Back to 2010 and finishing this last part of my first trip abroad to Eastern Mexico. Playa Del Carmen was my favorite part. Playa, as locals call it, exudes a more laid-back vibe than Cancun to the north. But make no mistake: Playa, is big-time touristy all the same.
I highly recommend to have a more local experience here, forget about all-inclusive hotels like I did in Cancun, or you would miss the real essence of Playa. I’m going to apologize in advance, since my camera did not have the best quality.
Let’s begging with accommodation. After a long search, given that it was my first time in this area, and I did not know anyone who had gone before. I booked Hotel Kinbe because of the great recommendations on TripAdvisor. You can see that still today they have amazing feedback. What a fabulous place! It was clean, the staff were over the top helpful, and the pool and rooftop terrace are amazing.
Hotel Kinbe is in the heart of Playa del Carmen in the 10th street between 1st and 5th Avenue, and walking distance to anywhere!
Let me give you an awesome tip here: The most famous street of Playa is the Fifth Avenue. It is lined with the best shops, bars, restaurants, cafes, gelatos, pharmacies and more. So this hotel end up to be the greatest option!
Even though the best time to visit Playa is between April and June, the weather in November was awesome, the water was warm and I loved that it wasn’t too crowded. You’ll have a blast in Playa because there’s something for everyone. Eat at great restaurants, discover tours and activities, have fun at local events, bars, beach clubs, and discos or just go shopping.
Here I share my top 6 activities:
-Playa del Carmen Beach
Of course! Most activities revolve around Playa del Carmen’s renowned beach, just minutes from the Fifth Avenue or “Quinta Avenida” and that includes access to some of the best diving spots in the Western Hemisphere, especially just offshore near Isla Cozumel. Travelers say you can’t come to Playa del Carmen without taking a dip under the sea to explore its colorful population of fish. Many diving companies have set up shop in Playa: One of the most popular is the Playa-based Reef Quest Divers, which caters to amateurs and experts alike.
-The “Quinta Avenida” – Fifth Avenue
This is where you are going to spend your afternoons and nights. Like I wrote this is the main street and most famous, runs parallel to the shoreand serves as a pedestrian walkway for travelers and locals. The avenue is lined with an assortment of restaurants, hotels, hostels, condominiums and bars, making it one of the best nightlife spots in the city. High-class restaurants and local bars dominate the nightlife scene of La Quinta accompanied by live serenades thanks to all the mariachis. There are plenty of souvenir shops as well selling trinkets and mementos.
Drawing on inspiration from Las Vegas pool parties and Ibiza beach rangers, there are some beach clubs that offers party-hungry travelers a chance to dance, listen to music and day drink in the heart of Playa del Carmen. I recommend 2 that I had the chance to check Coralina Daylight Club and Mamitas Beach Club. They have pools, direct beach access, private cabana areas and a restaurant with seating.Travelers loved the party vibe and club atmosphere, adding that the service staff is top-notch in both, too. Here I share their IG accounts. (Pics credit to Beach Clubs accounts)
-Yucatan-Style Disneyland Parks
Just like you just read it! Both experts and travelers say that most of the eco theme parks and parks in or close to Playa are sort of Yucatán-style Disneyland. The 2 most famous are Xel-Ha and Xcaret. I had the chance to go Xcaret which in my opinion has been until today, the best Eco-Park I ever visited. The parks is filled with an aviary, dolphin aquarium, turtle sanctuary and a beach perfect for swimming, diving or snorkeling. The park also offers various excursions like dolphin interactions, shark swims, snuba tours. Stay the day at Xcaret then enjoy the evening events, which include performances exploring the area’s Mayan past. Xcaret is home to a few dining venues as well.
-Discover local food & Happy Hours
While Playa del Carmen certainly isn’t considered a top foodie spot, there are still plenty of restaurants you can enjoy in this resort town. Playa del Carmen has a wide range of eateries, from simple local fare to sophisticated fine dining establishments. You’ll likely encounter menus full of seafood, Mexican fare and even some American eats.
The bars are all over the Fifth Avenue, all of them with with Happy Hours (2X1 in drinks) and some of them with free tapas (chips and salsa).
Look at the first picture, who doesn’t fall asleep during a massage in that spot?
The name of that Spa, is Xpa and you can find it inside the Xcaret Park. Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to try that one because of time (Definitely going back some day for that experience). But I took one in a cozy place in the Fifth Avenue (Second picture) and it was amazing. The place was surrounded by nature and the music played was birds and water sounds. There’s tons of Spas where you can have a relaxing, deep tissue or reflexology massage, it was one of my favorite moments.
Other famous activities are Golf, take the ferry to explore Conzumel and of course visiting Tulum ruins.
Playa is picturesque, and the perfect place to awake your senses on street food stalls and shopping spots. Dare to escape the tourist crowds of Cancun to immerse yourself in the traditional culture of Mexico. Definitely was my favorite part of this 8 days -first abroad trip to Eastern Mexico. Hope to go back soon!
To know more about the whole trip check the following posts: