Sun, sea, sand and Mayan ruins make this former fishing village a popular resort town on Mexico’s Caribbean coastline.
Playa del Carmen was once a quiet fishing village in the heart of Mexico’s "Riviera Maya.” It’s now a popular tourist playground that attracts mainly European visitors. The volume of people may have swelled, but the atmosphere remains easygoing.
The sheltered, white-sand beaches draw the majority of visitors to the area, but Playa del Carmen, or “Playa” as it is locally known, has plenty of other assets.
Explore underwater cave systems, known as cenotes, at the Hidden Worlds Family Cenote Adventure Park. You can dive, swim and snorkel through these submarine environments. Arrange to see some Mayan ruins: there are many all over this part of the world, including some within the Playacar area of Playa del Carmen. Charter a fishing boat at the marina south of town and try your luck with a line out at sea.
Hop on a ferry for a day trip to the island of Cozumel, which can be seen from the beach. Cozumel is a popular diving and snorkeling destination made famous in the 1960s when Jacques Cousteau declared its reefs to be among the most beautiful diving spots in the world.
Back at Playa, take a stroll along Fifth Avenue. This pedestrian-only cobbled walkway is the town’s main strip and is located one block inland from the beach. It is lined with restaurants, bars, clubs and boutiques. At night it attracts the party crowd; most of the action takes place at the southern end. Many of the clubs are open-air and play music until very late.
With a subtropical climate, Playa is either warm or hot for most of the year. The average temperature is 79 F (26 C). June, July and August are the hottest months, while September and October are the wettest due to the hurricane season.
In Playa del Carmen you’ll find that most of the things you need are within walking distance. If you don’t want to walk, you could hire a triciclo, a large yellow tricycle that is the Mexican equivalent of a rickshaw. If you plan to go farther afield, there are taxi, car and scooter rental options.