Playa Del Carmen is a unique variation on the Mexican seaside resort. It unofficially caters mainly to European tourists, giving the resorts of Playa Del Carmen a vague wisp of Mediterranean atmosphere. Even so, 'Playa' (as locals call it) stays true to its Mexican-village roots.
The day begins on the beach in Playa Del Carmen. Diving and other water sports are well catered for. Cruise ships ferry in day-trippers and package tourists who head to the cobblestone expanse of 5th Avenue ('la Quinta'). This lively strip has the best boutiques and restaurants in town, but it's best in the evening when cruise crowd recedes.
La Quinta stays up well into the night. As tourists head from the beach, they take to the al fresco restaurants and bars found here. Franchise establishments are moving in, but Playa Del Carmen is hanging on to its unique village atmosphere. In fact, one of the most popular night clubs in town is housed in a cave, the whole of which was constructed under the careful observation of an ecological watch group. It's a novel place to party.
Hotels in Playa del Carmen have distinct, bohemian edge. Many are kept in charming stucco houses with thatched roofs and plenty of style. At first glance, it looks like the village practically pulled itself together on a whim, but the fact is this place has been carefully sculpted to strike a balance between the Cancun-style resort and Mexico at large. In fact, visitors can walk just a few blocks from the city center in any direction and they'll be in the throes of an authentic Mexican village.
For more information on hotels and landmarks in the different areas of Playa Del Carmen, click on the interactive Playa Del Carmen map on the left-hand side of the page.