Playa del Carmen is a city in Quintana Roo that has had exponential growth due to the tourist demand in the area. Located in the region known as the Riviera Maya, this old fishing village became one of the most populated areas in the entire state. In pre-Hispanic times it was named Xaman Há, a Nahuatl word that translates as ‘Northern Water.’
This old town, which in the 1980s did not register more than 1,500 inhabitants, in the last count carried out by INEGI reached just over 300,000. Are you visiting the beautiful city of Quintana Roo for the first time? Here we tell you all about the iconic places, the natural beauties, and the essential things to know on your trip.
You can start your tour walking along La Quinta Avenida, the most popular artery in all of society, which is pedestrianized and runs parallel to the beach. It is full of clothing stores, souvenirs, bars, ice cream parlors, jewelry stores, art galleries, spas, and restaurants. Here are the most famous bars and clubs in the entire state, and it is an important meeting point for locals and tourists. There are alternatives for all likes and budgets!
At the end of this avenue (or at the beginning, depending on where your walk begins) is the famous Parque de los Fundadores, popular for the letters of Playa del Carmen and the sculpture called the Portal Maya, formed by a couple that recalls the pre-Hispanic past of the place. On one side you can see the Church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, with a completely white facade and minimalist architecture built in 1960 to venerate the Virgen del Carmen, patron saint of fishermen. In 2008 it was remodeled and enlarged. In addition to being a point of faith, it also became an icon of the city.
After your tour in the heart of Playa del Carmen and the good vibes of Quinta Avenida, the closest beach is Punta Esmeralda, a beautiful recreation space where you can swim, enjoy the calm and spend the whole day. A little further away but just as paradisiacal is Playa Xcalacoco, a place with clubs and restaurants. If you don’t want to spend more than your budget, you can bring snacks and drinks, just remember to respect nature and take the waste you generate with you. And if these two options seem busy to you, you can try to go for a walk in Playa del Amor, an Eden of fine white sand, crystal clear waters and is usually less crowded.
Since we are talking about gifts of nature and great ecosystems, the cenotes are a pleasant experience to treasure. In Playa del Carmen, as in the entire Yucatan Peninsula, there are options such as the Cenote Azul, Chaak Tun, Cenote Cristalino and the Jardín Eden. In all of them you can swim, and the only thing that varies are the options of snorkeling, diving, zip line and other amenities that you can check according to your closest options and preferences.
Delving deeper into the past of Playa del Carmen, a mandatory stop is the Archaeological Zone, which is thought to have functioned as a port due to its privileged location in front of the island of Cozumel. If you want a guided tour, you must schedule it in advance at the INAH Quintana Roo Center. A short distance away is another great attraction, the Xaman Ha Viary, an aviary that will give you the opportunity to meet the exotic birds of the region such as flamingos, pelicans and other species, some in danger of extinction.
If your budget allows it, you should visit Xcaret. Considered the most important natural park in the world, it is a space that combines the jungle with thematic settings, the Mayan culture, underground rivers, lagoons and even a Coral Reef Aquarium and sea turtle area.
So did we convinced you to visit Playa del Carmen? One of the corners of the Riviera Maya that we are sure will not disappoint you. Pack your bags and experience a trip that you will remember for a lifetime! You may be interested in reading the recommendations to visit Tulum.