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Playa del Carmen is a coastal resort town in Mexico, along the Yucatán Peninsula's Riviera Maya strip of Caribbean shoreline. In the state of Quintana Roo, it’s known for its palm-lined beaches and coral reefs. Its Quinta Avenida pedestrian thoroughfare runs parallel to the beach, with blocks of shops, restaurants and nightspots ranging from laid-back bars to dance clubs.
Playa del Carmen known for?
Playa del Carmen is mostly known for its beaches, parties and giant resorts. But there's the whole other side of the city. It's a great hub for independent travelers with many things to do in and around. As I've lived in Playa del Carmen for almost 2 years, I got to know the city and surrounding areas quite well.
Roughly an hour south of Cancun, in the state of Quintana Roo, you'll find the Riviera Maya. An elongated stretch of immaculate, snowy white Caribbean coastline that offers a luxurious selection in upscale boutique hotels, lavish resorts, deluxe villas, five-star dining and first-class spa facilities. Also referred to as the Mayan Riviera, the region is known for pampering its visitors with nothing but the highest quality amenities Mexico has to offer.
The coast includes: Puerto Morelos, known for its clear and calm waters that are perfect for snorkeling; historic Tulum, known for its peaceful and pristine beaches; as well as its own notable contribution to the ancient Mayan civilization; Playa del Carmen, a charming town renowned for its trendy shops, stirring streets, great dining, fun nightlife and chic European style. On the Riviera Maya you're sure to quench your thirst for adventure with a healthy dose of luxurious leisure!
THINGS TO KNOW:
- Accepted Currency: The Mexican Peso is the main form of currency, although the U.S. Dollars is widely accepted
- Capital: Within the State of Quintana Roo
- Airport: The main international gateway for the Riviera Maya is located in Cancun: Cancun International Airport (CUN)
- Language(s) in Use: Spanish is the official language and spoken by most locals, though many in the service industry speak fluent English as well
- Time Zone: Central Standard Time (CST)
- Dialing (Country Code): +52 998
- Climate in General: The average annual temperature is 28°C, peaking at an average of 32°C in the summer months. The nights cool slightly along the coast during the winter months to an average temperature of 24°C
- Driving: Your valid, domestic driver's license is required to obtain a local driving permit for the state of Quintana Roo
|The capital of the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, evolved from a small village of Mayan pilgrims to a lively, cosmopolitan city with the highest urban growth in the country. Its natural features, beauty and long beaches, its enviable geographical location and its blend of sea and jungle make this destination on the Mexican Caribbean a magnet for both Mexicans and visitors from other parts of the world.|
In this diverse city, activities and imagination go hand in hand: the coast lends itself to all kinds of water sports. There are diving facilities, sport fishing and jungle treks to nearby archaeological sites.
The other famous destinations of the riviera, each with its own unique character and attractions, are Akumal, Tulum, Puerto Aventuras to name but a few.
Playa del Carmen provides an enormous variety of water activities, ranging from swimming, boating or more strenuous sports such as windsurfing, sailing or diving in the nearby reefs. Other beaches of the Riviera include:
Akumal consists of a beautiful bay whose fine, white-sanded beach runs parallel to a protective coral reef about 300 meters out to sea. The sea is many different tones of blue and is the ideal place to dive and watch the sea turtles that come here to lay their eggs in the summer.
An archaeological zone, whose location on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea makes it one of the most spectacular in the Mayan World.
This beach was made for diving, as there is a barrier of reefs and a lagoon adjoining the sea inhabited by both land and marine species.
This is a paradisiacal place with cabins and hotels; its gentle waves are perfect for swimming and diving.
The almost negligible waves make this place ideal for diving between the beach and the reef that is inhabited by many different species of multicoloured tropical fish. The beach has fine, white sand and is framed by rocky promontories at either end, making it into a cozy, small cove.
This is a tourist center with all tourist facilities, including a marina next to a fine-grained, white-sanded beach with moderate sized waves. The surrounding area is rich in vegetation and fauna.
A small clear bay with caves and freshwater cenotes, or the limestone sinkholes.
The climate in the Riviera Maya is hot and humid, but the humidity is not as high as in other areas. The average annual temperature ranges from 25 C to 30 C. Offshore water temperatures range from 26 C in January to 29 C in August. May through November is the rainy season.
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Quintana Roo is one of the youngest states in the country as well as the furthest east, meaning that it is the first Mexican state to see the sun come up every day. It is located in the Yucatan Peninsula, which it shares with Campeche and Yucatán, to the south it is separated from Belize and Guatemala by the Bay of Chetumal and Río Hondo, and to the east it is washed by the Caribbean.
You can find rustic beaches such as Isla Mujeres and Akumal. It makes up for its lack of surface rivers with an intricate system of underground rivers and limestone sinkholes that are ideal for diving.
The region known as the Riviera Maya was an important commercial and religious centre for the ancient Maya during the Post-Classic period (1000-1550 A.D.). It is still inhabited by Mayan communities, descended from those that fought in the War of the Castes, that have managed to preserve their ancient rites and traditions.
During the Post-Classic period, it was a Mayan place of pilgrimage for paying homage to Ixchel, the goddess of fertility. There are many archaeological sites along the coast; vestiges of the many outposts which were established to accommodate the pilgrims.
The Riviera Maya was still a busy trade route when the Spaniards arrived in the XVI centruy, althought the great "Classic Cities" had long been abandoned due to wars and conquests.
Playa del Carmen lies halfway between Cancun and Tulum on a coastal strip that combines jungle, mangrove swamps and white sandy beaches. It is characterized by its diversity; the porous soil of the Peninsula creates a variety of features such as natural wells surrounded by jungle, bays where underground rivers blend with the sea and extensive mangrove swamps.
Aviario Xaman-Ha is a beautiful Aviary where you will find different species, not just birds, other animal species like the butterflies, iguanas, turtles and other small mammals. The animals and plants that live here are in their natural habitat and they live in semi-captivity.
It is also an ideal spot for visiting one of the most beautiful parks in Mexico: Xcaret
The island of Holbox is ideal for bird watching.
Unique to Here
The Great Mayan Reef
This coral reef lies about 300 meters out to sea and starts at Cabo Catoche extending on down to Belize and Guatemala. It serves as a protective barrier, thus causing the waves on the beach to be small and the water to be calm and crystal clear. The reef is abundant in marine flora and fauna, whose colours vary according to the depth of the sea.
Playacar Club de Golf
The vegetation, the archaeological ruins, and the cenotes (natural underground reservoirs) make Playacar Club de Golf one of the most beautiful in Mexico.
Cancun International AirportAirport Tax :
The departure tax of around US$40 per person is usually included on your plane ticket, please verify.Distance from Airport :
68 km to Playa del CarmenTourist Office :
987-31260 or 987-32850Tourist Season :
October though March
The nearest international airport to Riviera Maya is the Cancún International Airport. The best way to get around is by renting a car or a jeep since you will be travelling a lot from one village to an archaeological site to another attraction. Taxis are available but tend to be expensive. Many collectivo vans run between the major cities and offer cheap transportation for local workers and budget-minded tourists.
Activities & Sports
Extreme sports enthusiasts will enjoy scuba diving in the open seas in the crystal-clear waters. The ecological park called Tres Ríos is specially created for bicycle rides. You can go kayaking on the Pájaros River, where you can admire the mangrove swamps and see a large number of different species of birds.
This site has lakes connected to each other by underground tunnels that are fun to explore. The tropical jungle is great for hiking, and climbing down the walls of the cenotes and swimming in the reservoirs.
Playa del Carmen
Locals will sometimes rent out horses so that you can enjoy a relaxing tour of the surroundings. The constant coming and going of ferries, hydro-jets and yachts is a highly entertaining, year-round spectacle. You can go snorkeling and scuba diving on the Great Mayan Reef, located less than 100 meters out from the beach. Alternatively, you can go diving in the caves, which is a great experience.
Puerto Aventuras Marina
This tourist village has a marina with 240 docks. This marina is considered the largest and best protected on the Caribbean coast. You can rent boats for periods of up to a day.
In addition to the wide variety of entertainment available in Playa del Carmen, Playacar Club de Golf has a beautiful 18-hole golf course (par 72) with a length of 7,202 yards.
The transparent waters of these rivers are great for kayaking and rafting. There are reefs where you can dive and admire the submarine wildlife.
This state contains some of the most spectacular sites in the Mayan world, such as Tulum, Xcaret and Coba.
Until recently, Xaman-Há, a meeting point for the Mayans to attend their ceremonial appointment with the goddess Ixchel on the neighbouring island of Cozumel, was a small fishing village. It is now the second most important tourist destination in the Mexican Caribbean.
On the outskirts of Playa del Carmen, stands one of the main archaeological zones of Quintana Roo. Known as Tulum, it contains the Templo de El Castillo and the Templo de los Frescos where you can admire the wonderful paintings of the Mayan world.
The Mayan city of Cobá was built in the fauna-rich jungle next to freshwater lakes about 2,200 years ago. Today, four sections of this complex: Coba, Chumuc Mul, Macanxoc and Nohoch mul, contain partially preserved buildings, white roads, or sacbés, platforms, foundations, pyramids and patios.
The Xel-Há park features underwater rivers, lagoons, limestone sinkholes, virtually unspoiled forest and archaeological remains. Ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
The Muyil Mayan settlement, located inside of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, reached its peak between 300 and 600 AD. It was linked to other Mayan cities by means of sacbés that were used to transport goods traded with other regions.
Attractions & Sights
Enjoy Playa del Carmen's Quinta Avenida, with its improvised artists, and dozens of languages blended into a single murmur. Check out also the Xaman-Ha aviary, home to 200 birds set in a tropical forest.
If you are into speleology go explore the Cavernas Sacba or the Atkun Chen Caverns.
Several attractions are to be found in Xcaret such as the Mayan Village, the archaeological museum or the botanical garden.
Just forty-five minutes away, the natural well area of Puerto Aventuras houses Xel-Há an ecological theme park and the largest natural aquarium in the world. Here you can swim with dolphins, see sea turtles, bicycle, snorkel, cliff-dive, and scuba.
Some of the lovely coastal villages for you to discover include Puerto Morelos with its alligator farm and botanical garden, Playa del Secreto and Playa Paraiso which is often frequented by sea turtles, the very quiet town of Paamul or last but not least Akumal with its Yal-Ku miniature lagoon.
The Caribbean nights, popular fiestas on the beaches and lively bars offers a number of options such as places to dance the night away.
If you'ld like to spend a pleasant evening, you could stroll down Quinta Avenida, the most famous street in Playa del Carmen that runs parallel to the sea, and visit its many restaurants, bars and cafés.
The two best places to dance are El Espiral and El Señor Frogs. If you'ld like to have a drink and listen to good music, Captain Tulis, Safari and The Blue Parrot are all excellent choices.
A mere 15 minutes outside Playa del Carmen near the new Puerto Aventuras tourist complex stands an area of natural wells that it is crucial to both the environmental balance of the area and visitors' enjoyment. These pools with their exotic names, such as Cenote Azul, Chacmool, Kan Tun Chi, Zazil-Ha, Sask'alech-Ha, are just waiting to be explored.
Aktún Chen Park
This park consists of 400 hectares of tropical jungle inhabited by deer, badgers, spider monkeys, wild boar, iguanas, and beautiful birds. Three caves in the park have been illuminated in order to better observe them. This park is 42 km southwest of Playa del Carmen.
Xcaret Eco-Archeological Park
Here you can swim with dolphins, dive in the nearby coral reef or just swim in the most transparent waters in the world. Archaeological zones, underground rives, aquariums that reproduce the Mayan reef, botanical gardens and an aviary for reproducing endangered species. The bay provides refuge for thousands of species of brightly-coloured fish.
This park, only 6 km from Playa del Carmen, has subterranean rivers, caves, cenotes (natural underground reservoirs), which are fantastic sites for diving. There are also reefs, archaeological ruins, a special orchid-growing area, and another special area for dolphins.
Grand hotels and resorts rub shoulders with small, traditional hostels.
If your visit to Playa del Carmen coincides with a full moon, you could camp on the beach and enjoy one of the celebrations the inhabitants hold in its honour.
Camping accommodation are also available, like:.
-Acamaya Reef Trailer Park
-Chemuyil Trailer Park
-Paamul RV Park
Mostly located on Quinta Avenida, you will find dozens of snack-bars and cafés jockeying for space with elegant, first-class restaurants. There is definitely something for every taste and budget. If you are looking for local cuisine try Alux or Yaxche Maya.
Knitted clothes and the typical colorfully embroidered blouses and dresses of Yucatan are a tradition in Coba, a small village some 105 km from Playa del Carmen passing through Tulum. You will also find decorative objects made of copper and jewels made of semi-precious stones. Several shops also offer handicrafts made in the other regions of the country.
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