Where is Playa del Carmen, Mexico?

People travel very long distances to see the beaches in Playa del Carmen. “Playa” is located about an hour south of Cancun, in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. Like Cancun, it has only relatively recently become popular. The beaches of Playa del Carmen were relatively unknown less than 20 years ago. Playa is now fully entrenched in the world of package tours and all you can drink specials.

Mexico does tourism incredible well. Especially when it comes to showcasing its beautiful exotic beaches and partying. While Playa has rapidly matured into a popular destination, it is still a fraction of the size of its northern brother, Cancun. No matter how large this little beach spot becomes, the beaches in Playa del Carmen are the highlight here. The beach and the adjoining waters up and down the Yucatan are incredible.

Where is Playa del Carmen? 20°63′N 87°07′W

Playa is a great beach spot to enjoy watersports. There are no waves, but the diving and swimming more than make up for it. Yes, its possible to waste away for a week or longer here knocking back drinks. Chances are, you would have a blast doing it too! Get in the water, be active. Cenotes are waiting for you to explore. These cenotes were used by the Maya for “sacrificial offerings”. What could that have been? Anyway, a cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. After the beaches in Playa del Carmen, these are the best reason to visit the Riviera Maya. Don’t discount the partying though. Like everything else, in this little beach town, it’s fun.

Beach activities for Playa del Carmen

About 20 years ago, I nearly moved to this little beach vacation town. At the time, the ferry dock to Cozumel did not have a Starbucks sign yet. But construction was booming and real estate prices were increasing exponentially. It was just a matter of time. On the bright side, no matter how built up it gets, the area will always be great. The beaches are so amazing, that it almost doesn’t matter.

Sandy beaches of Playa del Carmen

I read a book once about a Spanish priest who was shipwrecked in the Yucatan with a couple others. Over the course of a number of years, he managed to make it to his Spanish brethren for shelter, protection etc. What captured my attention most from this tale was not the ferocity of the Maya as they chased and enslaved this group, but the danger present everywhere in the natural environment.

Silky White Beaches in Playa del Carmen

For whatever reason, the Yucatan has always reminded me of the spirit world. While, it can be a very shallow mass produced beach vacation, it can also be something quite completely else. Trips further down the coast, to Tulum need to be included if this is your first time here. Tulum is the site of a coastal Mayan city, now in ruins and also a popular destination.

Don’t forget Cozumel. The famous wall dives of Cozumel are just a short ferry ride away. In addition to diving, the beach in Cozumel is also pretty special also and worth a quick trip.

Once again, I find myself thanking Gus from Isla Margarita for sharing these images with me. Salud!

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About Author

This project, Beach Spot, has been a lingering thought for nearly 20 years. It started on a crazy offshore Venezuelan island, Isla Margarita, during the first dot com craze. The idea evolved while life continually got in the way. A decade was spent on a Mediterranean island as well as a number of years chasing the sun in the USVI.

Back living stateside in San Diego, this project will hopefully be an enjoyable look at a number of beach towns.

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