Playa del Carmen is located on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, just 45 miles south of Cancun on the coast of the Caribbean Sea.
Getting to Playa del Carmen
The closest and most accessible airport is Cancun International. Coming from the Midwest United States, it’s only about a 3 hour flight if you fly direct. This makes Playa del Carmen an easy destination to reach from many cities in the U.S. Hence, no excuses for family and friends not to come visit! Note you can also fly into Cozumel International airport and take the ferry over but flights are generally more expensive.
After landing in Cancun, it is about an hour drive south to Playa del Carmen. The most economical mode of transportation is the ADO airport bus, which costs about $10 USD per person. Private and shared transportation can also be arranged. The main highway 307 runs down the coast, which makes for an easy commute between towns.
Map of the Riviera Maya
Riviera Maya is the name of the coastal resort district that spans from Cancun to just south of Tulum. There are dozens of resorts along the coast that make up this region. In addition, the islands of Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, and Holbox are popular resort destinations and can be easily reached via ferry. The name of the entire state is Quintana Roo.
Playa del Carmen: An Overview
The town of Playa del Carmen originated as a small fishing village and has developed rapidly in recent years. Although many new luxury rental and residential properties are in development, you won’t find any high-rise buildings like those you might see in Cancun. Playa has much more of a beachy, laid-back, go-with-the-flow kind of vibe. I love feeling and seeing this kind of energy when walking around town.
The most popular attraction in Playa del Carmen is La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue), which is a lively pedestrian-only avenue that runs parallel just a few blocks inland from the beach. 5th Avenue spans for about 20 blocks and includes hundreds of shops, restaurants, bars, and clubs. Many hotels are also located on or near 5th Avenue, which makes it the most popular place to be in Playa del Carmen.
Although most of the development in Playa del Carmen is centered around 5th Avenue, there are a ton of amazing restaurants, bars, and attractions that can be found if you venture away from La Quinta. I’ll cover some of favorite spots off the beaten path in future blog posts.