What places to visit in Playa del Carmen | Recommendations

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Playa del Carmen is one of the most popular destinations in the Mexican Caribbean, visited by thousands of tourists every year. This time I will share with you some recommendations of destinations to visit in the city.

From your arrival at the International Airport and after taking Transportation from Cancun to Playa del Carmen, you will have a list of activities. I want to share other activities besides the already known ones like visiting the Beaches and visiting the ecotourism zones.

Here are some recommendations of where to eat, where to go at night and what I consider the best places to visit.

Where to eat

Ajua! Maya: This Mayan-themed restaurant serves regional cuisine with a touch of French inspiration accompanied by live music from local jazz band Tierra Vera.

Yaxche Maya Cuisine: Sophisticated Maya recipes are mixed with a touch of European flavors. Ideal for vegetarians. Its signature cocktail-the Maya margarita-is the local interpretation of the timeless margarita but with xtabentún liqueur, a fitting aperitif.

Babe’s Noodles and Bar: Located in Nueva Quinta, Babe’s attracts fashion-minded locals who rejoice in Asian and European delicacies before heading out to party.

Top nightclubs

Kitxen: This bar in a bright red-decorated courtyard attracts the cool crowd. Owner Saul Hernandez, lead singer of Caifanes, hosts live music nightly, from laid-back jazz sessions on Wednesdays to salsa Sundays. They offer creative bar food with global influences, including Greek kebabs and Thai-spiced burgers.

La Santanera: Classic couches and cushions welcome parranderos who come to lounge in the lofty heights of this rooftop bar-palapa. It’s decorated with charming fruit busts reminiscent of Carmen Miranda. Other kitschy accessories include wrestling memorabilia, an illuminated ceramic jaguar, and a neon-framed altar dedicated to Malverde, the narco saint. Downstairs is the place to end the night out.

Mamita’s Beach Club: Mamita’s is where the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival is held and other special events throughout the year, including BPM DJ contests. Travelers will find decadent loungers and knowledgeable people listening to lounge music and eating sushi.

Places to visit

Morpho Kitesurfing: Action junkies will get expert instruction in this novel water sport. This flagship company organizes kitesurfing excursions in Playa del Carmen, in front of the Tulum archeological site and Holbox Island.

Xcaret: The natural beauty of Xcaret -which in Mayan means “small cove”- has been turned into a theme park for the whole family. A variety of activities are offered, from underwater hikes to swimming with sharks that don’t eat people. Every night there is a folkloric show with a cast of 300 people, which is part of the entertainment program. There is also a dolphin show in the style of Sea World. It is worth spending a whole day exploring the park and staying for the night show.

The organizers make sure that the site preserves its Mayan roots. It is the starting point of the Sacred Journey that takes place every year. After a night of vigil, the pilgrims leave in long canoes made of wood extracted from the tropical jungle and paddle some 28 kilometers to Cozumel in the middle of May. Upon reaching the island, they make offerings to Ixchel, goddess of the earth, the seas, fertility, and love. The religious journey that concludes in Playa del Carmen is recreated according to historical documents belonging to the INAH. There is a small archaeological site within the oceanfront park, next to the chapel of San Francisco de Asis, which was built with indigenous materials, including a carved zapote wood crucifix and a limestone altar. Other water activities include swimming with dolphins or nurse sharks. Snorkeling excursions to the reef are available.

Punta Venado Eco-Adventure: South of Xcaret is a crystal clear bay called Punta Venado. There you can enjoy eco-adventures on five kilometers of fine sandy beach bordered by 834 hectares of jungle. Within the park, there are natural cenotes and caves. You can also organize an excursion to snorkel in the reef. The guides accompany the traveler along the beach on horseback after choosing the right steed according to size, age, and aptitude. No experience is required. Can combine the ride with a 40-minute trip to Playa Norte for snorkeling. They also offer excursions in all-terrain vehicles through the jungle, including visits to a cave with stalactites and a cenote where it is possible to cool off.

As an extra recommendation and in case you can take a few additional days in your vacation, I suggest you take a Shuttle from Cancun to Tulum and get to know this small town full of peace. Tulum is the ideal destination to relax after a great week of partying in Playa del Carmen.

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