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RedWeek Travel Guide: Playa del Carmen

published on January 3, 2023 by

Located along a stretch of Caribbean shoreline on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Playa del Carmen is well-known as one of the greatest vacation destinations on the planet. And once you spend a little time there, it’s easy to understand why. With gorgeous beaches, a rich culture, fantastic cuisine and luxurious resorts, Playa del Carmen delivers everything you’re looking for in a tropical escape. The adventures are endless, but we’ve rounded up some of the very best experiences below.

What To Do In Playa del Carmen

  • Mamitas Beach: The beach party never stops at Mamitas. This beautiful Playa del Carmen stretch of sand is vibrant and lively, offering turquoise waters, pristine sands and plenty of space for everyone.
  • Akumal Beach: A bit mellower than Mamitas, Akumal Beach is popular amongst eco-adventurers, thanks to its calm, crystal clear waters — ideal for snorkeling. Keep an eye out amazing Mexican sea turtles!
  • Tulum’s Mayan Ruins: For an unforgettable day trip, head out to Tulum for a journey into the past. Here, you’ll find an array of Mayan ruins that have been preserved marvelously over the centuries, the most famous of which is known as the Castle, a magnificent structure overlooking the sea.
  • Cenotes: These natural swimming holes (pronounced say-NO-tays) are found throughout the Mexican Caribbean — especially in the Playa del Carmen area. Located in a lush jungle, Cenote Azul is one of the very best (and most family friendly) There are shallow areas, just right for kids, or deeper sections, some up to 85 feet deep.
  • The 3-D Museum of Wonders: You have to see this Playa del Carmen attraction to believe it. The 3-D Museum of Wonders features an eye-popping collection of three-dimensional optical illusions that will have you rubbing your eyes

Where To Eat In Playa del Carmen

  • Chez Celine: For a perfect Playa breakfast, try the French-style Chez Celine, where the pastries are made fresh daily and the coffee will provide you with the energy needed for your adventures throughout the rest of the day.
  • El Fogon: There’s plenty of competition, but many (both locals and visitors) will tell you that the best tacos in Playa del Carmen can be found at El Fogon. Located right off the famed 5th Avenue, this unassuming joint uses fresh ingredients, tried-and-true recipes and perhaps a little magic to create incredible flavors.
  • Alux Restaurant: Date night in a cave? At Alux, you’ll descend into a 10,000-year-old cavern, where you’ll enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine in dreamlike setting. Add to the experience by perusing the extensive cocktail menu, including several that make use of the Xtbentum, a traditional Mayan liquor.
  • Axiote Cocina De México: Classy but still casual, this Playa del Carmen gastropub serves dishes innovative Mexican fusion cuisine, all made with 100 percent local ingredients. Axiote is also a great place to experience the best of Mexico’s craft beverage offerings, thanks to an extensive list of wines, beers and mezcals.

Where To Shop In Playa del Carmen

  • 5th Avenue Playa del Carmen (La Quinta Avenida): Playa del Carmen’s beating heart is 5th Avenue, home to 22 blocks of the destination’s best restaurants, nightclubs — and shopping! Those in need of a little retail therapy could spend an entire day on a spree here, browsing everything from luxury items to unreal deals.
  • Paseo del Carmen: Located on 5th Avenue, the Mediterranean-style Paseo del Carmen is an open-air shopping mall featuring a host of big-name brands, such as Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger, Zara, and Armani Exchange.
  • Calle Corazón: Another Playa del Carmen shopping option, Plaza Corazón is one of the area’s most fashionable locales, with five stories of shops, restaurants and entertainment.

Where To Stay In Playa del Carmen

  • Grand Luxxe at Vidanta Riviera Maya: A AAA Five-Diamond award-winning Playa del Carmen resort, Grand Luxxe has been described by Condé Nast Traveler as a “jungle paradise built for luxury.” Here, you’ll enjoy spacious accommodations, direct beach access, sparkling pools and much more.
  • The Grand Mayan at Vidanta Riviera Maya: The expansive Grand Mayan offers guests easy beach access, a wide selection of live entertainment (including Cirque du Soleil), a full-service spa and upscale suites. After you check in, you may never want to check out.
  • Royal Haciendas: Not only is this Playa del Carmen resort located oceanside, it’s also part of one of Mexico’s most prestigious golf communities. Spend the morning relaxing on the sand and the afternoon enjoying a beautiful (and challenging) round on the fairways.

Start planning your Playa del Carmen vacation with RedWeek now.