Welcome to the party! “Playa,” currently Latin America’s fastest-growing community, with a population of more than 150,000. Playa Del Carmen is full of lively bars, restaurants, beach clubs, shops, and hotels. It is one of the few places on the Riviera Maya where you can have a car-free vacation.
Although building height restrictions have helped to keep Playa Del Carmen from turning into the next Cancún, you’ll have to leave town to get off the beaten path. Much of the area is developed, most recently by a slew of all-inclusive resorts opening up on the city’s outskirts.
Travel to Playa del Carmen for its reputation as one of the top diving destinations in the world. With a distinct and colorful sea life, not to mention its underwater caverns, a dive seems necessary for anyone regardless of experience. For more information on the Yucatan Peninsula visit here, or visit all the wonderful beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula. Read our Playa Del Carmen Travel Guide to start planning your vacation now.
When to Go (Weather)
The best time to visit is in April or May when the temperatures aren’t too high, and there’s less of a chance of overwhelming humidity. The beaches are less crowded, too, making the experience more serene. These prime two months are also the way to go if you want to avoid Mexico’s hurricane season, which lasts from June to September.
Entry & Exit Requirements
You’ll need a passport to visit Mexico, plus a tourism card (FMM) that can be issued at any Mexican consulate, border-crossing point, Mexican tourism office, or directly from your airline. FMMs are usually issued free of charge upon arrival. Be sure to hold onto this card for the duration of your trip, as you will need to present it upon departing the country. It’s also a good idea to leave your passport and FMM in a secure location and carry a photocopy of both documents with you at all times.
Getting Around Playa Del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is easy to navigate on foot, especially since much of the activity is centered on pedestrian-only La Quinta Avenida.
The town’s grid layout is pretty easy to understand and drive through, but unless you’re planning on exploring beyond the main Playa area, a car isn’t really necessary. Rental agencies are plentiful on the north end of La Quinta as well as in the airport.
Fare should cost no more than $2 to get around the main Playa del Carmen area, but you’ll spend approximately $5 one-way to get from El Zócalo to Playacar. Remember to negotiate your rate with the driver before entering the cab.
Ferries make the trip to Cozumel, leaving on the hour from 6 a.m. to around 9 p.m. daily. You can ride for about $11 one-way. Tickets can be purchased on La Quinta or at booths on the docks on Calle 1 Sur.
Must See Places
Playa Del Carmen Beach
Most vacationers will have direct access to the beachfront, lounge chairs and sometimes even water sports equipment at the hotel they’re staying in; the majority of the area’s top resorts and hotels are stationed along this prime stretch of clean, soft sand. The beach is free to access, but lounge chair or equipment rentals will cost you extra.
La Quinta Avenida
Playa del Carmen’s main street, La Quinta Avenida, runs parallel to the shore and serves as a pedestrian walkway for travelers and locals.The avenue is lined with an assortment of restaurants, hotels, hostels, condominiums and bars, making it one of the best nightlife spots in the city. High-class restaurants and local bars dominate the nightlife scene of La Quinta. There are plenty of souvenir shops as well selling trinkets and mementos.
One of the best-kept secrets on the Yucatan Peninsula, Rio Secreto (or Secret River) is an underground river and collection of caves. The bright turquoise water contrasts with the caramel- and mocha-colored rock formations within the caves, which include stalactites and stalagmites. Visitors can swim in the river, climb through the caves and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
Xcaret is a large outdoor “eco-park” filled with an aviary, a dolphin aquarium, a turtle sanctuary and a beach perfect for swimming, diving or snorkeling. The park also offers various excursions like dolphin interactions, stingray encounters, shark swims, scuba tours and speedboat rides. Enjoy the evening events, which include performances exploring the area’s Mayan past.
Things to Do
Absolute Adventure Mexico
They organize Mayan ruins visits with private archeological guides in Tulum, Coba, Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, but also ATV and zip line tours in the Mayan jungle. They can take you to snorkel in cenotes or in the ocean with the Turtles, and why not with Whales Sharks during summer time! They organize private boat tours to the beautiful Isla Mujeres but also to Rio Lagartos, Sian Kaan National Parks! For more information call 52-984-806-7432, or visit them on the web at Absolute Adventure Mexico.
Explora Mexico Riviera Maya
Explora with Vikingo the Caribbean sea, swimming with whales, sharks, sea turtles, sailfish or bull sharks in their natural habitat; discover the cenotes or underground caves and much more. For more information call 52-984-119-4247, or visit them on the web at Explora Mexico Riviera Maya.
Aloha Paddle Club
Learn the fastest growing water sport in the world right in the center of Playa del Carmen. Paddleboard rentals, paddleboard delivery, private classes and unique stand up paddle board tours as well as SUP Yoga and surfing. For more information call 52-984-213-6402, or visit them on the web at Aloha Paddle Club.
They are a kiteboarding school located in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. They offer courses for beginners, and advanced. They have rentals, a kite shop, and provide kite trips. For more information call 52-984-807-2567, or visit them on the web at Kitesurf Mexico.
The Rusty Hook
Private Fishing Charters and Snorkeling Tours in Playa del Carmen , and the Riviera Maya. They also have deep sea fishing ,speed vertical jigging, trolling ,bottom fishing and snorkeling tours in Playa del Carmen Mexico. For more information call 52-984-140-5606, or visit them on the web at The Rusty Hook.
Best Rated Restaurants
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$$$$ La Casa Del Agua
Start with crispy scallops marinated in lime and served over Champagne risotto, then follow up with favorite mains like sesame-seared blue-fin tuna with Portobello mushrooms or cocinita pibil ravioli (a lighter take on Yucatecan achiote-roasted pork). Remarkably flavorful short ribs are cooked for 8 hours in black beer, Dijon mustard, red wine, and honey. For more information call 52-984-803-0232, or visit them on the web at La Casa Del Agua.
$$ – $$$ El Muelle
“The Pier” resembles a Caribbean fish market with its wooden plank floors, whitewashed tables, and pilings strung with rope. A chalkboard features the catch of the day; it’s delivered from local fishermen every morning and simply yet flavorfully prepared one of five ways or sold by the gram to go. For more information call 52-984-803-0073, or visit them on TripAdvisor at El Muelle.
$$ – $$$ Aldea Corazón
Playa’s most dramatically-sited restaurant sits atop a small cenote in a vast jungly garden full of strangler vines and Mayan ruins—right in the middle of Avenida 5. Designed in accordance with Maya building practices, it’s a feast for the eyes, with living “green walls” covered with plants, a bar built on a stone wall, and a park in back that makes for a romantic setting at night. For more information call 52-984-803-1942, or visit them on the web at Aldea Corazon.
$$ – $$$ Como Como
This small, intimate Mediterranean restaurant is where locals and travelers in-the-know go for perfectly al dente homemade pasta. Top orders range from squid ink tagliatelle with clams to seared tuna with tamarind sauce. Try the white tuna carpaccio topped with apple, ginger, beet, fresh mint, and lime salad. Prepare for the moment when a chocolate fondant reaches your table, resulting in the inevitable words, “I shouldn’t really, but I’m on vacation.” For more information call 52-984-859-1646, or visit them on the web at Como Como.
$$ – $$$ Los Aguachiles
This upscale taquerìa is an anchor of Playa’s alternative culinary scene, reimagining tacos sautéed in olive oil and topped with cucumber or strawberry-habanero salsa. Local favorites include shrimp tacos with “black gold” (beans), fish ceviche with green salsa, and fish tacos wrapped in your choice of corn tortilla, flour tortilla, or a giant leaf of Bibb lettuce. For more information call 52-984-859-1442, or visit them on the web at Los Aguachiles.
Attached to the Rana Cansada Hotel, Bar Ranita is a favorite among rowdy expats. The prices are unbeatable, and the margaritas pack a powerful punch. For more information call 52-984-873-0389, or visit them on the web at Bar Ranita.
Diablito Cha Cha Cha
Miami-chic with retro white patent leather chairs and a palapa roof, Diablito Cha Cha Cha serves up sushi and DJ tunes as late as 3 am. For more information call 52-984-803-3695, or visit them on the web at Diablito Cha Cha Cha.
Hookah-smokers here puff on fruit-flavored tobacco that wafts away into the open tropical night. On weekends, belly dancers weave their way between the tables. For more information call 52-984-873-2228, or visit them on the web at Kartabar.
Following the success of its sister property in Cancún, CoCo Bongo has flying acrobats, bar-top conga lines, live bands, and DJs mixing everything from rock to hip-hop. The cover charge includes unlimited drinks. For more information call 52-984-803-5939, or visit them on the web at Coco Bongo.
Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen
Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort features an outdoor pool and fitness center. The resort has a sun terrace and views of the sea, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant or a drink at the bar. Free WiFi is provided and private parking is available on site. You will find a 24-hour front desk, hairdresser’s, and gift shop at the property. The resort also provides bike rental and car rental. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Grand Hyatt Playa Del Carmen.
Mahekal Beach Resort
Showcasing a year-round outdoor pool and views of the sea, Mahekal Beach Resort is located in Playa del Carmen. The resort has a spa center and fitness center, and guests can enjoy a drink at the bar. There is a gift shop at the property.You can play ping-pong and pool at this resort, and bike rental and car rental are available. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Mahekal Beach Resort.
Soho Playa Hotel
This property is a 6-minute walk from the beach. There is a year-round outdoor pool and sun terrace. Free WiFi is featured throughout the property and free private parking is available on site. Superior rooms feature a spa tub or a hot tub. You will find a 24-hour front desk at the property. For more information, pricing, to reserve your room visit Soho Playa Hotel.
Club Yebo Hotel
Only 300 feet from the beach in Playa del Carmen, this modern hotel features a pool, kitchenettes and is close to the city’s popular 5th Avenue tourist area. Guests can enjoy a range of restaurants serving Mexican and international cuisine within 650 feet of the property. The area also features night clubs and bars. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Club Yebo Hotel.
Thompson Playa Del Carmen
This property is a 6-minute walk from the beach. The hotel has an outdoor pool and fitness center, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant. For your comfort, you will find bathrobes and free toiletries. There are shops at the property. This hotel has a private beach area and bike rental is available. Car rental is available at this hotel and the area is popular for snorkeling. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Thompson Playa Del Carmen.