Playa Del Carmen for me, is the happy medium between Cancun and Tulum, Not only in location, being an hour from each but also on what they have on offer for travellers and digital entrepreneurs (It’s a great base if you’re working remotely).
Quinta Avenida (Avenue 5) runs parallel to the long white stretch of Caribbean beach and is home to a myriad of restaurants, bars and boutiques. Playa has the nightlife of Cancun with a way more authentic Mexican vibe as well as the scene of Tulum on a much busier scale with a massive multicutlural influence.
Playa is the perfect base to ferry over to Cozumel and dive or explore one of the thousands of nearby cenotes, adventure parks and Mayan Ruins.
If you’re in Quintana Roo for an extended stay, I always recommend splitting your stay between a few places but if you’re short on time, Playa is the perfect base to experience the best of the Riviera Maya.
Where to stay
Playa has it all, from the coolest high end boutique hotels, all inclusive resorts, apartments, budget friendly hotels to hostels. These are my pick of the bunch.
Rosewood Mayakoba – 15 minutes drive out of Playa you will find the high end resorts in Mayakoba, with my favourite being the Rosewood Mayakoba. They descibe the property as a private world of rare luxury and refined beauty, surrounded by an emerald jungle and pristine white beaches, And they’re spot on, This oasis is paradise!
Thompson Playa Del Carmen + Thompson Beach House – Before you get confused in your search, Thompson has two properties in Playa that are a 5 minute walk apart. For a relaxed beach front stay, It’s all about the Beach House but if you would rather be on the hottest roof top in Playa, The Thompson Playa Del Carmen is where life is at.
The Royal Playa Del Carmen – If you’re an all inclusive fan and want to be in the heart of Playa, The Royal always delivers in spades.
A – Nah Suites – If you love a larger space and a great price, A – Nah Suites offers different sized apartments and a roof top pool only a few blocks back from the beach. I stayed in one of their 2 Bedroom / 2 Bathroom apartments with my friend Chelsea from Chelsea Shell Yoga on my last visit and we loved it.
Hostels – There are so many and it depends on if you’d like a party hostel, chill hostel or mix of both. Everything Playa Del Carmen breaks it all down for you with their list of top hostels that give you the pros and cons of their top 5.
Where to eat
You will be spoilt for choice in Playa, There are so many AMAZING options… I could spends years eating and drinking my way around here. Here are a few of my faves to get you started and please, tag me in any new ones you try so I can test them out next time too.
Alux – have you ever dined underground in a cave? Make sure you reserve a space at least a couple of days ahead.
El Hongo – Built from love and a passion to serve the community, This conscious, art filled restaurant and cultural centre is a must visit to not only support people making a difference but to fill your belly with some traditonal Mexican food passed down from grandmas recipes.
Los Aguachiles – I don’t know if this place is a secret that locals don’t want let out but it would be criminal not to share the best tostadas I’ve ever had.
Le Lotus Rouge – While I haven’t eaten here, this crazy (in a fun way), elcectic bar is a must visit. It’s unlike anything else you will experience in Playa.
Sushi Club – If you’re like me, You will crave some fresh Japanese… This is where it’s at!
Don Chendo – While we are on the topic of craving comfort food – Pizza fans, Put this one at the top of your list or for anyone that needs to soak up a few too many margaritas from the night before.
Where to explore
Hit the beach – Unlike many stretches of beach in Cancun and Tulum that close sections off for their hotel guests, The beaches are public here.
Rent a Car – The Riviera Maya is easy and safe to drive plus there are so many cenotes you can visit – We spent a whole day cenote hopping and popping in to some lesser known ones that we stumbled upon after reading small signs on the road side – That wouldn’t have been possible without a car.
Swim in Cenotes – As I mentioned, rent a car if you can but if that is not an option you will find plenty of day trips on offer that will cover at least one cenote.
Chichen Itza – Leave Playa early (3 hour drive) to get there when it first opens to avoid some of the crowd and heat while you explore one of the new seven wonders of the world – If you do this by car, you can combine with some cenote hopping on the way home.
Visit an adventure park – There are so many around the area and it is such a fun way to spend a day. Xcaret, Xplor and Xel-Ha are all great choices.
Cozumel – A ferry ride from Playa is some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world. Make a day out of it and explore by scooter or buggy too.
Tulum – I always make time to stay in Tulum but you can do it as an easy day trip to visit the Mayan Ruins and beaches.
Coba Ruins – These are a little closer to Playa, Bigger than Chichen Itza and have less crowds.
Swim with turtles in Akumal – This has to be a highlight of your stay in Mexico.
There is so much to experience in the Riviera Maya, Maybe you can stay a month?
If you have any more questions, Please, Drop me a comment below x