Happy hours on the beach
Nature has supplied Playa del Carmen with a beautiful beach and is where many visitors spend a lot of their time. It's easily accessible from all the downtown areas, and with average temperatures of 27°C, it is a year-round seaside playground.
If you want to do more than just relax on the sand, take your pick from the large number of watersports, such as windsurfing, sailing and canoeing. You can also get out on the water on jet skis. To experience the rich variety of Playa del Carmen's marine life, scuba dive and snorkel on the Great Mayan Reef, which is located a short distance from the beach.
Savour the flavours
The city presents visitors with a United Nations of cuisine, serving dishes from numerous countries at prices to suit all budgets. The restaurant scene features classic Italian, American and Chinese dishes among others, as well as a mix of Mexican cuisines. You'll find many restaurants along La Quinta Avenida – Fifth Avenue – the city's social hub and main thoroughfare.
Down and dirty on the dancefloor
If you're travelling to Mexico to party, you won't be disappointed in Playa del Carmen. It is a clubber's mecca with live music venues and a host of nightclubs, many of which are located on 10th Street and 12th Street. They include Coco Bongo Club and Disco with its Vegas-style shows, La Santanera and Coco Maya, a beachfront club. Head to Fifth Avenue for the small clutch of bars with live music, such as Fah and Kitxen.
Rich Shopping Experiences
For the causal and serious shopper, there is much to be excited about with a visit to Playa del Carmen. The city is located in the duty-free state of Quintana Roo and so there are many bargains to be enjoyed, particularly on exclusive fashion brands.
Fifth Avenue is a must. Stroll down the cobblestone road, which is situated just one block from the beach. There is a huge variety of stores as well as handicraft stands. From the stalls you can purchase goods created by artisans from all over Mexico, such as traditional masks and handmade dresses.
Another popular Playa del Carmen shopping destination is Paseo del Carmen, an outdoor mall at the beginning of Fifth Avenue that sells upmarket fashions, fine art, souvenirs and jewellery. You can also buy traditional Mayan clothes here that have been given a contemporary twist.
Exciting Day Trips
Playa del Carmen is a good base from which to explore the Riviera's natural, cultural and historical attractions. Drive for about one hour out of the playa to visit the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve.
This is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean, home to thousands of species of flora and fauna. Snorkel in coral reefs and enjoy a bird watching tour at sunset. Meanwhile, you can see crocodiles and flamingos at Ria Lagartos, a biosphere reserve on the north side of the Yucatan Peninsula.
If you're a history enthusiast your jaw will drop to the floor when you see what's in store at Tulum, Coba and Chichen Itza. Tours of these ancient Mayan sites can be easily arranged in the city.
At Coba, climb the pyramid for excellent views of the Mayan jungle and investigate the large ceremonial structures at Ek Balam. Although this site is several thousand years old, many of the buildings are in a good state of preservation, including the massive main temple. There are last minute deals to Mexico available all year round, and it's worth keeping an eye out if you're looking for a holiday that combines relaxation in the sun with stunning historical and natural sights.