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Playa del Carmen: A Paradise in the Mayan Riviera

By Gabriela Lopez |

Travel to Playa del Carmen in the Mayan Riviera, where everything is possible, from having the most relaxing vacation ever to enjoying an intense adventure in turquoise waters.

DINKtravelers, your world travel guide, recommends visiting the Yucatan Peninsula, an incredible territory surrounded by the Caribbean that invites you to explore its past and “rediscover” magical archaeological sites such as Muyil and Chichen Itza, surrounded by exuberant vegetation. It’s also an ideal place to delight in cochinita pibil, one of the most exquisite dishes in the region, or swim in cenotes, which the Maya culture thought to be sacred. If that’s not enough, we invite you to go on a tour of all the Mayan Riviera.

Mexico is a country that’s known for its cultural and natural diversity. It stands out for its singular tradition and historic wealth. Without doubt, its beaches are some of the world’s most beautiful and you can bathe in them at the paradise-like Mayan Riviera. It is located in southeast Mexico, in the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula that faces the Caribbean. It covers most of the state of Quintana Roo with an extension of 130km.

The Mayan Riviera is proof of the treasures this country houses. It’s a place where travelers can find beach and jungle landscapes; sublime areas to practice water sports and explore ancient cultural sites. While it’s ideal for fans of ecotourism, it’s also great for party lovers because it’s full of day and night bars and discotheques. And yes, there are also great restaurant and shopping opportunities, so there’s something for all tastes.

Playa del Carmen

Around 68km south of Cancun you’ll find Playa del Carmen, a former calm fishing town that is now the main city of the Riviera and one of the most cosmopolitan destinations in the area. You can travel there year round but summer is the best month to do so. There, you’ll find all types of lodging, from cheap options to luxurious resorts.

Top 8 Things to Do in Playa del Carmen

#1 Enjoy its amazing beaches

Take your time to lie down on the soft white sand and enjoy its beautiful sunrises. Also, don’t miss the chance to explore coral reefs and practice snorkel and diving.

#1 Enjoy its amazing beaches

#2 Walk on Fifth Avenue

This pedestrian street runs parallel to the beach and it’s a good place to buy Mexican artwork, accessories and also clothing from top brands. There, you’ll also find jewelries, art galleries, bars, coffee shops, and Mexican and international restaurants. There’s much to do during the day and at night along the 3km it covers.

#2 Walk on Fifth Avenue

#3 Discover a Secret River

It’s made up by several underground caverns that are full of stalactites and stalagmites that form an indescribable Eden. This wonder was “discovered” by a local townsman in 2008. It’s a great attraction for intrepid travelers. Tours are three to five hours long during which specialized guides will also lend you the necessary equipment, including flashlights and lifesavers.

#3 Discover a Secret River

#4 Dive with sharks

People who are addicted to adrenaline will love swimming with bull sharks. Between January and March this 3.5 meter-long species that weighs 3000 kilos arrives at the area in order to have their offspring. Evidently, you must take certain precautions and be very respectful with these fascinating sea mammals. Enjoy the 25 minute-long adventures provided you are an experienced diver. Authorized diving tour operators are also promoters of the preservation of this unique shark.

#4 Dive with sharks

#5 Swim in the Chaak Tun Cenote

If you travel to the Mayan Riviera, you won’t only have fun at the beach. We invite you to swim in a cenote, a characteristic natural spring of the Yucatan Peninsula. Even though these geological formations exist around the world, they are quite rare. In this territory they are very important because during the Prehispanic period they believed they were portals to the underworld. Swimming in these natural scenarios can be a mystical experience. They are so special that their conservation is of great importance, that’s why you must avoid using all kinds of chemical products (cream, sunscreen, hairspray) on the day you go swimming in them. Also, don’t touch the stalactites in the cenote because that stops their growth completely. Chaak Tun is located only 15 minutes away from downtown Playa del Carmen.

#5 Swim in the Chaak Tun Cenote

#6 Be amazed by underwater creatures at the Playa Aquarium

If you want to learn about marine life while having fun, this is for you. The aquarium raises awareness about the importance of oceans conservation. It houses 200 species, most of them endemic, that are distributed in three different levels. Opening hours are from 11:00 to 22:00 h from Monday to Sunday. Entrance costs 8 USD per person.

#6 Be amazed by underwater creatures at the Playa Aquarium

#7 Visit Xaman-Ha: an impressive bird sanctuary

It’s located in the touristic development of Playacar, south of Playa del Carmen. It houses a wide variety of plants and trees, as well as a collection of 200 tropical birds. Tours last an average of 45 minutes during which they teach you about local flora and fauna.

#7 Visit Xaman-Ha: an impressive bird sanctuary

#8 Enjoy the best music in the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival

It takes place in November at Mamitas Beach. It has gradually become one of the best jazz festivals in the world. It’s an event you can’t miss if you like this music genre and want to listen to musicians play in an open-air stage. Since 2003, both Mexican artists such as Cecilia Toussaint and Hector Infanzon, and international ones like Norah Jones, have performed there. Also, it offers many other cultural activities such as painting and photography exhibits, reading and film events.

#8 Enjoy the best music in the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival

How to Get to Playa del Carmen?

The closest airport is the International Airport of Cancun, the second most important one in the country after the one in Mexico City. It receives connecting and direct flights to most capital cities in Central and South America, as well as cities in the United States, Canada and Europe.

You can get to Playa by taking a bus at the airport. Also, you can get there by car or even take a taxi from Cancun. It takes around an hour to get there along Cancun-Tulum/Mexico 307 highway.