Playa del Carmen is one of Mexico’s most popular destinations for shopping and dining. The pedestrianised central street of La Quinta runs parallel to the beach and has a number of shops, bars and eateries. A ferry service carries passengers over to Cozumel, the idyllic Caribbean island. This resort town is also well-placed for exploring Mayan architecture at Chichen Itza.
Mexico has a tropical monsoon climate, meaning it is hot all year round with a rainy season mainly affecting September and October.
Temperatures range, on average, between the high 20s and low 30s all year.
If you visit Cozumel, you won’t be short on things to do. You could:
• Book a tour to Chichen Itza in the early morning to see the Mayan ruins and sunrise and miss the midday heat.
• Visit Cozumel Island, home to Mayan archaeological sites and known for deep-sea diving and coral reefs.
• Visit Holbox Island to see flamingos in their natural mangrove habitat and have a go at swimming with whale sharks.
• Shop on Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue at souvenir stalls and sit down at little cafes during the day. Go back at night to see the cobbled streets filled with street performers.
People head to Playa del Carmen for the white sandy beaches lined with palms and the clear blue waters. The best beaches to visit are:
• Parque Fundadores: The most iconic beach in the area, it is home to the Playa del Carmen Arch. There is a mix of locals and visitors here, and it even has a volleyball court. There are no beach clubs in sight, just towels and loungers.
• Mamitas: The most famous beach in Playa del Carmen, it is not the place to go if you’re looking to spend the day relaxing. Mamitas is a party beach.
• Playacar: This beach is usually full of locals so head there early for the best spot on the soft sand.
• Coco Beach: The only secluded beach in Playa del Carmen, it’s rumoured to be the best place to snorkel.
The International Theatre Festival is held every September to promote the performing arts in Mexico. It can be free to enter so is worth checking out if you visit in time.
The Riviera Maya Jazz Festival is also held every year and is an experience you don’t want to miss.
For a taste of authentic tacos, try the local taxi guys favourite: El Fogon. It is a super basic place, but you won’t want to leave.
For something a little more upscale try Alux. The restaurant is found in an underwater cave!
Of course, you’ll find every other type of cuisine in Playa del Carmen, too.
Nightlife in Playa del Carmen is fun, but head to Cancun for a wilder night.
In Playa del Carmen, you’ll find tasteful cocktail bars and plenty of spots to grab a pint.
Playa del Carmen has been the destination for PGA Golf Tournaments and the Riviera Maya is home to many different golf courses to try.
There are also a number adventure parks and nature reserves to visit in Playa del Carmen including:
• Xcaret: This adventure parks depicts the culture of the Mayans. Here, you can swim through caves and learn about your surroundings and the colourful history of the area.
• Xel Ha: A natural wonder where you can snorkel, zip line, cliff jump and float along the lazy river.
• Xplor: An adventure-themed park with zip lines over the jungle. You can also swim in the clear waters beneath waterfalls, explore underground caves and float down the river.
• Go Natives: A protected natural reserve with cave formations and natural cenotes to explore.
If the action parks and golf aren’t enough for you, there are also opportunities to go diving, fishing and sailing in Playa del Carmen.
The best way to get around Playa del Carmen is on foot as everything is situated quite close together. There are no public bus services, but taxis can be hailed without any problems. And, unless you are planning on exploring out of the area, hiring a rental car isn’t required.