Playa del Carmen
If you are interested in coming to the Yucatán peninsula, you probably want to spend some time on the beaches of the Mexican Caribbean. The most well known places, of course, are Cancún and Cozumel, but they are not for everyone. A smaller town than Cancún, with more nightlife, shopping, and better beaches is a vacation spot called Playa del Carmen. It is south of Cancún and facing the island of Cozumel, and it takes about 45 minutes to get there by car or bus from Cancún airport. Or if you are staying in Cozumel, you can visit Playa by ferry for a day trip.
From a sleepy village with unpaved streets only ten years ago, Playa del Carmen has been discovered by travelers from all over the world, and is growing every day. Centered around its main attraction, Fifth Avenue, Playa offers the visitor lovely beaches and beautiful Caribbean waters without the costs or hustle and bustle of Cancún. The southern end of the tourist area is occupied by Playacar, a large vacation complex featuring many all-inclusive resorts, condos, and family houses to rent or buy, and an 18 hole golf course. At this end is also the pier which receives the ferry from Cozumel and the cruise ships.
The biggest hotels in Playa are small compared to those of Cancún, and there are many small hotels too. There are hotels to suit every taste and budget. Most of the hotels are less than three blocks from the beach. You can choose from a luxury hotel with all the services in the heart of the night scene, or situated on the beach. We recommend Posada Sian Kaan (www.hotelposadasiankaan.com) or Hotel Labnah. Of course there are also the all-inclusives of Playacar, where you don't have to leave the hotel and you can eat in a different restaurant for every meal.
If you drive there, expect to park your car on the street or in a parkade, and leave it there. Almost all of what Playa has to offer is within walking distance, and walking up and down Fifth Avenue is the favorite pastime after a day on the beach, until late at night.
There are many restaurants in Playa del Carmen, including Italian and Indian food, seafood, cafés, bakeries, pizza parlors, and of course Mexican food. You will find a wide array of possibilities, just a few steps from your hotel. Most of the restaurants offer open-air dining under the stars, with views of Fifth Avenue or the beach. Few provide air conditioning. Playa del Carmen is largely an open-air experience. Two restaurants worth trying are La Casa del Agua, on Fifth Avenue at Calle 2, and La Palette, on Calle 8 between 5th Ave. and the beach. Both have extensive and eclectic menus and excellent food and service.
There are varied shopping areas. A serious shopper can walk the length of Fifth Avenue in the cool of the evening, choosing from Chiapas street vendors or designer clothing stores, Mexican ceramics, silver jewelry, handcrafts, clothing, Mayan art, and everything you can imagine. Most of the stores in Playa are not chain stores, and a dedicated shopper can find more variety here than in the malls of Cancún, often at better prices.
Playa del Carmen is probably best known for its nightlife. There are bars on the beach and in town offering music, drinks, and often live entertainment. Unlike Cancún, here you can walk from one bar to another without having to take a car or bus, and then walk back to your hotel when the night is over. On your first night in Playa, have a drink at the bar on the beach at the Blue Parrot, and then continue walking south to the pier. Walking back on Fifth avenue you will find more places to drink and have fun, too many to mention. Continuing north past the Blue Parrot, new places are opening every week...just follow the people. If you like jazz, don't miss the live music at Apasionado. It's a bar and restaurant on the second floor, above Zoo Café, with ambience, good food, and a view over Fifth Avenue. Another option for live jazz, wine shop, wine bar, and tapas, is The Glass Bar, on Calle 10 x Ave 1 y Ave 5.
If you didn't overdo the fun the night before, Playa del Carmen is also a great place to scuba or snorkel, or take day trips to cenotes; enjoy the water and wildlife at Xel-ha or Xcaret parks, the ruins of Tulum, or the many other attractions of the Riviera Maya. Taxis congregate at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Calle 14, and are easy to find anywhere. The bus station is located at the south end of Fifth Avenue one block from the pier. Playa del Carmen is located 42 miles or 68 kilometers south of Cancún and can be reached by bus from Mérida or Cancún.
NOTE: IF YOU SEE PEOPLE ON THE STREET WITH BABY LIONS, TIGERS, JAGUARS, OR OTHER WILDLIFE, WHO OFFER YOU THE CHANCE TO HAVE YOUR PHOTO TAKEN WITH THE ANIMAL FOR A FEE, PLEASE DO NOT SUPPORT THEM WITH YOUR BUSINESS!!! THEY ARE ABUSING THE ANIMALS BY KEEPING THEM SEDATED AND THE WILDLIFE PROTECTION BRANCH OF THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT HAS CONFISCATED THEIR ANIMALS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS AS THEIR ACTIONS ARE ILLEGAL. THANK YOU!
Map of the Yucatan Peninsula
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Playa del Carmen Travel Guide your help on visiting of the fastest growing cities in Latin America, boasting an eclectic, cosmopolitan tourist destination.