Playa del Carmen, Mexico (known as Playa by the locals) is a small beach town on the Yucatan Peninsula located about 45 minutes south of Cancun. The vibe is hip and more international than Cancun; offering chic beach clubs, upscale restaurants and a wild nightlife that goes well past the sunrise. This is a tourist destination offering beautiful beaches, eclectic restaurants and robust nightlife. People who travel to Play del Carmen usually do so for the fun, sun and clear blue water. Don’t expect much in the way of Mexican culture, but do expect lots of fun and nonstop entertainment.
There are two parts to Playa del Carmen; the beach and the town.
Playa del Carmen Beach
Playa del Carmen’s beach is divided into two parts; north of the pier and south of the pier. North of the pier is where the newer hotels, resorts and beach clubs are located; while south of the pier is where you’ll find the old staples of Playa del Carmen, the smaller boutique hotels, etc. Both are good in their own right and it’s easy enough to walk the entire length of both beaches. For Playa del Carmen Beach Pictures see the Photos Tab of this guide.
Playa del Carmen Town
Playa del Carmen’s town revolves around 5th avenue which runs north/south. This is where people shop, dine and drink. Streets run East/West and 12th street at 5th avenue is the quintessential epicenter of Playa del Carmen and its nightlife. It’s easy to stroll the entire length of 5th Avenue, but Taxis generally run 20 pesos anywhere in Play del Carmen proper.
Getting in and out of Play del Carmen
International and domestic flights arrive at the Cancun airport from the likes of Europe, New York, Dallas, and Mexico City. From Cancun, you can either take a taxi to Playa, for around US $40 or a Collectivo Bus for around $15 US dollars. All major rental car agencies can be found in the Cancun Airport if you want to drive.
Playa del Carmen Weather
Playa del Carmen is a tropical climate with an average temperature of about 27C/80F. There isn’t really a bad time to visit Playa, but September usually sees the most rain and it is in hurricane alley. February to August is great weather and November and January are the coolest months (nights can be chilly this time of year).
There is no shortage of things to do in Playa del Carmen. Most of the activities revolve around the Playa del Carmen beaches and water.
Playa del Carmen Beaches
Playa del Carmen beaches are a big draw for most and along the entire length of the beach you’ll find restaurants, beach clubs, lounges and spas. On the far north end of the beach we recommend Canibal Royal Beach Club for a day in the sun with cocktails and tapas. You won’t be disappointed.
Playa del Carmen Beaches North
The beach north of the pier is wider and this is where you will find more all inclusive resorts. So parts of this stretch of beach can be quite mellow, however there are a couple beach clubs on this beach that have great parties. Beach clubs like Kool and Mamitas and Canibal Royal are up this way.
Playa del Carmen Beaches South
Known as Central Playa del Carmen, the beach here is somewhat more active as there are many smaller beach hotels and beachside bars. The beach is can be narrow at times (when the tide is high) but this is always good action on this part of the beach.
If you’re up for a day-trip, Tulum is located about an hour south of Playa del Carmen and is definitely worth a look. This beach has some remote parts so if you want to get that ‘away from it all feeling’ this would be a great place to go.
Punta Allen Beach
Punta Allen is located another 40 min south of Tulum and if you make it here you really are away from it all.
Scuba Diving Playa del Carmen
There’s excellent scuba diving and snorkeling in the area; and a quick ferry ride over to Cozumel will put you in some world class scuba diving spots. There are a bunch of dive companies like Dive Mike who will take care of the details for you.
Playa del Carmen Shopping
If shopping is your thing then you’ll want to spend some time walking 5th avenue. Here you’ll find everything form the trendy boutique stores to the gimmicky tourist stands.
Playa del Carmen Day Trips
A day trip to the Mayan ruins of Tulum is well worth the effort. Tulum is located about 45 min south of Playa del Carmen and can be accessed by bus or taxi. Chichen Itza is a little bit harder to get to, but day trips from Playa del Carman can be arranged through most hotels.
Restaurants Playa del Carmen
The restaurants and food at Playa are excellent so be sure to look around and find something that works for you.
El Fogon – Cheap eats, strictly Mexican, located Calle 6th & 30th Ave
Diablito Cha Cha Cha – excellent open-air restaurant where all the hipsters hang. Calle 12 entre 5ave. tel +52 (984) 803 45 06
Ajua Maya Restaurant – Five star dining, good for large groups. Calle 4 Norte #128 entre 5a y 10a Avenidas. Tel. +52 984 803-1118
Fusion – A hotel that server up great food right on the beach. Calle 6 Norte y la Playa. Tel: +52 984 873 0374.
Carboncitos - one of the best and most popular restaurants in Playa. located 4th Street, between 5th and 10th Avenues.
La Mission – Popular and busy restaurant serving up delish Mexican cuisine. Located 10 Ave Entre Juarez Ave Y Calle 2 North.
Origenes – Excellent Mexican cuisine. Located on Calle 38 y Flamingos
Yaxche – Popular favorite for many serving up Mayan cuisine. Located on 5 Avenida and Calle 22. Tel +52 984 873 3011.
Tsuba Sushi Lounge – Excellent Sushi in Playa del Carmen. Located 5 Avenida con Calle 34. Tel +52 984-879-4720
Season Bistro – Serving up wonderful seasonal food. Located Calle 8 between 5 Avenida and the beach. Tel 984.879.4802
Playa del Carmen Nightlife
Playa del Carmen nightlife offers a few different options. In the early evening you can check out a beach lounge like Sensi, head to a big show at Coco Bongo or the Hotel Royal (if that’s your thing), or go to one of the many hip rooftop lounges like Basico Lounge, La Santanera or Deseo. Playa has a late-night club scene and after all the hotel and regular bars close at 2:00 AM everyone goes to clubs like Om, Dubai and La Santanera (all located on 12th street). Be prepared to party to the sunrise.
Budget Hotels Playa del Carmen
Hostel Rio Playa – located 2 blocks from the beach Calle 8 Entre 5th & 10th Av
Midrange Hotels Playa del Carmen
Pelicano Inn – located right on the beach, no frills, solid midrange hotel. Calle 6 and 5th Ave
La Tortuga Hotel and Spa – beautiful hotel located a couple blocks from the beach. Avenida 10 Esquina Calle 14, Playa del Carmen, 77710, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Tel: + 52 984 87 93964
Playa del Carmen All Inclusive Resorts
Riviera Caribe Maya – Massive all inclusive resort located on the north end of Playa del Carmen beach. 10th Avenue North, corner of 30th Street North. Tel (from USA) 011 52 984 873 1193/1194
List of Playa del Carmen Hotels (from North to South)