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Playa del Carmen: Travel tips & our honest experience report

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Playa del Carmen – still in the 70 years a sleepy fishing village, today one of THE tourist hotspots in Mexico. It doesn’t surprise us: Playa del Carmen is blessed with beautiful Caribbean dream beaches .

However (we have to be honest): Of all the places on our Yucatán tour, we liked Playa del Carmen the least. Why that was the case and how you can still have a wonderful time here, we will tell you in this blog article. Curtain up for our personal tips and experiences for Playa del Carmen.

1. Playa del Carmen: Interesting Facts, Experiences & FAQs What can I expect in Playa del Carmen? Caribbean Picture Book Beaches

Let’s start with the positive aspects: We have rarely seen such beautiful beaches as along the Riviera Maya. Here you can expect white, finest sandy beach & turquoise sea. Tourism Packages
Not so great: On some parts of the beach in Playa del Carmen there is a hotel to the next. Many of them are all-inclusive hotels or geared towards American package tourism. We’ve been told that it’s probably a lot “worse” in Cancún, but one thing is certain: the hustle and bustle wasn’t really our thing. Little authentic flair

Anyone walking along Quinta Avenida (“5th Avenue”) in Playa del Carmen will notice it immediately: authentic flair? None! The usual fashion chains dominate the street scene here. Compared to other destinations on the Yucatán Peninsula, Playa del Carmen is much more international. Is it worth stopping in Playa del Carmen? Yes and no. We put Playa del Carmen at the end of our trip to Mexico to soak up some sun before departure. Since Playa del Carmen is not even an hour’s drive from Cancún Airport , this makes sense.

Do we regret going to Playa del Carmen? Definitely not! We had a really good time at the beach club of our choice. (Of course, our tip follows later in this blog article.)

Would we travel to Playa del Carmen again? Probably not, since other beach destinations on the Yucatán Peninsula appealed to us more.

How many days should I stay in Playa del Carmen? We ourselves stayed two nights in Playa del Carmen and honestly found that to be sufficient. It has to be said that Playa del Carmen was “only” the end of our round trip on the Yucatán Peninsula and we had already spent a lot of time on other beaches before that.

Are you looking for a travel destination for a longer beach holiday in Mexico? Then we would personally recommend Tulum rather than Playa del Carmen. Although Tulum is just as touristy, the “hippie vibe” there definitely appeals to us more.

2. The most beautiful beaches in Playa del Carmen Playa del Carmen is blessed with endless beaches, some of which merge into one another. The following beaches are the most popular and well-known.

Playacar Beach Playacar is like a city within the city. Countless hotels are located in this extensive area south of the center. Nevertheless (or maybe because of that) the Playacar beach is considered the most beautiful in Playa del Carmen.

The disadvantage of Playacar: If you are not staying in one of the hotels there, you have to walk up make the way to Playacar beach. Playacar is not accessible to external guests by car.

Depending on where in Playa del Carmen you are starting from, you can walk to Playacar in about 10 until 25 minutes. Alternatively, you can take a taxi to Playacar (approximately 500 Pesos).

Playacar Beach is usually surprisingly quiet and unexpected you a caribbean beach like out of a picture book. There is no infrastructure (beach clubs, restaurants, etc.) – so it’s best to take something to drink or eat with you.

Mamitas Beach You can find the classic “Playa del Carmen flair” on this beach called Mamitas, which is named after the beach club of the same name. The beach is, so to speak, the “home beach” of Playa del Carmen and is located right near the center. You can find access to Mamitas Beach, for example, at the end of Calle 28.

DJ Sounds and Beach Clubs – Life pulsates at Mamitas Beach. Lots of young people can be found here and there are also beach parties from time to time.

For us personally, there is too much hustle and bustle for a relaxing day at the beach, but there are also quieter corners, so you’re sure to find a nice spot. For a small fee (or minimum consumption – depending) you can also rent loungers with parasols.

Our tip: Xpu-Há
In search of the perfect beach for our very last beach day in Mexico, we ended up at Xpu-Há Beach. And what can we say: Best decision!

Xpu-Há beach is outside of Playa del Carmen, more precisely around 25 drive from the center. A postcard motif awaits you from a beach: the finest sand, turquoise blue water – simply beautiful!

We spent our time on Xpu-Há beach at KSM Beach Club . The usual loungers (not the beach bed) are free, but you have to consume something on site. (It’s best to check in advance whether there is a minimum order value – we didn’t have one.) We simply ordered something over the course of the day (fresh coconut, cocktails, nachos). That was perfect for us!

Of course it is not absolutely necessary to visit a beach club if you don’t want to. Good to know: For Xpu-Há Beach, a small entrance fee will be charged from 60 Pesos due. Parking spaces are available.

Important Note: Brown Algae Problem in Mexico Maybe you’ve heard the term “Sargassum” before? If not, then be sure to read on. Like the entire Riviera Maya in Mexico, Playa del Carmen is also affected by the brown algae problem.

What that means? Depending on the season (and other causes that are only partially understood), masses of Sargassum (often called “Seaweed”) wash up on the shore. The situation has gotten partially out of control for a few years, resulting in real carpets of algae in the sea that have made swimming not really enjoyable.

The brown algae are also deposited on the beach and cause a quite unpleasant smell. The beach does get wet in front of large hotels or on well-known beaches usually well cleaned, but it often looks different in less frequented sections.

How do I know which beaches are affected? Bad news: Since the situation can change almost daily or always affects other regions, it is unfortunately practically impossible to make a prediction.

But we have a great tip for you. Current photos and updates from various beaches in Mexico are posted daily in this Facebook group : Sargasso Seaweed Updates Riviera Maya. You can find even more information about our personal experiences in this blog article: Tulum.

3. Eating & Drinking: Tips for Restaurants & Cafes The selection of restaurants in Playa del Carmen is endless and very international. There is sushi and Thai food, burgers and pizza and of course – how could it be otherwise – also Mexican restaurants.

With the abundance of restaurants in Playa del Carmen, one can be quite overwhelmed, so in this chapter we will tell you our culinary tips.

Lara & Luca Looking for a cool breakfast place ? Then we can highly recommend Lara & Luca. The menu features Avocado Toast, Eggs Benedict and other classics. There is also very good coffee – optionally also with plant-based milk varieties.

Lara & Luca is primarily a place where expats and young travelers meet. The restaurant is usually very busy and the tables are comparatively close together. Nevertheless, we can highly recommend this hip café .

El Fogon This simple taquéria serves delicious, typical Mexican dishes. So if you are looking for tacos, quesadillas and co, we can highly recommend a visit.

The ambience is simple and traditional, the prices are cheap and the rush is usually large. The restaurant is also very popular with locals. Our conclusion: It’s worth stopping by.

La Cueva del Chango Great food & great ambience – that describes this restaurant best. You are sitting here in a beautiful, really lovingly designed garden. Just lovely!

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. The menu includes specialties from Mexican cuisine. Big plus: There are also countless vegan and vegetarian options.

Organic Natural The name lets it already suspect: Only organic ingredients are used in Bio Natural. Most dishes are vegan, some vegetarian. Fusion cuisine is served, for example salads, bowls, pitas or Indian curry.

The restaurant is located very centrally in Playa del Carmen, more precisely around the corner from the famous Quinta Avenida (“5th Avenue”). The atmosphere is unassuming, but we really enjoyed it.

4. Our hotel tip for Playa del Carmen One of the reasons why we chose our What we ended up really enjoying in Playa del Carmen was our wonderful accommodation, the Hotel Morgana. We can warmly recommend this pretty boutique hotel.

Each room is a little different and made with a lot of love Detail designed. The beds are very comfortable and otherwise you just feel good. Our tip: When booking, make sure that you get one of the rooms in the higher categories, because there is no real window in the cheapest category. (But it is clearly visible in the description.)

The hotel is not directly on the sea, but you can reach the beach in a few minutes on foot. You can also look forward to a really cool rooftop pool . The courteous staff also deserves a big compliment. We were welcomed so warmly and given great tips during our stay.

Here you can book the hotel: Hotel Morgana

5. Our conclusion about Playa del Carmen Do you have to see Playa del Carmen? We don’t think so. The artificially raised center of Playa del Carmen is not very charming. And as a beach destination on the Yucatán Peninsula, Playa del Carmen isn’t our first choice either. (Tulum promised us a lot more.)

All of this is of course criticism on a high level, because the beaches are without a doubt beautiful. Because of the proximity to Cancún International Airport, it’s a good idea to spend a few days at the beach before flying home.

So that you can To give you a better overview, we have drawn our highlights and the most beautiful beaches in Playa del Carmen on this map. We wish you a nice holiday!

Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

Have you already spent your vacation in Playa del Carmen in Mexico? How did you like it? Do you have any tips that you would like to add? We look forward to hearing about your experiences!