In this article from the Toronto Star, writer
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Q. Roo —I am walking down Fifth Ave., the pedestrian-only thoroughfare in the town of Playa del Carmen that curls about a block north of the beach and the azure Caribbean Sea and my head is whiplashing back and forth like a rogue windshield wiper.
“Playa” is the unofficial capital of the Riviera Maya, a 100-kilometre stretch of silky sand that runs from the bars of Cancun to the ruins at Tulum. Twenty-five years ago, this had been a sleepy fishing village but today it is an internationally known hot spot where both backpackers and billionaires co-exist. Fifth Ave. is dotted with art galleries, tattoo parlours, high-end boutiques and a full array of bars and restaurants. I stay out of the shops and people watch, focusing on a guy who for a dollar will take your picture as you pose with his pet iguana.
While it’s hard to break the trance, I eventually head out to the nearby El Camaleon golf course at the Mayakoba Resort. There are about a dozen courses sprinkled along the Riviera Maya, one more arresting diversion in a place that features everything from archeology expeditions to diving along one of the planet’s largest barrier reefs.
Memorable par 3s
Greg Norman is 61 years old but still looks like he could crush a golf ball with his abs. He doesn’t play much tournament golf anymore —he’s too busy with his other interests, which include wine, clothes, restaurants and golf course design. One of his best is El Camaleon, which hosted a PGA Tour event in mid-November. The course is especially memorable for its par 3s. The 10th sports a figure eight-shaped green that teeters on the edge of a former limestone quarry. The 15th is perched above the beach by the Caribbean Sea. In the foreground, half-naked Europeans stroll across the sand. In the background, you can watch giant cruise ships slide across the horizon on their way to the island of Cozumel. (If you have some free time, take the ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel. It’s about a 45-minute ride). Details: mayakoba.com
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