Located in the heart of the Riviera Maya on the Caribbean Sea, Playa del Carmen offers stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and exciting activities to make your dream getaway a reality. Whether you’re looking for a romantic beach getaway or an adventure-filled family vacation, this Mexican paradise has something for everyone. In this guide, you’ll find all the essential information you need to plan an unforgettable trip to Playa del Carmen. So what are you waiting for?
Location and Getting There
Playa del Carmen is a beautiful coastal city in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. It’s located on the Caribbean Sea and is just a short drive south of the popular tourist destination of Cancun. Getting to Playa del Carmen is easy – you can take a direct flight from many U.S. cities, or if you’re already in Mexico you can take a bus from Cancun or other major cities. Once you arrive in Playa del Carmen, getting around is easy thanks to the well-developed public transportation system. There are buses, taxis, and even car rentals available for those who want to explore further.
Visitors will also find plenty of options for getting out onto the ocean with fishing charters, catamaran tours, sailing trips, snorkeling adventures, and more. If shopping is more your style, then Playa del Carmen won’t disappoint – here you’ll find a wide selection of boutiques, artisan markets, designer stores, and local handicrafts that make great souvenirs. After a day out exploring, visitors will find plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy some good food at the beach bars and restaurants that line the waterfront. Finally, don’t forget to make time to visit some of the ancient Mayan ruins that dot the region – they offer an incredible glimpse into the history of this part of Mexico.
What to Pack
When packing for your trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, you’ll want to be sure to bring all the essentials. Start by making a list of items to bring that includes clothing, shoes, and accessories. Pack plenty of lightweight, breathable fabrics such as cotton and linen for hot days and nights. Don’t forget to include hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen for when you’re out in the sun.
Beachwear is essential for your trip so don’t forget to pack your swimsuits and flip-flops. If you plan on snorkeling or diving, be sure to also pack any necessary equipment. Make sure to also include some warm clothes for cooler evenings and excursions into nearby jungle areas.
Be sure to also include toiletries, medicines, and any other necessities you may need. If you plan on doing any cooking, pack any utensils or cookware you may need as well. And don’t forget any electronics such as cameras and phones, as well as their chargers.
Where to Stay
When it comes to finding accommodation in Playa del Carmen, there are many options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a high-end luxury resort, a budget-friendly option, or something more off the beaten path, you’ll find it here.
If you’re looking for an upscale and luxurious experience, there are plenty of luxurious resorts to choose from. The Iberostar Paraiso Lindo offers guests stunning views of the Caribbean Sea with lush tropical gardens, a private beach area and three outdoor pools. The Grand Velas Riviera Maya is another top-notch option that features stylish suites, beach access and five different restaurants.
Playa del Carmen also offers a range of budget-friendly accommodations. You can find hostels and budget-friendly hotels like the Hotel Poc-Na Hostel, which offers dorms and private rooms. For a slightly higher price point, there are also all-inclusive resorts like the Riu Yucatan which offers guests a pool, beach access, restaurants and bars.
If you’re looking for something unique and off the beaten path, there are plenty of options. The Hacienda La Mision is located in the heart of Playa del Carmen and features unique bungalows and haciendas with private terraces and patios. There’s also Coqui Coqui Coba, located in a jungle setting with only nine guestrooms, offering a secluded and tranquil atmosphere.
What to Do
Playa del Carmen is an incredibly vibrant city, offering tons of activities to do during your stay. Here are some of the best things to do in the area:
Beach Activities: Playa del Carmen’s pristine beaches are a major draw for tourists and locals alike. Spend a day lounging on the white sand or go for a swim in the clear waters. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try out some of the many water sports, including parasailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and more!
Go Shopping: Playa del Carmen is a shopper’s paradise. From handmade artisanal goods to designer items, you’ll find plenty of unique items to take home as souvenirs. Make sure to explore the local markets and boutiques while you’re there.
Explore Ancient Ruins: The ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum are just a short drive away from Playa del Carmen. Spend a day exploring the ruins and learning about the fascinating history of this area.
Nightlife: If you’re looking for a night out on the town, head over to the Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) area. Here, you’ll find dozens of lively bars and clubs that stay open late into the night.
Cenotes: Nature lovers should make sure to check out some of the local cenotes, which are underground freshwater pools. These natural swimming spots are perfect for cooling off and exploring in the warmer months.
Where to Eat
Playa del Carmen has a variety of restaurants to suit any taste. From authentic Mexican food to international cuisine, you can find something to please everyone.
For traditional Mexican dishes, head to La Cueva del Chango for some delicious tacos and burritos. Or try some Mexican fusion cuisine at the Tequila Barrel Restaurant & Tequileria. If you’re in the mood for seafood, check out La Fisheria for freshly-caught fish and crustaceans served in a beachfront setting.
For international cuisine, Cilantro is a great option, offering a mix of Latin American, Mediterranean, and Asian flavors. And if you’re in the mood for Italian food, Zazil Kin is the place to go. Here, you can savor traditional Italian dishes such as pizza and pasta while overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
If you’re looking for a more casual atmosphere, check out La Parrilla Steak House for some tasty grilled meats and wood-oven pizzas. For a truly unique experience, visit CoCo’s Jungle Bar & Grill where you can dine among the jungle trees and enjoy live music on the weekends.
Tips for Visiting
Language: While most people in Playa del Carmen speak English, it is always a good idea to brush up on some Spanish phrases before your trip. Knowing some Spanish will make your vacation much smoother and more enjoyable.
Safety: Like any other popular tourist destination, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and take safety precautions. When walking around at night, stick to well-lit areas and avoid being alone. Avoid carrying too much cash and use a credit card or traveler’s checks when possible.
Weather: Playa del Carmen enjoys a tropical climate with temperatures rarely dropping below 60 degrees F (16 C). This makes it an ideal destination for those looking to escape the cold weather of winter. Be sure to pack accordingly and bring light clothing and swimwear.
Money: Most shops, restaurants and attractions in Playa del Carmen accept US dollars, though you may get a better exchange rate when paying with Mexican pesos. Make sure to check with your bank before departing to ensure that your debit/credit cards will work internationally.
Transportation: Buses are the main form of transportation in Playa del Carmen, and they run frequently throughout the day. Taxis are also readily available, though it is best to agree on a price before getting in the car. You can also rent a car if you plan on exploring more of the area.