Playa del Carmen, Mexico Guide

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Playa del Carmen Mexico Guide - 2023 All you need to know

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Welcome to Playa Del Carmen Mexico

With stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife and a wealth of cultural attractions just waiting to be explored, Playa Del Carmen is an unmissable destination along Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Playa del carmen is located close to historic Mayan sites as well as offshore islands, there truly is something for everyone in this bustling Mexican Caribbean hub. To help make the most out of your visit we’ve crafted our very own guide to the area so that you can have the trip of a lifetime! Enjoy exploring all that Playa del Carmen has to offer! 


🇲🇽 Mexico Travel Resources We Use:


Best time to visit Playa del Carmen Guide
Playa del Carmen Street

A Bit Of History

Centuries ago, travel to the coveted island of Cozumel was made possible only by way of Playa del Carmen. Formerly known as “Xaman-Ha” (or “waters of the north” in Mayan), this old port city served a central role for religious pilgrims who sought spiritual enlightenment at its hallowed shores. Today, we still refer to it by its modern moniker: Playa del Carmen.

Throughout the years, Playa attained notoriety as a bustling trading hub. With frequent visitors such as pilgrims, explorers, and even pirates sailing into port, it was only natural for the city to develop and prosper.

Playa Del Carmen Today

Tourists and locals alike are flocking to Playa for its relaxation, nature, culture and affordability. It has been said that this city is one of the quickest-developing places in Latin America – plus it’s a gateway to the magnificent Cozumel which offers unforgettable scuba diving and snorkeling adventures!

Playa del Carmen Guide - Beach
Playa del Carmen Guide – Beach

Is Playa Del Carmen Safe?

Playa Del Carman, a vacation hotspot in Mexico, is considered to be relatively safe for tourism. Although petty theft and scams can still occur due to the high tourist population, visitors should stay vigilant with their belongings – particularly drinks or beverages at parties – as an extra precaution. Furthermore, it’s important to note that drug cartels are present but they are not targeting tourists specifically. In conclusion,  Playa Del Carmen is one of Quintana Roo’s safest destinations! Read our detailed Guide on Playa del Carmen Safety.

Where is Playa Del Carmen?

Nestled on the picturesque Caribbean shoreline of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Playa del Carmen is situated in the heart of Riviera Maya. Located between Cancun and Tulum, this tropical oasis offers visitors an idyllic escape just 35 miles from each city. Furthermore, with frequent ferry services to Cozumel Island departing every hour, Playa del Carmen ensures easy access to all its neighboring attractions.

Best Time to Visit Playa Del Carmen

The ideal climate of Playa Del Carmen makes it effortless to plan a getaway! With an average temperature that remains around 83° F, the only thing travelers should be mindful of is the rainy season. Make sure to read our Best Time to Visit Playa del Carmen Guide!

Carnaval Playa del Carmen
Carnaval Playa del Carmen

January – April

The weather is ideal, yet since it’s a peak travel season, there are plenty of tourists and higher prices. Although the ocean, cenotes and swimming pools (which aren’t heated) may be too cold for some travelers.

May – October

Despite the heat and humidity of peak summertime, you’ll still experience plenty of sunshine and amazing warm waters for snorkeling & diving. Though hurricane season peaks in September/October, be sure to keep an eye on forecasts as well as purchase travel insurance just to be safe. Best part? Fewer visitors mean fewer crowds plus cheaper rates at hotels, resorts and tour companies!

November – December

As the clouds clear away after the hurricane season and humidity subsides, autumn-winter months become an ideal time to bask in Playa del Carmen’s beauty. Although temperatures may dip a bit at night, don’t forget to pack those extra layers of warmth!

 When Is Playa Del Carmen Hurricane Season?

From late May to early November, the odds of Playa Del Carmen being affected by a hurricane may be low (five hurricanes have hit the Yucatan in four decades), but it is still wise to prepare and protect yourself from severe weather. Prioritize checking forecasts before traveling and securing travel insurance as an additional safeguard during this period.

How to Get to Playa Del Carmen & Around

Exploring Playa del Carmen is easy with a variety of options for traveling to, from, and around the city.

Playa del Carmen Airport


Playa del Carmen has a small regional airport that doesn’t service international flights. To access Playa Del Carmen, the closest option is Cancun International Airport (CUN). This airport serves an incredible 20 million travelers annually and is just 1 hour away from your destination via overland transportation. See below for further details!

Airport Shuttles to Playa Del Carmen

Arranging a group or private shuttle in advance to pick you up at the Cancun Airport and take you directly to your Playa Del Carmen accommodation is an easy solution. Group shuttles may stop at various hotels, making it slightly more time consuming; however, they are much cheaper than a private shuttle at only $25 per person! For those travelling with two people or more we recommend booking a private minivan shuttle for around $65 total – this will get you there quicker and comfortably too!

Make your journey from the Cancun airport to your Playa del Carmen hotel stress-free by reserving ground transportation right here!

Rental Cars

If you’re looking for the most convenient and cost-effective way to explore Playa Del Carmen or Cancun, then renting a vehicle is your best option. You can rent cars in both locations starting at only $15 per day–making it an incredibly affordable choice!

If you want to make the most of your Cancun vacation, why not rent a car at the airport and take a scenic drive down the only southbound highway? You’ll be in Playa del Carmen in less than an hour – just enough time to enjoy some stunning views while making memories.


Travelling from Cancun to Playa del Carmen on ADO Bus (Autobuses de Oriente) is a cost-effective way of transportation, with one-way tickets for as low as $10 per person. The journey typically lasts around one hour and you can conveniently access the bus schedule here. Please note that busses do not make stops at hotels – instead they only stop at central bus stations.

Taxis in Playa Del Carmen

Taxis in Playa Del Carmen are an accessible form of transportation; simply hail them from the side of the road or ask your hotel to call one for you. For local trips, fares range from $4 to $7 – however, if you’re exploring outside town and visiting cenotes and other attractions, costs can accumulate.

If you want to take a hassle-free trip from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen, look no further than the plentiful street taxis in Cancun! While this is indeed an easy and convenient option, it can be pricey – usually around sixty dollars. Don’t forget to negotiate prices before your journey so that you get the best deal possible!

Things to Do in Playa Del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is bustling with life and excitement! From spectacular live performances to sun-drenched sailing cruises, every day in this charming Mexican town can be an adventure. Here’s a glimpse of the activities you can explore:

Playa del Carmen Guide

1. Have A Beach Day

In the beautiful Playa del Carmen area, there are many stunning beaches to choose from. Fundadores is a popular beach in the center of town that offers plenty of people-watching opportunities and delicious snacks like ceviche and beer for visitors to indulge in. If you’re looking for something more tranquil, head over to Playacar further south where you’ll find a lush residential neighborhood with an idyllic beach atmosphere perfect for relaxation.

Expert Tip: Since 2008, Sargassum – a type of seaweed- has been steadily washing up on the shores of Mexico’s Caribbean coast (Cancun, Tulum, etc.), from April to August (read detailed Playa del Carmen Seaweed Guide). Most resorts and beaches strive to continuously remove the smelly seaweed from their shorelines; however in some places where it is not cleared away it can accumulate quickly by water’s edge.

To avoid this unpleasant aspect of your vacation experience, we suggest you consider staying at hotels with nice pool areas for swimming or spending time on islands such as Cozumel or Isla Mujeres which are largely unaffected by Sargassum.

Cenote Azul Playa del Carmen

2. Visit A Cenote

Searching for an opportunity to reap the medicinal properties of a cenote? The Playa del Carmen area provides countless locations that are sure to amaze you with their exquisite beauty. Whether it be swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, or simply taking in the scenery on foot – these powerful forces of nature will surely revitalize your mind and body. Make sure to read our Best Cenotes near Playa del Carmen Guide!

3. Stroll Fifth Avenue

Take a stroll down La Quinta 5th Avenue in Playa Del Carmen – the main street running parallel to the beach that is packed with vendors, bars, eateries, tour shops and much more! From Constituyentes Ave. at its northernmost point all the way south to Calle 1 (1st Street), this vibrant spot has something for everyone. Get ready for tequila tasting rooms, live entertainment and unforgettable experiences no matter what time of day it is!

After you’ve delighted in the stunning beach, why not take a stroll down Fifth Avenue? This broad street is so close to the shore that it’s an ideal activity. At its end lies Fundadores Beach and the ferry terminal to Cozumel where there exists a large outdoor shopping center.


4. Enjoy The Nightlife

If you’re looking for the place to be for a vibrant nightlife party scene, then head south on La Quinta 5th Avenue towards 1st Street. There are plenty of bars and clubs that promise an unforgettable experience – but if you have time only for one spot, Coco Bongo is hands-down the most popular destination with its spectacular interactive stage shows and energetic dancefloor!

Catamaran Tours
Catamaran Tours

5. Take a boat tour

Ready to set sail? Playa del Carmen and its surrounding areas offer a plethora of remarkable day cruises—from sunset sails with cocktails to snorkeling adventures or even private yacht rentals. And if you’re yearning for an extended exploration, Isla Mujeres is the perfect destination! Take a tour aboard catamaran or party boat that includes enjoyable snorkeling activities followed by delectable lunch on the island. Make magical memories today!


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If you’re aiming for a more secluded experience, Isla Contoy is an uninhabited sanctuary where you can explore wild birds and deserted beaches – perfect for those seeking the ultimate Robinson Crusoe getaway. Alternatively, if sailing isn’t your thing, hop on board the ferry to world-renowned Cozumel and spend the day at one of its renowned beach clubs!

Best Day Trips to Tulum from Cancun: Tulum Mayan Ruins
Tulum Mayan Ruins

6. Explore The Tulum Mayan Ruins

Tulum Mayan Ruins is a captivating and ancient destination that has beckoned tourists for centuries. Located near the town of Tulum, this archaeological site overlooks an awe-inspiring landscape filled with mystery – making it an absolute must-see! Feel its powerful energy as you wander through this magical place; leave rejuvenated and inspired by all your new discoveries.

Fall Equinox at Chichen Itza Pyramid
Fall Equinox at Chichen Itza Pyramid

7. Take A Day Trip To Chichen Itza

A trip to Chichen Itza is the perfect way for anyone who hasn’t experienced a Mayan ruin before. This amazing hub of temples and monuments can be accessed in just two hours from Playa del Carmen! What’s more, why not make an adventure out of it by incorporating a swim at one of the nearby cenotes on your return journey – what better way to cool down?

If you want to make things easier, you can always book a private tour guide or join a group tour. That way, the journey back won’t be so tedious as well! However, it’s important to keep in mind that most tours from Cancun also pick up passengers in Playa del Carmen and do not include park entrance fees – $30 USD per adult and $5 per child. Renting your own car is an option too but we suggest taking one of these reliable services for convenience instead!  

Best Adventure Parks Cancun
Best Adventure Parks

8. Experience The Adventure Parks

Head south for about 20-30 minutes from Playa del Carmen and you will find a magnificent collection of world-renowned adventure parks that are truly unique. Xcaret is the most famous, offering captivating canals to swim in, breathtaking beach coves, spectacular cultural performances and incredible jungle hikes – all at an expense which many believe is worth it. So make sure that these amazing adventure parks don’t get left out on your itinerary!

Aside from the usual amusement parks, other wildly popular attractions and activities include Xplor with its thrilling ziplines, rafters, caves and ATV’s; Xel-Ha for fun waterslides and mangrove tubing; Xenotes cenote experience that offers unparalleled adventure opportunities. And if you’re up for something unique, there’s Xenses optical illusion park or a night time journey at Xplor Fuego which will leave an unforgettable impression! Plus join in on a good ol’ Mexican floating fiesta at Xoximilco to top off your trip.

9. Explore The Rio Secreto Nature Reserve

Rather than the typical beach experience, why not take a break from soaking up the sun and embark on an exciting day trip to Rio Secreto (The Secret River)? This underground cave/cenote system is full of gorgeous stalactites and stalagmites along with crystal-clear fresh water for you to swim through. Small group tours include your knowledgeable guide, transportation, lunch, wetsuits, hard hats, water shoes – all necessary items for what will be an unforgettable journey!

Where To Stay In Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen is brimming with fabulous options for lodging, from all-inclusive resorts to chic boutique hotels. To ensure you choose the perfect accommodation that meets your location and amenity requirements, take a look at our comprehensive Playa Del Carmen Hotel Guide and Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen Guide – it has valuable information about the various neighborhoods as well as excellent hotel recommendations!

What To Eat In Playa Del Carmen

From the North End to Centro, Playa del Carmen is brimming with exquisite dining options. To discover some of the city’s best restaurants and tantalizing cuisines, be sure to explore our comprehensive Playa Del Carmen Restaurant Guide!

What To Pack For Your Trip!

Transform your next holiday into the journey of a lifetime with a magical excursion to Mexico’s Caribbean. Don’t let packing be an additional stressor – we’ve created an exclusive guide, full of our favorite items and recommendations to ensure you have all that is necessary for your Mexican getaway! Start planning now; explore What To Pack For Your Mexico Vacation Guide.

Entry & Exit Requirements

To enter Mexico, it is essential to acquire both a passport and FMM (tourism card). These documents can be acquired from the Mexican consulate, border-crossing point, Mexican tourism office or even through your airline. Fortunately for most travelers, FMMs are free on arrival; however if you want an added layer of convenience – we recommend paying for one prior to arriving.

Lastly remember never forget this document as it’s required when departing Mexico!To ensure that your documents are properly safeguarded, make sure to store the original versions in a secure place and keep backup copies close at hand if you’re travelling abroad.For additional information, visit the U.S. State Department’s website.


Is there Seaweed in Playa del Carmen

Between April and August, Mexico‘s Caribbean coast (including Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen) has been seeing a steady influx of Sargassum seaweed since 2008. Although resorts work to clear the sand daily, it can still accumulate nearby creating unpleasant odors. To avoid this problem we recommend booking a hotel with an inviting pool area or taking your travels across to Cozumel or Isla Mujeres where you won’t be bothered by any effects from the seaweed!

How Many Days Should You Spend In Playa del Carmen?

If you’re looking to make Playa del Carmen in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula your main destination, I would highly recommend allocating yourself seven to ten days. That way, you can explore the numerous Mayan ruins and sights while also taking some time for yourself on its stunning beaches! Conversely, if it is not your principal goal but rather a pit stop at which you will be exploring further destinations from then two or three days should suffice.

Embark on a journey of excitement and adventure in Playa del Carmen, where you’ll uncover why this beautiful Mexican destination has become one of the most highly-coveted travel locations worldwide. From magnificent beaches to awe-inspiring scenery, make sure it’s at the top of your bucket list!  

Traveling to 🇲🇽 Mexico soon?

I recommend these travel resources for Mexico that I personally use:

🏨 Hotels: I have found that Expedia and consistently have the best deals on hotels and resorts in Mexico. If you prefer to stay at a vacation rental, check VRBO that is usually cheaper than AirBnB’s added fees!

✈️ Flights: To find the best flight deals to Mexico, I always use Kayak. Remember to subscribe to their price alerts for the travel dates you want. Another great alternative for flight deals is Expedia.

🚗 Rental Cars: I always use and highly recommend Discover Cars because it allows me to compare several car rental companies and view ratings on various factors such as overall value, pick-up procedure, agent efficiency, car condition, and total time taken.

🚙 Cancun Airport Transportation: For the fastest and easiest way to travel, I suggest arranging a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation. Honestly, no better way to travel from the airport to your hotel or resort.

🤿 Tours & Activities: For tours and activities in Mexico, I highly recommend using either Viator or GetYourGuide. These websites offer a full refund if you cancel your booking 24 hours before the start of the tour, and they also provide excellent customer service in case of any issues.

🚨 Travel Insurance: I always suggest purchasing travel insurance as a precaution before traveling, especially after a recent accident in a taxi in Mexico. For short trips, I recommend Travel Insurance Master, whereas for digital nomads, Safety Wing is a better option.

📷 Best Camera for your trip: I always carry with me a GoPro, It’s light, compact, takes great video and pictures, and most importantly, it’s waterproof! You just can’t go wrong with one. If you are interested in higher quality video and photography, I always carry with me on my trips and highly recommend the Sony A7IV which I think is the best travel DSLR Camera out there.

☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Remember to include a good sunscreen to protect yourself from the summer sun. I always use and suggest Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is vegan, reef-friendly, and cruelty-free.