSNBC weather app) the other 0% (weather.com). Zero percent?!? I think the Weather Channel is too busy focusing on winter storms in the US to get it even close to right here in Mexico!
Fortunately, we soon drove out of the rain as we headed north, and when we arrived at our stop, it was a bit cloudy but not raining. The Puerto Morelos bus stop is at the highway. There are actually three parts to the town, but we were headed towards the beach or "Antiguo (old) Puerto Morelos", the charming part of town, in other words, and the part that attracts tourists.
To get to the coast from the highway, we had a choice of taking a taxi or walking approximately 1.8 miles one way. If you know us, you know we walked!
One side of the long, straight road is a nice sidewalk/bike path, but with no shade. The side we walked on was unpaved but shadier. As we walked the sky got brighter and brighter, and by the time we got to the beach, it was completely sunny, as it remained for the rest of the day.
There was an attractive mangrove lagoon beside the road, and a couple of signs warned of the possibility of crocodiles. This surely reminded us of Ambergris Caye in Belize. Fortunately, we didn't see any. I took my chances on this small fishing dock. Briefly.
Before too long, we arrived at the beach side of town, where there is a central city park. Of course I had to pose in front of the sign.
Not sure who this guy was, but I'm sure he's important. I didn't see a plaque!
A short walk across the park, and we were looking at the absolutely stunning Caribbean Sea. And the beautiful Mesoamerican barrier reef (the same one we used to see from our condo on Ambergris Caye, Belize every day) is very close to land here, just 100 meters off-shore. The reef is part of a National Marine Park, and as such, you must have a guide to visit it for its protection.
I love the brightly colored fishing boats. There are also boats taking folks out to snorkel at the reef.
I was struck by this sign explaining that they do not rake the beach of sea grass along the shore here since it helps prevent erosion and helps feed the birds. The seaweed may not look pristine, but it is good for the health of the coastline, and that's far more important than appearances. Here's one place that Mexico is getting it right!
We stepped out on this section of beach and checked out an impressive sand sculpture and two lighthouses to the north.
This leaning lighthouse is well-known for its uniqueness, and I found it incredibly charming. It even provided some shade for visitors enjoying the beach!
This sign explained that the lighthouse was tipped in 1967 by Hurricane Beulah (which I'd never heard of) and has withstood other hurricanes since without falling. Pretty amazing!
I'm guessing this is the newer lighthouse standing straight and tall, and farther from the ocean's shore.
Looking north, the beach is absolutely gorgeous and seems made for walking.
Here's another fantastic sand sculpture right in front of the park. They'd put a tent over it to keep rain off.
We knew we'd come back to the beach in a bit, so we decided to walk around town a little. First we headed south of the square and came across this colorful mural.
And this adorable hut caught my eye.
I had read about this Mayan flea market, but we didn't go in. I'm sure there are some interesting items, but with our backpacks and pack-lightly philosophy, we just don't have much carrying capacity. Loved the brightly colored blankets hanging outside, though.
I was starting to get hungry after all this walking, so we cut back out to the beach and started walking north, looking for a place to stop to eat.
This restaurant associated with a hotel right on the beach looked like it would fill the bill just fine.
A million dollar view for sure!
I ordered the "Mixto Coctele" (mixed seafood cocktail), which was packed with shrimp, octopus, fish, and avocado too. The sauce was not spicy at all, so I asked the waiter for some hot sauce, and he brought a nice little bowl of habanero sauce to the table. NOW we're talking!
Barry got grilled fish a la diabla that came with some yummy sides.
After enjoying lunch and a couple of tall cold ones, we walked back out to the street, then up the road north. Here we found the fancier area of town with numerous beautiful homes and stylish condo buildings, but nothing too huge or garish. The vast majority of buildings are no more than 2-3 stories high. There were plenty of trees and almost no passing cars. The peace and quiet was so very welcome after the often noisy streets of Playa.
Several short east-west streets led back out to the gorgeous beach, so we took one last, fond look. And yes, people were swimming!
Walking back to the town park, I noticed this small sign. Looks like it's mostly a bike rental place, but they have some great bike art and other things cycling related on their Facebook page. Got a "like" from me, of course!
Our final stops were at one of several similar gift shops for a Puerto Morelos refrigerator magnet (maybe one day we'll have a fridge to put it on again!) and to this well-stocked and organized Alma Libre bookstore with mostly English-language books. They have a huge used book selection as well as some new books and a few other items. I bought a couple of inexpensive used paperbacks. Bookstores always make me a very happy camper!
By this point our feet were getting tired, so it was time to make the hike back to the bus stop. At this point I was thankful for the chilly air conditioning in the ADO bus!
Puerto Morelos was a pleasant change from the hustle and bustle of Playa del Carmen, even though we love Playa as well -- the two are just very different environments. Since it's so easy to get to from PDC, we'll definitely head back to Puerto Morelos again before our time here in Quintana Roo is up. Sometimes being worlds away from the busy pace of a city is just what the doctor ordered.
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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