Playa del Carmen is a coastal resort town in Mexico, along the Yucatán Peninsula's Riviera Maya strip of Caribbean shoreline. In the state of Quintana Roo, it’s known for its palm-lined beaches and coral reefs. Its Quinta Avenida pedestrian thoroughfare runs parallel to the beach, with blocks of shops, restaurants and nightspots ranging from laid-back bars to dance clubs.
Playa del Carmen is one of the top diving destinations in the world, thanks to vibrant sea life and dazzling underwater caverns. On dry land, Playa is a hipper and more modern version of the fishing village it once was. Spend some quality time on the golf course or wave hello to the playful spider monkeys at The Jungle Place sanctuary. Explore the ancient ruins of the Coba Mayan Village, or get in some quality people-watching as you shop and stroll along 5th Avenue.
You're going to love Playa del Carmen… everyone does. It's a beautiful, quiet vacation paradise 45 minutes down the coast from the crowded Cancun scene in Mexico.
Playa del Carmen is known mainly for white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and a laid back bohemian vibe. Not too long ago it was a fishing village but has now become the #1 destination in Mexico.
There are so many fun things to do. The famous 5th avenue is a pedestrian walkway that runs through town and is lined with shops, restaurants, bars and palm trees with twinkly lights.
Right off the coast, you will find the Meso-American Barrier Reef, the second longest coral reef in the world. It is a wonderland for snorkelers and scuba divers alike.
Don't forget the fascinating Mayan archaeological sites. The people and the culture are sure to intrigue you.
If you are traveling to Playa del Carmen, you will likely land at Cancun International Airport (airport code: CUN). Passengers first clear Immigration then collect luggage for Customs and a possible inspection. Wait for instructions to press the red or green light that will determine whether you have been chosen for a search.
Exit into the terminal and AVOID OFFERS FOR TRANSPORTATION INSIDE THE AIRPORT as it is most likely involves a timeshare presentation. Only speak with employees of the company you hired, an official taxi booth employee or an ADO Bus employee with the logo on his/her shirt. Best to look like you know where you are going and walk down the middle of the aisle and exit the airport. Do not stop and get information from anyone on either side of the airport while exiting, as there is ALWAYS a catch. (Seemingly free advice, transportation and breakfast can turn into a morning suffering an intensive time-share presentation.)
Several options for ground transportation to Playa del Carmen, which is approximately 35 km south of the Cancun airport and about a 45 minute to one hour ride. Private transfers require reservations and may require full pre-payment by credit card or Paypal but options are available for ADO Bus, private and shared vans upon arrival.
Vacation packages often include pre-arranged ground transportation to your resort. As you exit the baggage claim area, walk outside and look for an employee of the company carrying a sign with the name of your travel company on it (ie Expedia, Apple Vacations, World Ventures, Liberty Travel, etc.). That person will have your name on a list. If you decide to use alternate transportation, it is a good idea to tell this person of your intent as they may hold a bus for you. Most companies use small vans, not large tour buses, so you won't be subjected to many stops along the way.
To Playa del Carmen by ADO Bus:
The most economical way (146 pesos per person) from the airport to Playa del Carmen is to take the air-conditioned ADO Bus. Luggage can be stored underneath and they run almost every 30 minutes. It’s a very nice and easy ride that takes you right to the Playa bus station located on 5th Ave and Juarez.
By Cruise Ship
This is a tender cruise port, which means that large cruise ships to Playa del Carmen anchor and transport their passengers to the ferry terminal via the ship's tender boats. The ferry pier is conveniently located near the downtown's plaza.
- Often, after disembarking its passengers, the ship continues to and docks at some of the piers on the west coast of Cozumel Island.
- Passengers disembarked at Playa del Carmen join again their cruise ship by taking the ferry to Cozumel.
- Some ships may dock at Puerto Calica (aka Punta Venado). This cruise port is located approx 8 ml (13 km) south of Playa del Carmen. There are tourist buses and taxis outside the terminal. Taxi fares from Calica to Playa are around USD 10.
- Buses from Playa to Cancun leave every 15 min. Akumal (small beachfront resort) and Tulum (pre-Columbian Mayan walled city and main port to the ancient Mayan city Coba) are also a short distance away.
In 2017 started construction works for expanding the current dock with 100 m (328) in order to allow berthing of large yachts (by 2018) and with additional 220 m (722 ft) to allow large-sized cruise ship berthing (by 2019). The berth expansion project was budgeted around USD 20 million. The port's first (mega yacht) berth extension will allow handling of 20-30 large yachts annually
Port Calica is located approx 5 ml / 8 km south of Playa del Carmen. Currently, there is a small pier with several souvenir stands located nearby. Most passengers arrive here by ferry from Cozumel (approx 12 ml / 20 km away). There are two ferry companies running ferries that cost ~USD 15 pp (roundtrip ticket). Depending on weather, the crossing Cozumel-Calica is 30-45 min.
Some Activities to Enjoy
Travel Documents For US Travel To Mexico
When traveling to Mexico by land, US citizens used to only need either a passport, passport card, or an enhanced driving license.However, recent law changes mean that Americans need a passport if they with wish to travel beyond the frontier zone and into Mexico proper.
The best and most convenient way to get to Playa Del Carmen is by air.
However, when traveling to Mexico by air then you must have a passport. So no turning up to the airport with some dodgy excuses about your dog eating your passport.
Most nationalities don’t require a visa to visit Mexico on vacation for less than 180 days. When you enter the country, you’ll have to get a tourism permit, or FMM. This is a standard tourist form that costs around $25 (it’s usually included in your air fare).
However, if you want to stay longer than 180 days, then you’re going to need a visa.