Playa del Carmen
The Heart of the Riviera Maya
Playa del Carmen, located on the Riviera Maya, sits in the heart of the Mexican Caribbean and features an impressive 75 miles of stunning, sandy shoreline. Getting from Cancun to Playa del Carmen is easy since the Cancun International Airport lies just 45 minutes north. Some all-inclusive hotel packages include a shuttle service from the airport, but travelers can easily hop in a taxi or take a bus straight to a station in downtown Playa del Carmen.
Out on the Town
As a coastal resort town, the best things to do in Playa del Carmen are huddled around the beach. And despite being one of the region’s largest and fastest-growing cities, Playa del Carmen is easy to navigate on foot.
Parallel to the beach, you’ll find Playa del Carmen’s main strip, la Quinta Avenida (or “Fifth Avenue''). The five-mile-long pedestrian walkway is lined with hotels, shops, art galleries, restaurants, bars, and clubs, making it a popular nightlife spot. In addition to street performers and entertainment, you’ll find some hidden gems, such as Mayan vestiges and even a freshwater cenote! While there’s no shortage of fantastic dining options along Fifth Avenue—including upscale and international cuisine—as well as in boutique hotels and resorts, some of the more authentic options are scattered on the surrounding side streets.
Stay in Style
Boutique hotels along Fifth Avenue spill out to the beach and feature amenities like rooftop pools with buzzy bars and DJs. Hotels in Playa del Carmen range from sprawling, beachside all-inclusive resorts that are great for families, friends, and couples to luxury boutique hotels, urban downtown hotels, budget-friendly hotels and hostels.
Soak in the Fun
There are plenty of things to do in Playa del Carmen and its surroundings for nature and adventure lovers, from birdwatching to ATV tours and zipline rides through the Mayan jungle at adventure parks.
Underground expeditions take visitors on hikes through caverns and rivers surrounded by stalactites in a setting that is millions of years old. Riviera Maya is also known for its cenotes, or sinkholes, and you’ll find more than 2,500 in the region. Explore on a tour snorkeling, diving, or swimming in the underground caves the Mayans believed were the entrance to the underworld, called Xibalbá. Riviera Maya is also dotted with archeological sites that are a quick drive away from Playa del Carmen, such as Muyil, Cobá, or Tulum, which can be visited on a half-day tour.
Days in Playa del Carmen can simply be spent at one of the standout hotel spas or swimming in the warm, calm water that looks like a scene from a postcard. Most of the larger beachfront hotels offer snorkel and boat tours, as well as paddleboards and kayaks. There are plenty of beaches to choose from right in town, so even if you’re not staying in a hotel on the sand, you can still take full advantage of Playa del Carmen’s prime waterfront locale.