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22 Things To Do For A Genuine Local Experience On Your Next Playa del Carmen Vacation

Juanita Rodriguez 02-01-2022


How to Have A Local Experience On Your Next Playa del Carmen Vacation

If you’re thinking of a winter escape to the sunny paradise of Playa del Carmen, the best way to discover the true essence of the city is to stay in a vacation rental. Not only do rentals give you a comfortable sense of having all the conveniences of home, but also you have more space, serenity, and privacy. Staying in the heart of the city gives you a captivating understanding of the in and outs of the city, its people, and its culture.

In the spirit of the new year, here’s a list of 22 things to do in Playa del Carmen to gain a local perspective. 


Brunch at La Cueva del Chango


La Cueva del Chango, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Eye spy my little on eye on a monkey hanging from the rafters! The “Monkey’s Cave” is tucked away just off 5th Avenue on Calle 38. It’s an ideal stopover for breakfast on your way to the beach, just 5 minutes down the road. 

Although you won’t see real life monkeys, La Cueva del Chango features a fun and exotic jungle motif with monkey figurines hiding throughout. The koi pond in the center beneath the grand palapa tent enhances the peaceful setting. Furthermore, traditional Mexican favorites including enchiladas, sopes, and fresh tropical juice blends add to the local likability factor. 


Rent a Bicycle and Ride Down 5th Avenue Norte


Biking in Playa del Carmen

Just past CTM heading north on 5th Avenue, you’ll find a quieter section of town for riding along the cobblestone street. Although riding a bike along 5th Avenue central can result in a fine, this northern end has fewer pedestrians and virtually no traffic. 

Enjoy a colorful ride highlighting some of the most beautiful street art in Playa del Carmen. Along with discovering some quaint cafes like Que Huevos, there are also two popular local beaches in this direction—  Playa 88 and Punta Esmeralda.


Get a Green Juice


Fruit Stand, Riviera Maya, Mexico

‘Jugo Verde’ and other fresh pressed juices are a customary morning delight in Mexico. You can find men at main intersections throughout the city selling classic concoctions such as jamaica, horchata, and green juice. Alternatively, there are fresh juicers working out of little shops on almost every second block. Packed with nutritious ingredients including nopal (cactus), pineapple, and spinach, green juice provides a vibrant start to the day. 


Walk Along the Scenic 6 km Playacar Path


Playacar Path, Playa del Carmen

Due to the endless summer climate, each day poses a wonderful opportunity to stroll the meandering 6-kilometer path in Playacar. Guests of BRIC staying a vacation rental within the gated community have easy access to this palm-fringed trail. 

En route you’ll come across the Hard Rock Riviera Maya Golf Course, the Xaman ha Aviary, and even a modest Mayan ruin site. As well, there are a handful of restaurants and souvenir shops to visit along the way.


Pull Up A Beach Chair at Xpu-ha


La Playita Beach Club, Xpu ha, Riviera Maya

Situated 20 minutes south of Playa del Carmen between Puerto Aventuras and Akumal, sits the sublime Xpu-ha beach. At one point, Xpu-ha was a desirable filming location for Corona Beer commercials. The silky coast is wide and the turquoise seascape spans as far as the eye can see. From Thursdays to Sundays, a live band performs at La Playa beginning at 2:30 p.m. The relaxing seaside paradise comes alive as patrons get up to boogie to the Caribbean beats.


The entrance fee (currently $200 Mxn pesos,) is applied towards your bill as a credit for the food and beverage consumption at La Playa Xpu Ha Beach Club. Save your receipt and bracelet for a refund on the way out. 


Coffee at Wow Cafe Playa 


The moment you enter, it feels as though you’ve walked into a 3-D cartoon. The striking artwork and cheerful atmosphere cultivate a beautiful sense of community, where children, pets, and adults are welcome. Along with healthy fresh pressed juices and kombucha, you’ll love the flakey pastries and croissant sandwiches. Plus, if you’re a vegan or keto fan, you can find items that cater to these lifestyles too. Not only does this charming cafe promote art and positivity, but it also plays a big part in supporting local entrepreneurs.     


Visit a Frutería


Fruit Market in Mexico

There are plenty of big box superstores in the area where you can find everything from bananas to bedding. However, to immerse yourself into the local scene, a visit a frutería or produce store is a must. Not only are the prices better, but you have access to a greater variety of locally-sourced products.

One well-known market is DAC on 30th Avenue near Av Constituyentes. A second is Biomilpa on Calle 1 sur between 20th and 25th Avenue. This charming shop began over a decade ago as an agricultural collective and has blossomed as a go-to for farm fresh produce. It should be noted that their harvest days are Mondays and Thursdays. Therefore, for the most fresh and abundant selection, stop by on a Tuesday or Friday.


Drop in For A Dance Class in Playa del Carmen’s Downtown Stadium


Every weekday morning, La Unidad Deportiva Mario Villanueva stadium plays host to dance exercise class under the grand palapa.  It’s by donation and is a fun way to integrate with the locals and meet people.

If dancing is not your preferred exercise style, there’s also a running track, tennis and basketball courts, as well as an outdoor gym. 


Date Night at Wine O’clock


Wine O'Clock, Playa del Carmen

Photo Credit: Wine O’Clock

It’s not your average 5th Avenue restaurant tourist trap. In fact, Wine O’Clock is on the other side of town on 90th Avenue and Constituyentes. This exquisite wine bar features an impressive collection of Mexican wines to savor within an intimate and refined setting. To accompany the superior wine selection are lavish seafood dishes, splendid charcuterie boards, and tasty tapas. 

The upscale eatery is open daily from 8:00 a.m to 11:00 p.m. and often showcases top musicians from the community. 


Hit the Road 


Ek Balam Mayan Ruins

Beyond its coastal living appeal, Playa del Carmen’s central Riviera Maya position makes it a desirable home base. On account of the hundreds of remarkable attractions in the region, residents cannot help but develop adventurous spirits. 

From colonial cities such as Valladolid and Merida, to fort towns like Campeche and Bacalar, one road trip incites a hunger to see more. The endless list spotlights places such as pearl farms near Cozumel and glowing bioluminescence in Holbox. Besides the famous ancient Tulum ruins are centuries-old structures in Ek Balam and Coba. Moreover,  ‘Pueblos Magícos’ such as the yellow town of Izamal reveal spellbinding characteristics of the Mexican culture and history. To explore all of the area’s extraordinary beauty might just take a lifetime!


Play Golf


El Camaleon Golf Course, Playa del Carmen

Undoubtedly, Playa del Carmen has been put on the golf-lovers’ map thanks to its popular PGA tour stop at the outstanding Mayakoba. Pros and novices alike are impressed by the phenomenal golf course. Most significant are El Camaleón’s impeccable greens with their Caribbean backdrops and sinkhole speckled fairways. 

In addition to El Camaleón, Hard Rock Golf Club is another superstar as far as Playa del Carmen courses go. Designed by distinguished golf course architect Robert von Hagge, it’s a picturesque, skill-testing, all-inclusive experience.


Drinks at Aereo Cafe Bar


Aereo Cafe Bar, Playa del Carmen

Photo credit: @antucasangaph on Instagram

Sitting at the south end of 15th Avenue, this gem is a shining addition to Playa del Carmen’s restaurant scene. Whether you begin your day with delectable pastries and a creamy latte or end it with the best Old Fashioned in the city, Aereo Cafe Bar is an overachiever in exceptional quality and service.

Visit any night to discover innovative beverage list, live music and line-up of fun and interesting events.


Tour the Town of Tulum 


Matcha Mama Tulum

The famous Tulum offers visitors far more than majestic ruin sites perched above silky shores. Spend a day perusing the local artisan shops and eateries in the town center. Pull up a chair swing and sip on a smoothie or matcha latte at the trendy Matcha Mama. Cruise the Tulum beach strip for a posh souvenir or a stylish beach hat. Lastly, be sure to stop at Ahau or Ziggy’s for a fashionable cocktail and luxurious beach club experience. 

Pack a Picnic and Set Off to a Cenote


Indeed there are thousands of cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula that inspire awe no matter how many you visit.  Some are completely enclosed with emerald colored waters, while others boast open turquoise pools. Yet, no matter Mother Nature’s design, the spectacular swimming holes and jungle settings never cease to impress. 

You’ll have to leave the tequila behind as alcohol is prohibited inside the parks. But you can bring a cooler packed with your favorite picnic items. There are platforms on which you can spread out your towels and lunch. Plus, you’ll be entertained watching brave souls jump into the inviting pools from surrounding limestone ledges.



Bring Mexican pesos for the entrance fees, which range from $120 to $250 pesos per person. 


Try Tasty Mexican Street Food


Marquesitas, Playa del Carmen

When in Mexico, do as the Mexicans do! Street food is definitely an important (and tasty) part of the culture. There are a few popular places locals go to find tacos, tamales, and more in Playa del Carmen.

Every morning, you’ll notice a gathering around food stands on CTM and 20th Avenue or at Benito Juarez and 10th Avenue. From tacos to tamales to empanadas, these bustling mobile food carts present an authentic glimpse of Mexican cuisine. 

Head to 115th Avenue’s Calle de Sabor to sample mouthwatering street for under $20 pesos per item. Try the tacos de carnitas dripping with spicy salsa. On the other hand, you can’t go wrong with an empanada pocket stuffed with chicken or cheese and beans. Located on the corner of Calle 12 and 30th Avenue, Carmen’s tamales are the best in town. Be sure to get there early as she does sell out fast. For a sweet treat, delve into a crispy marquesita. You’ll encounter marquesita trolleys in various areas throughout the city. For certain, they’re a nightly fixture in the municipal park on 20th Avenue between Calle 8 and 10. 


Sunrise Paddle Session


There’s nothing that can leave you breathless quite like watching a Playa del Carmen sunrise. For the best seat, er… board in the house, check out Aloha Paddle Club’s sunrise paddle session. Glide over the Caribbean waters with a small group of fellow nature lovers and witness the vibrant pink and fiery orange colors engulf the sky. Not only is stand up paddle boarding an excellent outdoor workout, but it also presents a wonderful chance to mingle with friendly locals.  


Get Sandy and Bronzed at a Beach Club


The Elements Exclusive Beach Club, Playa del Carmen

Sun, sand, and salty margaritas— the essences of a Mexican beach vacation. To make sure you get your recommended dose of essential vacation staples, you’ll have to visit a Playa del Carmen beach club at least once or twice.

If you’ve booked your stay at The Elements by Bric, you don’t have to travel far for margaritas, sunbeds and white sand beaches. Guests at The Elements have exclusive access to the beach club, which features a sand volleyball court, dozens of loungers facing the sea, as well as a snack and beverage bar. 

For live music, a host of friendly staff, and fresh coconuts, Lido Beach Club is a top choice for both residents and Mexican Caribbean travelers. Pull up a swing chair at the palapa bar for a cold cocktail or savor a divine lunch at a table offering a 180 degree ocean view. 

Salute The Sun With Sunrise Yoga Playa


Sunrise Yoga Playa

Photo Credit: Sunrise Yoga Playa

If you love sunrises, but prefer to watch from the shore, an early morning yoga class on the beach is another splendid way to start the day. Sunrise Yoga Playa offers meditations and yoga sessions on CTM Avenue and the beach at the crack of dawn. With the multitude of combined benefits between yoga practice and spending time at the beach, this is the ultimate wellness experience. 


Book a Remarkable Riviera Maya Photography Safari


This is an unforgettable way to see the extraordinary beauty of the region and learn a new skill. Companies like Bushman Photography offer various options from adventure to sacred Mayan tours that capture unique photos. 

You can book private photography safaris or set out with a group to explore some of the most stunning settings in the Riviera Maya.  

Live Inside A Dreamworld at Le Lotus Rouge


Le Lotus Rouge, Playa del Carmen

This eclectic Playa del Carmen hideaway has played host to many wonderful performers over the years. It’s a whimsical world where the imagination is encouraged to run free. From circus nights and acrobatics to dancing and terrific live music, Le Lotus Rouge is a feast for the senses. 

Natacha, the beloved mastermind behind the fascinating concept, has worked tirelessly to create citizens of the world, exposing children and adults alike to culture and history through the arts. 

Break Sweet Bread at Lara and Luca


If you’re a fan of eggs benedict, or perfectly-brewed coffee, or you just appreciate a superb dining experience, Lara and Luca is tops when it comes to breakfast. You can’t go wrong with a fresh-out-of-the-oven baked good, but your tastebuds will love the omelettes and traditional chilaquiles as well.

If you’re staying in Playacar, Lara and Luca is a short walk from the 2 north entrances of the gated community. 


Sample Delicious Seafood at Marisquería La Marina


Marisqueria La Marina, Playa del Carmen

Photo Credit: Marisquería La Marina

Last, but not least is a visit to Marisquería La Marina on 115th Avenue and Calle 12. Rule number one when going to this casual seafood eatery is to come hungry! Efficient servers rush about, carrying platters piled high with tangy ceviche, oysters, muscles, and spicy prawns Above and beyond the seafood fest, this is the place to pop in for a delicious Mexican flan and cold cervezas. 


For more ideas on things you can do in Playa del Carmen for a memorable local experience, your designated BRIC ambassador has a vast treasure trove of terrific tips.