Playa del Carmen has a great central spot on the Mayan Riviera, about 70kms south of Cancun and just across the waves from Cozumel. It doesn't have the perfect waters of those resorts, or sand quite as soft and perfect as the beaches further north, but Playa del Carmen is hip. And packed with Europeans who know this is where to find the best boutique hotels and coolest shopping, bars and restaurants. Some of the best places to stay in Playa del Carmen are pretty chic.
But Playa del Carmen is so hip that it's actually OK to not care about your hipness and to just get on with enjoying the town's beautiful reefs and its excellent location in relation to Tulum, Coba and some of the Yucatán Peninsula's other prize destinations.
If you're here to see and be seen, hang out around the Quinta Avenida, or on any stretch of beach. This is an easy town to get around - you'll find a lot within walking distance and the main street is pedestrianised for most of the day. And if you're looking for a lively evening out you'll certainly find it here.
For those who want to do a bit more than relax it's definitely worth exploring Playa del Carmen's underwater world. Dive if you can, or snorkel if you don't fancy it, and you've a good chance of meeting sea turtles, giant eels, graceful rays and a rainbow of fish, all backed by some extraordinary corals.
Playa del Carmen is also about an hours drive from Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, a large area of protected forest and mangrove, with more amazing snorkelling opportunities and all sorts of exotic animals to spot.
The Yucatán Peninsula's cents, or flooded underwater caverns, are another unusual place to go exploring.
Playa del Carmen is also a great spot for fisher-folk, with many local restaurants very happy to 'serve up' your catch.
But make sure you plan your trip well ahead, the best places to stay in Playa del Carmen are busy year round!
Still not sure which is the best place to stay in Playa del Carmen for you?
Playa del Carmen (LT 08 MZ 151 Col Zacil-Ha)
Intimate, adult-only boutique hotel combines traditional looks with contemporary comforts. Bright rooms and the courtyard swimming pool make this an ideal place for exploring by day, and relaxing in the evening. Breakfast is served poolside and is the perfect way to start the day. Great beach spot.
Playa del Carmen
This hotel offers a stripped-back, fashionable chic hotel experience with fantastically friendly service. Rooms are decorated with items bought from local flea-markets and TVs are deliberately not supplied to encourage a more adventurous kind of stay. For those looking for something a bit different.
Playa del Carmen (Quinta Roo)
Urban hip hotel in cosmopolitan neighbourhood of Playa del Carmen, sprinkled with good restaurants. Close to the beach, with roof top pool. Start with early mooring yoga or meditation on the terrace with ocean views. Pretty colourful Mayan style rooms, with balconies and hammocks.
Playa del Carmen
Stunning private villas surrounded by tropical forest and white sands. Watersports abound, delicious fresh fish restaurant, and fantastic Mayan spa to top it all off. A thrill for spa-junkies and beach seekers alike.