Playa del Carmen is a well-known Mexican beachside hotspot with plenty to do, see and eat.
Even though I found the center slightly too touristic for my taste, there are plenty of other areas which are less crowded with tourists and which I think are much nicer to explore. And then there are the beautiful beaches of course!
Find out what to do, see and eat in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, below.
Things to do
Stroll along La Quinta Avenida
La Quinta Avenida is a long pedestrian street that is parallel to the beach. No cars are allowed, so it is nice to stroll along this road. There are plenty of restaurants and shops along this street. I really liked the last part of the avenida, because it was less touristy, so things around were slightly ‘ in your face’ as it were.
Visit the beach
Of course, you can’t miss the beach when you’re in Playa! Stroll along the beach or just relax at one of the beach clubs, sippin’ some cocktails, that’s what Playa del Carmen is all about 😉
If you want to get out of the crowded beaches of Playa, then I definitely recommend you to go to ‘Punto Esmeralda’ which is slightly outside Playa.
The best thing to do is to rent a bike and bike there; it probably takes around 15-30 minutes, depending on where you start from in the city of course. You can rent a lounge chair at Cocoa Beach club and just chill at the beach, sippin’ some refreshing coconut juice.
Discover all the street art in Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is a very hipster city, and this can be seen from the multitude of street art that you can find in almost every corner.
Definitely makes for some cool, Instagrammable pictures 😉
Hit up a rooftop pool
There are a few nice rooftops in Playa and it’s nice to spend an afternoon there if you feel lazy. We tried the rooftop at Be Playa Hotel, which was pretty nice because there weren’t too many people. There are plenty of other nice rooftops with pools though, just have a look on Google!
Take a day trip to the cenotes
A cenote is a sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone and is usually filled with water. The Yucatan state has more than 6000 cenotes, and since they are so special, it is definitely worth visiting them.
We particularly like the Cenote Azul as it was slightly less crowded and quite big. The water was crystal clear and you could also get a free fish spa because as soon as you got into the water, little fish would start nibbling at your feet!
The best time to visit cenotes is early in the morning before the tourist crowds start to arrive.
Take a day trip to Tulum
Tulum is about an hour drive away from Playa, so it’s definitely worth it rent a car and head to another gorgeous place in Yucatan. You can discover the city of Tulum for a bit and then head to see the gorgeous and famous Tulum beach to spend an afternoon there.
Where to eat
For breakfast: Choux Choux Cafe
This cute cafe is located in a quiet street near the center of Playa, and serve nice breakfast and coffee. You can sit outside and watch the expats walk their dogs, which is quite fun honestly!
For brunch at the beach: Mamita’s Beach Club
For a lovely sunrise breakfast or brunch, definitely visit Mamita’s beach club. The food was really amazing and they had some really good drinks as well. Topped with a beautiful view on the beach, it’s a pretty nice place to start your day.
For lunch or a laid-back dinner in a beautiful setting: La Cueva del Chango
This cool restaurant is a nice place for a laid back lunch or dinner, with plenty of Mexican dishes available. They have a really nice outdoor backyard, where it almost feels like you’re sitting in the jungle. They also do breakfast by the way!
For vegan food: The Pitted Date Vegan Restaurant
This little vegan gem is located at the end of la Quinta Avenida. They make some delicious vegan burgers as well as drinks, so if you are vegan or you just like vegan food, definitely try out this place.
For amazing seafood: Los Aguachiles
Some of the best seafood I had was at this very place, Los Aguachiles! We had delicious ceviches, fish tostadas, guacamole and mojitos. It’s also very low-key and pretty cheap for what you get. I definitely recommend this one!
Good to know before you go
Playa del Carmen is a cool place for a couple of days, but if you’d rather avoid the tourist crowds and aren’t a party person, then I would suggest to either skip or not stay longer than 3 days. I really recommend going to Isla Holbox instead or Merida, to experience a more authentic Mexican culture.
And another word of caution: Recently, some of the Caribbean coast, as well as the Mexican part of the Mexican Gulf, have been hit with a lot of seaweed, and this has been going on for a while now (thanks to Global warming, unfortunately). So be aware that there might be a high likelihood that the beaches in Playa del Carmen will be swamped with the sargassum seaweed, which is not a pleasant substance, and if there is a lot of it, it will definitely ruin your beach trip.
Hope that this blog post has been somewhat useful to you 🙂 In case you have any questions/comments/suggestions, please do let me know in the comment section below!