Like other destinations in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera, Playa del Carmen is most famous for its breathtaking white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. That’s why it’s not surprising that a favourite pastime of many visitors is simply relaxing under a palm tree in the comfort of an all-inclusive resort. Of course it’s essential to enjoy the tranquility of the beach and ocean while in Playa del Carmen, but there is also a lot to explore away from the shore.
Where to Stay in Town
There are many hotels in Playa del Carmen to choose from, ranging from luxury all-inclusive beachfront resorts to budget-friendly hotels in town. You can start your “off the beaten sand” exploration by finding a place to stay in town instead of right on the beach. Here are a few affordable and highly rated options:
Hotel Kinbe – This three-star hotel in the centre of town has a swimming pool, soothing waterfall, lush garden, and breezy rooftop terrace with a stunning view. Its air-conditioned guest rooms are clean, comfortable, and stylishly decorated.
La Tortuga Hotel & Spa – This is another three-star hotel in the heart of Playa del Carmen that has received terrific reviews from past guests. Its beautiful grounds center around a large tranquil swimming pool surrounded by palm trees and a variety of tropical plants. If you’re in the mood for a little luxury, the hotel has a spa, room service, and a restaurant with a garden view.
Villas del Mar Cristalino – Perfect for those looking for somewhere low key, this Airbnb rental is located in a quieter part of town away from the touristy centre. This gorgeous white villa is simply, yet impeccably, designed. Its private courtyard with a swimming pool, palm trees, and hammocks offers the perfect atmosphere for a laid-back holiday. When you do go to the centre of town, it’s only a 15-minute walk or 5-minute bike ride away.
What to Do in Town
Playa del Carmen has changed drastically from the quiet fishing village it once was. It is undeniably a very popular tourist destination, but many claim that it’s still a hipper alternative to super-touristy Cancun to the north. Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) is Playa del Carmen’s main pedestrian walkway. It’s only a block away from the beach, and The Kinbe and La Tortuga Hotel are both located just off of it.
You can spend hours exploring Quinta Avenida. This busy walkway is lined with numerous restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops. Take your time wandering around looking at the local crafts for sale – such as Dia de Muertos figures and brilliantly-colored textiles – or rent a bike and use it as a starting point to cycle around town.
The town centre also has a lively nightlife. One place to check out is L’Ambassade. You’ll find it about two blocks west of Quinta Avenida on Calle Decimo Norte (Tenth Street North). This bar is one of the most popular drinking spots in Playa del Carmen for travelers in their 20s and 30s because of its low prices and casual atmosphere.
This article is part of the #HipmunkCityLove series.
As always, happy travels!