May 11, 2022
Unexpected Delights at Playa Viva
There are certain comforts one expects from a Mexican beach vacation. The direct warmth of the sun on your skin, for example. Delicious tropical drinks accompanying meals full of fresh seafood. And, ideally, experiencing full-on relaxation mode.
Playa Viva delivers on all of that — and so much more. But during my vacation this past February, I found myself most vividly enjoying a number of smaller details that I had never even thought to look forward to. And now, months later, it’s those little things that I miss the most.
There is simply something transformative about a vacation at Playa Viva. While I didn’t head south looking for anything more than sun, fun, and relaxation, I received so much more. I adventured with amazing individuals who are now part of my community. I connected with locals whose unique stories I never would have been exposed to otherwise. And somehow I packed years of therapy into a few regenerative afternoons in the ocean.
Knowingly or unknowingly, all of us who have vacationed by the sea have encountered the ocean’s healing powers. The sound of it, the feel of it, the smell of it, the sight of it. (The taste of it, too, ideally in your fresh ceviche or fish tacos — not gulps of it while swimming.) The ocean is something special. At Playa Viva, the Pacific Ocean’s great blue expanse greeted my eyes every morning and its crashing waves lulled me to sleep each night.
I eagerly visited Playa Viva because of its beachfront location, but the beach gave me something on my trip that I never expected: childlike joy I hadn’t tapped into in far too long.
I scoffed a bit when I saw the pile of boogie boards leaning against a palm tree (having surfed a few times when I was younger). I figured I’d be fine swimming. My husband on the other hand went straight to the boogie boards on our first afternoon and joyfully rode each wave into shore, over and over again. He told me how much fun it was and pleaded with me to join in, but it wasn’t until our third or fourth day that I finally gave in.
Now I realize that I had truly been missing out! The glee of catching the perfect crest of the wave and having it propel you, weightless, to shore — there is nothing like it. Something as simple as boogie boarding was surprisingly joyful. And sharing that experience, first with my husband and then with other guests, was unforgettable.
I once read that the more we heal our adult selves, the more childlike we become. Maybe I needed those first few days at Playa Viva to unwind and focus on myself before I could tap into something deeper and more basic. Or maybe I was just being a silly adult to write off boogie boarding in the first place. Either way, don’t make that same mistake. Get out there on that board! Be more childlike and let go of the pretensions that limit unadulterated joy.
We often think of vacation as a time to break our habits. You may give up your early morning gym workouts for the week and sleep in instead. Or completely toss meal prep aside and enjoy the luxury of someone else feeding you. I’m not here to tell you which habits to keep and which ones to temporarily forget while in vacation mode, but I will say that during your time at Playa Viva you will create new habits. Some that you can easily incorporate when you’re back home and others that are purely for vacation.
For me, what I chose to do as my final “activity” of the day before dinner at Playa Viva became its own ritual. That hour or two leading up to the 7pm dinner bell is a special time at Playa Viva. The sun is just beginning to set and many guests are heading back to their treehouses or casitas to rinse off from the ocean before enjoying their dinner.
My preference was to finally extricate myself from my hammock and eagerly jaunt toward the ocean to walk along the water’s edge. Though I spent every moment at Playa Viva listening to the soothing sounds of the waves crashing and was in and out of the water all day, it wasn’t until the sun creeped away from its zenith that I was struck by the urge to explore along the shore. To wander toward the estuary and listen to the birds. Or stroll toward the granite rock islands off Zihua’s coast that never seemed to get any closer — no matter how far I walked.
Other rituals snuck up on me during the trip. Washing the sand off my feet and calves at the water spigots outside our treehouse and at each entry point to the common area. Automatically grabbing a bag as I headed out to the beach to collect any stray trash that washed onto shore. Waking up before sunrise to check for (and occasionally release) baby sea turtles. Drinking fresh coconut water from a recently macheted fruit and then nibbling on the coconut flesh all afternoon.
It is the little things at Playa Viva that quickly ingratiate themselves into your daily routine. And oh how you’ll miss them when you leave!
Who doesn’t look forward to the sand between their toes at the beach? I for one was eager to take off my shoes and be barefoot for a week. Maybe I looked forward to it more than most because I was leaving sub-freezing temperatures behind at home. As soon as we made it through customs at ZIH, I changed out of my boots and into chacos. And as soon as our luggage was dropped off and we started making our Wing treehouse home, I left my sandals behind and largely explored barefoot (except for the highly recommended farm tour). I actually left a pair of sandals by the pool because it was just so easy and lovely to be shoe free!
But what I didn’t expect was to fall in love with the feeling of smooth wood on the soles of my feet. In fact, I liked it more than walking on sand (even the cool sand that massaged my feet on early morning searches for turtle tracks). Of course I enjoyed walking on the beach, but Playa Viva has used amazing materials to build the resort, and it shows. You can actually feel the difference.
Reminiscing on it now, it was the smooth, hard wood I fell in love with, but it was the pace of life at Playa Viva that allowed me to slow down and notice it. To notice and enjoy the transitions between the various spaces at the resort. Each of which felt welcoming and unique, attracting me at different times of the day.
They tell you to put your feet up and relax on vacation — and Playa Viva’s loungers are begging you to — but I urge you to focus on what’s beneath you as well. What’s grounding you. Because what you’re standing on at Playa Viva is as incredible as the views surrounding you.
Enjoy every little pleasure.