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Geocaching in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

December 30, 2013
guest blogger

Josh and Liz are married travel bloggers with a passion for geocaching… here, they explain their interest in geocaching along with giving us the lowdown on their latest trip to Mexico!

The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is full of adventure, it’s around every corner. Whether you enjoy zip lining, snorkelling, repelling into a cave, exploring an underground river, or following your GPS to a geocache. No, I did not misspell anything, a geocache.

What’s a Geocache?

Liz finds a Canadian Bear cache

Liz finds a Canadian Bear cache

Geocaching is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking a “cache.” A person can place a geocache in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache’s existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS unit (or smartphone) can then download the coordinates from geocaching.com and try to locate the geocache. You can start with a free geocaching app and or then upgrade to GPS or the $9.99 app.

 Geocaching is one way that we like to explore while we travel. It opens up off-the-beaten-path destinations for adventure and it is an inexpensive activity that you can do by simply downloading the app to your smartphone. Through geocaching, we have found hidden gems and local secrets travelling around the world.

While on a recent trip to the Riviera Maya, we swam in cenotes, explored beautiful beaches, and eventually found ourselves in Playa del Carmen. We knew Playa was known for being quite touristy, especially from cruise ships, but we were interested in checking it out anyway. And we figured that a unique way to explore a town that many travellers already know would be through geocaching.

As we were walking around the main shopping area, we started to get hungry. After searching through the different caches in my GPS, I noticed one that was placed at a restaurant nearby. So we decided that we could grab some food and grab a geocache at the same time. Sounded like a win win.

We followed our GPS down a side road, slightly away from the tourist zone. It took us to a restaurant with a few outdoor seats, and that was pretty much it! We were greeted with a big smiling face from Jose Ramon, the owner of this Venezuelan restaurant in Playa de Carmen. Per the geocache description, we asked Jose for the actual cache.

He smiled and said, “Oh yes!”, and brought over the cache for us to sign.

With his wife working furiously in the open kitchen, whipping up some amazing smells from back there, Jose charmed the patrons as he waited the tables. Right away he offered us traditional Venezuelan lemonade, a brownish-coloured mixture of fresh lemon mixed with pure sugar cane juice. It was amazing.

We took a seat at one of the outdoor plastic tables, and began to chat with Jose about his native country and how he came to be a restaurant owner in Playa del Carmen. With his larger-than-life personality and friendly demeanour, we quickly realized that he seemed to know everyone that walked past his restaurant!

Liz and Jose Ramon with the Cache

Liz and Jose Ramon with the Cache

Everything on the menu looked so tasty that we were having a hard time deciding what to order. So Jose offered to bring us a variety of the best. He returned to our table multiple times with plates full of options, carefully explaining each one, and everything we tasted was amazingly good. Our lunch, and conversations with Jose Ramon, made this one of the best experiences that we had in Playa del Carmen.

Before we had finished our lunch, we noticed that there was a group walking by the restaurant with their smartphones out, looking at the phone, then up and around – the classic “I’m searching for a geocache” look. We signalled to them that they were in the right place. The group took a seat next to us and we chatted with them about some of the caches they had found around Playa, and favourite finds. Jose brought them over the same delicious local Venezuelan lemonade and the cache to sign.

We eventually left the restaurant and continued to explore Playa del Carmen. We were actually visiting on Dia de los Muertos, so we enjoyed wandering in and out of the shops and seeing the shop owners dressed up, along with beautifully decorated altars. After a while, we decided to start another hunt for a creative cache in Playa.

The group that we met at the restaurant told us about a Canadian cache, and we thought that it sounded like fun to hunt. We ended up at a bar with nothing but Canadian hockey team jerseys hanging on the wall. “I think this is it,” Liz said. The clues lead us over to the corner of the bar, and behind a hidden door in the lower part of the wall, we found the geocache. Opening the door and discovering the cache was very cool, and it was even more exciting to see all the different names, cities, and countries on the log from previous visitors to the cache

Everywhere we go around the world, we are searching for that next adventure. One great aspect that we love about geocaching is that you can do it anywhere in the world and at any time. Geocaching has opened up so many doors for us over the years.

Whether we are climbing over broken down temples in Cambodia, or hiking up a mountain in Scotland to a local monument not on a map, or meeting new friends and trying out Venezuelan food in Mexico, Geocaching will always take you on an adventure that you will never forget.

 

Josh & Liz @ Rio Secreto profile image

Josh & Liz @ Rio Secreto profile image

Josh and Liz are married travel bloggers who absolutely love to travel around the world as well as getting to know the culture and the people who live there. Their goal is to inform, inspire and entertain. They enjoy sharing their travel experiences and helpful travel tips with others through their travel blog, Peanuts or Pretzels. The pair are always up for laughter, a good adventure, and a bit of geocaching too!

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