By Rosie Bell in Seasonal Travel
Swinging yet serene, Playa del Carmen is the not-so-secret antidote to Cancun. The Mayan Riviera is the coast with the most and Playa del Carmen is its most eclectic destination. Combining rich Mayan culture, culinary diversity, year-round warmth, otherworldly subterranean swimming pools, and a gorgeous beach or two, this city might just blow you out of the water.
Previously known as Xaman-Ha or “waters of the north” in Maya, Playa del Carmen was named for Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Cancun’s patron saint. Situated on the Mexican Caribbean coast, this once sleepy fishing village is now a cosmopolitan city in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo where many come to meet the world. To be able to say you’ve visited this Mayan Riviera gem, tick the following scintillating experiences off your list.
Here is a definitive list of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen, a tropical playground that might just blow you out of the water.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT PLAYA DEL CARMEN?
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Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida) is the beating heart of Playa del Carmen, which is affectionately called “Playa” by locals. Stroll along this pedestrian-only street to take in a conglomeration of tour operators, bustling bars, restaurants, clothing shops, live comic book characters, street performers, and well-stocked tequila stores professing to be museums.
Playa del Carmen is the largest (and fastest-growing) city in the Mayan Riviera but it’s still small enough to delightfully discover on foot. Quinta Avenida (or “La Quinta”) is Playa’s principal street paralleling the beach and a quasi baptism of fire that will get you pumped to start your trip.
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Escape to The Fives hotel’s elegant rooftop pool and have an artful mixologist whip you up a cocktail to accompany your sunset while you teeter on the edge of bliss. The Reef 28’s sky-caressing pool is a place to see and be seen and Thompson Playa del Carmen’s rooftop is similarly stylish. From here you can take in purple and blue sunset hues from a cabana or the ivory in-pool loungers. The party crowd loves Deck 5 Pool and Skybar on weekend afternoons while The Palm at Playa boutique hotel is popular for its poolside workshops, yoga classes, and pulsating day-to-evening parties. Over at Be Roof atop the Be Playa hotel, the atmosphere is laid-back and the bar staff always seem to have just the right music playing.