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Mexico now has
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THINGS TO DO IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN MEXICO
Playa del Carmen is a great place to spend a week or two. We prefer it to Cancun because there are way more things to do around Playa.
Playa is what the locals call Playa del Carmen, originally named Xaman-Ha [waters of the north].
Playa is a bustling beach-town with a main strip running parallel to the beach. This is 5th Avenue affectionately known to the locals as "Quinta Avenida". Along 5th there are numerous stores selling everything imaginable. There are also lots of restaurants, clubs, hotels and resorts.
The beaches in Playa are great and a short walk from any hotel. Many resorts and restaurants are located right on the beach.
Playa is an international destination so you find people from all over the world vacationing in Playa. It has quite a flare to it. The Mexican people are very friendly which adds to the happy atmosphere.
On Tuesdays and Thursday the cruise ships dock at Playa and the small town swells with temporary visitors. Also arriving daily are tourists staying along the Riviera who come to Playa to shop for the day.
There are many transplanted foreigners living in Playa as well. In fact almost everybody in Playa is from some where else as Playa is a relatively new city. Lots of Italians and Swiss have set up businesses. There are of course many Americans living in Playa and even the odd Canadian. Germans love Mexico so you will meet many Germans as well.
Shopping, eating-drinking and the beach is what Playa is all about however there are many things to do outside of Playa.
If its more shopping you want then take a ferry to Cozumel which has lots more stuff. The snorkeling and diving is also world-class in Cozumel.
Mayan ruin sites are also located within a short drive from Playa. There is Tulum and Xel-Ha on the coast. Inland not far away is Coba and Punta Laguna. A further drive but well worth the trip is Valladoid and the great Chichen Itza. You can either take a colectivo, bus, tour or rent a car to get to these locations.
Not far from Playa is the magnificent Xcaret, which will thrill both young and old. It is a Mayan Eco Disney World. You can spend a whole day there, easy. Not far away is the fun Xel-Ha Eco Park which has excellent snorkeling. For eco enthusiasts there are also;
There are also caves and cenotes all over the place. A cenote is a whole in the ground with spring-water in it. You can swim/snorkel/dive in the cenotes and the experience is quite memorable for divers. The caves are exciting and many were used by early Mayans to seek refuge from severe storms.
All over the countryside are small towns and pueblos with shops and stores for you to visit. You can get great deals at many of these places located in the middle of no-where. If you are renting a car and driving in the interior you will encounter many of these.
There is Mayan stuff everywhere as the Mayan culture is still alive and thriving in this part of Mexico. There is also an Azteca influence, however, this is only in the commercial sense as the Aztecas are from the north of Mexico, when in Playa you are in Mayan territory. There is of course trade between all states of Mexico so goods from outside the Mayan world are present as well.
Cozumel is less than an hours ferry ride away and the snorkeling and diving there is fantastic. Cozumel also offers an alternative to shopping in Playa del Carmen. You will see much of the same stuff in Cozumel but you will also see things not sold on the mainland in Playa, Cancun or anywhere else.
At night Playa rocks! Many of the bars along the strip have bands ranging from reggae to salsa to traditional Mexican. The Cubans are even starting to appear which is a good sign that the music scene in Playa is going to take off.
You can stroll from bar to bar then hit the after hour clubs which are quite lively. They are located on the beach and will have anything from fire dancers to bongo bands performing. Lots of single people stay in Playa because it is a safe clean place.
THINGS TO DO IN AND AROUND PLAYAShopping has to be Playa's biggest attraction. Avida Quinta is a pedestrian mall lined with little shops and malls. Bargaining is expected here.
Skydiving is available on the beach just south of the ferry dock at Sky Dive Playa.
Playacar boasts an excellent golf course. It is a little pricey, but well worth the fee, as it includes food and a cart. Worth trying once.
For more Golf info see: Mayan Riviera Golfling
Tres Rios Ecopark is located 10 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. Explore nature in this tropical reserve.
For more info visit the official
Cenotes: natural limestone and coral wells that lead to underground rivers, caverns and cave systems. They provide fabulous views of stalactite and stalagmite formations, halagtites, rim pools and a rainbow of coloured tropical fish.
For more information on cenotes see: Caves & Cenotes
Aktun Chen: In the jungle between Akumal and Xel-Ha. Beautiful underground dry caves with stalactite and stalagmite formations and a spectacular fresh water cenote. You might even be lucky enough to see spider monkeys. Poisonous and non-poisonous snakes can be seen at the serpentarium. Open 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Entrance fee.
Take a guided tour of the jungle on an ATV. see Tours
The Cedam Maritime Museum in Puerto Aventuras houses an interesting display of various artifacts and wreckage from shipwrecks along the coastline. The museum can be found at the northern end of the marina.
Deep Sea Fishing: Sport fishing boat charters for day or half day excursions. For more information on Sport Fishing see:
For more info see: Deep Sea Fishing
Excursions on horse back through the jungle and along beaches. see Tours
Pac Chen Jungle Tour: Enjoy a traditional meal cooked the Mayan way at an authentic Mayan community tucked away in the jungle. This expedition includes canoeing and rappelling. see Tours
Punta Laguna: Spend time with spider monkeys and howler monkeys in their natural habitat. You can trek in the jungle and travel Punta Laguna by boat. Birds, deer, turtles and crocodiles are among the other wildlife to be seen. Punta Laguna is northwest of Coba.
Xaman-Ha Aviary: Home to exotic birds including scarlet macaws, flamingos and herons. Xaman-Ha is in the development of Playacar.
Yal Ku Lagoon: Swim and snorkel in the fresh water of this aqua coloured lagoon in Akumal. Entrance fee.
For more info see: Yal Ku Lagoon
For more info see: Cozumel Island
For more info see: Akumel
LabnaHa Eco Park & Diving
For more info see:
Hidden Worlds Cenote Park
Some of the attractions include a reenactment of a traditional Maya ballcourt game, butterfly pavilion, traditional Mexican dance and music, small zoo and much more. The swimming here is excellent and the water theme park rivals Disney World; in fact we think it is better.
Located right next to Xcaret, Xplor offers visitors additional adventure experiences such as zip-lines [there are 11 in the park], Amphibious Vehicles, which you can drive on top and under the earth and other water activities.
There are restaurants, lockers and change-rooms at the park.
For more info see: Xplor Eco Park
The reserve contains unexcavated Maya ruins, freshwater canals, cenotes, mangroves, lagoons and inlets.
The fishing village of Boca Paila is within the reserve. The town of Punta Allen is the end of the Maya Riviera found at the southern tip of the reserve.
For more info visit the official
MAYAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES
Playa has a few small Mayan ruins. There are some right on 5th Ave. and a few in Playacar, which is a short walk from 5th Ave. near the ferry docks. The ruin sites that you can visit outside of Playa del Carmen are Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, Coba, Xel-Ha, Tulum, Muyil and Punta Laguna.
TravelYucatan.com offers tours to: Chicken Itza, Coba and Tulum only.
Nobody offers tours to Xel-Ha ruins and we are not sure if any tour companies offer tours to Ek Balam or Muyil.
People tend to completely overlook Xel-Ha's significances as an important archeological site. Located on the other side of the highway across from Xel-Ha park are the ruins. The Maya who lived here supplied lime to make cement to inland cities and villages. We believe they were probably very wealthy due to their lime business and proximity to seafood, hunting and agriculture. The lime came from harvesting conch shells, burning them then crushing into a fine powder. The entire area would have been completely void of trees except for fruit trees and trees used for wind blocks.
Some tour companies offer day excursions to Uxmal.
Ruin sites located within a reasonable distance from Playa del Carmen are:
View Ruin site Map for the Yucatan.
*** large site ** medium site * small site
View Ruin site Map for Quintana Roo.
For more information regarding visiting
PLAYA DEL CARMEN HOTELSFor current Playa del Carmen hotel and resort information including rates, availability and secure on-line reservations please see:
Playa del Carmen Hotels & Resorts
Cancun Airport to Hotel Shuttle see:
Answers for many of your questions may possibly be found here: