Playa del Carmen is located about 68 km away from Cancun, and in the heart of the Mayan Riviera. In my opinion, it’s an nice place to stay and I’d even be happy to live there for a while.
This beach town has all the facilities and easy access to many tourist attractions in the area. However, a few blocks away from Quinta Avenida you can also enjoy quiet places that will make you feel like a local.
My time in Playa del Carmen was short, but I felt very comfortable and safe.
It was a really nice experience and I was able to explore the area plus everything it has to offer.
These are some of the reasons why I think Playa del Carmen is a nice place to live
1. It has lovely weather
I come from a tropical country, so when staying in Playa I still felt in my environment. It can get quite hot, but nothing that a visit to the sea, pool or cenotes does not solve!
The average temperature throughout the year ranges from 20 to 32 ˚ C.
It should be noted that the hurricane season begins in June and ends in November. However, Playa and the area of the Riviera Maya have rarely been seriously affected by these events.
2. I found less traffic than in Panama or other major cities
Living in Panama, I experience bad traffic every day. It’s stressful and puts me in a bad mood.
I know this is a problem of most big cities like Bogota, Lima, Mexico D.F, etc.
However, during my stay in Playa del Carmen, I never got to experience a traffic jam.
Yes, there was a bit of normal traffic, but nothing even comparable to what I’ve seen in other cities.
I would be happy to live in Playa del Carmen to avoid the traffic nightmare.
3. People are really friendly
If you want to meet friendly people, you can find them throughout Mexico. Even though people from different places live in Playa del Carmen, you can always find a person to count on.
People may try to help you as much as they can in what you need. They will go the extra mile to guide you in the right direction, to greet you and thank you.
4. It’s very easy to move around
La Quinta Avenida is a pedestrian street in Playa del Carmen which is always full of life and activity. You can’t miss it.
This avenue is the backbone of Playa del Carmen. From there you can get to several popular spots such as shops, restaurants, museums, clubs, bars. It also has access to the beach and clubs such as Mamita’s Beach Club.
Lastly, it’s very easy to move around from Playa to other places within the Yucatan Peninsula. The cost is also very affordable.
Bus and taxi services are good. But you can also walk around within Playa or drive to different areas.
5. There are beautiful places to visit around
The Mayan Riviera extends along the Mexican Caribbean coast, from Puerto Morelos to Punta Allen south of Tulum. Playa del Carmen is in a perfect location because from there you can visit beautiful beaches, natural sanctuaries and do different activities. But let’s not forget, you can find delicious vegan options!
I highly recommend that you visit the Mayan Riviera and its surroundings. Below are some of the points of interest that you can see.
Tulum Archeological Zone
Tulum is located just 63km from Playa del Carmen and 131km away from Cancun.
One of the cheapest ways to get there is by boarding one of the buses that stop on Calle 2 Norte and Avenida 20, very close to Quinta Av. The cost is around 40 MXN and they are quite frequent.
ADO buses also have a route to the ruins and you can make your reservation online. But they have less frequency and the price is around 70 MXN.
At the end of this post, I will leave a link with more information on how to get to Tulum.
Tulum is a place full of history. So far, they are the only Mayan ruins that have a view and access to the sea. So take advantage of that and dip in its beautiful turquoise waters after you’ve explored around.
Try to visit as early as possible because the place gets crowded.
The area of Tulum conserves a lot of its natural environment. There is a great offer of hotels so it would be very good to be able to explore more the area and stay longer if possible.
The vegan restaurants in Tulum also provide an important reason to opt to stay longer.
And if you are not convinced, take a look at these pictures!
Coba and Chichen Itza
Another impressive archaeological site is the ruins of Coba, located about 44 km from Tulum.
They are special because they are surrounded by natural lakes and in addition, they are still allowed to climb, unlike the ruins in Chichen Itza.
But also, from Playa del Carmen you can easily go to the famous Mayan city of Chichen Itza either by bus or driving.
Cenotes and their crystal clear waters
From the first time I heard about the cenotes, I always felt a fascination. The area of the Yucatan Peninsula has dozens of these natural sinkholes throughout the region.
The term cenote is only used in Mexico and comes from the Mayan word “dzonot”, or abyss.
For them, it represented an entrance to the underworld and a source of life for the important resource they provided.
If you visit, you should definitely swim in its beautiful and fresh waters! They are also a great spot for snorkeling or scuba diving.
Some of the popular cenotes are Cristal, Xkekén, Ik Kil, Dos Ojos, Cristalino, Cenote Azul, El Eden, among others.
Cozumel is an island very close to Playa del Carmen. It can be easily reached by taking the ferry that sails from the pier in Playa, where several companies offer their services.
This beautiful island offers a good option for a day trip.
You can also enjoy spectacular turquoise water beaches, lush nature, and archeological sites.
If you enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving then this is the perfect place for it because of the incredible underwater life.
Beach, beach and more beach
There is over 150 km of coastline to choose from!
It is possible to visit a different beach every day. Either in Playa del Carmen with its several beach clubs. Akumal with the cute turtles or the majestic turquoise beaches of Cancun, Isla Mujeres or Tulum.
You’re the owner of the choice.
Sian Ka’an Reserve
If what you want is to venture into the jungle, then a tour to Sian Ka’an can be very attractive. This is the largest protected area of the Yucatan peninsula and the Mexican Caribbean.
Sian Ka’an is a natural sanctuary located south of Tulum.
You can find beautiful coral reefs, lots of marine and terrestrial fauna, different types of habitats and natural attractions such as virgin forests, cenotes, mangroves, and even sand dunes.
Cancun and other stunning places
The city of Cancun is very close to Playa del Carmen, but in my opinion, it’s a bit more crowded and chaotic.
However, if you are not staying in Cancun then it’s s worth going to visit that city at least one day because there are also interesting things to see and they have some vegan restaurants with yummy food.
To see more details about Cancun go to the link I made about it on my Cancun: Vegan Travel Guide.
In addition to Cancun, the Yucatan Peninsula has many beautiful and interesting towns and villages. You’d need more time to explore them, hence it would be ideal to live in Playa del Carmen to be able to explore more.
Some of the places I suggest are Isla Holbox, Bacalar, Mérida, Valladolid, among others.
6. Delicious Vegan Food
Sometimes when you travel, it’s not always possible to find places with so many restaurants that understand the concept of veganism. Much less that offer options for this type of travelers.
Luckily, Playa del Carmen was not one of those cases! While I was doing my usual research I could find many places that were very interesting and offered delicious food.
I had a list that included many restaurants, and even though I tried to visit as many as possible, I couldn’t try them all so it will remain pending for the next time.
To learn more about all the things I ate during my stay in Playa and what you can try there, check out my next post!
Why I didn’t visit XCARET, XELHA and similar?
All the travel guides I checked suggested that I should not miss a visit to these parks. All my acquaintances who had visited the Mayan Riviera recommended them to me.
The truth is that the parks looked great and super fun to spend an entertaining day. But there was something that didn’t convince me at all…
The fact that they also feature the “swim with the dolphins” show and keep animals in captivity, although it’s advertised as an eco-touristic and sustainable place.
Part of me was not comfortable with it and I decided to investigate a little bit more. I checked with local vegans to know more details about these parks.
Finally, I made the personal decision not to go, because I do not like to participate, or attend places where animals are used for entertainment. I feel that it is more enjoyable to interact in a different way with nature.
Below I want to share some links that can help you plan a trip in case you want to visit Playa del Carmen.
- How to get to the ruins of Tulum
- Getting to Coba
- How to get to Cozumel
- Guide to get to the Sian Ka’an reserve
I hope you enjoyed this little review about Playa and the things that can be done around the Riviera Maya.
Playa del Carmen, it’s definitely a wonderful place that’s worth visiting and those who live there are very fortunate.
For any questions or comments do not hesitate to leave them below and as always, I invite you to follow me on my social networks to find out about my latest adventures.