Known to indigenous Maya people as Xaman Ha’ or simply as Pláaya, Playa del Carmen is one of the most vibrant tourist spots in the Mexican Riviera. Along with metropolitan Cancun, The Island of Cozumel, the archeological sea-side site of Tulum and the ruins of Chichen Itza, this beautiful coastal town is a must-see for tourists coming to the Yucatan Peninsula. Originally a small town for fishermen, the spot became a tourist outlet when the passenger ferry service to Cozumel was established. Travelers noticed that this low-key settlement was an ideal place to relax away from the crowds visiting urbanized Cancun. Playa del Carmen’s beaches offer excellent sea diving opportunities as well as wonderful inland diving experiences in the many Xenotes surrounding the area. If you are into Open Water Diving and Adventure Diving, you will surely want to check out this beautiful Mayan retreat.
If nonetheless, you are into family trips and group tourism, you may wish to visit the Xcaret eco-archaeological park, a marvelous one-of-its-kind theme park that brings you closer to the Mayan heritage, water sports and local Mexican wildlife. If on the other hand, you wish to stay in or around town, the local activity blossoms on Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), stretching from Calle 1 Norte to Calle 34 in the south end of town. When you stroll down this picturesque street, you will find lots of boutique hotels, local art and craft shops, bars, and international restaurants that will make you feel in a small town with a taste of a metropolis.
Regardless of your favorite activities, you will surely appreciate Playa del Carmen’s charm as a small fishing village and artists’ colony, without it being as boisterous and metropolitan as Cancún, the nearby city that flourishes with American tourists all year long. The local city government of Playa del Carmen has passed an ordinance limiting buildings to three stories, thus making it still a home for the humble, hassle-free tourists that spend their days in this magical town. It is precisely this laid-back atmosphere that has attracted many European expatriates that own and manage local businesses in Playa del Carmen.