Tips on What To Do in Playa del Carmen
Most travelers to Playa del Carmen are looking for a quintessential Mexican beach vacation, with plenty of sun, sand and relaxation. That said, the area also attracts the more active beachgoer; the area is renowned for its diving and watersport activities, (though you might also want to visit Cozumel for the scuba diving in the best reefs). When travelers aren't relaxing at one of Playa's many beaches, writers say they're taking excursions to other Riviera Maya locales like Cancún or Tulum.
- Sitting coolly on the lee side of Cozumel, the town's beaches are jammed with super-fit Europeans -- they let Americans in, too, if they meet the weight requirements!" -- Lonely Planet
- Just a few miles from the town center you'll find eco theme parks, Mayan ruins, and dozens of water sports and tropical adventures." -- Sherman's Travel
Playa del Carmen's main beach stretches in front of its downtown and faces lively La Quinta. Travelers recommend the northern end for beach going, since tides can sometimes cover the sands on the southern end, making sunbathing difficult. Many resorts also have their own private beaches for guests.
- The waters aren't as clear as those of Cancún or Cozumel, and the beach sands aren't quite as champagne-powder-perfect as they are further north" -- Lonely Planet
Diving and Snorkeling
Playa del Carmen -- and most of the travel destinations along the Yucatán -- offer travelers excellent opportunities to explore the marine life and reefs in the Caribbean Sea. Nearby cenote caverns offer unique opportunities to discover the area's local geography. For the most abundant reefs and wildlife, however, nearby Cozumel remains a writers' and travelers' favorite.
- Playa is a popular jump-off spot for exploring the mysterious underwater caves and cenotes (sinkholes) in the region. Several outfitters in town offer instruction, certification courses, and scuba and snorkeling trips." -- Lonely Planet
- Cyan-Ha Dive Center offers a variety of packages; their two-tank dive ($70) allows you to be under water for 50 minutes -- twice the time of a one-tank dive." -- Sherman's Travel
Downtown Playa del Carmen
The town square, known as El Zócalo, along with the bustling 20-block La Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), are considered the key spots for souvenir-shopping, bar-hopping or people-watching.
- Playa's Fifth Avenue, as the street is called, is lined with shops -- including standard souvenir shacks, trendy chains like Diesel, and distinctive local boutiques specializing in cigars and premium-grade tequila -- and an endless parade of tacky restaurants and bars." -- New York Times
- Almost the entire town is north and west of the square. To the south is 'Playacar' a golf-course development of private residences and a dozen resort hotels." -- Frommer's
- Avenida 5, or La Quinta, is the main tourist drag in Playa del Carmen, and also the most expensive. The further away you can get from this street parallel to the beach the cheaper food and shops are going to be." -- Sherman's Travel
The European and American-influenced nightlife here is one of the best scenes in Mexico. This town contains an assortment of clubs and music venues, as well as several beachside bars. Most of the action centers around El Zócalo and La Quinta, but you can find better deals and lesser known hotspots along the beachside or farther out of town.
- La Santanera: Playa's most popular club shares some DNA with the clubs on L.A.'s Sunset Strip -- expect long lines at the door, unwavering doormen, and high cover fees that can go up to $30 per person on some nights. The lure? All of the region's hottest DJs, the prettiest faces, and the deck-side palapa." -- Sherman's Travel
- The beach bar that is an institution in Playa is the Blue Parrot. It gets live acts, mostly rock, and attracts a mixed crowd. It's between calles 12 and 14." -- Frommer's