Playa del Carmen Travel Guide

Trendy, sophisticated and spread along a heavenly coast of the Yucatán Peninsula's Riviera Maya, the Caribbean resort town, Playa Del Carmen, is one of the most lively destinations in Mexico. Once a sleepy fishing village, its beaches are full of holidaying Europeans these days, and its walkable streets have everything from wellness retreats to raving parties and gourmet restaurants.

The small commercial town centre is packed with quirky shops, upscale bars and cafes, as well as wonderful restaurants, hotels and designer boutiques on 5th Avenue. Souvenirs range from bright and beautiful sarongs to lovely Mexican blankets and sombreros, and genuine Cuban cigars. The resort's main shopping malls are Plaza Pelicano on 10th Avenue and the Paseo del Carmen close to the ferry pier.

Playa Del Carmen's vibrant nightlife is located near the smaller beach settlements, so holidaymakers can enjoy partying and a slice of authentic Mexico. Revellers can dance cheek-to-cheek under the stars, learn how to salsa, sip margaritas on a rooftop or soak up live jazz. Many open-air bars are in operation until the early hours, with some offering live music, DJs and dancing.

South of town, the expanding Playacar development caters mainly for package tourists, its beach packed with sunbathers and deckchairs, and lined with hotel complexes. There is also an 18-hole golf course.

Adventurers should note that the offshore reef has spectacular diving, with many of its dive centres offering reef and cave diving in the limestone caverns along the coast. The gorgeous, wildlife-rich island of Cozumel is less than an hour away by boat.