Playa del Carmen, Mexico
For anyone who has dreamed of finding the perfect powdery white, sandy beach stretching along miles of turquoise blue water, Playa is the place to be! The accommodations are known for being reasonably priced, and the standard is high. The restaurants are beautifully decorated and offer good service. From Playa del Carmen it is easy to take the ferry to Cozumel. It is also a convenient location from which to take one of the tours to visit the various ruins in the area such as Chitchen Itza and Tulum. These are only a few of the reasons that this sun-splashed resort area has become one of the world’s top tourist destinations!
Originally named Xaman-Ha (waters of the north) and known as the capital of the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen is located on the beautiful Caribbean coast some 40 miles south of Cancun.
Playa was once a sleepy Mexican fishing village, but has been transformed into the world’s fastest growing city. It is a favored destination for an increasing number of world travelers, as well as for thousands of day-trippers from Cancún and from Caribbean cruise ships.
The town is laid out so that the main street, Avenida Juárez, leads to the zócalo (town square) from Highway 307. As it does so, it crosses several numbered avenues that run parallel to the beach, all of which are multiples of 5. Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue) is closest to the beach. It is closed to traffic from the zócalo to Calle 6 (and some blocks beyond, in the evening). This avenue bustles with hotels, restaurants, and shops. With mariachi musicians entertaining in the streets, Playa is reminiscent of the colonial towns of Mexico.
Almost all of the town is north and west of the zócalo. Immediately south are the ferry pier and a Resort Hotel. Beyond this southern edge of town are the airstrip and the golf course development called Playacar, with many private residences and resort hotels.
The beach at Playa is one of the most beautiful on the coast, with white sand and sparkling, clear water. A distinct advantage of this resort paradise is its compact size, which allows it to be easily covered on foot. Playa contains the most vibrant and popular nightlife on the Riviera Maya.
A visit to Playa is never dull! If your visit to Playa del Carmen coincides with a full moon, you could camp on the beach and enjoy one of the celebrations the inhabitants hold in its honor. Playa provides an enormous variety of water activities throughout the year, ranging from swimming on the beach to more strenuous sports such as windsurfing, snorkeling, sailing or diving at the nearby reefs. There is also an 18 hole golf course designed by Robert Von Hagge. Skydiving from Playa is another possibility.
Playa del Carmen’s natural features, beauty, and spectacular beaches, its enviable geographical location and its blend of sea and jungle make this destination on the Mexican Caribbean a favorite of visitors from all over the world.
Location: In the State of Quintana Roo, off the northeastern end of the Yucatan peninsula, south of New Orleans. Approximately 1.5 hours flying time from Miami.
Languages: Spanish and Mayan, but English is spoken in most areas.
Time Zone: Central Standard Time.
When to Visit: Playa del Carmen is warm year round, but the steady sea breeze tempers the heat. There is outdoor swimming all year. Rainfall is evenly distributed over the twelve months. The chance of hurricanes is greater in September and October. The sun reflected from the water is intense, so it is important to come prepared with sunblock. Most visitors wear shorts and T-shirts. A sweater is useful for air-conditioned places and for the occasional cool winter day.
Departure Tax: is approximately US $17. Be prepared with US cash for this. Change may not be available. Children under 2 years are exempt.