One of my Favorite Cities in Mexico

I spent 3 months in Playa del Carmen last year. And after visiting at least 13 other cities in Mexico, I chose to come back for 6 months to just be here and enjoy living like a local. Playa has a beach town vibe so bring your sunscreen and swimsuit for sure.


The most popular theme park attraction in the Riviera Maya. If you love nature, water, food, adventure, jungle, and culture, you will love this place. Xcaret is enough reason to visit Mexico. See my extensive page on visiting Xcaret.

Get your tickets here.

Casual Vibes

A vibrant coastal town on the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen beckons with sun-drenched beaches and mesmerizing cenotes.

Embracing a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure, Playa del Carmen invites you to indulge in its warm hospitality and bask in the natural beauty of Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

Playa has something for everyone from luxury to beach hut style. I recommend Playa del Carmen if you are interested in any of these.

Avenida Cinco
  • Archaeology
  • Cave Swimming
  • Nightlife
  • Water Activities
  • Nature
  • Shopping
  • Food
  • Beaches
  • Walking
  • Relaxing
  • Luxury

Spanish Needed to Visit Playa del Carmen

About 75% of the locals that I have come across speak English. Especially if you’re engaging with anybody in hospitality. It’s kind of a shame that I don’t get to practice my Spanish skills enough here due to the fact that most people just respond to me in English.

Where to stay in Playa del Carmen

If you want to be within walking distance of everything I recommend staying on the beach side of the Federal Highway. Anything beyond that will be a pain to cross if you want to be immersed in the.

How Expensive is Playa del Carmen?

Many people think that this is a party town and it’s expensive, but I can tell you that if you want to party you CAN find nightclubs. But if you want to lay low, you can too. Just stay away from the iconic 5th Avenue. That being said, there’s plenty of world-class luxury living here.

5th Avenue, Downtown

Along the bustling Quinta Avenida, shops, restaurants, and nightlife venues create an electric atmosphere. Playa is designed on a simple grid. Avenida 2 is the first street that runs parallel to the beach. And Calle 1, or Benito Juarez, is the southernmost street in downtown. Going north you’ll find every street an even number up to 100.

Snorkeling and Diving

Snorkelers and divers revel in the underwater wonderland of offshore reefs and enchanting cenotes, where crystal-clear waters reveal captivating cave systems.

Ancient Ruins

Beyond the shore, Playa del Carmen offers easy access to explore ancient Mayan ruins, like the famed site of Tulum.


Mexico’s Disneyworld. I would say Disneyland/SeaWorld but even better. You MUST visit this marine water park. See my page for more.

Dining and Cuisine

All budgets and cuisines are catered to in Playa del Carmen.

5th Avenue is the hub for dining, shopping, and walking. Be ready to pay extra for being near all the action. And the food is not always what you pay for. I, being budget-minded eat 2-3 streets off 5th Avenue for a more down-to-earth experience and price tag. Seafood is the most popular here.

Take a walking tour immediately

I am a true believer in taking a tour immediately to get acquainted with a city. A food walking tour is a great way to get your bearings and you have the full attention of a local expert for great suggestions.

Food Walking Tours

Playa del Carmen Walking Food Tour – Very popular walking tour that takes you to discover places that are frequented by locals rather than tourists.

Mexican Street Food Crawl in Playa del Carmen – Get acquainted with local street food in a fun tour.

Playa del Carmen All-You Can Drink Club/Bar Tour – Explore the nightlife and know where to enjoy the nightlife in Playa.

Regional Dish

  • Ceviche: Fresh seafood such as fish or shrimp, marinated in lime juice and mixed with onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and sometimes avocado, served as a refreshing and tangy appetizer.
  • Cochinita Pibil: Slow-roasted and seasoned pork, marinated in achiote paste and served with pickled onions and habanero salsa.

Popular Local Tacos

  • Tacos de Pescado: Fresh fish, often snapper or grouper, grilled or fried and served in tortillas with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, and spicy mayo.
  • Tacos de Cochinita Pibil: Slow-roasted and seasoned pork, marinated in achiote paste and served with pickled onions and habanero salsa.
  • Tacos al Pastor: Marinated and grilled pork cooked on a vertical spit, served with pineapple, onion, and cilantro.
Playa del Carmen Street food
Every cuisine you could ask for
Pastor Taco Truck

Unique Dining Experiences

Unique Lunch in a Private Mayan Cenote – Enjoy delicious Mexican food exclusively created for you by chef Perla, made with fresh products coming from local Mayan harvest, in a private cenote in Playa del Carmen, live this beautiful experience in the middle of the Mayan jungle, feel the magical atmosphere of this incredible place, clean your soul with copal, then refresh your self in this open cenote.

Dine inside a magical cave with stalagtites and stalagmites

ALUX Restaurant

Dine inside a cenote cave – A short taxi drive will get you to Alux where you can enjoy a cave that is 10,000 years old. Complete with world-class service and cuisine. Alux homepage

What to do in Playa del Carmen

Parque Los Fundadores

There is a daily demonstration of Los Voladores – Watch the “Dance of the Flyers Ceremony” daily in the main park.

Cenotes – Unique natural diving holes in the middle of the jungle

Any of the local Cenotes

Cenotes are natural sinkholes formed over a hundred thousand years ago. The Mayans revered the cenotes as portals to the underworld as well as relied on the freshwater for life. There are thousands of cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula. There are many maintained for guests to swim in and also destinations for cave diving. They are a main attraction for visitors in the area.

My favorite cenote tour was with Fabio who picked us up locally and drove us to the most private cenotes where we basically had them all to ourselves. Direct link to Viator experience

Swim with Whale Sharks

Seasonal snorkeling with these mighty underwater giants. A life-changing experience. That is me in the photo with my GoPro.
Here’s a tour I took and I highly recommend it.
Small-Group Eco Friendly: Whale Sharks tour in Cancun & Riviera Maya

Walk 5th Avenue, Quinta Avenida

If you are into nightlife and the thrill of being where all the excitement is, this would be for you. If not, you still should give it a try. It’s like a gulf version of the Vegas Strip.

Take the Ferry to the Island of Cozumel

hourly departures take you to the nearby island of Cozumel. In Cozumel, you can rent a scooter, rent some beach lounges at one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve been to in my life. Or take a snorkeling tour. (See my Cozumel Page)

I took this one!

Cozumel Snorkeling Tour: Palancar, Columbia and El Cielo Reefs

Get your Scuba License

There’s a multitude of schools that will certify you through PADI or SSI. And you’ll learn in the most gorgeous place there is. I took the lessons but I panicked on the final ocean dive. …long story. But don’t let it stop you. Hundreds of people get certified every day in Playa del Carmen.

Visit Xcaret

A natural waterpark complete with 3 natural jungle lazy rivers, snorkeling, educational exhibits, and a world-class cultural performance that will leave you in awe of this magical region. I cried at the end of the show!

Get tickets in advance during the high season

Take a party catamaran tour and swim with the turtles

Snorkel the Coral Reefs

The best reefs for snorkeling are just far enough offshore where it’s best to be dropped right on top of the prime snorkeling areas.

Swim with Sea Turtles

Swim with Turtles

The best way to actually swim with the turtles is to go with a knowledgeable guide. Take one of the many tours available.

Go Cave Diving – For those more experienced. There is a vast underground system of caves where you can explore scuba diving.

Mini Cenotes Dive Excursion from Playa del Carmen Tour

Coco Bongo – Experience world-class nightclub show extravaganza. I’ve heard from many that it is highly worth it.

Visit the 3D Museum It’s kinda cool for fun photo shots.
Official Website

Day trip to Chichen Itza

Take a day tour on a bus to amazingly preserved ancient ruins. I’m still in Playa and this is on my list. I’ll probably do one of the many tours available. it’s a full 12-hour day so don’t make any other plans. I’m probably going to pick this one when I’m ready:
Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour


Prices start at $35 per night and can be up to $33/night. Digital nomads love Hostelworld due to its community engagement.

Many options for accommodations and hotels at all price levels


Shopping in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, is a popular activity. Quinta Avenida, or Fifth Avenue, is the city’s main shopping street, lined with shops, boutiques, and restaurants. There are world-class brands available along this trendy walking street. Here, you can find a wide range of items, from trendy clothing and jewelry to artisanal crafts and souvenirs.

Best Souvenirs

  • Mexican Handicrafts: Quinta Avenida and the nearby markets offer a variety of traditional Mexican crafts, such as embroidered textiles, colorful ceramics, and handwoven baskets, allowing you to take home a piece of Mexico’s vibrant culture.
  • Silver Jewelry: Playa del Carmen is known for its silver jewelry, and you can find an array of beautifully crafted rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, often featuring intricate designs inspired by local artistry.
  • Beachwear and Resort Fashion: With its proximity to the Caribbean Sea and its popularity as a beach destination, Playa del Carmen offers a wide selection of beachwear, swimsuits, and resort fashion, perfect for embracing the laid-back and tropical vibes of the region.

Haggling is a skill you can practice with local vendors.

Shopping off Fifth Avenue – World class

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