Your Guide To Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Getting There
To visit Mexico, U.S residents must have a valid U.S passport with at least one blank page. If you are visiting for more than 180 days you will need a tourist visa, otherwise a visa isn’t required. For more information on entry requirements click HERE. Playa Del Carmen is a coastal town, along the Yucatan Peninsula, located 45 minutes from the Cancun Airport. We suggest flying into Cancun and then taking a shuttle to your hotel or Airbnb in Playa Del Carmen. The shuttle can be arranged via Expedia or Viator (for your first time booking on Viator get $10 off with this link.)

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All About The Money
When you get to Playa Del Carmen exchange your U.S dollars into Mexican Pesos in one of the exchange houses in “El Centro” aka “5th Ave”. There are plenty of options all varying in price. We got 19.62 pesos for every $1 USD. The peso at the time was at 20 for every $1 USD so exchanging it at 19.62 was great for us. Always know what the peso is valued at when you travel and try to get as close to that as possible. DON’T do it at the airport! They were paying just 16 for every $1 USD, no thank you! Remember the XE APP helps you keep track of ongoing rates. Our U.S dollars went a long way in Mexico!



Why You Want To Visit

You want beautiful beaches, delicious food, warm weather and some nightlife options. Because Playa Del Carmen is a small beach town, you get to see and experience a little part of Mexico without all the big buzz that Cancun offers.

Where to Stay
For this trip, we chose to stay at The Sandos Caracol, a 5 star all-inclusive eco hotel located in a private community just a short 10 minute drive ($8-$9) to “El Centro” (the main area in Playa Del Carmen). If you want to give back to the local community of Playa Del Carmen, the resort encourages guests to bring school supplies to donate to local schools!

Pictured: Select Clubs Adults Only Deluxe room


If you are confused as to what area to stay in, the map below shows where we stayed and where the main area is. If you stay anywhere in this map, closest to the coast line you will be in good location.

We loved that the resort is an Eco resort located by the beach. We woke up to the chirping of birds outside our windows, got to see raccoons on the premise and we even spotted some spider monkeys swinging from trees. They also have a cenote in the property. If you have children, they have a children center where they look over your kids. The resort has an aqua park that is great for adults but kid friendly as well. If you are looking for a kids-free vacation, like we were, book their “Select-Club adults only” option. The resort’s adults-only section provides guests a separate pool area and beach area for those customers who book the option.

What To Do
Below we give just a few options to help you plan how you will be spending your time. Remember there are plenty of activities you can engage in while here. Viator is one good option to check out activities and pricing. (for your first time booking on Viator get $10 off with this link.)

Fifth Ave AKA El Centro– You will find plenty of shops selling souvenirs, clothes, cigars and more. There are also plenty of bar, ice cream parlor and restaurant options to select from.

Karen’s bar We got a lot of questions regarding the bar with sings we posted on our Twitter page. The bar is located in “El centro” it is impossible to miss. If you plan to consume one too many drinks, sit at your own risk 😉

Mamita’s Beach-You will find a mix of locals and tourists in this area. The water is a beautiful blue! Make sure you bring your own towels to lay on. Some hotels will allow you to rent beach chairs for a fee, some of which include drinks. (The beach name changes as you walk north or south from this area. Some areas are more crowded than others).

Portal Maya-located in Fundadores Park.Before hitting the beach, walk over to the 50ft Portal Maya sculpture, located on the beach front. Sometimes you can catch performers doing a surprise set at the park, so make sure you pass through at least once during your visit.

Coba Ruins & Chichen Itzá ruins-if this is your first visit to the Rivera Maya we highly suggest you make a day trip to the Coba Ruins or at the very least to Chichen Itza which is one of the new 7 wonders of the world (pictured below).

Day trip to Conzumel-if you enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling, you want to see more Mayan ruins, or you want to explore even more beautiful beaches you will enjoy a visit to this island. The ferry ride from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel is only 45 minutes each way. The ferry pier is located right in downtown Playa del Carmen, it can be seen from Fundadores Park. You can purchase tickets around this area as well for about $12 each way for adults and $7 for children. For additional information on how to get there click HERE.

picture from Travelyucatan

Day Trip to Akumal Beach-located approximately 30 minutes away from Playa Del Carmen, Akumal is known as the “Land of the Turtles”. Come here during season and you will most likely see turtles laying their eggs. It’s a town favorite. Great place to snorkel.

picture from TripAdvisor

Where To Eat
Even if you stay in an all-inclusive resort, we highly encourage you get out and try some local options. You are in Mexico after all, not trying the local food should be considered a crime.

Here are some of the few options we suggest (P.S. all of our meals were under $25 total for 2):

La Vagabunda-Breakfast/Lunch

Al Carbon-Lunch/Dinner

Los Aguachiles-Lunch/Dinner

La Cueva Del Chango-Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch or Dinner

Sabor A Mar-Breakfast/Brunch

Taquerias El Nero-Dinner

Taconeador-Lunch, Dinner
(we recommend the shrimp de rajas or fish tacos specifically)

So what are you waiting for? Go and book! Don’t forget to support us and tag us on your travel pictures on Instagram! Leave any comments or questions you have below. As always, happy travels!

The Caribbean and Mexico vacation package deals! Click here to book flight + hotel vacations to the beautiful Caribbean and Mexico!

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