Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen, now one of Quintana Roo's largest cities, ranks right up there with Tulum as one of the Riviera's trendiest spots. Sitting coolly on the lee side of Cozumel, the town’s beaches are jammed with super-fit Europeans. The waters aren’t as clear as those of Cancún or Cozumel, and the sand isn’t quite as powder-perfect as they are further north, but still Playa grows and grows.
The town is ideally located: close to Cancún’s international airport, but far enough south to allow easy access to Cozumel, Tulum, Cobá and other worthy destinations. The reefs here are excellent and offer diving and snorkeling close by. Look for rays, moray eels, sea turtles and a huge variety of corals. The lavender sea fans make for very picturesque vistas.
With cruise-ship passengers visiting from Cozumel, Playa can feel crowded along the first several blocks of the tourist center.
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These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Playa del Carmen.
Emerald Point has become a favorite beach among Playa del Carmen locals, set on the northern edge of the city. Here, a shallow cenote provides a calm coastal pool where kids love to play, and the soft white sand beach is an idyllic spot to spread your beach towel for a day by the ocean.
Playa del Carmen’s most iconic park is bordered by the famous Quinta Avenida on one side and by a popular local beach on the other side. Here, kids can run around on the playground or try some Mexican treats at the row of fruit stands. In the afternoons, small crowds gather under the Portal Maya statue to enjoy the sunset.
Two blocks west of the highway, this pretty park has play areas for kids, shady picnic spots and walking trails as well as activities such as movie screenings, yoga classes and the occasional concert. Every third Saturday of the month, La Ceiba hosts a crafts market with Maya artisans selling their wares.
Restaurants, bars, stores and craft stalls line a 2km stretch of this busy pedestrian thoroughfare.
This 'museum' is mainly info about Kahlo rather than displays of her artwork. It's also small. But if you're looking for something to do on a non-beach day, you could come here and learn about one of Mexico's most famous icons.
An impressive three-story aquarium with 200 marine species and 45 exhibits. One of the few options in Playa for nonbeach days.