Travels Along the Edge:
40 Ultimate Adventures for the Modern Nomad
From Crossing the Sahara to Bicycling Through Vietnam
by David Noland
Fifty Places to Sail Before You Die:
Sailing Experts Share the World's Greatest Destinations
by Chris Santella

translate into these languages

click any image below to view image slideshow

Playa del Carmen or Playa, as it is also commonly referred to, is a resort town on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. It's approximately 45 minutes south of Cancun on the Mayan Riviera, and offers a more relaxed atmosphere engineered for lounging and beach frolic.

Quinta Avenida, also referred to in English as 5th Avenue, is the main tourist thoroughfare in Playa. It is a pedestrian only, cobblestone lined street which spans approximately 14 blocks. Along 5th Ave. you will find a variety of restaurants, bars, clubs, shopping opportunities and various services. In Playa, nearly everything starts from this street.

The best beach is Playa Tukan at the north end of town off of Calle 26. It is best to arrive early. Rent a canopy bed on the beach. Draw the canopy back and catch the rays, then pull it back again for an afternoon nap. Mamitas Beach Club has plenty of beds and great music playing during the day. Be aware that some women do go topless but this is not widely accepted by locals.

Nightlife is definitely happening in Playa del Carmen, but is not as wild as its neighbor to the north, Cancun. Typically, Playa's shops and restaurants close around 10pm, but nearly all of the clubs stay open through most of the night. A number of the best nightclubs are located on the beach. If you are interested in nightlife (dancing, drinks late until the evening/morning), then be sure to visit Blue Parrot, El Pirata, Santenera, and Hotel Deseo. The Blue Parrot had until recently a fun fire show around 9 PM some nights, but still offers beach dancing, swings at the bar, and plenty of dancing. Santenera has a beautiful roofdeck bar. Deseo also has a roofdeck bar, but it comes with beds. Very relaxing and beautiful.

Scuba diving and snorkeling is plentiful around Playa, though the reefs are off the shore require a boat to get to. The offshore reef is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest coral reef system in the world. All hotels have a dive shop, though many can be found on 5th Ave. Better open-water scuba diving can generally be found in Cozumel so if this is the focus of your trip it is best to stay there. Excellent snorkeling is located at Puerto Morelos, located roughly halfway between Playa del Carmen and Cancun, and in the lagoon at Akumal, on the way to Tulum. Several dive shops in Playa del Carmen do offer cenote diving south of town.

There are many internet cafes in Playa del Carmen, most of which also offer international phone service. Prices start at around $1 US an hour.

Cenotes are cavernous freshwater sinkholes which are found all over the Yucatan peninsula. Many of them are open to the public for swimming, diving, and exploration. Many are open, however some of them are partially underground and the caves associated with these cenotes can run for miles underground. Cenotes also vary in size with openings as little as a foot wide to as large as a small lake. The water clarity in these cenotes is often unsurpassed, often exceeding 200 feet, and makes for exceptionally good swimming. Some of the bigger cenotes are available as tourist destinations, many are locally owned, and many more still are either undiscovered or undeveloped. Entrance to the commercial cenotes is correlated to the amount of development (i.e. if there are washrooms, restaurants, showers, etc.) with fees ranging from $1 USD - $20 USD.

Tulum is approximately an hour south of Playa and most famous for its beautiful Mayan ruins which sit on a low cliff overlooking a beautiful beach and the turquoise Caribbean sea.

A few miles out of Playa del Carmen one can go cenote snorkeling amongst the cat fish and stalactites, an excellent experience. One can easily get to this by hiring a scooter. There are also numerous roads through the loose jungle, all in a fairly bad condition and apparently leading no where, perhaps a discontinued government development project. The roads are however, a great place to pleasure ride a scooter, there will be very little traffic and you'll pass the cenotes on the way.

Cozumel, the large island off the coast of Playa is famous for snorkeling and scuba near the large reef system. Note that Cozumel is also a main port for Cruise ships, so can be quite busy sometimes!

Info thanks to:

Thinking of exotic locations...?
Why not treat yourself?

Travel Deals

© 2008 All Rights Reserved.  Created by the black rabbit