Playa del Carmen Travel Guide
Cancun may get a lot of attention, however, the real gem is Playa del Carmen, which is quickly
becoming one of the trendiest spots in the Riviera Maya. My husband and I recently visited to celebrate his birthday and were not left disappointed. The town has it all — perfect beaches, cool art, and great shopping. Here is a complete guide for anyone who plans to travel to this slice of paradise.
How To Get There
Getting to Playa del Carmen is a breeze. You can be square in the center of the famed Riviera
Maya of Mexico within an hour of landing at Cancún International Airport. You don’t even need
to rent a car to get into town. I’ve had good experiences using private shuttles from Cancún’s
airport when riding into Playa del Carmen. Both Canada Transfers and Happy Shuttle are very
reliable and affordable.
Where To Stay
The Riviera Maya is known for its sprawling, luxury resorts. However, you’ll find plenty of cozy
B&Bs in Playa Del Carmen, as well. I stayed at the Hilton Playa del Carmen on my most recent
trip. This adults-only all-inclusive resort was private and romantic — perfect for a honeymoon. It
had all the familiar touches of the Hilton brand, which I liked. The views were to die for, and the
beach was wonderful. The staff treated us like royalty. I found the entertainment varied and
exceptional. All-inclusive resorts occasionally get a bad reputation when it comes to food quality, but we found each restaurant, including the room service, to be absolutely incredible. Be sure to enjoy their Fondue night and Lobster on the beach, you will not regret it.
The suites had been recently renovated and featured floor-to-ceiling windows. Rooms overlooked either the pool or ocean. There were some swim-up suites too with your own private pool. Maybe for my next visit!
Things To Do
My day-to-day itinerary for Playa del Carmen might include a margarita or two with fresh lime juice, a
relaxing massage, or a romantic dinner overlooking a moonlit beach. Here are some of my other faves.
Discover 5th Avenue
I’m telling you to definitely plan a night out at Playa del Carmen’s pedestrian-only 5th Avenue
while you’re here. There’s a cool Europe-meets-Caribbean vibe at all the shops, restaurants and
nightclubs in this five-mile zone. (More on the infamous Coco Bongo below.) The little galleries with handcrafted art and dangly earrings for sale are some of my favorite spots. It’s definitely worth spending a couple of hours here.
Get your thrills on the water
From windsurfing to deep-sea fishing, you’ll find all kinds of watersports in Playa del Carmen.
The gentle waves are perfect for boogie boarding. SCUBA lessons are a fun way to explore marine life. Most resorts offer these experiences just steps outside your hotel door, but if not, the concierge can certainly arrange them for you! If you are on a romantic getaway, perhaps spend an afternoon at one the more remote beaches located just outside of town.
Wake up Your Senses
For a unique adventure, make sure you spend a day at Xenses and Xplor Parks. This park is part of the
Xcaret family of parks. It is a sensory park that offers a variety of experiences that stimulate
your senses. It is hard to describe all the amazing experiences available at Xplor. My husband and I especially enjoyed zip-lining and the use of their ATVs. Although, admittedly, my husbands driving nearly made me pee my shorts. They also offer cave rafting and swimming, but my hair weave had endured enough at this point so we didn’t partake. There really
is no other park like it in the world, which is why I recommend that you visit. This is one of those
places that is simply too surreal to describe until you’ve been there!
Experience Coco Bongo
I’ll be the first to admit I am not a fan of nightclubs. I am an introvert and would much rather spend my time binge-watching Netflix rather than be out amongst the hustle and bustle of a large and rowdy crowd. My husband, however, is quite the extrovert and thrives in busy and populated environments. Seeing as we were there for his birthday, I surprised him with a trip to a local nightclub, Coco Bongo. While this sort of activity would normally leave me feeling anxious and uncomfortable, Coco Bongo ended up being one of the best evenings we have yet to share together. It is not your average nightclub, but instead a visual and auditory spectacular for both your ears and eyes. It’s similar to a Cirque Di Soleil performance, but quite frankly, better. With an open bar, acrobatics, dancing, and amazing music, it will leave you with an unforgettable memory. (And sore feet, you won’t resist dancing along to the performances!)
Check out the below videos from our trip to see for yourself!
Playa Del Carmen 5th St: https://vimeo.com/403845183
Xplor Park: https://vimeo.com/403841712
ATV Riding and peeing my pants: https://vimeo.com/403842806
Coco Bongo Experience: https://vimeo.com/403844118
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