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“Worth the ride”
Review of Playa Sonrisa

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Playa Sonrisa
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Xcalak
Reviewed January 14, 2012

We have been all over the Yucatan Penninsula and most of the Caribbean. This was the nicest, most relaxing, c/o beach experience we have found. Everything was exactly as described and better than expected. As so many have noted Murph and Cindy are great hosts and they extend maximum effort to make everybody feel welcome. Don't miss the perfect coffee and fresh baked muffins at breakfast in the morning.
Playa Sonrisa is a wonderful place to chill. They have perfected "laid back" in Xcalak.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank WafisGak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 7, 2012

Another fantastic stay at Playa Sonrisa. Murph and Cindy are incapable of disappointing. They are clearly committed to offering the best naturist experience this side of the Atlantic, and do so at prices so low that they are never going to get rich. But they aren't in it to get rich; Murph jokes that they took a vow of poverty when they opened. Any money they take in goes right back into the resort.

Before you leave, make sure you get enough pesos from your bank. Sure, many places take U.S. Dollars, but they really prefer pesos. And the exchange rate you get at home is *much* better than you'll get at any restaurant in Mexico. Budget conscious? Bring pesos!

(At Playa Sonrisa, you pre-pay your room by PayPal or credit card in US Dollars when you book, but food and bar tabs are paid on check-out. Murph prefers pesos for your tab, as all of his expenses are in pesosm and it's getting more difficult to change US.)

We find about 1,000 pesos per day total to be about right for two people, and we live pretty large. (Our food and drink tab at Playa Sonrisa is usually an insanely low 1,500 pesos per week per person, but we go out to eat at different restaurants a lot.)

On renting a car. Renting a car and driving to Playa Sonrisa from Cancun is really the only option that makes sense. Mexico requires you to buy Liability insurance for third parties, is typically $14 per day (on top of the normal rental rate.) This is not the Loss Damage Waiver which your credit card company offers. I've never been able to buy it from anyone but the rental agency, and everyone always complains at the counter, but they always end up paying in the end. Except this time, I pre-paid with Budget through Hotwire, and then Liability insurance was included. That gave me a 12-day rental for $250 all-in (rental and insurance), and our friends paid $800 for an equivalent rental. They really didn't want to let me go without buying *some* type of insurance, but I held my ground and won out in the end. (They threatened to put a $10,000 USD hold on my credit card if I didn't take their "optional" insurance, but when they ran the card, it was for $__,___ - blank spaces, not numbers - and nothing ever came if it.)

It takes about five hours to get from Cancun to Xcalak along very good road (and there's never any traffic). If you want to stock up at Walmart on the way (an excellent idea, as there is nothing to buy in Xcalak), then just as you enter Playa del Carmen, take the "arco vial" (bypass) to the right. You'll see signs. Walmart is a few miles up on the right.

There's also an arco vial around Felipe Carillo Puerto which might save you 30 seconds.

From there, it's pretty easy to get to Mahahual; there is good signage. It's a *very*good idea to fill up at the Pemex gas station at Mahahual, which is just beyond the turn-off to Xcalak. (You want to have a full tank when you get to Xcalak.) Gas is always about 10 pesos per litre. While you're there, pick up a few bags of ice for 20 pesos a bag. (There's a store in Xcalak that purports to sell ice, but they never actually have any.) There are three ATMs in Mahahual (including one at the Pemex) but they often aren't working.

On eating: Murph and Cindy prepare very good dinners at ridiculously low prices, usually four or five times per week. They have a standard lunch menu. But the best eats in town are at the Leaky Palapa (leakypalaparestaurant.com). Go there lots! The lobster bites are to die for. This year they were open Thursday through Monday for dinner only, and a very good idea to email ahead for reservations. If Murph and Cindy aren't serving and LP isn't open, try Tierra Maya, halfway between PS and Xcalak (by the little red Coke sign) which is open for lunch or dinner. TM also has very consistent WiFi (no password required at present!)

The beach at PS is very clean, because the staff sweeps it daily. Further down the beach... Not so much. Lots of plastic garbage washes up (a sign of our times) and with no one to clean, it accumulates. But you'll only see it if you walk down the beach a half-mile (which requires being clothed). PS is always very clean.

If you need consistent WiFi access: Murph's WiFi is not great and you often need to ask him to reboot it. Tierra Maya or Toby's (in Xcalak) is much better. And don't be turned off by Playa Sonrisa's website, which is somewhat difficult to navigate and dated. It's not a reflection of the resort!

Playa Sonrisa is the only place we've found where you can legitimately be naturist on the beach with no gawkers. The resort is HUGE for the six rooms (of which half are usually empty). It's never a problem to find a chair; there are many more chairs than guests. If you're looking for a a laid-back naturist spot, this is as good as it gets.

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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15  Thank Nude_In_The_Sun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 19, 2011

We went to Playa Sonrisa from Mahahual on November 10, 2011.

The place is gorgeous. Cindy was great! Murph and some of the guests were off to Belize on a day trip, so it was the two of us and two other couples. I think we found paradise, and we will return to a longer stay in the future. If you enjoy a clothing optional, beautiful Caribbean setting, low stress, low key place - Playa Sonrisa is worth checking out!

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank roni_smth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 24, 2011

Our stay was very enjoyable and we were made most welome by Murph and Cindy. We stayed in a beach front cabin which had all the amenities we needed. Breakfast was included and evening meals most nights, although there are some decent restaurants in Xcalak a few miles away as well. It is a very peaceful place and there are kayaks available. If we come back to Mexico, we would definately include Playa Sonrisa as part of our holiday.

Mike & Agnes

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank BeachBunnies99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 20, 2011

We've just returned from 2 weeks at Playa Sonrisa and loved every moment of our trip. Murph and Cindy were welcoming hosts and made us feel very comfortable.
Playa Sonrisa was much easier to get to than we thought with an easy drive down from Cancun, we took an overnight stop at Tulum, We had no problems with fuel, the roads were good and the track on the last 7 Km was in good condition - far better than the Spanish ones that we are used to. The accomdadtion and resort was larger than expected and far more comfortable than we had prepared for.
With the remoteness of Xcalak there are not many places to visit, we took a day trip to Majahaul and explored some of the local dirt tracks. We used the Kayaks everyday, went diving with XTC who were very professional. We also took a trip to `Bird Island'.
The diving in the area is awesome, if you are an experienced diver you must check out the 'Chimenea'!!
I have been fortunate enough to eat at some of the worlds most famous restaurants, believe it or not there is a match in Xcalak and it would be unwise to miss an opportunity to eat at the Leaky Palapa which is open at weekends. we went there twice and the food, ambiance and cocktails ensured for memorable experiences at great prices.
All in all playa sonrisa is a perfect getaway for couples who want time together on a beach with coconut palms and seclusion. It is not a place for singles though, this is a romantic destination.

We hope to return......

  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled as a couple
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9  Thank ianread
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 25, 2011

We went to Playa Sonrisa for our 19th anniversary. We always go to Mexico in January, but decided to try something more remote. Wow! Murph and Cindy are the best hosts and make you feel like friends from day one. The beach is one of the best we've seen, and I've seen
many. The accommodations are spacious and comfy, but you're only
in your room to sleep. Our favorite
place was in the deck chairs out on
the dock. We spent hours watching
all the fish through the slats in the
dock. My husband never sits still
for long, so he loved taking a kayak out to the reef to snorkel. He swam with rays, turtles and tons of fish. I spent my time sunning, reading and drinking cold beer. I even learned THE way to drink tequila! Every night was a dinner party, whether we all(there were 3 couples that week) ate at Sonrisa or went into town to eat. I must say, Cindy makes the best Coconut Shrimp I've ever eaten. Everything at Sonrisa is perfect. My husband, who is a sworn mountain man, not beach guy, says next time we are staying for at least 10 days. I could write forever, but instead, if you have specific questions, just send me a PM. For those that are tense about the CO option, it is just an option. Go, relax, reconnect.... and learn to play Bocce ball. :)

  • Stayed: January 2011
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18  Thank DanielaKoch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 8, 2011

Playa Sonrisa is the perfect quiet getaway. If what you want is a secluded spot to chill out on a beach, relax and do nothing, and if you're happy at a clothing-optional resort then this is place.

Here are some things you should know about Playa Sonrisa before booking.

The drive from Cancun airport is (legitimately) five hours. (I don't think you can shave much time off of that.) The road is excellent the whole way, except for the last 6km, which is along a pitted dirt "beach road". But any rental car can make it safely - you don't need an SUV. And if you're coming, do rent a car, because I imagine bus/taxi in this part of the world is quite difficult.

There's almost nothing close to Playa Sonrisa: no stores, few other restaurants, no nightlife. You can drive in to Xcalak (6kms away) and they have a few restaurants and some small stores with bare necessities, but you'll want to stock up on anything you might need in Playa on the way down. The resort is "off the grid", so it's powered by solar arrays and a generator. What does that really mean? No hair driers, but plenty of power to recharge your laptop / iPod / Kindle, lights and fans whenever you want them, etc. The resort has WiFi Internet, if you're sitting in the right spot and the winds are blowing the right way, which works well most of the time.

There's a full cash bar on the honour system, with cold drinks and most liquors that you'll want. Murph and Cindy serve breakfast (included) and lunch (very reasonable, usually around 60 pesos) every day, and a very palatable three-course dinner every weeknight (100 - 200 pesos all-in). We found Cindy's soups to be outstanding, especially. On weekends when they don't serve dinner, consider the Leaky Palapa in Xcalak, which is the best restaurant we've found in Mexico (open Saturday to Tuesday, typical cost about 300 pesos per person all-in). But ask Murph to make you a reservation, as they are often fully booked.

What is there to do at Playa Sonrisa? A whole lot of nothing. Most of our fellow guests spent their time sitting on the beach or dock, soaking up sun and reading, or walking in the water. The beach there is lovely, but bring some water shoes if you want to walk in the water, as the bottom is mostly rocks, shells, or seaweed. If you're looking for pure white sand and an ocean in which you can easily swim, you might be disappointed, as the water is somewhat shallow. On the upside, there were never more than a few non-naturist people per day walking on the beach (and no vendors.)

As for the naturist aspect, we felt completely comfortable being naked on the beach at any time, and almost all other guests were similarly at ease. The resort is big enough that you never need to be close to anyone else if you want a bit more privacy - there are easily enough deck chairs and hammocks for everyone. No one seems to go nude in the bar/restaurant, although it's permitted outside of meal times.

And bring enough cash. You should budget at least 350 pesos per person per day for food and incidentals - more if you intend to drink a lot. There's no ATM in Xcalak - the closest ATMs are in Mahahual, about an hour's drive away. There's gas in Mahahual, too, and none in Xcalak.

Murph (Donn) and Cindy always went above-and-beyond to make us feel comfortable. They seem to have boundless patience, and are committed to the guest experience and naturism (which is a feat after ten years.) It was our first naturist getaway, and we can't imagine a better first time.

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled as a couple
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14  Thank Nude_In_The_Sun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Playa Sonrisa

Address: Caribbean Costa Maya | 7 km (4 mi) North of Xcalak on the camino costero (beach road), Xcalak, Mexico
Location: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Costa Maya > Xcalak
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Xcalak
Price Range: $80 - $175 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 6
Also Known As:
Playa Sonrisa Xcalak, Mexico - Costa Maya
Playa Sonrisa Hotel Xcalak

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