Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen
Loved places or things often have multiple names associated with it. There is such a place located on the Mexican coast, an area off the Caribbean on a Peninsula called the Yucatan, or in the state of Quintana Roo, and an area called the Riviera Maya. In this region with many names lies what was once a small fishing village. Playa Del Carmen’s claim to fame was being the mainland stop for the Cozumel ferry. I’ve visited this area in the last 18 years and have seen the town grow larger and larger, never the location of my hotel accommodation but have driven by several times. Playa del Carmen has become a jewel of the Yucatan with multiple five star, all-inclusive, hotels flanking the now sprawling city. Blocks and rows of shops line the downtown area with Quanta Avenida, 5th Avenue, as the main drag for tourism that runs parallel to the beach. No longer is it the little brother to Cancun but a viable holiday destination. It does differ from Cancun in that the bars are more laid-back but dance clubs can still be found if that is what you desire. You won’t see any high-rise resorts here either. The government has mandated that the buildings be limited to 5 stories, forcing the expansion laterally and the small town is now bursting at the seams. The traffic is now approaching the levels of most cities where in my past visits traffic was non-existent.
The Riviera Maya, which runs from Cancun to Tulum, is one large and beautifully diverse area. Playa is centrally located from the “eco-archaeological parks” with parks such as Xcaret and Xel-Ha less than half an hour away, including traffic time. These parks are natural water parks filled with beautiful lagoons and days filled with adventure.
July 2016, I found Playa del Carmen to be a better alternative to Cancun with its small town atmosphere. I found the downtown area to be safe and even discovered a Mayan show at a park near the Cozumel ferry. The beaches are beautiful and I didn’t feel like I was in Mexico as there were few vendors plying their goods on the beach. The region is filled with adventurous activity such as diving, swimming with whale sharks, accessible cenotes, and Mayan ruins. Top notch resorts, golf courses and the top draw of world class beaches that draw millions every year are all within city limits.
Playa del Carmen has something for everyone and I doubt this will be my last visit to the city.
During my wanderings at night I captured this performance at the park.
click on the photo to enlarge and create a slide show