Playa del Carmen
If you are looking for large, sandy beaches, Playa del Carmen is a good option. However, don`t expect the nightlife you have in Cancun.
On the othere hand from Playa del Carmen you have acces to many interesting day trips.
After spending a week in Cancun beach, we loved the tranquility of Playa del Carmen. In our opinion it is a good idea to divide your holiday time between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Depending on how much vacation time you have, staying to long in either of these locations is a petty.
On top Playa del Carmen and Cancun are not too far from each other and it is easy to travel between both locations.
Things not to miss:
Playa del Carmen is mainly about the beaches. But these are very nice. Wide sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters.
A daytrip to Cozumel is something you should not miss.
When we stayed in Playa del Carmen we spent most of our time on the beach. Back home we regret that we did not explore more of the area. This because you have many interesting sites which are more than worth a visit. So don`t make the mistake we made and consider visiting:
- The Maya ruins in Chicken Itza.
- The ecological and archeology park of Xcaret
- The ancient city of Tulum.
We really felt and still feel stupid we did not do this.
Hotels are of a high standard in Playa del Carmen. As there is more space then in Cancun, you will find larger outdoor space. And with that comes also large swimming pools and plenty of space on the beach.
We stayed at the Riu Palace Riviera Maya. When we choose a beach vacation in the Caribbean or Mexico, the Riu Palace hotels are one of our favorites. You are always guaranteed of a good standard of service, food and drinks.
Prices are reasonable as you consider it are mainly all-inclusive hotels. You have hotels in all categories, but as you will have spent most of your holiday in the hotel, we advise to do your research. Make sure that in any kind of category you book your hotel, even if it is a 5 star, that it is according to this standard. Tripadvisor is a real gift in this aspect.
The hotels are in general large and you have plenty of space at the pool area. The only time that we were disappointed with a Riu Palace hotel was in Aruba.
The restaurant options beside the buffet restaurant are always plenty. And so is the selection of drinks.
The quality and hygiene of the restaurants, which is important for us, is always well arranged.
The Riu Palace has for us always been a safe choice.
We did not face any occasion that we felt unsafe. Just take your normal precautions. The safety concerns about Mexico are for us not applicable for Playa del Carmen. The same safe feeling we had in Cancun beach and Cabo San Lucas.
Be careful with booking a snorkeling or another trip.
We booked a snorkeling trip when we arrived by boat in Cozumel directly at the harbor. However, at the moment we made our booking, the harbor police showed up. The person did not hold a license to sell these kinds of trips. This means there is no insurance, and you must wait and see what kind of boat you are put on.
Even when we booked a official trip, the snorkeling wat not a nice experience. We were dropped at open sea and hat to swim a long distance.
If you are not a good swimmer, this could become a problem. Moreover, the snorkeling was not that great. Maybe we were not in the right area, but it was nowhere close as that it was advertised
Playa del Carmen is quite easy reachable from the airport in Cancun. There are quite some options, like taxi or minivan. Of course, if you have booked an organized trip you don`t need to worry about this.
The transfer time from the airport in Cancun is about 1 hour and more or less 70 kilometers. A taxi should be less than $100.
Playa del Carmen has all year warm weather. But be careful in the late summer and autumn months as this the rainy season and it can rain for longer periods.
Also, the weather in the period November – February can be not warm enough to really enjoy the pool or beach. And when you go to Playa del Carmen, you for the beach, it will ruin your vacation.
If you are planning to go in this period, maybe it is a good option to go for a lastminute so that you can wait for the weather forecast. Moreover, as Playa del Carmen is facing tropical storms and hurricanes every now ant hen.
On the other hand the temperature in the summer is also not getting to high, so that it is still pleasant to stay outside at the pool.
Culture and people
Mexican people are open and friendly. But the main Mexican people you will deal with during your stay in Playa del Carmen will be sales people. And they can be quite pushy.
About the culture, there is a lot to explore from Playa del Carmen. We missed most of it. Don`t make the same mistake!
Food and drinks
It is convenient to stay in an all-inclusive hotel, but it takes away the charm of eating in authentic Mexican places.
On the other hand, the hotel where we stayed was outside of Playa del Carmen with not to many options around. In this case it is a good option to book all-inclusive as you will have most of your meals inside the hotel. Especially during the lunch hours, when it will be hot outside you don`t want to go all the time to a restaurant outside the hotel.
Still, you should at least take one dinner in Playa del Carmen itself. Preferable a bit out of the main touristic area to have a more authentic experience.