Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen
When you begin your search for where to stay in Playa del Carmen, you’ll discover that the city offers a great balance of beach activities, cultural experiences, relaxation, family attractions, adventure, and nightlife.
The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is considered by tourism experts to be a highly desirable destination for travelers.
This is due to the many coastal resort towns that span from Merida in the Gulf of Mexico to the town of Tulum in the Caribbean Sea, also known as the Riviera Maya.
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Millions of vacation seekers have been flocking to the beach towns of Cancun and Cozumel, which were modeled after Acapulco and Baja California and have been popular resort destinations since the 1970s. Although Playa del Carmen was not initially as popular, it began to gain attention from resort developers in the 1990s.
Playa del Carmen stands out from Acapulco and Cancun by offering a fresh and unique European flair that is not found elsewhere in the Riviera Maya. Despite being more sophisticated and classy, it still maintains a laid-back feel, unlike the North American vibe you would get in Miami Beach or Las Vegas.
To get to Playa del Carmen, you will need to arrange ground transportation. If you arrive at Cancun, it will take less than an hour to get there by car, barring traffic. Taking a ferry from Cozumel will take about 40 minutes. Once you’re settled in Playa del Carmen, you can easily get around on foot, on a bike, or with short taxi rides.
If you plan on exploring the majestic Riviera Maya, renting a car is an option available to you. However, it’s usually advisable to opt for guided trips to Maya ruins and national parks as they tend to be better.
Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen – The Very Best Areas
Despite Playa del Carmen’s smaller size, all the areas to stay are of newer developments in recent construction and have been strategically developed to combine the ambiances of Caribbean and Mediterranean resorts.
Playa del Carmen has five primary accommodation areas that you consider staying in:
Best for first timers – Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue)
If you are looking to stay in Playa del Carmen near Quinta Avenida, a popular pedestrian street that runs north to south for about four kilometers, consider booking a hotel with a balcony for ocean views.
While there aren’t many high-rise buildings in the area, you can still find good views from third-floor hotel rooms. This area may be especially appealing if you’re a frequent traveler to coastal resort towns in Latin America, the Caribbean, or the Mediterranean.
By staying close to Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen, you will have easy access to all the necessary places, including travel agencies that offer day trips to nearby Mayan ruins, nature preserves, and refreshing cenotes.
It is important to note that there are no rivers in Playa del Carmen, and all the water comes from incredible groundwater pits. Visiting a cenote during a hot day is a must-do activity, but keep in mind that hotel accommodations in this area may be slightly more expensive.
Our Favorite Hotels in Quinta Avenida:
- ($) Maya Vacanze Playa Quinta B&B
- ($$$) Luxury Condo Boutique
- ($$) Quinta Margarita – Boho Chic Hotel
Best For Families – Playacar
On the very southern end of Playa del Carmen, there is a tourism district called Playacar that is both spectacular and relaxing. It is also perfect for romantic and adventurous activities. Popular celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Rashida Jones, April Lavigne, and Kate Hudson love to stay here because of its ideal vacation spot charm.
Playacar has all-inclusive resorts that are luxurious and offer a wide range of activities and accommodations, including kite surfing, golf courses, private villas, and beaches. However, there are also some long-term apartments available near the beach. Keep in mind that these apartments may be similarly priced to the all-inclusive resorts but do not offer concierge service.
You won’t regret saving up to stay at a luxury resort in Playacar.
Our Favorite Hotels in Playcar:
- ($$$) Sandos Playacar All Inclusive
- ($$$) Palmaïa
- ($$$) Royal Hideaway Playacar All-Inclusive Adults Only Resort
Best for Travelers on a Budget – Downtown (Centro)
The city center of Playa del Carmen has been completely transformed due to careful urban planning. The Centro district spans from the highway connecting Cancun with Tulum to the beach. The district is well-organized with streets and avenues arranged into rectangular blocks.
In the southwest corner of the district, there is a small regional airport that hasn’t become a major transportation hub yet. This means you can stay in this part of town without being disturbed by a lot of airplane traffic. Even though the avenues are numbered from Fifth Avenue by the beach to 50th Avenue near the highway, the district spans only 10 city blocks.
If you stay in the Centro area of Playa del Carmen, you will have easy access to Playa Caribe, the main tourist beach, and you will also be able to walk to North American conveniences like shops, great restaurants, and banks. Downtown Playa del Carmen has a wide variety of lodging options, from small beach hotels to luxury chains. However, the best deals are typically found in the vicinity of 30th Avenue.
If you’re looking for affordable accommodations for backpackers, there are modern hostels available. However, for just a slightly higher price, you can stay at a comfortable colonial-style inn. Keep in mind that the closer you get to the beach, the more expensive it will be. Be sure to research the options in the Centro district since hotel owners there are known to compete for business.
Our Favorite Hotels in Downtown:
- ($) Hotel Casa de las Flores
- ($$) Antera Hotel & Residences
- ($$$) Hilton Playa del Carmen
- Mayakoba – Best for Beach lovers and Luxury Travelers
For Luxurious and Upscale Lifestyle – Maykoba
Mayakoba is a luxurious master-planned community that boasts even more beautiful beaches and pristine nature than its competitor, Playacar. It’s a perfect destination for ecotourists who want to experience upscale living. Mayakoba offers secluded beaches and numerous nature trails to explore.
Staying at one of the five-star eco-resorts in Mayakoba and walking to and from the beach every day is an unforgettable experience. You’ll also find some of the best fine dining options in Mexico in this part of Playa del Carmen.
Booking hotel rooms in Mayakoba can be difficult due to the limited number of resorts available. The prices are similar to those in Playacar but higher than the prices in Centro. If you want to feel pampered, Mayakoba is an unforgettable experience that is worth saving up for.
Our Favorite Hotels in Mayakoa:
- ($$$) Fairmont Mayakoba Riviera Maya – All Inclusive
- ($$$) Andaz Mayakoba – a concept by Hyatt
- ($$$) Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Best for Nightlife and Entertainment – Calle 12
Playa del Carmen has carefully planned its nightlife, which can be found mainly along 12th Street. If you’re a young person who enjoys dancing and meeting new people, you might want to stay near some of Mexico’s most popular nightlife spots, such as Coco Bongo, Coco Maya, Mandala, and a few others.
Calle 12 has a variety of nightclubs ranging from small trendy bars to large dance halls where top DJs perform several times a year. If you prefer a quiet place to stay in Playa del Carmen, Calle 12 might not be the best option as the party continues until Sunday morning.
Boutique hotels and long-term apartments are stylish but expensive compared to Centro or Quinta Avenida. Visitors interested in diving and fishing can find a few charters located at the end of 12th Street near the beach.
Our Favorite Hotels in Calle 12:
- ($) Hacienda Maria Bonita Hotel
- ($$) Fabiola Condo Hotel
- ($$$) El Taj Oceanfront and Beachside Condo Hotel
Best for All Inclusive Resorts – North Riviera Maya
The North Riviera Maya is a coastal area located between Playa and Cancun in Mexico. It includes some of the country’s biggest all-inclusive resorts, as well as some smaller European-plan resorts. Although all of Mexico’s beaches are free to enter and open to the public, most of the beaches at resorts in this area are not easily accessible by foot to other towns or resorts. This can give the impression that they are private beaches.
In this area, there are two small towns – Puerto Morelos and Punta Maroma. These towns have public beaches that are busier than those in the city of Playa del Carmen, but they are not as crowded. If you visit Puerto Morelos, you can explore the botanical garden called Jardín Botanico Dr. Alfredo Barrera Marín or check out the Croco Cun Zoo, which is an interactive conservation center that focuses on crocodiles. Meanwhile, Punta Maroma has a quieter beach and offers dolphin encounters at Maroma Adventures.
Our Favorite Hotels in North Riviera Maya:
- Blue Diamond
- Valentin Imperial Maya
- El Dorado Maroma
Best for Nature and Serenity –
South Riviera Maya
The South Riviera Maya’s region, situated between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, is renowned for its serene atmosphere and breathtaking natural landscapes. However, the resorts in this area are generally expansive and offer all-inclusive packages.
The beaches are lengthy, sandy, and surrounded by dense forest on one side, and Cozumel Island on the other, which results in gentle ocean waves. The central town in this area is Puerto Aventuras, which features outstanding dining options, several resorts, and a Dolphin Discovery park.
The adventure parks, such as Xel-Ha, Xcaret, and Río Secreto, are the major attractions in this area. However, the most outstanding features of South Riviera Maya are the cenotes.
These are natural sinkholes filled with pure, clear water and offer great opportunities for swimming, diving, and snorkeling. Some cenotes are open to the sun, while others are located inside caves that are connected to underground river systems.
Some of the recommended cenotes are Dos Ojos, which is a system of 5 connected cenotes, some open and some closed, and is connected to Sac Actun – the second largest cave system and longest underground river system in the world (a guide is required to explore it).
There’s also Cenote Azul and Jardin del Eden which is an open-air cenote that features one main pool and several smaller pools sprouting off it. For further information on cenotes, please refer to our cenote map.
Our Favorite Hotels in South Riviera Maya:
- Hard Rock Hotel
- Hotel Xcaret
- Grand Palladium Kantenah