Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Wonderful catamarans that you can rent right off the beach.

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Wonderful catamarans that you can rent right off the beach.

From Sleepy Fishing Village to Tourist Mecca

Known as Xaman-Há in ancient times, Playa del Carmen has come a long way since its start as a sleeping fishing village. Once the embarkation point for the sacred island of Cozumel, today it is one of the fastest growing communities in Mexico and is considered to be the heart of the Riviera Maya. While small fishing boats still bob lazily in the bay, the once narrow dusty streets lined with a handful of shops and an occasional café have given way to posh pedestrian malls dotted with busy cafes, trendy bistros, scintillating bars and upscale shops bursting with brilliant booty. Spend a few hours browsing Quinta Avenida (Fifth Ave), a lengthy pedestrian-only path where a slew of bistros, restaurants and cafes vie with boutiques overflowing with designer duds, upscale jewelry, Maya carvings, shiny silver and colorful Mexican handicrafts for your attention. The southern end of town boasts the newly created Paseo del Carmen, an open-air mall with yet more designer stores and tony restaurants. Plaza Pelicanos is the place for some of the trendier shops. Adjacent streets showcase Playa’s older charm in smaller, more typical locales lining the still cobblestone streets. Some of the area’s best all-inclusive resorts and condo hotels are located here.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

I was always scared to travel to Mexico! All the news coming out of the country was so negative and I had this preconceived notion that it was too dangerous to travel there. When a friend invited me on a trip to Playa Del Carmen on the Riviera Maya, I decided to go despite being worried about the violence that was occurring in the country and I ended up not regretting that decision. I arrived in Cancun and made the hour-long drive to my hotel in Play Del Carmen and immediately liked the place. The atmosphere was lively, the street was vibrant and the hotel I was staying in was cozy. A long, sandy beach was located only a two-minute walk from my hotel. I spent my mornings walking around the little town, mingling with the friendly locals, eating in the restaurants, sipping coffee on a stoop overlooking the street and browsing the little shops. Afternoons were spent on the beach sunbathing and swimming in the clear, warm waters of the lagoon. Evenings were spent sitting at the beach and watching the sun set with the sound of Spanish music and the smell of Mexican food permeating the air. The town had a relaxed feel to it like any other Caribbean destination. The other thing I really liked about Playa Del Carmen was the ease of getting around to nearby attractions. I found a bus station that offered rides to some Mayan ruins at a very cheap price and I did not, at any time, feel any danger during my time in the area. In fact, I have recommended it to many people since!

Playa Del Carmen

Playa, as the locals call this city, is the third largest town in the state of Quintana Roo and a perhaps surprisingly international destination. Beachcombers from around the world come to Playa and you’ll overhear French, Italian, and German as well as Spanish and English when you explore this town located—as its name implies—directly on the Caribbean. Lazy days can be spent swimming and sunning, though the city is perhaps best known for coming to life after the sun goes down. Playa’s Fifth Avenue runs parallel to the beach and is lined with boutiques, bars, and restaurants serving every cuisine you might possibly be in the mood for. After dinner, there are clubs that stay open till the early hours of the morning if you are in the mood for dancing. To start planning your escape to Riviera Maya, visit

Playa Del Carmen

Playa del Carmen isn’t the region’s geographic center, but it is the Riviera Maya’s heart—its indisputable hub of social and commercial activity, as well as a preferred spot for fun in the sun, thanks to its nine miles of beaches fronting the Caribbean Sea. After soaking up the scenery from your privileged patch of sand, head to Quinta Avenida, a 2.8-mile stretch lined with indie boutiques, markets, and restaurants for every taste and budget. And feel free to stay a while—sidewalks don’t roll up once the sun sets. Playa del Carmen has an energetic nightlife scene, with dance clubs that pump out beats until the wee hours.

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