One of the fastest developing vacation spots in Mexico, Playa del Carmen is the perfect destination for everything from family getaways to bachelor parties.
Many American entrepreneurs have found Playa to be an ideal location for starting a business, making it a smart choice for those who aren't fluent in Spanish or don't want to sacrifice the comforts of home.
With direct flights into nearby Cancun and temperatures remaining in the 80s, Playa del Carmen offers an easy, affordable escape from the increasingly chilly East Coast air.
There are countless all-inclusive resorts nestled along the beaches leading into the city, but for a more unique experience, opt for a downtown location for your home base like the Acanto Boutique Hotel (16 Norte bis, 1-888-331-2177). Sitting along a shaded cobblestone street, this hotel offers travelers spacious suites that lend themselves to longer stays. The private rooftop decks, equipped with barbecues and hot tubs, afford stunning beach views and breathtaking night skies. Acanto is close to Quinto Avenida (or Fifth Avenue, as it’s known to tourists)?and steps to Playa’s many beach clubs, where you can lounge along the shore.
The sprawling lounge chairs and couches at Zenzi Beach Club (On the beach at 10 Street, 984-803-5738) make it hard to resist a pina colada, day or night. People-watch while you sit back and sip your way to relaxation.
If you’re a cigar enthusiast, visit the quaint Cigar Factory on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 16 Street, where elderly cigar rollers will be hard at work at a table in the window.
Since it’s located within the Riviera Maya, Playa is just a short drive from other Mexican hot spots like the party scene in Cancun or Tulum, the boho-chic village outside the historic Tulum ruins. Take a day trip to explore the fascinating ancient city, believed to have been built by the Mayans between 1200 and 1450 — but watch your step for the wild iguanas! The public access beach can get crowded midday, so head into town and grab lunch at one of the many eco-hotels that are rapidly becoming hot spots for fitness enthusiasts or the environmentally conscious traveler.
Playa’s eclectic dining scene offers much more than your typical Mexican fare (but rest assured, taco lovers, there is plenty of that). Spice up supper time with a taste of Venezuela at the Kaxapa Factory (Constituyentes Avenue, 984-147-1645). Feast on arepas and patacones (fried green plantain sandwiches) at this family-run joint, and eat up — most menu items aren’t more than $7.
For something a little more romantic, head across the street from Acanto to La Sirena Mar y Barrio (16 Street between First and Fifth avenues, 984-803-2448), a chic modern Mexican bistro. The name of the game here is fresh local seafood. Don’t miss the ceviche.
Take a stroll down Fifth Avenue, past the cluster of tourist attractions, and eventually you will stumble upon a newer stretch of impressive fine-dining options. ComoComo Osteria Mediterranea (Fifth Avenue between 38 and 40 streets, 984-859-1646) stands out with its gourmet touches on classic Italian favorites and utilizing local fresh ingredients.