When you’re vacationing in a beach town, sampling the seafood offerings is a must! As the glorious Mexican sun shines bright and the day heats up, there’s nothing better than ordering an ice-cold beer and a plate of tangy ceviche to nosh on. Not to mention taking a seat at a table set in the powdery sand and facing the vivid Caribbean seascape.
In order to make it easy to find flavorful fish dishes, we’ve put together a list of Playa del Carmen’s best seafood restaurants. Not only do you get to introduce your palate to local cuisine, but you also get a delightful taste of Caribbean life.
1. El Doctorcito
(Calle 12 & 25thAvenue)
Tucked away on an off-the-beaten-path corner in downtown Playa del Carmen, El Doctorcito is a lively local hangout. The open-air restaurant presents a varied menu of fresh dishes from the sea. Along with seafood cocktails, you can try cured fish and shrimp ceviches in their signature Clamato sauce.
The portions are generous and the atmosphere is upbeat. Due to the consistently friendly service and quality sea fare, we give El Doctorcito two thumbs up. It is conveniently located in the heart of the city and is open daily from 12 pm to 8 pm.
2. Los Hijos Del Mar
(30thAvenue between Calle 24 & 26)
Just as their secret recipe salsa adds a scrumptious zest to the fish sashimi, the animated staff adds a unique blend of customer service, culminating in a deliciously fun dining experience.
It’s clear the group of young entrepreneurs has a passion for good food and the good life. The smiles inside this hip eatery are as plentiful as the fresh flavors. To start, we recommend the marlin pate, followed by crispy tostadas loaded with saucy fish mixtures brought in that day straight from the sea. Of course, the meal would not be complete without a classic michelada (a salt-rimmed frosted mug of beer with a squeeze of lime.)
Open every day from 1 pm until 10 pm, you’ll love the superior dishes from the sea and the cool vibe of Los Hijos del Mar.
3. El Pirata
(Calle 40 between 5th& 10thAvenue)
It’s easy to miss this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant as it is off Playa del Carmen’s main tourist hub, 5thAvenue. But once you try the tasty morsels from the sea, you’ll be hooked!
Top choices at this uber casual eatery include generous servings of whole fried fish and jumbo shrimp sautéed in a rich garlic butter. El Pirata serves locals and lucky visitors from 10 am to 8 pm daily. There are only a few tables, so there may be a line. However, the service is fast and friendly and the food definitely worth the wait.
4. Los Aguachiles
(Corner of Calle 34 & 25thAvenue)
This is the perfect spot to quench your thirst after you’ve spent a day on Playa del Carmen’s glorious white-sand beaches. Their carbonated lemonade acts as a great accompaniment to the citrusy ceviches and seafood tacos.
But if you want to take your meal up a notch, try an Ojo Rojo (an ice-cold beer with salty, spiced clamato blend) with their famous aguachile dish. The piquant prawns are cured in lime, red onion, and habanero blend, which give this popular menu item its flame-throwing flavor.
Stop by any day from 12:30 pm to 7 pm to sink your teeth into their many specialties. The breaded, deep-fried dynamite shrimp drizzled with a smoky house sauce is an appetizer hit. Plus the corn tortillas topped with prawns and a creamy spinach mixture will elate your taste buds.
5. Luma Taverna del Mar
(Calle 38 between Calle Flamingos & Calle Albatros near the beach)
Italian owner Stefano, a long time Playa del Carmen resident, has gifted the town with charming eateries throughout the years. Skilled in the realm of exquisite Mediterranean cuisine, the beloved chef and his team produce signature dishes that incite addictions.
Favorites include clams and mussels in a buttery white wine sauce, the succulent tartare, as well as moist and flaky catches of the day. The menu features an abundant line-up of superb seafood choices with the perfect wine pairing. As well, outstanding steak or pasta selections contribute to an all-around splendid dining experience.
6. La Tarraya
(Calle 2 & the beach)
For more than fifty years, La Tarraya has been a steady beachfront fixture on the soft sands of central Playa del Carmen. Both visitors and locals love the laid-back Caribbean ambiance and reasonably priced sea fare.
While the fajitas make a terrific authentic Mexican choice, opt for the breaded fish, shrimp cocktail, or fish tacos (at under $5USD for 3.) As you dine, you can watch fisherman haul their catches to the kitchen. Mariachi bands enjoy the cool shade of La Tarraya’s towering palms and will gladly play a song or two for a few bucks.
With the turquoise backdrop, the popular traditional music, and the fresh seafood dishes, it’s no wonder it has been a community staple since 1968.
(Calle 12 between 15th& 20thAvenue)
This relative newcomer to the Playa del Carmen restaurant scene is fast-becoming a top recommended choice for eating out. Live music and a family-friendly pub scene make it a fun evening out. Even during the day, you’ll love the upbeat atmosphere, large boat-shaped dishes of tangy ceviche, and cold cervezas.
It’s in the center of town and walking distance from most Bric Vacation Rentals. Besides its prime location, Zitla also features multiple flat-screen TVs behind the bar and fair beer prices. As a result, it’s a great place to catch the big game.
8. El Calamar de la 10
(On the corner of 10thAvenue and CTM)
This is the preferred place to pick up a batch of ceviche to take to the beach. It’s made in front of your eyes in a matter of minutes. A single order of ceviche to go, which serves 3-4 people costs roughly $10USD! Across the street, at the OXXO convenience store, you can purchase snacks and beverages. Just grab your beach towel and you’re set for a memorable day in the sand and surf.
On the other hand, if you want to dine in, the shrimp enchiladas or grilled octopus are always a good option. El Calamar is open every day from 8 am to 10 pm, except for Tuesdays.
9. Cassa Ceviche
(Calle 24 between 25th& 30thAvenue)
Do not be deceived by the modest décor, the sensational menu impresses even the toughest critic. Touted time and time again for serving the best ceviche in Playa del Carmen, Cassa Ceviche consistently delivers on quality cuisine and exceptional service.
Due to the diverse selection of ceviche dishes, from Maya to tuna to the Classic edition, the struggle to choose is real. In spite of the many divine offerings, you need not worry about making the wrong decision. Any plate you opt for will delight the palette, as will the elegant craft cocktail list.
10. Inti Beach Club
(On the beach between Calle 4 & 6)
Last but not least, for the ultimate tropical setting INTI Beach delivers in every way. With tables facing the Caribbean and Malibu rum cocktails served in fresh coconuts, only a select few present such a sublime dining scene. The stylish atmosphere matches the delectable menu and elite service.
With an overall dedication to health and wellness, this beachside eatery and open-air massage spa introduce a well-rounded wholesome menu. In addition to tasty fish tacos and spicy chipotle shrimp, you’ll discover light dishes such as grouper served on a bed of spinach and asparagus. The tender octopus is grilled and seasoned to perfection. Whereas the hearty quinoa risotto with prawns possesses a wonderful flavor combination.
Since Playa del Carmen’s community is a multicultural one, you’ll undoubtedly encounter a fusion of incredible tastes, enhancing traditional favorites. For more guides on eating out in the Riviera Maya, we invite you to visit our travel blog page.
The Riviera Maya, along Mexico’s white-sand Caribbean coastline, has been a highly favored travel destination for decades. Visitors love its silky beaches, adventure parks, and rich history. Those who are fortunate to call this Caribbean oasis home stay for the low cost of living. Not to mention the beach life is the best life!
At its soul sits Playa del Carmen, a vibrant and forever-evolving seaside paradise. Not only does this Riviera Maya gem offer superb restaurants, festivals, and nightlife, but also a wealth of year-round water activities. Moreover, its central location provides easy access to the bounty of nearby exotic islands, cenotes, and Mayan ruins.
For this reason, hundreds of thousands of sunseekers choose Playa del Carmen as a home base when planning a Mexico beach vacation. While Bric Vacation Rentals does present a vast catalog of luxury, beach-front vacation homes, this list is for those who prefer to travel on a budget. However, just because they sit in the budget-friendly category, doesn’t mean these homes lack amenities. These top 6 Playa del Carmen condo rentals offer comfortable, modern luxuries without the exorbitant rates.
Beyond the $75.00 per night rate through the fall, you’ll love the contemporary and stylish vibe of this like-new property. So what exactly do you get for $75.00 a night? The 1-bedroom condo features a fully-appointed kitchenette with a mini-fridge and two-burner stovetop. In the gorgeous bedroom, you’ll rest well on a queen bed. But if you happen to be accompanied by some pint-size travelers, there’s also a pull-out sofa bed in the main living area.
When we said there’s no lack of amenities, we meant it! On the posh communal roof terrace is the infinity pool. Perched over the city and facing the Caribbean Sea, its clear blue waters invite you to cool yourself. There’s plenty of shade in the multiple lounge areas when you need a break from the midday sun.
Nearby (5 minutes by foot) the white sand unleashes its irresistible call, tempting you to a day of fun in the sun and surf. With a dozen beach clubs to choose from along wide stretches of beach, tropical bliss is inevitable. In addition, it’s hard not to be enticed by Playa del Carmen’s popular dining and shopping district. Follow the intoxicating aromas and you’ll come upon excellent eateries and a drove of quaint clothing and souvenir stores.
PLAYA KAAN 30
Nestled in the heart of the city, just steps from the restaurants and boutiques on 5thAvenue, sits Playa Kaan, a spacious 2 –bedroom penthouse. A troop of towering palms guards a picturesque courtyard and pool. This feature, along with the property’s close proximity to the beach make it a desirable option. Furthermore, the alternate ADO bus station is in the neighborhood. The cheap bus tickets just might inspire a quest to view the vast beauty of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Inside your home away from home, you’ll find every utensil and appliance needed for a comfortable stay. If you wish, take the convenience factor one step further by having your Bric Ambassador place a grocery order for you. After a long day of travel, there’s nothing like a cold beer waiting in the fridge upon your arrival.
Likewise, you’ll delight in your private roof haven with its wet bar, and dining area. After a day spent exploring the Riviera Maya’s remarkable nature, and ancient cities, you’ll appreciate the tranquil and exclusive space.
Though you’re staying in the city center, this serene 2-bedroom penthouse is just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of 5thAvenue. One of Gaviotas’ many pleasing features is its prime location—just an easy walk to grocery stores, excellent taco eateries, and the Caribbean coastline.
Because it’s on the top floor, you have private access to a roof terrace featuring a dining table and cold-water Jacuzzi surrounded by fuchsia bougainvilleas. This condo, with a king bed and two twins, is ideal for a family trip or a small group getaway. Having an affordable price tag means you have more money in your pocket for once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Swim alongside whale sharks, paddleboard towards the sunrise, or visit the awe-inspiring El Cielo.
Whether you choose to stay cool at the beach, in a sublime cenote swimming hole, or in Gaviota’s glistening pool, the refreshing warm-weather activities are endless.
BOSQUE DE LOS ALUXES 304
Aluxes (mythical dwarf creatures) are said to reside in the forest (bosque) and scurry from place to place via the region’s underground cave system. Since this building is engulfed in exotic greenery, the lush hideaway lives up to its name.
Once owned by a renowned chef who gave the kitchen a supreme upgrade, this charming 1-bedroom condo is not only ideal for sun worshipers, but for culinary enthusiasts as well.
When staying in Playa del Carmen, an outdoor space is key. As a guest at Bosque De Los Aluxes, you’ll find you spend most of your time on the secluded terrace. The ample patio is enclosed by tropical vegetation giving you privacy as you soak in the plunge pool or solarize from the plush loungers.
Situated at the quieter north end of the pedestrian-only 5thAvenue, you can discover delectable restaurants, superb live music, a plethora of dive shops, and boutique stores immediately outside the property’s lobby.
Besides being only a few steps from lovely coffee shops, restaurants, and pubs, Romanina is just two blocks from the illustrious Mexican Caribbean shoreline. This 2-bedroom vacation rental is a steal when considering all of its amenities.
From the optimal downtown location to the bounty of space and fully equipped kitchen, your stress-free stay will be just what the doctor ordered. An intimate terrace on the north side looks onto the communal pool while sliding doors off the living area lead to your own tranquil garden. Put your feet up in the hammock with a good book until you drift off into a relaxing afternoon siesta.
As far as stellar budget properties go, the 2-bedroom Loft 201 is a shining star. Hints of stylish Italian design, a rooftop pool, and a prime location impress guests time and time again.
Not only can you save big on a trip with your family or best pals, but you also don’t have to go far to find some of the city’s best eateries, shopping, and entertainment. Beyond 5thAvenue are some of Playa del Carmen’s top beach clubs including Mamitas, Kool, and Coralina Day Club.
Within a 5-minute walk, you can enjoy a cold cocktail, indulge in a variety of international cuisine, book a scuba diving tour, rent a jet ski, or watch the sunrise over the Caribbean. When you stay at Loft, it’s easy to experience the many incredible aspects of this alluring travel destination.
As with any Bric condo rental, you have 24-hour access to a designated Bric ambassador. Our friendly Riviera Maya experts have one mission— to ensure your Playa del Carmen vacation is a momentous one.
We hope this list of affordable condo rentals in Playa del Carmen offers some helpful information when it comes to deciding where to stay. Happy vacation planning! Our team looks forward to welcoming you to paradise.
*Please note that rates are subject to change depending on the travel season.
When looking for things to do in Playa del Carmen, there are plenty of popular attractions that offer unforgettable experiences. Of course, there are the legendary Xcaret Experiencias parks and tours, which guarantee good times and unique nature encounters. Not to mention the astounding excursions to local cenotes and Mayan archeological sites. But if this isn’t your first Riviera Maya rodeo, chances are you’ve already been dazzled by the big adventure parks and ancient cities. For this reason, we’re exposing a list of secret gems right within Playa del Carmen’s city limits. You don’t have to go far for a wow-factor when you vacation in this seaside paradise.
El Jardin de Marieta
If you’re not consciously looking out for the Jardin de Marieta you may sadly miss this jewel. After all, it’s easy to get swept up by the bustle of 5th Avenue. But this little sweet spot situated between Calle 6 and 8, is an endearing gem worthy of your attention. Displaying works by Gastón Charó and other featured artists, the gallery showcases an alluring exhibit of thought-provoking pieces.
Once through the arched entrance, the whimsical setting transports you inside the mind of an artist. Sculptures and vibrant canvases sit amongst lush foliage within the exterior art garden. Following the stone path, you’ll enter the main gallery adorned with a vibrant mix of oil and acrylics, as well as exquisite carvings and photos. You’ll appreciate the masterpiece both in the works of art and the stunning setting.
Super Carnes HC de Monterrey
This casual eatery is hidden away on Calle 1 Sur in between 20th and 25th Avenue. Super Carnes offers fresh, grilled flank steak so tender, no knife is needed. It’s a mystery whether the secret is in their marinade, their perfect cuts, or their special salsa. Whatever it is, they are the grill masters. The carne asada is like butter and it’s about $30 USD to feed a hungry family of five, including all the sides.
Call for take-out and grill it yourself, or pick it up fresh off the grill, which is convenient, especially when you’re on vacation. The carne asada is served by the kilo (1kg per family is usually enough.) Keep in mind, to assemble the most delish steak tacos, you’ll need to add salsa, guacamole, warm tortillas, and a grilled onion to the order. Just can’t say enough about this simple, yet mouth-watering meal— a perfect conclusion to a beach day in Playa del Carmen.
If you’re looking for a unique way to pass the day, rent some bicycles and head down to the quieter north end of Playa del Carmen. Just past CTM Avenue, you’ll fall in love with quaint eateries and remarkable murals that add a splash of color to your unofficial city tour. Stop for a passionfruit lemonade at Que Huevos on the corner of Calle 48 and 5th to quench your thirst. Ride on to admire the street art that continues north to Calle Pintores. It’s an ideal route by bike as this part of 5th Avenue has very little traffic. Go at an easy pace to take time to appreciate the remarkable details in the graffiti art.
Photo By @matisse.rm via Instagram
Due to Playa del Carmen’s prime position along the coast of Mexico’s Caribbean, it draws sunseekers and beach bums from around the world. Since it’s one big stretch of white sand, the beach town offers plenty of ocean view lodgings and beach clubs to choose from. However, if you’re looking for a more peaceful beach experience, with more space to spread your blanket, Punta Esmeralda is a secluded paradise.
Few visitors are aware of this treasure as it’s located on the city’s far north end. With this in mind, this beach is naturally the next best stop after viewing the city’s murals. Continuing on 5th Avenue, you’ll eventually come to the Punta Esmeralda beach access sign at Calle 110. If you’ve rented bikes, you’ll need to secure them here while you enjoy a memorable beach day. But a 5-minute taxi from downtown Playa del Carmen is also an option.
This beach is unique because it boasts a coastal, freshwater cenote. A deep hole a few meters from the sea’s shore connects to the Yucatan Peninsula’s underground river system. As a result, a crystal clear, natural swimming pool has formed on the beach. The cool, shallow waters are ideal for younger children, plus there’s also a playground structure to add to the fun.
On a side note, there are bathroom facilities and limited umbrella rentals, which come in handy as there’s not an excess of shade. Since parking is free and it is a public beach, it’s popular with the locals and can get crowded on the weekends. If possible, try to plan your sunbathing and Caribbean swim session on a weekday.
Dinner in an underground cave is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. How often can you enjoy a glass of wine in a candle-lit cavern dripping with centuries-old stalactites? At Alux, (pronounced Aloosh) it’s all part of the dining experience. The atmosphere is serene, with small pools of cenote water, soft music, and chandeliers. Alternatively, it can be one of the coolest field trips if you’re traveling with children.
The impressive underground restaurant and lounge is as vast as it is spectacular. Featuring a main dining room, a wine cellar, several cavern pockets set with private tables, as well as a cocktail lounge, it is a must-see. It can be an incredible grand finale to your week in Playa del Carmen or a mid-stay evening out for cocktails. In addition, the otherworldly setting makes for a sublime wedding banquet venue.
DK05 by Bric
Last but not least, if you’re looking for an accommodation gem for two, the new DK05 development has much to offer. One highlight is an unbeatable location in the up-and-coming Coco Beach area of Playa del Carmen. As well, the exclusive condo-hotel boasts a Caribbean-view communal roof terrace, high-quality finishes, fully-appointed kitchens, underground parking, and an elevator.
Besides having convenient access to the nearby beaches, you’ll love exploring the area’s incredible eateries. After basking in the sun for the day at Martina Beach Club, sample the brick-oven pizzas at Salento on CTM. For brunch, taste authentic flavors of Mexico in Ojo de Agua’s chilaquile or enchilada dishes. Plus, if you need some fresh produce, their mini-market presents a selection of local fruits and vegetables.
No matter where you choose to stay, our hospitality ambassadors are the perfect go-to resource for a Playa del Carmen vacation. What’s more, you’ll find a wealth of information on the Bric Vacation Rental travel blog page. Filled with Playa del Carmen tips and guides you’ll discover the city’s best-kept secrets and most enticing attractions. Happy exploring!
The effervescent lure of 5th Avenue, with its bounty of shops, restaurants and nightlife, possesses a dynamic appeal. Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Playa del Carmen or it’s your annual tropical escape, there’s always something new to see on La Quinta. While strolling along this magnetic cobblestone street, vacationers can choose from a succulent mix of native and international cuisine. However, if you’re wondering what’s beyond the main tourist hub, we highly recommend indulging in that curiosity.
Just beyond 5th Avenue, you’ll discover some of the best restaurants that contribute to the city’s superb gastronomy scene. Plus, it’s likely that you’ll gain a more rich and authentic dining experience. This list features ten top restaurants favored by locals and situated off of the bustling 5th Avenue. From traditional Mexican dishes to authentic Italian offerings to regional options with a contemporary twist, these eateries are sure to satisfy your cravings for something out of the ordinary.
1. Los Aguachiles
Located on the corner of Calle 34 and 25th Avenue
The vast menu offers endless seafood options. Besides scores of tostada choices piled high with fresh tuna and fish, you’ll find lettuce wraps and smoked fish tacos. Or delve into the saucy oyster and shrimp cocktails while sipping a michelada— a casual lunch staple in Playa. If you are a fan of spicy dishes, we dare you to dig into the ceviche-style shrimp aguachile. This popular lunch eatery known for its giant-size bottles of cold beer is open from 12-7pm.
2. Off The Vine
Located just of of 5th Avenue and Calle 40
This quaint wine bar is nestled on the quiet north end of town 5th Avenue. Featuring fantastic live musicians, you’ll love the friendly neighborhood atmosphere in their outdoor dining room. To start with, they showcase an exquisite selection of national wines and bottles from award-winning wineries world-wide. Secondly, these divine vinos are paired with scrumptious tapas and artful cheese platters. Off The Vine is open most days from 11 am to 11 pm. Therefore, enjoy sampling the artisan breads, premium cheeses, and champagne mimosas on the sunny terrace any day of the week (except for Sundays, when it is closed.) Note that on Mondays and Saturdays the doors close early at 5 pm.
Located near Calle 4 between 10th and 15th Avenue
Aromas of authentic Italian cooking fill the air within this charming local favorite. A menu of risottos, brick-oven pizzas and hand-made pastas always delight patrons’ tastebuds. Since all items are prepared fresh, make allowance for preparation time. While you wait, share the warm octopus salad with a glass of superb wine amidst the cheerful ambience. Call 9841416507 for reservations and hours of operation.
4. Sushi Club
Located near Calle 26 and 10th Avenue
Sushi Club presents one of the best settings to enjoy sushi and saki in Playa del Carmen. The chic atmosphere is perfect for couples seeking an romantic night out. Or rather, if you’re with a groups of friends, this is a great spot for convening over samplings of sashimi, rolls, tempura and rice bowls. Open 24 hours, The Sushi Club features daily food and drink specials, and a lively Saturday Ladies Night.
5. Cervecería Chapultapec
Located near Calle 20 and 1st Avenue
For superb casual dining and drinks, Cervecería Chapultapec is the starting point of a memorable night out in Playa del Carmen. The Mexican style cantina offers standard traditional menu items with a contemporary flare. Famous for their affordable cocktails, ales and tacos, the place is always packed with a vibrant crowd. It’s an upbeat watering hole with a fun-loving staff and without the pretentious prices. The popular pub is open from 12 pm – 1 am daily.
6. Casa Sofia
Located in Plaza Coba on Airport Road near Playacar Fase 2
This successful Italian bistro requires reservations every night of the week for good reason! The pasta is prepared fresh daily, the wine is free flowing and the prices are very reasonable. Pizzas come loaded with savory toppings and the terrace’s decor is whimsical and romantic. The local hotspot is open 2 pm – 10 pm daily and reservations are recommended (984 166 4252.)
Located near Calle 4 and 40th Avenue
Specializing in pasta and single serving sizes big enough to feed an entire family, Chester presents a fun dining experience you won’t forget! Located well away from the tourist scene, you must literally read the writing on the wall, the menu wall that is, to order. The baskets on the table are for patrons to leave their phones in, encouraging disconnect, while connecting to your fellow diners. Not to mention, you get the most out the rich food and unique dining experience. This favorite eatery is open Wednesdays to Mondays 2:00 – 10:30pm and closed on Tuesdays.
8. Como Como
Located on 10th Avenue between Calle 12 and 14
This award-winning restaurant features a menu of Mediterranean-Italian cuisine in a tranquil, intimate setting. The service, food and presentation are as divine as is the craft beer and organic wine selection. Como Como is open daily for breakfast 7:00am – 1:30pm and for lunch and dinner, 1:45 – 11:30pm. Reservations are recommended and free 2 hour parking is available in the Tendenza building across the street.
9. Cueva del Chango
Located on Calle 38 between 5th Avenue and the sea
An array of tropical blended juices, fresh-baked sweet breads, crepes, and a host of traditional Mexican breakfasts are served at this favorite brunch joint. Also savor a delicious dinner prepared with authentic regional ingredients within the lush, natural setting. Youngsters enjoy spotting the inconspicuous monkeys hanging throughout “The Monkey’s Cave” as well as admiring the turtles and Koi fish in its central pond. Cueva is open 8:00am – 10:30pm and is an absolute must when dining in Playa del Carmen.
10. El Fogon
Located on Calle 6 bis and 30th Avenue diagonally across from Walmart
The list would not be complete without a nod to a genuine Mexican taqueria! There are several El Fogon locations in downtown Playa, but this one is the biggest with 2 floors. For a truly genuine taco experience, the tacos al pastor are recommended. Warm corn tortillas are tpped with delicious shavings of spit-roasted pork, a slice of pineapple, cilantro and onions. However, be sure to have an icy piña colada or a cold beer on hand. In the event that the spicy salsas set your mouth of fire, these cool beverages will come in handy. Be warned, but don’t pass them up. A zesty salsa is an essential finishing touch to these mouth-watering Mexican specialties.
When traveling to a new destination, investing time in research prior to your arrival can take a trip from fine to phenomenal. Scouring official tourism sites, state guides, or articles from seasoned travel bloggers can save you a lot of money. Plus you’ll also have a great database of information to help you discover the best a city or country has to offer. Not to mention, expert advice can shed light on unexpected surprises so you can prepare for a stress-free vacation.
The Travel Time From Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen
The time it takes to get from the airport to Playa del Carmen can be surprising. There’s a sprawling all-inclusive resort every couple of kilometers in the Riviera Maya. If your booking includes transportation, be prepared for a long haul from the airport to your hotel. These shared transport buses make several stops. Depending on where you’re staying (if it’s one of the last stops,) tack on an extra hour or two of travel time.
If you have booked a vacation rental and a transfer is not already included, ask the reservation agent to schedule a private van service. These spacious vans can accommodate up to 8 passengers and offer direct routes (40 minutes) to Playa del Carmen.
An additional option for direct transportation is the ADO bus. The air-conditioned buses provide service to and from one of 2 stations (both are central) in Playa del Carmen. You can hop on from Terminal 2, 3, or 4 every half hour at a cost of $208 MXN ($9.05 USD) one-way. Payments are accepted in pesos (there are ATMs inside the terminal) at the pickup point or credit at the ticket counter.
Driving In Mexico
Driving in the Riviera Maya is simple and having your own car allows you to see the endless sites on your own schedule. Road signs are in the metric system (kilometers) and the highways are in excellent condition.
There are a couple of points you should know about driving in Mexico. Firstly, the topes (speed bumps) are sometimes camouflaged and they tend to sneak up on you. Just beware as you approach any town, there will be several to watch out for.
Police checkpoints are common along major roadways. The main thing to keep in mind is to abide by the laws so they do not have a reason to pull you over. The rules are similar to anywhere else in the world. Avoid using your cell phone when driving and if you plan to consume alcohol, don’t drive. The alcohol tolerance in Quintana Roo is 0% and breathalyzers are in operation. As anywhere else on the planet, the laws state that you wear your seatbelt at all times and respect the speed limits.
Don’t be alarmed if you encounter one of these permanent or random road checks. Slow down well ahead of the checkpoint and put on your hazard lights. If the officer does not signal for you to stop, smile, and continue on. Should you be motioned to pull over, be polite, remain calm, and answer the officer’s questions. If it’s a random inspection, you will be sent on your way within a few minutes.
Gas Pump Scams
Unfortunately in Mexico, most make barely enough to afford the cost of living. One adverse outcome of this sad reality is gas pump scams. Attendants have devised clever ways of “earning” extra money. Of course, not all gas stations have shady attendants. Nevertheless, it does happen, especially to expats and foreigners.
There are precautions to avoid being the target of fraud or scams. When fueling up, watch the pump to make sure it’s at $0.00 so you aren’t charged for gasoline you didn’t receive.
Secondly, watch for the ol’ switch a roo. Spread your bills when handing them to the attendant to make it clear you know exactly what you paid. There have been cases where the attendant quickly switches the bills from a $500 to a $50, for example. The person returns to tell you that you’ve made a mistake and hands the $50 back, asking for a $500 bill instead. This trick is very effective since as a foreigner, you may not be familiar with the money, prompting you to second guess yourself.
Thirdly, never hand over your credit card to the attendant. This gives the person the opportunity to scan your card. The best way to avoid this is to physically get out of the car. Accompany the attendant to the machine, insert the card yourself, and complete the transaction.
Finally, if you are filling up your vehicle, keep an eye on the pump amount at the moment it stops. Sometimes, if you aren’t paying attention, the attendant can scroll back and charge you for a previous fuel amount that was higher.
Basically, just be mindful at a gas station. Distracted customers are easy targets; observant ones can same themselves from the nuisance of being scammed.
Strolling Along Playa del Carmen’s Famous 5th Avenue
Lining the city’s principle stretch of cobblestone, are hundreds of boutique hotels and brand name and artisan stores, jewelry and souvenir shops. Not to mention the endless eateries, galleries, and pubs, you’ll find the options are limitless as far as things to do on Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue. Understanding what lies ahead as you stroll Playa’s most important artery, will make your dining and shopping experience as pleasant as a walk in the park.
Don’t carry open liquor. Hey, it’s Mexico. Everyone’s here to have a good time, right? While that is the goal of a Playa del Carmen vacation, walking in a public place with an open beer can get you in trouble. You could get fined, but typically, the patrolling officers will let you off with a warning. In any case, it’s better to wait until you’re on private property before cracking open a cold one.
Vendors can seem aggressive as you pass by the shops on the effervescent strip. Keep in mind that they’re just doing their best to grab your attention within a sea of competition. Kindly shake your head and say “Gracias,” if you are approached and they will move on to the next passerby.
When perusing the shops for a special memento, if the item has no price tag, that’s your cue to practice your negotiation skills. While offers are accepted, it’s important to be fair and polite with your suggested price rather than choosing the borderline offensive route. By remaining personable, you’re more likely to wheel and deal your way to the best price.
Although many visitors are happy to stick to browsing what’s in store on the dynamic 5th Avenue, unique eateries just off of the tourist hub are worth straying for. Follow the tantalizing aromas around the corner. From Italian to French to Thai and vegan to mouthwatering Mexican cuisine, you’ll discover another world of superb cuisine.
Some banks, such as CI Banco on 5th Avenue, will exchange your currency, but others require you to have an account with them (Scotiabank.) There are, however, dozens of Casas de Cambio (exchange houses) at which you can change your money. If you need some pesos, bring your passport with you. You may be asked for identification, depending on the amount you wish to exchange.
Oxxo convenience stores are on almost every block of every town in Mexico. A handy one-stop-shop for visitors staying in vacation rentals, you can pick up bread, bananas, travel games, sunglasses, ice, and alcohol. On Sundays, by law, liquor sales end early. Some stores stop selling at 2:00 pm, while others sell alcohol until 5 (at the latest.) An additional convenience for tourists is that USD is accepted at Oxxos throughout the city.
Farmacias (pharmacies) are also a dime a dozen and you would be surprised what you can buy over the counter. If you or your child are prone to earaches, medicated drops are available for purchase without a prescription. Plus you will pay at a quarter of the price compared to other places in North America. What’s more, is there are medical clinics next door to many pharmacies. For a fee of $30 Mxn ($1.35 USD), you can see a doctor for minor medical conditions.
Taking a Taxi in Playa del Carmen
In the Riviera Maya, services like Uber and Lyft are not yet in operation. The next best thing is Taxi WhatsApp Playa del Carmen. You can call or reserve through their Facebook page. The price is predetermined so there are no surprises and there is a record of the driver and taxi number on file.
Should you hail a cab from the street, it’s best to do so far enough from a designated Taxi stand. Prices are higher at these syndicated stands than they are a hundred feet from them. Always establish the price of the ride before you get in to make sure you are in agreement with the fare.
Tacos Are Addictive
When in Mexico, do as the Mexicans do – eat the tacos, drink the tequila. But enter into the mmm mmm goodness at your own risk — tacos are highly addictive! You won’t be able to stop at one, and your favorite taqueria will always leave you wanting more. Consider yourself warned.
In Playa del Carmen, you’ll want to visit El Fogon, with several central locations in the heart of the city. The next most frequently frequented taco joint is Don Sirloin, also with various locales around town. An alternative to Playa’s two most popular taqueria chains is El Gran Taco across from (east side) the Centro Maya shopping mall.
As for a taco menu, a must-try plate is the Al Pastor. Succulent marinated pork is slow-cooked on a fiery spit, shaved into a warm soft taco shell, and topped with fresh pineapple.
At El Gran Taco, ask for the carnitas with all of the toppings – cilantro, onion, a fresh squeeze of lime, and of course, a spicy salsa. If your appetite permits, sample the other traditional flavors served in a beautiful array of Mexican ceramic pots. Top recommendations are the picadillo (hamburger and potato mixture) and the chicken mole (a rich sauce with a hint of nuts and chocolate.)
The Prices of Groceries and Alcohol
Exploring the gastronomy scene in Playa is a delectable adventure. Yet, if you book a vacation rental, it’s important to stock the kitchen with the basic grocery items for a comfortable stay. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the very reasonable prices for most produce, ground coffee, or a case of beer.
Our advice — steer clear of items including flavored coffee creamer, asparagus, grapes, imported cereals, and cheeses. That is unless you don’t mind paying more than 4 times their average prices. In Playa del Carmen, it’s definitely advantageous to buy local.
For more tips and insights on traveling to Playa del Carmen, check out more articles on Bric’s travel blog page.
What could possibly be more fun than a music festival? How about a music festival on the beach? Picture yourself on the soft sand. The moonlight is glistening on the sea, casting shadows of the palm trees along the shore. You and your favorite travel companion sit on a blanket, which faces the open-air stage. You let out a relaxed sigh and smile as Nora Jones belts out ‘Don’t Know Why’ under a star-filled sky.
It’s no wonder why renowned musicians, chefs, and professional athletes flock to the Mexican Caribbean every year. We get it. Not only are these Riviera Maya events entertaining, but they just happen to take place in a tropical oasis.
If you’re looking for things to do in Playa del Carmen on your next visit, this calendar of upcoming events will come in handy. From notable art festivals to highly-anticipated concert events, you won’t want to miss the Riviera Maya’s most celebrated occasions.
Alejandro Sanz in Concert
(October 26, 2019)
The stunning Teatro Gran Tlachco at Xcaret Park will welcome international superstar, Alejandro Sanz at the end of this month. The Spanish guitarist and songwriter has collaborated with the likes of Marc Anthony, Camila Cabello, and Alicia Keys over his decades-long career.
The 3-time Album of the Year Latin Grammy winner will treat fans to his long list of chart-topping songs beginning at 9 p.m. It is a not-to-be-missed concert event of the year in Playa del Carmen.
Oktoberfest at Thomson Playa del Carmen
(October 26, 2019)
Celebrate the first annual Oktoberfest at The Thompson Beach House on Calle 8. Taste over 20 artisanal beer varieties accompanied by music and traditional German bites. The party starts at 1 pm and tickets are available on Eventbrite.
(October 29, 2019)
This sensational music, wine, and gastronomy evening takes place at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Playa del Carmen. As the stellar band Babasónicos plays, patrons can to sample an exquisite array of fine food. Furthermore, your palate will be pleased when it encounters the best in Mexican, as well as Monteviejo wines from the esteemed Argentinian winery.
Halloween Tiki Party
(October 31, 2019)
The Tiny Tiki Hut is always a great idea for a night out in Playa del Carmen. But the staff has devised something really spooktacular to celebrate Halloween this year. Costumes are a must, and the theme is ‘Stranger Things’. Your creativity and festive spirit will be rewarded. Perks for showing up dressed include a welcome “Zombie” cocktail and prizes for the most inventive masqueraders at the ball.
Festival of Life and Death / Festival de Tradiciones de Vida y Muerte
(October 30 – November 2, 2019)
This intriguing festival celebrates the time-honored tradition, Day of the Dead for people of Mexican heritage. It is the movie Coco come to life at Xcaret Park. As a spectator, you’ll see vibrant cultural plays and dances. You’ll visit candlelit altars adorned with orange marigolds, fruits, as well as photos of loved ones who have passed. Continuing on, you’ll awe at the elaborately painted calavera (skull) faces parading through the scenic grounds.
In addition to cultural aspects, there are interactive workshops for children and adults. Plus you’ll discover food booths serving traditional cuisine such as creamy esquites and cochinita pibil. Two Gala Concerts, which take place on one of the most exotic stages on earth, top off the list of outstanding events. The indigenous festivities, inscribed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, will undoubtedly captivate you.
MTB Fest Riviera Maya
(November 3, 2019)
This adrenaline-fueled mountain bike race happens within Dos Ojos Cenote Park, one of the most spectacular natural settings in the Riviera Maya. For the advanced and elite groups, the 50-kilometer trail is a thrilling adventure over lush, jungle terrain. The day closes with a celebratory party with DJs, drinks, food, and raffles.
Sabor Latino Social
(November 9, 2019)
If you love Latin rhythms including Salsa, Mambo, and Bachata, this night is made for you! The sultry social outing takes place on the roof terrace of the Hotel Fiesta Inn. Fans of Latino dance styles can expect 5 hours of dance floor fun.
Mayatlón Playa del Carmen
(November 10, 2019)
Come and show your support for the inspiring participants in the 1st edition of Mayatlón. The sprint triathlon commences in Parque Fundadores in the heart of Playa del Carmen. From this perfect vantage point, enjoy the Caribbean views and the festivities as you cheer on the competing athletes.
Mayakoba Golf Classic
(November 11 – 17, 2019)
Join thousands of golf aficionados at one of the most spectacular golf courses in the world, El Camaleón near Playa del Carmen. The popular PGA-tour stop is set along the tranquil canals and beaches of the luxurious Mayakoba property.
Some of golf’s most recognizable stars, including Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, and Abraham Ancer are confirmed. They will join returning champion Matt Kuchar at the prestigious golf tournament that draws thousands of global golf enthusiasts annually.
Mazda Ironman in Cozumel
(November 24, 2019)
The late-season destination race invites endurance athletes and their entourages to the Mexican Caribean paradise of Cozumel. Just a 45-minute ferry ride from downtown Playa del Carmen, the enchanting island is known for its flourishing coral reefs and white-sand beaches.
Crowds gather to cheer on Ironman participants as they swim, bike, and run along the pristine coastline of San Miguel de Cozumel. It’s an inspiring sporting event, at which crowds of locals and supporters convene to enjoy its lively Mexican music, authentic cuisine, and festive atmosphere.
Bushido El Camino del Guerrero
(November 30, 2019)
This vibrant Japanese cultural show will take place at the intimate Teatro de la Ciudad venue in Playa del Carmen. In an effort to promote the arts in the Riviera Maya, many of the concerts and theatrical performances are free. Visit the Teatro del la Ciudad Playa del Carmen Facebook page for a calendar of upcoming shows.
Riviera Maya Jazz Festival
(November 29 – December 1, 2019)
The 17th annual Riviera Maya Jazz Festival returns to Mamitas Beach Club in downtown Playa del Carmen. Chucho Valdés, famed Cuban composer and pianist, as well as the Grammy-nominated Reggae band UB40, are part of this year’s exciting line-up.
Mind-bogglingly enough, organizers host this extraordinary talent at no cost to attendees! Bring your blanket or beach chairs and enjoy 3 phenomenal days of jazz music. Performers hit the stage at 7 p.m. each evening. It’s best to go early to claim your spot on the sand.
Vegan Market Playa
(December 7, 2019)
This popular local market takes place on the first Saturday of every month in Parque La Ceiba. Local growers along with small business owners and artisans gather to showcase natural and alternative medicine products as well as delicious vegan fare. Market organizers invite visitors to experience delicious food, listen to live music and learn from experts speaking on the topic of veganism.
Canvas & Cocktails Mexico
(December 11, 2019)
Join beloved Riviera Maya artist Jesse Montenegro, for an engaging painting class. Whether a beginner or advanced, Jesse guides his students through the process with patience and expert instruction.
The fun, 3-hour classes are given in Spanish and English and the location is convenient, in the heart of the city. The Tiny Tiki Hut, a popular Playa hangout, offers the perfect setting for your creativity and new friendships to blossom.
Day Zero Tulum
(January 10, 2020)
This iconic night of electronic dance music returns to the majestic jungle of Tulum. Featuring extraordinary venues and an all-star line-up of prominent DJs including Damian Lazarus and Audiofly, Day Zero sells out quickly. EDM lovers can’t get enough of the sandy, outdoor dance floors, endless beats, and sunrise after-parties along the magnificent coastline.
(January 29 – February 4, 2020)
This is the most highly-anticipated dance music festival in Mexico catering to the LGBTQ community. The 6-day beach party features legendary DJs and the most impressive circuit parties on the continent.
Marking its 9th edition, the Arena Festival is the biggest gay event in the country, attracting attendees from all over the world.
Parades and Brazilian beats take over the cobblestone streets around the third week in February of 2020. Grab your feather boas and join in the colorful celebrations that appeal to growing audiences year after year.
Although the official date has not yet been released for Carnaval 2020 Playa del Carmen, it typically coincides with Cozumel’s grand carnival fiesta. Mark your calendars in February from the 19th to the 26th. With over a week of lively parades, concerts, and fantastic food, it is an ideal time to plan a trip to Playa del Carmen.
Art With Me *GNP Tulum
(April 22 – 26, 2020)
This remarkable 4-day event boasts striking installations by sculptors, painters, photographers, and phenomenal visual artists. Participants can attend workshops on themes such as sustainability and better business practices. Also on the daily agenda are films, children’s activities, and panel discussions. Due to its mindful planning and engaging attractions, inspired attendees gain a thought-provoking outlook on a wide range of environmental issues.
Some of Mexico’s finest culinary masters take the opportunity to showcase their creative genius along with chefs from Tulum’s top restaurants. Tantalizing pop-ups appear in the most divine locations. Dine on delectable bites at verdant jungle or breathtaking beach settings within the area of this Mexican Caribbean gem.
DJs covering a realm of genres from folk to electronic dance music hit the stages to perform before blissful audiences. Larger-than-life artworks combine with a series of unforgettable moments. For those fortunate enough to be part of this epic event, the art, the people, and the atmosphere culminate to form impressions that last forever.
Sacred Mayan Journey
(May 25 – 26, 2020)
To witness this meaningful race, which commemorates an ancient pilgrimage, is to be a part of the fascinating history of the Mayan civilization.
Each May, Xcaret Park is the scenic starting point of the Travesia Sagrada (Sacred Mayan Journey). The day begins at dawn with Mayan ceremonies of blessings and gratitude. As the sun begins to rise over the Caribbean, several groups of steel-willed men and women embark on the challenging 7-hour voyage. Paddling replica canoes similar to those used centuries ago, the teams set off towards Cozumel. In the massive, wooden canoes, they bring with them offerings for Ixchel, the Goddess of Fertility. After paying homage to Ixchel and resting for the night, they depart the island and return to Xcaret Park. It is an exhilarating welcoming, courtesy of the hundreds of cheering spectators. Unwinding from the 19 km trek, the participants, join in to celebrate with live music and cultural dances.
Zouk MX 2020
(July 24 – August 5, 2020)
This dynamic event has beckoned attendees to the Riviera Maya for 5 successful years. ZoukMX is an all-encompassing and interactive dance festival featuring some of the most influential artists in the business.
On the stimulating 2-week itinerary are 100 hours of instruction led by the International Brazilian Training Team, in addition to workshops, teacher training, and competitions. Throw in a couple of cenote, yacht, and rooftop parties, and the schedule becomes irresistible. Not to mention the elite international DJs, beachfront venues, and an invigorating retreat, which brings the festival to a memorable close.
Sure, lounging by the sea on sunny days with a few margaritas never hurt anyone. However, there is much more to this Caribbean paradise than its glorious beaches. Explore more when you choose to stay with Bric Vacation Rentals. Our hospitality team works hard to take your vacation from great to extraordinary!
For more information on upcoming Riviera Maya events, visit our Facebook Page. Likewise, you can sign up to receive our monthly newsletter at www.bricrental.com.
Perfect Days Begin With Perfect Mornings
In Playa del Carmen, locals spend as much time possible in the great outdoors. The region’s warm, tropical climate lures people from around the globe to set down roots near its silky shoreline. This year-round summer weather makes outdoor living a way of life. Offices are set up on terraces perched over the Caribbean. Hockey sticks are traded in for golf clubs. Dinners are prepared on grills, and savored on patios engulfed by lush gardens.
This Riviera Maya jewel is a natural paradise. If you’re planning an upcoming visit to Playa del Carmen, you won’t want to waste a single second indoors. Enjoy your Mexican vacation to the fullest with these 7 ways to kickstart a perfect day in Playa del Carmen.
Enjoy Coffee With A View
One memorable highlight of staying in an ocean view condo with Bric is that you can wake up to some of the most spectacular sunrises in the world. Sip your morning brew on the balcony. From this privileged position, get a front-row seat to a kaleidoscope of oranges, reds, and pinks bursting across the sky. Add the Caribbean hues from the sea below into that mix, and well, there aren’t really words to describe that kind of beauty.
Breakfast at Bajo Cafe
Shaded by the umbrella of a massive flamboyant tree, Bajo Cafe is part of Mercado 30. This quaint little conglomeration of eclectic stores and eateries is located on Calle 30 and 25th Avenue.
Local artists feature their prints and artisanal works throughout the cafe. But the remarkable decor is not the only reason to visit Bajo. You’ll discover the best coffee in town, derived from coffee bean plantations in Chiapas. Try a breakfast bagel or a warm pastry, both ideal accompaniments to their robust coffee.
Sunrise Paddle Board Session
The seasoned instructors from Aloha Paddle Club are experts at reaping the benefits of beach life in Playa del Carmen. Every morning, they offer Stand Up Paddle classes from the glorious white sands at Fusion Beach Club on Calle 6. The company, who has a loyal following of locals and expats, recently signed on to offer Stand Up Yoga classes from the stunning infinity pool at Grand Hyatt.
Join Sander and his team for a safe and remarkable 1.5-hour journey to local reefs a couple of hundred meters off the silky shores. You’ll have a blast gliding over and diving into the crystal clear waters. A sunrise paddle presents one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have on the Caribean Sea.
Birdies and Breakfast Balls
Since Playa del Carmen is lucky enough to have summer weather year-round, hitting the links is a highly recommended way to start the day off right. Nothing beats teeing off in the early morning when the air is fresh, with no distractions but the local wildlife scurrying about.
Playa del Carmen is a top golf destination due to its climate and pristine, PGA tour-worthy courses. Go for birdie at championship golf courses such as El Camaleon in Mayakoba, Gran Coyote Golf in Grand Coral, or Hard Rock Riviera Maya, which sits in the center of the gated community of Playacar.
Get Your Om On At Yogaloft Playa del Carmen
Pose and meditate your way to a magical morning with a class at Yogaloft Playa del Carmen, situated on Calle 10 and 10th Avenue. Renowned instructor Michael Gannon and other guest teachers from around North America offer a schedule of classes designed to get the blood flowing and the mind centered.
These challenging and impactful sessions will help to set the mood for an excellent day. Additionally, next door to the studio is a yoga-based store selling gear and Liquid Prana. A rejuvenating line of raw, cold-pressed juices, Liquid Prana will give you the healthful jolt of energy to power through your unforgettable day.
Who’s Up For A Road Trip?
There are a thousand and one fantastic adventures to be had around Playa del Carmen, so get in the car and hit the road! Among the vast array of riveting sights are the Yucatan Peninsula’s longest underground river and cave system, cenote swimming holes, and ancient Mayan cities.
Tucked within the lush jungle are centuries-old pyramids and dozens of ecological parks, including Xcaret, Xplor, and Emotions Native Park. Within a couple of hours, you can drive to Magical Towns (Pueblos Magicos) such as the Yellow Town of Izamal and the colonial city of Valladolid.
In Bacalar, you’ll be amazed by the pirate history and the Fort of San Felipe, which overlooks the astounding Lagoon of 7 Colors.
Alternatively, head to a nearby island like Isla Mujeres or Holbox to experience island life at its finest. Ride along rustic roads lined with multi-colored buildings on a golf cart. Dine on fresh catches of the day. Furthermore, drop by a welcoming Caribbean beach bar. Listen to Reggae music as you enjoy the view consisting of turquoise and palm trees as you sip on a fruity cocktail. This dreamy island vibe will surely stick with you forever.
Additionally, you can jump on board a boat for some of the best snorkeling in the area in Puerto Morelos. Not so far off the shore is the second-largest barrier reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef. You’ll relish the opportunity to swim alongside turtles, parrotfish, and fascinating reef sharks.
Cozumel, just a 45-minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen, boasts a long list of unique activities. First of all, it’s a renowned diving destination due to its extraordinary underwater visibility. Consequently, exploring sea life and sunken ships via a submarine is certain to be a grand adventure. Next, climb to the top of the lighthouse and savor the divine views at Punta Sur. Be sure to taste tequila and authentic Mexican cuisine on a food tour with a local chef. Lastly on the itinerary for things to do in Cozumel is visiting a pearl farm in the picturesque waters on the island’s north end.
No matter which direction you set out on, you are sure to collect travel stories that will make a lasting impression on your heart.
Take A Sunrise Stroll
Is there anything better than the feeling of cool sand under your feet and warm, salty waves lapping your toes? Picture an early morning walk along the powdery sand toward the sun as it rises over a turquoise seascape. It’s a picture that you will want to hold in your mind forever.
Considering all of the benefits of spending time at the beach, it is no surprise that this breathtaking activity makes it on our list. However, let’s face it, if you wake up in Playa del Carmen, you already have a huge advantage for starting the day off right!
Summer in Playa del Carmen sizzles. Luckily for visitors, you can always find inviting turquoise waters or glistening pools within close range. Built upon shores of powdery soft coral, Playa borders the shimmering blue-green waters of the Caribbean. This Riviera Maya city is most popular for its picturesque coastline. However, vacations here offer far more than cocktails on the beach.
This article sheds light on five of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen during summer vacation. These sensational outings will fill your memory bank with epic Yucatan Peninsula travel stories to tell for years to come.
Discover Paradise at El Cielo
Located a few hundred meters off the southern tip of Cozumel is El Cielo, meaning ‘Heaven.’ From Playa del Carmen, a 45-minute ferry delivers you to the largest island in the Mexican Caribbean. Upon arriving in Cozumel, you will board a smaller boat to transport you on an unforgettable 4 to 5-hour journey. As you sail south along the island’s sublime coastline, you’ll anchor at two flourishing coral reefs of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. During these snorkeling sessions, you will explore some of the clearest sea waters and meet a host of breathtaking aquatic animals.
No notice from the captain is needed, as it will become crystal clear (literally) when you arrive at El Cielo. The waters in this isolated diamond in the Caribbean rough are in the ranks with those of the Maldives. Although you won’t encounter over-the-water huts, majestic manta rays, starfish, and sea turtles will surely capture your attention.
When Mother Nature designed this extraordinary, aqua bay, she created a masterpiece too spectacular to really describe in words. Of all of the Playa del Carmen day trips available, El Cielo is a must to add to a Mexico vacation itinerary.
This entrancing water excursion is available to individual travelers as well as large groups. You can search online for local tour companies or contact your Bric ambassador to help you arrange a sublime trip to El Cielo. Included in the price are snorkel gear, beverages, and a light lunch (usually ceviche, fruit, and/or sandwiches.)
Immerse Yourself in Incredible Nature at Aktun Chen Park
This surreal experience in the heart of the jungle is an amazing introduction to local wildlife. The nature reserve offers protection to spider monkeys, coatis, iguanas, boars, and vibrant green parakeets that live within it. In addition to an up-close view of the area’s jungle creatures, you will explore an awe-inspiring cave over 5 million years old. This guided trek, voted one of the top 10 Underground Walks In the World by National Geographic, is 100% worth the 30-minute drive from Playa del Carmen.
After taking flight over the lush jungle landscape on a circuit of 10 ziplines, you will be ready to dive into the cool cenote waters. The ancient Mayan civilization believed were gates to the underworld. Even today, archaeologists and divers continue to make important discoveries of centuries-old artifacts within these limestone caves.
Wear comfortable walking shoes and only biodegradable sunscreen is permitted. Although Aktun Chen is a smaller ecological park compared to others in the area such as Xcaret or Xplor, it offers plenty of activities, at a more economical price. When you reserve with an excursion company using the booking link on the Aktun Chen page, lunch and transportation are included.
Snorkel With Turtles and Sip Piña Coladas at La Buena Vida
In the seaside village of Akumal, just 25 minutes south of Playa del Carmen, sits a tranquil bay inhabited by Hawksbill and Loggerhead turtles. One-hour, guided snorkel tours present a guaranteed opportunity to observe all sorts of marine species. Along with the turtles, you’ll see exotic fish, colorful coral fans, as well as an occasional stingray gliding across the seafloor.
Afterward, continue for 5 more minutes down the winding road to La Buena Vida, a beloved local beach bar. Request a table overlooking the bay and munch on delicious burgers, carne asada, or tangy ceviche.
While the bartender prepares another round of Caribbean cocktails, find the hammock with your name on it and settle in. If you have kids, they will love the treehouse lookout tower and pool, which are surrounded by sky high coconut palms and face an endless turquoise horizon.
Skip the hoards of vendors selling snorkel tours along the road leading to Akumal Bay. Book with Akumal Dive Shop and receive certified guides who are knowledgeable in the local laws and adhere to safety standards.
Test Your Culinary Skills At El Pueblito In Mayakoba
A cooking class with one of the country’s most engaging top chefs, Karla Enciso, offers a savory escape from the midday heat. In the air-conditioned commercial kitchen, you will learn time-honored recipes and taste unique regional ingredients. From robust salsas such as mole to guanabana (soursop) margaritas, you will be swooning over your authentic creations.
Chef Karla is an expert at blending the warmth of the Mexican culture into every dish. Her passion is infectious as she introduces visitors to an impressive array of regional flavors. This outing also makes an ideal group activity and kids are welcome! For more information, visit El Pueblito on Facebook for a schedule of cooking classes.
If you are traveling with a group, contact Chef Karla for a customized class. She is fluent in several languages and is a master at a variety of international cuisines.
Witness The Bioluminescence Phenomenon In Holbox
People from around the world flock to the Yucatan Peninsula to swim with the magnificent whale sharks. The sheer size of these spotted fish makes them intimidating. However, you have nothing to fear. Whale sharks are about as dangerous as the microscopic plankton they feed upon. Each year, these gentle giants migrate to areas off the coasts of Isla Mujeres and Holbox, an enchanting near Playa del Carmen.
Come nightfall on this sleepy island, a magical, natural phenomenon known as bioluminescence presents itself. As the water is near the shoreline is stirred, a domino effect of glowing blue light illuminates the surface. This surreal scene occurs only in the summer months from June to mid-September, when the whale sharks are in the area. Since Holbox is so close to Playa del Carmen, this once-in-a-lifetime summer outing should not be missed!
Kayak and paddle board tours are available after dark. To witness the full splendor of this sea of sparkling stars, try to plan your trip around the new moon.
That rounds out our top 5 list of best summertime activities in Playa del Carmen. Together with its lush jungle tours, ecological parks, and pristine cenotes, the Riviera Maya appeals to travelers of all ages. Not to mention the limitless day trip options to magical towns and divine islands. In addition to its superb dining scene, year-round tropical climate, and luxury accommodations. It’s no wonder Playa del Carmen remains a fixture on TripAdvisor’s Best Destinations in the World.
Through Sustainable Tourism, Passionate Guides at Cenote Chikin-Ha Park Introduce Us To Some Of The Most Spectacular Nature On The Planet
One of the top Riviera Maya activities, especially when the heat turns up from May to September, is taking a dip in the cool waters of a cenote. These extraordinary sinkholes have been around for thousands of years and enhance the already extraordinary beauty of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
What Is A Cenote?
At 8:30 a.m., in the most peaceful of jungle settings, our expedition begins at Chikin-Ha Park (20 minutes south of Playa del Carmen). After selecting a bike for the first part of the tour, we peddle alongside David, our enthusiastic guide. As we approach the first of two dry caves, the kids are glued to David’s side as he shares with us the fascinating history behind a cenote. The Yucatan Peninsula, once an expansive coral colony beneath the sea, became exposed when the water receded during the Ice Age. Unable to survive, the coral fossilized to form a limestone platform about one mile thick. Throughout the years, acidic rainwater caused the porous limestone to collapse, forming thousands of remarkable caverns. At the end of the Ice Age, the glaciers melted and flooded these caves resulting in crystal clear, turquoise-tinted pools and the world’s longest underground river system.
David goes on to explain that many of the Mayan cities were constructed around cenotes, as they provided a freshwater source for the community. Moreover, these unique wells were considered a sacred passageway to the Maya underworld. Many human sacrifices were offered to the gods, believed to reside within the dark depths of these geological phenomena. In 2001, the oldest remains in the Americas were found in Quintana Roo and date back some 13000 years.
Chikin-Ha Park’s Captivating Caves
Throughout the caves, lamps shine spotlights on the hundreds of dripping stalactite formations. As we regress back to the steps of the entrance, he points out glow-worms living within the crevices; the children are in awe.
The early tour is highly recommended as it feels as though you have the serene jungle sanctuary all to yourself. Wear natural mosquito repellent for the dry cave exploration portion of the excursion. Regular repellents and sunscreens are prohibited.
Partaking In A Time-Honored Mayan Tradition
The third stop takes us to a breathtaking pita-shaped cave. The sun’s rays pierce through the lush wilderness and paint a mystical scene. From the branches of massive Ceiba trees, we hear the calls of bright orange and turquoise Mot Mot birds. Partially concealed by flowing vines is the entrance to the cave. David pushes aside the natural curtain of flowing vines and instructs us to follow a candle-lit aisle.
At the end of the pathway, a Shaman stands at an altar with a welcoming smile. The Mayan priest motions for us to sit down. A beautiful cleansing and gratitude ceremony commences, aiming to rid us of any negative feelings we may be harboring.
Each of us takes turns placing copal incense inside the smoking chalice. As we do so, we make a silent, intention for the betterment of the universe. In Mayan, the Shaman gives thanks to the earth for all it provides and sends our blessings (from the smoking chalice) up through a small opening in the ceiling of the cave. The sacred ceremony seems to work and we are left feeling a deep sense of peace.
A View From The Top
We return the bikes, grab our towels from the lockers, and proceed to the zip lines. Traveling with an apprehensive nine-year-old, we were relieved that after a quick survey, she determines to give the modest zip line circuit a go. One by one, we soar over blue-green ponds and finally above the vast canopy of the jungle. The powder blue sky and the verdant vista from the hundred and twenty-meter long zip line are extraordinary. Everyone in our group is eager for a second round on the circuit.
You are allowed to bring your camera or smart phone to take photos. They also have a professional photographer escorting you through the park. The photo package is $65.00 USD. The park operates on a cash–only basis. So even if you skip the photo package, you will need cash for the entrance fees, refundable locker deposit ($50 pesos) and tips.
The tour concludes with a refreshing swim in two unique cenotes. With our snorkel gear and the help of David’s expert eye, we are able to spot the catfish, turtles, and divers swimming beneath us in the picturesque sinkholes. He invites us to stay and use the facilities as long as we like. But our stomachs are signaling that it is time to eat.
We opt to dine at La Buena Vida in Akumal, one of our favorite seaside beach clubs in the Riviera Maya. The restaurant and bar sits facing the Caribbean and offers bean bag chairs, plenty of tables with a view, and hammocks tied to coconut palms. This laid-back little piece of heaven is the ideal end to our adventurous morning.
Without a doubt, you can expect similarly inspiring encounters at any one of the many eco-parks in Playa del Carmen. But above and beyond the awesome nature, this half-day excursion hits the bullseye for affordable, family-friendly fun. For $650 pesos ($36 USD) each, our group of five was pleasantly surprised with the personalization of the tour complete with cultural aspects, history, and thrilling elements. For these reasons, our Chikin-ha experience emphatically receives 10 thumbs up!
Book online in advance by PayPal and save 15%. There are various packages to choose from. The basic entrance fee is $350 pesos and does not include the zip lines. The full package included bikes, snorkel gear, and all activities (dry caves and rappelling, cenote swims, zip lines and Mayan ceremony.) In addition, you have the option to pay $100 pesos per person for a buffet lunch in the on-site restaurant.
Playa del Carmen, The Heart of Mexico’s Riviera Maya
Originally the small fishing village south of the resort town of Cancun, Playa del Carmen has seen a tremendous amount of growth over the last 10 years. The picturesque beach town has become one of most chic hot spots in the Caribbean. Showcasing pristine alabaster beaches and turquoise waters, Playa del Carmen is a top destination in Mexico for high-end, luxury tourism.
Among its offerings are 5-star, all-inclusive resorts from the world’s largest companies, including Hyatt and RIU. However, Playa del Carmen also boasts million-dollar, private condominiums with private beach clubs and ocean views stretching to the island of Cozumel. Established in 2005, BRIC Vacation Rentals has developed a reputable name in the Mexican Caribbean’s flourishing vacation rental industry. Presenting 200 diverse and fully serviced Playa del Carmen vacation properties, you are sure to find the ideal rental for your beach getaway.
A Fantastic Mix Of Old And New
Running parallel to the pristine Caribbean waters is the renowned Quinta Avenida, or 5th Avenue. This lively cobblestone street now expands for almost 5 miles, one block from the silky white coast. Along the city’s most famed avenue, you’ll discover hundreds of restaurants, nightclubs, and endless shopping. What is most unique about Playa del Carmen is its delightful mix of traditional Mexican and modern allure.
You can still find plenty of authentic, local cuisine and small artisan shops peddling everything from hammocks to sombreros. But Playa, on the other hand, is rapidly transforming into a luxury destination presenting the best in dining, shopping, and entertainment. This award-winning resort town greets visitors with its top-notch, exotic restaurants run by notable chefs. Plus, visitors can appreciate the upscale boutique stores showcasing an array of designers from around Mexico and the globe.
Something For Everyone
Playa del Carmen’s glorious white sands and clear, turquoise waters attract millions of beachgoers and water enthusiasts. From divers and snorkelers to paddle boarders and avid fishermen, the translucent sea appeals to travelers of all ages. Perched along the shores in the city’s vibrant center, are several beach clubs. Pull up an oceanfront seat to enjoy a sampling of their complete food and drink services throughout the day. Choose to mingle with the high-energy, fashion-forward crowds at Mamitas or Kool Beach. Or if you would rather a relaxed setting, Zenzi or Lido Beach Club extend a cool and casual welcome. Whatever your style, BRIC Vacation Rentals offers private condo rentals just steps from these heavenly Caribbean cantinas.
A Land With Extraordinary Nature and Rich History
Looking to spend the day soaking up the sun at more rustic and less populated beach locations? A leisurely walk either North or South of town leads to sublime and seemingly untouched beaches. Just a short drive from Playa del Carmen, there are dozens of extraordinary spots to enjoy a day of fun in the sand and surf. Maroma Beach, Xpu Ha, Tulum, and Punta Venado are some such divine locations to visit for the day.
Your designated BRIC Ambassador can help to plan a memorable day trip and offer insider information on other seaside sanctuaries throughout the Riviera Maya. For more ideas for fun and adventure in Playa del Carmen, you can also visit our Local Area Guide.
This region, dotted with ancient Mayan cities and protected biospheres, possesses important historical and ecological significance. Playa del Carmen’s central location provides convenient access to the area’s several major eco-parks including Xcaret, Xel-Ha, Xplor, or Rio Secreto. Other nearby adventure parks and attractions to add to your itinerary are the Pre-Hispanic ruins of Tulum or Coba. Moreover, scenic cenote swimming holes such as Eden or Cristalino are a must when traveling to Playa.
Any of these outstanding tours will give you a unique sense of the Yucatan Peninsula’s remarkable historical and archaeological value. BRIC Vacation Rentals offers customized tours and transportation service to these and a host of other Riviera Maya destinations and parks.
A vacation to Playa del Carmen can be as relaxed or as active as you desire. The entire 60 plus member staff of BRIC Vacation Rentals is happy to offer our best advice to enhance your stay. Our multilingual team of Playa del Carmen experts is excited and honored to play a part in your unforgettable vacation experience and we can’t wait to welcome you to paradise!