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North America » Mexico » Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen, or just "Playa" as it is also commonly referred to by locals, is a coastal resort town in Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Approximately 70 km south of CancĂșn and 20 km west of Cozumel, it is at the center of the Mayan Riviera and offers a more relaxed atmosphere, smaller boutique lodgings, and a distinct European flavor.

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Playa Del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is distinct among Yucatan beach towns both culturally and commercially. While its beaches are similar to other destinations', its nightlife and hotel culture is hipper in the European and American style, blending the traditional Mexican locale with a more permissive and opulent array of tourist options.


Nightlife

Nightlife is definitely happening in Playa del Carmen, but is not as wild as its neighbor to the north, Cancun. Typically, Playa's shops and restaurants close around 10PM, but nearly all of the clubs stay open through most of the night. A number of the best nightclubs are located on the beach. If you are interested in nightlife (dancing, drinks late until the evening/morning), then be sure to visit Blue Parrot, El Pirata, Santenera, and Hotel Deseo. The Blue Parrot has an intense and spectacular nightly fire show at 11PM and offers beach dancing, swings at the bar, and plenty of dancing. Santenera has a beautiful roof deck bar. Deseo also has a roof deck bar, but it comes with beds. Very relaxing and beautiful.

 

Scuba diving and Snorkeling

Scuba diving and snorkeling is plentiful around Playa, though the reefs are off the shore require a boat to get to. The offshore reef is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest coral reef system in the world. All hotels have a dive shop, though many can be found on 5th Ave. Better open-water scuba diving can generally be found in Cozumel so if this is the focus of your trip it is best to stay there. Excellent snorkeling is located at Puerto Morelos, located roughly halfway between Playa del Carmen and Cancun, and in the lagoon at Akumal, on the way to Tulum. Several dive shops in Playa del Carmen do offer cenote diving south of town. A good place to do your diving or scuba diving classes is with the Abyss Dive Center and Training Facility. Scuba10 is another great option if you want to do cenote diving with an experienced operator in Playa del Carmen. They are located at avenue 10 between 10 and 12 street.

 

Food & Drinks in Playa Del Carmen

There are nearly 75 restaurants in Playa, with foods of every type and price range. There are also various pizza stands with prices ranging from $10-20, most of them remain open up to 6AM when bars begin to close. As is the case in much of Mexico, the street food is not to be missed. Simply walk south down fifth avenue until you reach the pier and taxi stand. There are generally five or six carts there serving tacos of various types. Every seafood taco is generally outstanding, along with the carnitas, pollo, and chorizo. Also, try the stuffed poblano tacos. Tacos are typically in the US$2-3 range. For the best and freshest tacos arrive mid-morning before the lunch rush as the carts are setting up.

 

Hotels and resorts Playa Del Carmen

Sandos Caracol Eco-Resort & Spa-All Inclusive    
Carretera Cancún Chetumal Km 295, Playa del Carmen

Score from 112 reviews: Very good, 8.3

Featuring a spa, 8 restaurants and 2 outdoor pools, Sandos Caracol Eco-Resort is set on Playa del Carmen Beach, overlooking Cozumel Island. Its rooms have balconies overlooking the Caribbean Sea. More…

from € 171.20

 

El Taj Oceanfront & Beachside Condo Hotel    

1 Norte Esquina Calle 14 Norte, Playa del Carmen

Score from 86 reviews: Superb, 9.2   

Set in tropical gardens next to Playa del Carmen Beach, these luxury suites offer access to an infinity pool, outdoor hot tub and spa. Guests enjoy free access to the beach club and gym. More…

from € 332.29

 

Grand Riviera Princess-All Inclusive    

Prolongacion 5 Avenida Manzana 20 Lote 006, Playa del Carmen

Score from 124 reviews: Very good, 8.1   

Located on the beautiful Riviera Maya, this 5-star resort is 9 km from downtown Playa del Carmen. The beachfront resort features 13 pools, hot tubs and spacious suites with a private balcony. More…

from € 218.99

 

Maya Villa Condo Hotel and Beachclub    

1 Avenida Norte Entre Calle 14 Norte y 16 Norte Bis, 77710, Playa del Carmen

This Maya Villa Condo Hotel is located on Playa del Carmen Q Roo, Mexico within walking distance to the Beach. More…

from € 319.51

 

La Tortuga Hotel & Spa    

Avenida 10 esquina Calle 14, Playa del Carmen

Score from 258 reviews: Fabulous, 8.8   

Close to the beach in Playa del Carmen, this boutique style adult-only hotel offers spa services, an enjoyable outdoor pool and access to the services at a nearby beach club. More…

from € 80.09

 

Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa - All Inclusive    

Paseo Xaman-Ha Manzana 1 Lote 1, Playa del Carmen

Score from 103 reviews: Fabulous, 8.8   

Situated on an 800-meter stretch of private beach, this all-inclusive resort boasts 4 pools, a luxury spa and 18-hole golf course. This Playa del Carmen hotel is near Xcaret WaterPark. More…

from € 278.78

 

Mayan Ruins

The Yucatan peninsula is unique for its many Mayan ruins. They are all over the place. There actually some in the town of Playa del Carmen and in Playacar. One can be found on Quinta Avenida, between Calles 12 and 14, another one inside the gates of the budget hostel/camping ground La Ruina on Calle 2 by the beach and yet another one in Playacar. These small coastal outposts are hints of the grand scale of the prolific and ancient Maya world. Many of the most amazing sites are near Playa, including Chichén Itzá, Cobá and Tulum. Do try and visit at least one of them. Read more about them in our section of Mundo Maya, where we help you pick the ruin of your choice.

 

Caves and Cenotes

The absolutely unique geology of the Yucatan is an unexpected treat for many visitors. There's more to this area than just beach and sun. Huge cave systems with underground rivers are all over the peninsula. There really aren't any over ground rivers or lakes to speak of in the area due to the topography and geological characteristics of the limestone base rock. In many places the roof of the cave has collapsed, creating a sinkhole and an entrance to the cave. The local name for such a sinkhole is cenote, stemming from the Mayan word dzonot. Learn more about these exceptional natural wonders in our cenotes article.

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