Dream Caribbean Travel

Kick The Sand Up In Playa Del Carmen

When in doubt, travel.

“You can shake the sand from your shoes, but it will never leave your soul.”

Kick The Sand Up In Playa Del Carmen

Welcome to Playa Del Carmen. This an enticing place that will romance and seduce you. Before you know it, you will be in love.

Playa has the gorgeous beaches and an endless array of activities that will tickle your adventure bone, it’s going to be hard to say good-bye.

This article is to help you decide if Playa Del Carmen is for you or not but even more so, I hope this article gets you excited and ready to travel and experience the magic that is Playa Del Carmen for yourself.

*Hint: The best way to make sure you have the best Mexico Vacation is to utilize a Travel Agent.

When in doubt, travel.

Kick The Sand Up In Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen, meaning “Beach of Carmen” or “Carmen’s Beach”, is located on the Caribbean Coast in the state of Quinta Roo, about 1 hour south of Cancun and 45 minutes to 1 hour north of Tulum.

Playa’s Mayan name was “Xaman-Ha” meaning “water of the north” because it was a vital stop along the Mayan’s pilgrimage to the island of Cozumel.

In more recent times, it used to be a quiet fishing village but started growing slowly during the 1980’s as tourists started trickling down from Cancun.  Eventually, it was christened and became the tourist hot spot we all know and flock to today.

When in doubt, travel.

Kick The Sand Up In Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen's Famed 5th Avenue

How to Navigate Playa Del Carmen's 5th Avenue

Playa Del Carmen is full of culture and tradition with a contemporary flare and a dash of the modern world.

Playa Del Carmen’s Main Street, La Quinta Avenida or 5th Avenue runs parallel to the ocean just past 3rd Avenue.

The “Calles” or streets that run parallel to the beach are represented in increments of 5, ex. 5, 10, 15 and so on with a few acceptations of avenues 1 and 3 in some locations while streets represented by even numbers, 10th,12th, 14th and so on, run perpendicular to the shore.

I know it may sound confusing but it’s really not, once you are there and since you are going there with that little bit of knowledge already, you will catch on with no problem.

Don't Leave Playa Del Carmen Off Your Mexico Exploration List

While staying anywhere near Playa Del Carmen, leaving the famed 5th avenue off your exploration list would be a mistake.

If you stay in town, you can’t miss it but if you are staying in an all-inclusive resort or even a 30 minute taxi cab ride away, take some time out and venture around La Quinta Avenida. 

It’s a nice place for a coffee and/or a quite run in the morning but soon the night owls will rise and transform the calm morning into a bustling hot spot in late evening, night.

Shopping In Downtown Playa Del Carmen

From the Playa del Carmen pier to Cozumel walk straight up from the shore a short distance until you hit your destination at 5th avenue. To your right is North, heading towards Little Italy, are avenues 20 and up (remember these run perpendicular to the beach and by even numbers). To your left will be South, heading towards Playa-Car, Avenues 18 and down.

A variety of shops, restaurants and bars line much of this area, which I get into later in this article.

You are able to find low key or high-end restaurants which can be a nice change from the resort food.

Some of these stores have true Mexican made arts and crafts but most actually come from other parts of the world.

If you want an exciting souvenir to show off at home, I recommend getting one from the Mayan village in Coba, if you visit the Coba Ruins. They are genuinely Mayan, descendants of the Ancient Mayans and reasonably priced. Any revenue from the items bought in their town go to help support their community and preserve their culture. It’s a positive way to spend your souvenir dollars.

*Most of these shops, restaurants and bars accept American dollars and credit cards, check out, The Mexican Caribbean or Mexico’s Pacific Coast where I have gone over currency a little more in depth.

When in doubt, travel.

Kick The Sand Up In Playa Del Carmen

Things to Do in Playa Del Carmen

Mexico's Eco Parks

Mexico has multiple eco-parks but the closest one to Playa Del Carmen is Xplore, and it is only a few miles south of the town.

These parks are a fun and safe way to get acquainted with the animals and marine life in and around the Mayan Riviera.

I go more in depth about Mexico’s Eco Adventures in another article Mexico’s Eco-Parks & for more ideas of things to do while visiting Mexico check out Things to Do in the Mexican Caribbean.

Rio Secrado

Echo, echo…echo……

Want to take a break from the surf and explore in the shade?

Rio Secrado is a link of 5 caves strung together by underground rivers. You are able to swim in the rivers and search the caves.

This exciting little gem is only a few miles outside of Playa Del Carmen and is worth the time away from the beach for a couple of hours.

Coralina Daylight Club

The Coralina Daylight Club is an Adults Only, VIP beach club.

If you aren’t staying at an all-inclusive on the coast, this is a great place to start your day in the sun.

It can be a little pricy but comes with a lot of perks you may not have if you are staying inland from the shore. You can either lounge by the pool or soak up the rays in your own ocean front beach bed all while sipping on your favorite beverages.

Located at Calle 26 (This is north of the Playa Del Carmen Pier)


With tons of shops littering 5th Avenue, you are in the right place for some retail therapy.  Wander around and come home with some goodies.

If you’re wanting genuine Mexican souvenirs look before you buy or better yet, head to a small art and crafts boutique, candle and bath shops.

One year we found a shop where the lady made light fixtures from coconuts that she artistically perforated designs in. I was thrilled with the find.

"Oh April! I love the one you got for me."
Dianna L.
My Mom

That is my Mom talking about the coconut light fixture I brought her from Playa Del Carmen (smile).

Lido's Beach Club

Lido’s Beach Club is a great ocean front property with amazing food with even vegan/vegetarian options on their menu and an unbelievable view.

The prices of the beach cabanas are right in line with what other beach clubs charge and is situated on a quieter part of the beach. Or at least it seemed that way to me when we were there because Playa Del Carmen’s beaches can tend to get a little crowded, depending on the time of day and year, of course. 

Don’t forget to get a massage while you’re there. They have so many to choose from and you won’t regret it

Located: Calle 10 & 12, Avenue 1

For more ideas of things to do while visiting Mexico check out Things to Do in the Mexican Caribbean.

When in doubt, travel.

Kick The Sand Up In Playa Del Carmen

Your adventure starts here!

Book you complimentary Tropical Getaway Planning Session today.

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Playa Del Carmen After Dark

Are you ready to show off those new tan lines and discover Playa’s night life?

People that stay elsewhere along Riviera Maya’s coast take at least one night to witness what is, Playa Del Carmen’s “after dark”.

Every time we visit, we take a taxi cab to Playa’s 5th avenue and return to some of our favorite places. The taxi costs will differ depending on where your resort is located. Most of the clubs are not located right on 5th avenue but instead, just right off of it.

Don’t worry, I have you covered. Below each club, I’ll share the location for you so you’ll have more of a game plan.

How Much Are The Covers At The Clubs

Most clubs charge about 100 pesos, $7.00 USD entrance fee to get in. This goes up to about 200 pesos, $14.00 USD during holidays and special events.

*Keep in mind that these prices do not include the more marketed clubs such as Coco Bongo.

As with the clubs in America, or most likely anywhere for that matter, you usually pay less to get in if you arrive early.

If you leave a club and remove your wrist band, if given one, they will make you pay another entrance fee to regain access to the club.

When in doubt, travel.

Kick The Sand Up In Playa Del Carmen

Coco Bongo

I’m sure you’ve heard of the mesmerizing club that is Coco Bongo, which I also discussed about in Cancun After Dark.

This is one of the pricier clubs by far in Playa Del Carmen. Between the variety in shows, confetti, bubbles and balloons cascading down from ceiling, booming music and even Cirque de Soliel dancers hovering high above the crowd, your senses will be on overload, in a good way.

There are VIP sections with tables that will cost a little extra but is an exciting add on.

You are usually able to purchase tickets from your resort but you can also find them for sale at the vendor kiosk throughout 5th avenue book this late night club with your Travel Agent.

Location: Calle 12, between Avenues 5 and 12.

Salon Salsanera Raices

For all of you who love to dance, Salon Salsanera Raices is a dance hall where you can dance your heart out. A live Cuban Orchestra fills the air with Latin music well into the early morning while you dance the night away.

Would you like to learn or brush up on the seductive art of salsa dancing? Get there early and take advantage of their Free Daily Salsa Lessons so you can romance your partner with your new enticing dance moves.

This club is right across the street from Coco Bongo.

Free daily salsa lessons from 9:30pm-10:30pm, an hour before the door open.

Location: Calle 12, between Avenues 5 and 10.

Hours of Operation: 10:30pm to around 5:00am

Thompson Hotel Roof

As the name suggests, this lively place is actually located on the roof top of the chic Thompson Hotel.

You can dance to the nightly DJ or just enjoy a cocktail in the breeze and view of down town. Some events will have a cover and some will not.

If you would like to know what events they have coming up, you can do this by checking out their Facebook page or by asking your resort concierge to check for you.

Location: Calle 12, between Avenues 5 and 10


Stop in and rest your feet from Playa Del Carmen’s Streets.

Fah is an open-air cantina and restaurant where you can listen to some live music and kick back with some refreshing cocktails. They have a variety of food options if you’re in the mood for a little more.

Location: 5th Avenue, between Calle 8 and 10

Pez Vela

This cantina is a great stop in for a few drinks either while you wait for the club scene to begin or just as a break while you are meandering up and down 5th Avenue.

I call it the swing bar but not in the way you may think. The seating around their bar are swings adding to its character and makes for a fun cocktail.

They serve food as well so don’t forget to look at a menu.

Located: 5th Avenue and Calle 2

When in doubt, travel.

Kick The Sand Up In Playa Del Carmen

Restaurants in Playa Del Carmen

While you are visiting Playa Del Carmen, get out and try some amazing food. The diversity and quality of the food is quite amazing. 

Below are some of my favorites as well as eateries my clients have raved about.


Your palate will thank you for visiting this charming little restaurant.

Carboncitos prides itself in authentic Mexican food but it really has such a diversified menu so that even your picky eater will find something they love. I know because I am that picky eater.

So many people rave about this restaurant so I had to check it out, at least for you, my readers.

The prices are reasonable and portions, large.

It truly will exceed all expectations. The fajitas are the best I have ever tasted and my husband loved the ceviche and fish tacos. You’re not going to want to leave this place without trying their margaritas. They’re a definite must try”. Sooooo Good. Their margaritas are a must try.

Located Calle 4, between 5th and 10th Avenue


Dine with the sea breezes and stunning views at Zenzi. Add a little music to that with live bands in the evening and you have a winner.

Zenzi is open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner so there is no excuse for missing out on this jewel of a restaurant. It can get a little pricy but the view is hard to argue with.

With our toes in the sand, we ordered a burger, nachos and tequila shots of course. Hey, when in Mexico.


Located: Beach and Calle 10


Try something new, why not, you’re on vacation.

Nordic Restaurant is located a little bit off 5th avenue is a different kind of food heaven boasting European and Norwegian fare. 

I never thought I’d find this kind of food in Mexico but it was found.  It has such a unique menu that pairs well with their wine selection. This place must have majored in flavor and presentation. If you are a finicky eater, this place may not be for you.

Simply fantastic.

Location: Avenue 15, Calle 6

Lucky Luciano's

You will find this Italian gem of a restaurant as you make your way down 5th Avenue.

If you are serious about pizza, you will absolutely love Lucky Luciano’s. I’m a fan of their pizzas and my husband enjoys their pasta. Lucky Luciano’s also has an appetizer of Kalamata Olives and goat cheese which is fabulous. 

Seriously, you can’t go wrong here.

Pull up a chair at street level or be seated upstairs overlooking the foot traffic below. If you take a seat on their rooftop at night so you can enjoy the ocean breeze and look at the lights below.

Located: 5h Avenue and Calle 28

Alux Restaurant

 Romance your partner with dinner inside a cave at Alux Restaurant. It truly is a unique, one-of-a-kind experience.

Entering at street level, you’ll descend into what feels like another world.

You can go for just drinks and appetizers to check it out but I recommend making a reservation if you are planning to eat dinner, just safe. Making a reservation for the Alux Restaurant is easy by either asking your concierge at your resort or on Open Table.

Your mouth will start to salivate as you read through the menu, and the atmosphere will make for an unforgettable memory. Make sure to take a picture.

Don’t miss out on this one.

When in doubt, travel.

Kick The Sand Up In Playa Del Carmen

DCT's Playa Del Carmen Resort Picks

Playa Del Carmen has many resorts to choose from, Adults Only, All-Inclusive, Kid Friendly All-Inclusive and your regular Hotel.

Below I have named my top 3 resorts, 1 in each of those categories, below.

*If you have already decided that Playa Del Carmen is for you and your next travel adventure, your Travel Agent can put together even more ideas for you.

If you would like to learn more about what a travel agent can do for you, check out How Using A Travel Agent Equals A Better Vacation.

Hilton Playa Del Carmen

This is a beach front all-inclusive, adults only resort and it’s just stunning.

The beach gets a little crowded here because it is literally right next to the Playa Del Carmen pier where tourists from the cruise ships and people staying in Cozumel come over to spend the day. Usually, all of the traffic from the pier go to beach clubs or excursions.

When we stayed here, the cruise ship visitors really were not a problem but, it is something I felt I needed to point out.

You are also easily able to take a day trip from here to Cozumel to check out their world class snorkeling and diving.

A Big Plus about staying at the Hilton Playa Del Carmen is that you are able to experience Playa Del Carmen’s night life much easier. All you have to do is, walk out the door.

Playa-Car Palace

Playa-Car Palace is another all-inclusive beach front property. Please note that this is NOT adults only as Hilton Playa Del Carmen.

If you’re traveling with kids, this is a great option. All you can eat and drink. Your kiddies will feel all grown up ordering their virgin Pina Coladas and if they don’t like a meal they ordered, so what, order another one.

The Fives Downtown Hotel & Residences

This is a hotel on avenue 10 and 2nd Street and it is close to everything.

The Fives Hotel is beautifully designed and boasts large suites, a sparkling roof top pool and spa and 4 restaurants including a coffee shop.

Please note that this hotel is NOT an all-inclusive resort so, you save more upfront but you will need to budget for all of your meals and drinks plus a beach club for your beach days.

When in doubt, travel.

Kick The Sand Up In Playa Del Carmen

Your adventure starts here!

Book your complimentary Tropical Getaway Planning Session today.

Get Started Now

Know Before You Go

  • Individual shops and eateries have their own set hours of operation.
  • Some visitors do caution that street vendors can be aggressive trying to sell their goods along the avenue as in vying very hard for your attention. I have found that if you just ignore them and keep your eyes straight ahead, they will leave you alone. Problem solved.
  • Is Mexico Safe? Check out Health & Safety While in Mexico.
  • Many people have questions regarding currency. Most all restaurants, clubs and shops accept USD (United States Dollars). For more information in respect to currency questions while in Mexico; I have covered this in The Mexican Caribbean or Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

Caring About Your Travels

*Don’t forget to reach out to your Travel Agent to book your next adventure.

Never utilized a travel agent before? Check out How Utilizing A Travel Agent Equals A Better Vacation.



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