Playa del Carmen, or just “Playa,” is a popular tourist destination in the Riviera Maya located 1 hour south of the Cancun International Airport. Ever since this once small fishing village opened its ferry service to the popular island of Cozumel, a world famous scuba diving destination, tourism to the area took off…and it hasn’t stopped! You can see this reflected in the town’s colorful art and diverse culture. Here you’ll discover 5 reasons to love Playa!
1. 5th Avenue
The main area for tourist activity, La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue), is a long stretch of pedestrian walkway a couple blocks from the beach with hundreds of shops, bars, restaurants and small boutique hotels. Enjoy the warm Mexican sun as you leisurely stroll along this trendy strip, do some souvenir shopping and grab a bite to eat, all before hitting the beach.
2. Portal Maya Sculpture
You can’t miss Parque Fundadores (Founder’s Park). You’ll know you’re there when you see the immaculate arch-like monument of a man and a women holding hands over the blue water of the Mexican Caribbean. Standing over 50 feet high and 50 feet wide, the Portal Maya (or Mayan Gateway) is made primarily of bronze. It was built by Mexican sculptor José Arturo Tavares to commemorate the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012 and welcome a new period of prosperity and light.
3. The Beach
Just steps past the awe-inspiring Portal Maya Sculpture lies the beautiful and wide beach of Central Playa, which is frequented by both locals and tourists from all over the world. The town beaches are especially popular among tourists from Canada, Europe and Argentina. Just to the south is the ferry dock to Cozumel and to the north there are plenty of restaurants, bars and dive shops, which line the long stretch of beach for miles.
Depending on the season, see intricate sand sculptures on the main beach created by Argentinian Artist, Jose Gonzalez. Jose is working on a project with the Municipality of Playa del Carmen to beautify the already lovely beaches of the area.
4. Mexican Culture
Encounter Mexican culture at its finest all over town. Right in Founder’s Park enjoy beautiful live shows, such as the Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers), an ancient Mesoamerican ritual still practiced today in Mexico. According to Totonac myth this tradition began as a way to appease the gods and bring back the rain in a time of drought more than 450 years ago. These shows are ongoing and free to the public. Tips are welcome!
Looking for something to munch on during the show? Hit up a traditional Mexican fruit stand! For just 15-20 pesos (about $1.50 US) you can enjoy a cup or bag of delicious fresh cut fruit! It’s great for a refreshing snack!
5. Surrounding Areas
As if all of these wonderful things weren’t enough to make you fall in love with Playa, it’s geographic location in the Riviera Maya makes it that much more desirable. The island of Cozumel is just a 40 minute ferry ride from the dock located in Central Playa. The ferry departs every hour from 6am – 11pm. Additionally, the famous Mexican themed Eco-Park, Xcaret, is located just south of the town.
Do you love Playa? If so, what’s your favorite thing about the town? Share in the comments below!
Book your trip to Cancun & plan your visit to Playa del Carmen now!