Playa del Carmen

description |

location & directions |

where to stay

For those who want a beach town atmosphere, Playa Del Carmen is it. Once a sleepy harbor village, it has grown at mega speed due to the continual inflow of European visitors who have contributed to its lively beach, shopping and dining scene.

Playa, as it is known to the locals, is not the place to get away from it all. Instead, it is a place to enjoy Euro-chic, a mix of old and new Mexican, and the combination of backpackers, culture buffs, and well-heeled travelers who make for a lively tourist scene and a sophisticated nightlife.

There are cozy pavement cafes, charming Italian restaurants, German-owned lodgings, hip boutique hotels and diverse stores selling everything from junk to designer jewelry and swimsuits. Cruise ships call daily and day-trippers from Cancun are part of the day crowds.


Playa is a very compact pedestrian-friendly town and you can walk everywhere.

5th Avenue or Avenida Quinta is Playa’s signature street and is active from morning till late into the evening. Just a block off the beach, shopping dominates here. However, you will also find unique restaurants, street cafes, nightclubs, bars and boutique hotels. Two blocks away to the west, you get to see more of the real Mexico.

Central Plaza The small plaza faces the beach and is a little park with a playground. This is where the vendors from Chiapas sell their trinkets along with vendors hawking fruits and drinks.

Water Sports Playa has famous white beaches and there is excellent snorkeling in the offshore coral reefs. Boats can be chartered locally for great deep sea fishing. On the beach in Playa, there are smaller boats available while larger ones are found 20 minutes away at Puerto Aventuras. The types of fish caught here are sailfish, marlin, dorado, tuna, wahoo, king fish and barracuda.

Eco Parks Outside of Playa The main attractions are the Xcaret and Xel-ha eco-parks. Xel-ha is a large natural lagoon with crystal clear water, lots of shady foliage, nature paths, cenotes and caves. You can rent large inner tubes and life vests to float around in or snorkel to see large schools of tropical fish. There are several restaurants.

Xcaret is only 10 minutes south of Playa del Carmen and is a great for a full day’s outing. You can swim in the cenote and the underground river, play with dolphins and visit the botanical gardens, the butterfly pavilion and the farms growing orchids and mushrooms. There is also a wild-bird breeding area and a Las Vegas-type evening show in an open auditorium showing “ancient Mayan rituals.”

Cozumel Ferries run almost every hour on the hour from Playa to Cozumel. The catamaran takes 30 minutes and the ride on the open air ferry, which operates in summer, lasts between 45-60 minutes.

Location and Directions

Playa is 43 miles south of Cancun on Hwy 307. From Cancun’s international airport, buses run hourly between 8am to 4.30pm to Playa or you can get a seat on a passenger van. Buses from Cancun and Tulum arrive at the central depot on Avenida Juarez.

Places to Stay

Hotel Deseo and
Mosquito Blue Hotel and Spa are your cool, stylish and hip boutique hotels to see and to be seen in. Hotel Jungla Caribe has a colorful, electic atmosphere, a jungle-type inner courtyard and a cenote style swimming pool.

Playacar, a planned upscale gated community, has a dozen large all-inclusive hotels as well as private condos available for rent.


For a complete list of hotels and resorts in Playa Del Carmen, click here.

For nearby properties along the Riviera Maya, click here.

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