Holla to all my Playas out theeeere! Playa del Carmen, located in the Riveria Maya on the Yacatan Peninsula is the perfect Carribean getaway and so much more that a “resort town”. Get out of the resort and experience what this wonderful part of the world has to offer – it’s so much more than a 5 star resort.
Playa del Carmen Beaches
Playa del Carmen is basically one big landing strip of beaches! All you have to do is choose one. Although the Playa del Carmen beach is bigger and more accessible, the Playacar beach, just a short walk south, is better maintained by the hotels along the shoreline.
Just a short 45min boat ride away, Cozumel is a haven of beaches, snorkelling and of course scuba diving. There’s also plenty of fun bars and restaurants! Head on over for an extended day trip away from Playa – the last ferry returns around 10pm.
Of course there is scuba diving! Matt and I levelled up in Playa del Carment with Pro Dive International. I became a Dive Master and Matt an Instructor. The area is absolutely chock full with wild life and shipwrecks, and if you get sick of Playa dive sites, just head on over to Cozumel for a change of scenery. The dives are majority drift dives, but if you head there at the right time of year, you can catch the bull sharks that migrate there to give birth in the mangroves. And don’t even get me started on the cenotes! You can organise scuba trips to all these locations with Pro Dive International. Worth checking them out.
Get your adrenaline pumping with a day out at Xplore adventure park! Perfect for those hot Mexican days, spend your time ziplining, 4wd-ing, and getting wet! Don’t be shy with the photo machines either – we weren’t!
5th Avenue, Playa del Carmen
5th Ave is a pretty lively place to walk up and down. Sure, the restaurants as a rule aren’t very good… the shops are stock full of tourist souvenirs… and you will probably be harassed about tours, trinkets and drugs (all very kindly with a smile on their faces)… but there’s no way I wouldn’t recommended taking a stroll up and down this street every day that you’re in Playa. It’s such a fun place to be around! All you need to do is take a short walk off the main street to find a nice bar or restaurant to sit down at.
Want a day away from the crowds? Jump on a boat and do some island hopping! There’s plenty of tours to choose from, and you can even barter with the street vendors for the best deal. We decided on one with plenty of beaches, snorkeling and unlimited booze. What can I say – we know what we like! Of all the islands, Isla Contoy was my favourite.
Cenotes are not just for scuba diving! With water a delicious clear blue, you’ll be diving in within seconds! The most popular in the area is Gran Cenote, but make sure you check out some of the smaller ones. Carwash Cenote was by far my favourite.
If you didn’t get your fix of ruins at Chichen Itza, then Tulum is your next stop. Located next to a beautiful beach, you can get hot walking the ruins and then cool down in the lovely Carribean waters. Make it a day trip by staying for lunch at one of the hip cafes in Tulum town, and then heading down the rode to Gran Cenote!
Bars and Clubs around Playa del Carmen
Of course, just like Cancun, there are plenty of your stock standard bars and clubs around Playa del Carmen. But if you’re more like me, and prefer a quieter scene, you’ll find plenty of amazing rooftop bars, grungy pubs with bands and cheap beer and snack bars. In fact you’ll find so many, you won’t be able to visit them all! A couple of my favourites were the Cerveceria for cheap snacks and cheaper beer, and
Mariscos y Clamatos El Doctorcito for live music and big beers.
Restaurants in Playa del Carmen
You basically can’t go wrong here, but here are a few of my favourites. Be sure you walk about and find some of your own favourites!
Delicious Mexican Food – El Fogon
Mexican seafood delights – La Bamba Jarocha
Burritos as big as your head – Ay! Salsa
The deepest dish pizza – Don Chendo
Italian like nonna makes – Salento Restaurant
Vegetarian delights – Mercado 30
A hop skip and jump from Cancun International Airport, ADO buses are the easiest, most convenient way to get in and out of Playa. Matt and I stayed in an AirBnB called Palapa Suuk, which seemed to be the most cost effective for a 2 month stay. We purchased 2 bicycles to get around, and sold them back to the shop at the end of our stay. Saved HEAPS of money on taxi’s and the like. For our day trips to Tulum and the cenotes we hired a car. Everything else we bargained like crazy! Make sure you never say yes to the first price!