PLAYA DEL CARMEN
Playa del Carmen (Xaman Ha' or Pláaya in Modern Maya) is a city on the coast of the Caribbean Sea in the north east of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. In the 2005 census the city had a population of about 100,383 people, and is rapidly growing in population. It is the third-largest city in Quintana Roo, after Cancun and Chetumal.
Originally a small fishing town, tourism to Playa del Carmen began with the passenger ferry service to Cozumel, an island across the Cozumal Channel and world-famous scuba diving destination. While passing through, many people realized that it was a nice place to relax away from the crowds of Cancun but with the same quality beaches and turquoise waters. Perhaps just as impressive as Cozumel, Playa del Carmen's coast offers good scuba diving opportunities, as well as cenote diving for the more adventurous.
Today Playa del Carmen, or just 'Playa' as it is colloquially referred to, is the centre of the Riviera Maya concept, which runs from south of Cancun to Tulum and the Sian Kaan biosphere reserve. Playa is a stop for several cruise ships, which dock at the nearby Calica quarry docks, about six miles south of the city. A Mexican themed "eco-archaelogical park", Xcaret (pronounced "esh-caret") is a popular tourist destination just south of the town.
Tourist activity in Playa del Carmen centres on the Quinta Avenida, or Fifth Avenue streching from calle 1 norte until calle 34, a pedestrian walkway located just one block inland from the beach, and lined with boutique hotels, shops, bars and restaurants.
It is mentioned that the European backpackers were the first to start setting up little shops on 5th avenue, and today it has grown to include over 16 blocks full of cafes, restaurants, and boutique stores.
The nearest international airport exists 40 minutes away at the Cancun Airport. Shuttle buses, transport buses and taxis are constantly traveling back and forth between Playa del Carmen and this international terminal. Within the city limits, a small airport exists for taxi services between Cozumel and Cancun and for tourist flights.
Along with the beaches, Playa del Carmen has many additional sports and activities that can be enjoyed. Scuba diving on the second largest reef system of the world is at the footsteps of the people living or visiting this seaside community. Do you want to explore more of the underwater world? Explore the vast and incredible waters of the cenotes and the cave systems of the Yucatan peninsula. It is claimed to have one of the largest underground water system of the world. Golfing? The entire region of the Riviera Maya is now dubbed the Latin American golf capital. With approximately 6 new golf courses along its shorelines, one of which is now the host of the first PGA golf tournament to be held in Latin America. Sailing, fishing, biking, kayaking, all are favorite pastimes living in this zone which can be enjoyed all year long.
5th Avenue [Quinto Avenida] is the main street that runs parallel to the ocean. It's around 500 meters from the water. In between the water and 5th are hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, Inns, Rentals, Timeshares, and restaurants. It is commonly referred to as, "Playa del Carmen's Pedestrian Walkway".
Along 5th Avenue you will find numerous stores selling interesting items as well as restaurants and hotels. There are clothing stores selling the latest trends from Europe as well as Cuban Cigar and Rum stores. It is a vibrant atmosphere reminiscent of a carnival. We have seen live lions, fire breathers, giant boa constrictors and a cavalcade of characters parading down 5th.
JUNE, JULY, AUGUST
This is the hottest time of the year in Playa, especially mid-July and August. During these months Playa fills up and the beaches are full of vacationers.
Summer is also the rainy season however the rain tends to hit once a day [if it does rain] and only for a short period. Quite often you are happy it rained as it tends to cool things down a little, at least for a short while.
On a cloudless day in August the heat can be unbearable for some people. Shoes are needed because the sand can get too hot to walk on. Even walking any great distance can become a chore and if you are backpacking the extra weight can be torture.
Dehydration is a major factor during the summer months as well as sun-burn. At 12:00 noon you can get burned in 15 minutes without proper sun-block.
SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER, NOVEMBER
In September and October the ocean water is hot from the summer heat. The outside temperature drops making daytime temps hot but bearable. Evenings are beautiful and you can still swim at night and be comfortable.
This is also hurricane season along the Atlantic coast. Hurricanes or tropical storms can occur anytime between June and December, however the common period is September - November.
It is advisable to pay close attention to weather reports during these months. We have found on-line weather services are the best place for getting current tropical storm information. See Playa del Carmen Weather Resources below.
DECEMBER, JANURAY, FEBUARY
This is the best time of the year to travel to Playa if you don't like excruciating heat. December-January, temperatures cool down and on cloudless days swimming is just beautiful [mild temperature].
At this time of the year you get the least amount of daylight, which is something to consider, but Playa lights up at night so it's not really an issue.
Humidity and rain are lowest during this period. If rain and a day of clouds do occur, things can cool down considerably. It is advisable to take a light jacket with you just in case, to be comfortable.
MARCH, APRIL, MAY
Things start heating up mid-February and by April you can be roasting on the beach. Water temperatures have not caught up but outside temps have started to rise.
The "rains" start in April peaking in July-August. This is a wonderful time to travel because after "Spring Break", things calm down until the summer travel season starts in late June. Water temps are warm enough to swim comfortably; it's hot but not "July-August" hot. Weather-wise, it's a great time of the year to go.