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Playa del Carmen Hotels – Tips and Advice
- The absolute best hotels in Playa del Carmen are: Hotel Esencia (most luxurious boutique hotel), El Dorado Maroma (best adults-only resort), and Hotel Xcaret Mexico (best family all-inclusive resort).
- The best areas for travelers in the Playa del Carmen area are Downtown (nightlife, shopping, dining), North Playa del Carmen (walking distance to downtown but waaay quieter), Mayakoba (luxury resort complex convenient to the downtown), South Riviera Maya (cenotes, jungle, and beaches on the way to Tulum), and North Riviera Maya (beaches and attractions on the way to Cancun).
- Getting to Playa is easiest by driving, but if you’re staying in downtown or only plan on leaving the resort for tours, it’s probably not worth the price to rent a car. Instead, travelers should take the ADO bus or pre-book a shuttle. I recommend Private Transportation Riviera Maya; a round trip shuttle for a family of four from the Cancun Airport to downtown Playa del Carmen runs about $110 USD and takes about 50 minutes each way. The ADO bus is definitely the cheapest option. Tickets are 190 pesos ($10 USD) per adult and 95 pesos ($5 USD) for children. The same round trip rate for a family of four would be about $60 USD and would take 1 hour 15 minutes each way, including a stop in Puerto Morelos. Buses leave every 30 minutes. Tickets are sold for particular time slots, so it’s best to buy them at the airport rather than booking ahead online, in case of unexpected delays. Taxis are also available, running about 650 pesos ($34 USD) one way for a group of four from the airport to as far south as the ferry terminal.
- Playa del Carmen is small and it’s easy to get around on foot, with most restaurants and shops within a 3 km section of town. There is no Uber here, but taxis in the city are affordable and easy to find at designated taxi stands or by flagging one down on the street. Taxis here do not use meters; fixed rates are printed on a chart that drivers carry with them – prices are listed in pesos. Though drivers accept US dollars (with change given in pesos), rates are much lower if you pay in pesos, as drivers do not use a currency converter and will just make up a number that is always higher than the exchange rate.
- Pay in pesos! As with taxis, almost every restaurant and shop accepts US dollars, but the exchange rate always favors the peso. If you pay in dollars, you will overpay.
- If you opt to rent a car to explore on your own, you’ll find that driving is very easy. Playa del Carmen does have a few pedestrian-only streets where cars are not allowed, but they are all well-marked. Parking can be tricky, as there is a good deal of car congestion in downtown. Rules of the road are similar to the U.S. Highways are well-maintained, and streets are well-mapped and easy to follow via GPS. Two things that are different are topes and left turns. Topes (pronounced TOH-pays) are speed bumps, but there are no regulations on their height, steepness, or visibility; some are nearly impossible to see until it’s too late! Drive slowly in downtown, and keep an eye out for these. Standard left turns are usually OK in downtown but not on highways. To make a left, drivers will often need to use a retorno, which is a U-turn overpass. To use a retorno, drive past the road you want to make a left onto, get into the far right lane to take the retorno exit, make the left onto the overpass, and finally merge with traffic going the opposite direction. You can then make a right at the desired street or destination.
The 25 Best Luxury Hotels in Playa del Carmen
1. Hotel Esencia – South Riviera Maya
Chic, elegant boutique hotel on a full kilometer of serene beach, surrounded by 50 acres of jungle and cenotes. This exclusive hotel offers refined lodging with two dazzling pools, a spa with traditional Maya handmade treatments, and gourmet dining. Suites and villas are spacious and well-appointed, many with soaking tubs, plunge pools, and a couple with full sized pools. Though most popular with honeymooners, families will appreciate their large villas for up to nine guests, babysitting services, and family activities onsite. Food is truly sumptuous here with a new Nikkei restaurant (Japanese-Peruvian), regional Mexican fare, and international options, all using fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients. Located in Xpu-Ha, halfway between the nightlife and shopping of Playa del Carmen and Tulum’s cenotes and ancient ruins. Hotel phone: +52 984 873 4830
2. El Dorado Maroma – North Riviera Maya
Ultra-luxurious, adults-only, all-inclusive hotel with hands down the most amazing suites in all of Mexico. Their Overwater Bungalows are perched on stilts with glass floors over the turquoise sea and include private infinity plunge pools, outdoor showers, a two-person Jacuzzi indoors, and direct ladder access to the ocean. They offer several other suite and villa options, with the largest being a five-bedroom with a private pool and personal chef. The resort showcases three pools connected by a lazy river, two spas with an elevated massage palapa, farm-fresh gourmet dining, scuba and water sport amenities, and nightly entertainment. Located on Punta Maroma, a stunning stretch of white sand beach, near Maroma Adventures’ marina, dolphin swims, and excursions. Hotel phone: +52 984 206 3470
3. Hotel Xcaret Mexico – South Riviera Maya
Luxury, all-inclusive, family-friendly resort owned by Xcaret Adventure Parks and including unlimited access and transportation to all of their parks and tours (10 total) with every booking. The parks include ziplining, snorkeling, ATVs, underground rivers, and more. The resort itself boasts 6 pools, a huge lazy river, kids’ and teens’ clubs, and a sandy, swimmable beach. Hotel Xcaret offers spacious suites for up to 5, all with hammocks on their private balconies, some with swim-out access to a shared pool. Great location in South Riviera Maya just 5 km from Playa del Carmen’s restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and the ferry to Cozumel. Hotel phone: +52 984 206 4805
4. Grand Velas Riviera Maya – near Mayakoba
Family-friendly, all-inclusive, five diamond resort with three pools, kids’ and teens’ clubs, and a phenomenal spa. Dining is incredible here, with a host of four- and five-diamond restaurants serving a wide variety of cuisines, from creative molecular gastronomy to Mexican fine dining to pan-Asian fusion and beyond. Their award-winning spa features a comprehensive hydrotherapy circuit, a seven-step water ceremony, couples packages, and much more. Rooms and suites all include whirlpool tubs and private terraces, some with plunge pools. The kids’ club is open until 11:00 p.m. with activities and crafts all day; the teens’ club is open until midnight, with a dancefloor, karaoke, video games, and a pool table. Grand Velas also offers plenty of adults-only areas, including a dedicated pool, restaurant, a nightclub, and several bars. Located at the edge of a mangrove jungle, on a gorgeous swathe of unspoiled beach with soft sand and gentle waves. Hotel phone: +52 322 226 8689
5. Banyan Tree Mayakoba – Mayakoba
Luxury, family-friendly, all-villa resort on a sun-drenched beach in a protected mangrove jungle. This stunning boutique resort blends Mexican handcrafts from Oaxaca and Chiapas with contemporary Thai design; the owners, chefs, and all spa staff are from Thailand. All villas include private pools, outdoor whirlpool tubs, and terraces with hammocks. The grounds boast two larger pools, a spa with Thai massage, an active kids’ club, and boat service to the beach. Food is out of this world, with superb ingredients to suit all tastes as well as two destination culinary experiences: Ixchel, a romantic dinner for two in a boat, and Haab, a Maya dinner with a show. Set in the exclusive Mayakoba resort and golf complex, just twenty minutes’ drive to downtown Playa del Carmen. Hotel phone: +52 800 953 0565
6. Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya – South Riviera Maya
Music-themed beachfront resort with 5 pools (some adults-only, some for kids and families), a natural lagoon with native fish, and the largest spa in the Riviera Maya. Family perks include kids’ and teens’ clubs, a rock climbing wall, their signature music amenities (loaner guitars, instrument and DJ lessons, band camp, etc), and a huge skate/bike/gymnastics center. 9 restaurants and 8 bars serve a huge range of cuisines all day, along with 24-hours room service. Heaven, the adults-only section, offers a private beach and cove. A wide range of rooms and suites all feature private balconies, hammocks, and indoor or outdoor jacuzzis; the largest sleep up to 6. Wonderful location near the golf course, marina, and Dolphin Discovery at Puerto Aventuras. Hotel phone: +52 984 875 1100
7. Rosewood Mayakoba – Mayakoba
Elite, family-friendly, five star resort featuring three crystal pools, exquisite dining, and a tranquil spa, all on a soft beach with deep blue waters. Suites and villas all include a plunge pool, outdoor showers, and butler service and offer beachfront, lagoon, or ocean views. Their Chef’s Garden grows much of the produce and herbs used in the onsite restaurants, with dinners hosted in the garden twice a week, as well as kids’ botanical tours. Their kids club offers unique experiences, such as tree planting, yoga, eco adventures, and movies under the stars. For couples, there are several adults-only room options, including the overwater and island suites with lagoon views. Located next to the PGA golf course in the Mayakoba resort complex with boat service to the beach. Hotel phone: +52 984 875 8000
8. Viceroy Riviera Maya – North Playa del Carmen
Luxury, beachfront, boutique hotel for ages fourteen and up. This eco-conscious resort was designed to exude a Mayan essence, with a shaman ritual and Mayan drink for all guests and a spa featuring indigenous treatments, a temazcal (sweat lodge), and a hydrotherapy circuit. The hotel itself was built to incorporate the jungle flora and fauna, and the grounds are filled with coati, iguanas, and even a few monkeys! There is no central lobby area; instead, all of the villas and restaurants are spread out, making the units more private and minimally invasive to the natural surroundings. Each spacious villa includes a private plunge pool, outdoor shower, hammock, and shady patio; some add soaking tubs. Common amenities include a pool, hot tub; restaurants feature locally sourced ingredients with Mexican and international flavors. Viceroy is just fifteen minutes north of downtown. Hotel phone: +52 984 877 3000
9. Fairmont Mayakoba – Mayakoba
Refined, family-friendly, beachfront resort with five pools scattered near the ocean, lagoon, or jungle. Large, light-filled rooms and suites all include soaking tubs and private terraces; oceanfront and beachfront rooms feature butler service. Most suites are one bedroom units except for one of the presidential suites, but connecting options are available for families. Residences have up to four bedrooms with full kitchens. Their kids’ club offers cooking classes and crafts, while their adventure camp keeps older kids active with kayaking and beach sports. The beach itself has just undergone a huge, eco-conscious renovation, making it longer and wider, with plenty of loungers, private palapas, and exceptional food and drink service. Located in the middle of the Mayakoba resort complex, next to the restaurants and shops at El Pueblito Village. Hotel phone: +52 984 206 3000
10. Andaz Mayakoba – Mayakoba
Stylish, luxury hotel in the exclusive Mayakoba beach resort with a golf course and lagoons. Andaz offers 2 pools, a holistic spa, and is set on a stunning white beach. Rooms and suites are all spacious, with free minibar items (sans alcohol) and private balconies; suites add private outdoor plunge pools. Food is outstanding at their 4 regional Mexican/international restaurants; guests can add a meal plan or book a room only. Family-friendly amenities include a kids club for ages 4 to 12, babysitting, and free bikes. Hotel phone: +52 984 149 1234
11. Paradisus La Esmeralda – North Playa del Carmen
Contemporary, all-inclusive resort with fantastic family amenities on a gorgeous beach with a coral reef. This all-suite property offers several options for families, from junior up to two-bedroom connecting units; the Family Concierge upgrade adds a private terrace with a Jacuzzi, kids’ minibar items, a private restaurant, club lounge access, and an Xbox or PlayStation. This is one of the top resorts for parents traveling with younger kids, as they offer both a Baby Club for ages one to four and a Kids’ Club for five- to twelve-year-olds, so parents can pop next door to the adults-only Paradisus La Perla to enjoy a relaxing meal or quiet pool time. Three pools, great food, and a beach with a reef for snorkeling round out the experience here. La Esmeralda sits fifteen minutes’ drive or twenty-five minutes’ walk to downtown Playa del Carmen. Hotel phone: +52 984 877 3900
12. Azul Fives Hotel – North Playa del Carmen
Playful yet elegant, this family-friendly, beachfront, all-inclusive boasts an all-suite layout, along with a stellar kids’ program, six pools, a lazy river, and twenty restaurants and bars. Suites range from one- to three-bedrooms, all with full kitchens, some with Jacuzzis, rooftop terraces, or swim up access. Kids’ amenities are outstanding, with a playhouse, pool, gym center, and even kids’ spa treatments, while the teens’ club offers video games, a rock climbing wall, and daily activities. Baby amenities include cribs, pack ‘n plays, strollers, and Gerber foods in all restaurants. Though the hotel has a lot going on for families, this is also a great retreat for couples and very popular for weddings, featuring an adults-only wing with its own suites, pool, and bar. Located at the north end of Playa del Carmen, just fifteen minutes’ drive from downtown shopping and nightlife. Hotel phone: +52 984 877 2750
13. Blue Diamond – North Riviera Maya
Intimate, all-inclusive, adults-only resort on a breathtaking beach with white sand and crystal waters. Suites all feature outdoor baths and two-person showers with lagoon or cenote views. Casitas and the Presidential Suite are oceanfront with the Presidential Suite adding two private infinity pools. The grounds feature great restaurants and bars, three pools, and a hot tub, but the main star is the 2300 square meter Maya spa, offering complimentary temazcal treatments for all guests. In perfect jungle seclusion, this boutique-style resort has several trails winding through a protected mangrove forest, around a lagoon and cenote, with coati and iguanas throughout; bikes are provided for exploring. Rates are inclusive of a snorkel tour, scuba class in the pool, cooking and cocktail classes, wine tastings, and more. Located in Punta Maroma, near cenotes, adventure parks, and not too far from Playa del Carmen’s nightlife scene. Hotel phone: +52 984 206 4100
14. Mahekal Beach Resort – Downtown
Eco-chic, family-friendly resort on an active beach, featuring a Bohemian ambiance, four pools, exceptional bars and restaurants, and a Maya spa. Mahekal offers a wide range of rooms differing by decor, view, and layout; choose a beachfront casita, a treehouse room, a palapa suite, or a penthouse suite; options can include private plunge pools, outdoor showers, hammocks, full kitchens, and butler service. Be advised that their get-back-to-nature vibe means no TVs in most of the rooms. Their jungle garden adds privacy to the resort grounds, while their convenient location makes it easy to explore the nightlife and shopping of Playa’s famous Quinta Avenida. Hotel phone: +52 984 873 0611
15. Generations Riviera Maya – North Riviera Maya
This upscale, all-inclusive beachfront resort gears itself toward large or multi-generational families. Amazing suite options include swim ups connecting to the enormous main pool, infinity pool suites connecting to one of the nine balcony pools, and balcony suites with gorgeous ocean views. Experiences can be catered to different age groups, with baby amenities including cribs, strollers, and pack ‘n plays, an active kids’ club with cooking lessons and a toy library, and a teen lounge with a pool table and video games. Adults have all-inclusive access to the bars, restaurants, and pools at both El Dorado properties next door. The beach is swimmable but rocky at some parts; barriers to prevent erosion also help to soften the waves, great for beginning swimmers. Generations is in Puerto Morelos, halfway between Playa del Carmen and Cancun. Hotel phone: +52 998 872 8030
16. Playacar Palace – Downtown
Breezy, family-friendly, all-inclusive resort with a huge pool overlooking a sugary sand beach and the Cozumel ferry. Rooms and suites are generously sized, all with a two-person whirlpool tub and liquor cabinet, most with sweeping ocean views and balconies. Food and drinks here are exceptional, especially at adults-only Lahna, focusing on local Yucatan cuisine, and at Luna Lounge, spotlighting a specialty mixology menu. Family amenities include a kids’ club for ages four to twelve and free bicycle tours. Guests have signing privileges at all Palace properties, with the Cozumel location just a short ferry away and with complimentary transfer to the water park at The Grand at Moon Palace in Cancun. Their stellar resort credit program can be used toward tours to Chichen Itza, dolphin encounters, spa services, and more. Located on Playacar Beach in downtown, next to Fundadores sculpture park and walking distance to Quinta Avenida shopping and nightlife. Hotel phone: +52 984 873 4960
17. El Dorado Royale – North Riviera Maya
Romantic, adults-only, all-inclusive resort specializing in weddings and couples celebrating special occasions. Accommodations are all junior suites with private terraces, outdoor Jacuzzis, and hammocks; swim up options are available. Their spa offers couples’ and solo treatments, including Maya-inspired rituals, a temazcal, hydrocircuit, and their sky massage, done in an elevated, beachfront palapa. Dining is superb here, with the produce and herbs grown in their onsite greenhouse plus a culinary theater, where guests can watch, learn, and dine on meals prepared by celebrity chefs. Located in Puerto Morelos, on a long white beach; one side is sandy and easily swimmable, while the other side is rocky with a coral reef to explore. Hotel phone: +52 998 872 8030
18. Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort – Downtown
Posh, family-friendly, beachfront resort with two infinity pools (one adults-only), great food, and a cenote-inspired spa. Rooms are large and include balconies; suites add soaking tubs and optional swim up access or private plunge pools. Upgrading to Club Level adds daily breakfast, snacks all day, an open bar, and evening apps. Babysitting and kids’ club access area available for a fee, while the teens’ arcade is open for all, featuring video games, mini-bowling, and foosball. Located on Playa del Carmen’s vibrant main beach in the newest part of the city, near a brand new mall, stellar restaurants, nightlife, and beach clubs. Hotel phone: +52 984 875 1234
19. Live Aqua Boutique Resort – Downtown
Stylish, adults-only resort with a rooftop pool and cozy spa in the heart of Playa del Carmen. An all-suite property, Live Aqua’s spacious accommodations begin at 50 square meters in a studio or one-bedroom layout, some with private balconies or soaking tubs; the 5th Ave Suite more than doubles the space and adds a private terrace with a two-person Jacuzzi. Dining is fantastic and varied, with everything from Mexican to sushi to Indian fare, along with a fantastic rooftop bar and 24-hour room service. This is more like a hotel with its compact layout, rather than a resort, though they do offer all-inclusive plans. Located on lively 5th Avenue (Quinta Avenida) with tons of restaurants and shopping, just a five minute walk to the main beach (guests get discounts at two beach clubs there), and only ten minutes walking to the nightlife district. Hotel phone: +52 984 206 4199
20. Thompson Playa del Carmen – Downtown
Urban glam, boutique hotel on 5th Avenue with a rooftop infinity pool and massage cabanas. This fashionable hotel blends mid-century modern furnishings with eclectic accents and a beach chic vibe. Rooms and suites all feature jetted tubs; many add private terraces with daybeds or Jacuzzis. Its restaurant Catch is a gourmet hotspot, featuring locally sourced ingredients and craft cocktails with sister locations in NYC and Dubai. The hotel is family-friendly and pet friendly, but focuses mostly on adults, especially couples. Guests have signing privileges and beach access at their sister property Thompson Beach House, located two blocks away. Hotel phone: +52 984 206 4800
21. Paradisus La Perla – North Playa del Carmen
Sleek, adults-only, all-inclusive resort with an all-suite layout, shimmering pools, and a hydrotherapy circuit at the spa. Suites with connecting options range from studios up to two-bedrooms, all with dual soaking tubs and showers, with terrace Jacuzzi and swim up options. Upgrade to the Royal Service to gain access to an additional pool, private restaurant and club lounge, and butler service. The food variety is extensive, with ten outstanding restaurants and bars onsite, plus all-inclusive privileges at the adjoining Paradisus La Esmeralda, making twenty-six total dining and drink choices available. Located on a soft sandy beach adjacent to a rocky coral reef, ideal for snorkeling, just ten minutes driving or twenty-five minutes walking to downtown. Hotel phone: +52 984 877 3900
22. Grand Palladium Riviera Maya – South Riviera Maya
Expansive, family-friendly, beachfront resort with nine pools, a huge spa, and a swathe of dining and drink options. This resort is made up of four hotels, each with a different vibe: Katenah is Maya-styled, Colonial is Spanish, White Sand is contemporary and wellness-focused, and Royal Suites Yucatan is the top-line, adults-only wing. All sections have beach access, but Katenah and Colonial have most of the beachfront rooms and suites. White Sand is closest to the kids’ clubs (three of them for babies, kids, and teens), awesome water park, and comprehensive spa. Royal Suites are surrounded by the lagoon, many with their own jetties and canoes. Suite options can include outdoor showers, whirlpool tubs, and private pools; connecting rooms are available. Situated on a long stretch of beach near Akumal, several cenotes, and adventure parks, about halfway to Tulum. Hotel phone: +52 984 877 2100
23. Valentin Imperial Maya – North Riviera Maya
Grand, adults-only, all-inclusive hotel on a full kilometer of beach, offering three free form pools, a tranquil spa, and twenty restaurants and bars. Suites are complete with a whirlpool tub and balcony or terrace, some with outdoor Jacuzzis. Swim up suites all connect to the lazy river in the quietest part of the resort. Food is phenomenal, especially at Ginger, the Japanese restaurant (reservations required for seats at the teppanyaki table), and L’Alsace, the French fine dining spot (with a dress code). This hacienda-style resort faces a kilometer-long beach with soft sand and great swimming along its length, except when occasional bigger waves arrive, as well as snorkeling in a man-made reef at the southwest end of the beach. Hotel phone: +52 984 206 3660
24. Thompson Beach House – Downtown
Sunny, sophisticated, beachfront boutique on the lively main beach of downtown Playa. This intimate hotel, with only 27 suites, offers a small pool, a sun terrace overlooking the beach, and in-room spa treatments. Their great little restaurant C-Grill specializes in Mexican and Maya flavors, especially seafood, and is open all day for dining and drinks. Guests also have signing privileges at their sister hotel Thompson Playa del Carmen, only five minutes’ walk away, to enjoy their gourmet restaurant Catch with its stunning rooftop view. Suites all include balconies, and many have soaking tubs. The Panoramic Corner Suite adds a wraparound terrace and plunge pool. Convenient to all the best restaurants, beach clubs, bars, and shopping in the city. Hotel phone: +52 984 206 4805
25. The Carmen Hotel – Downtown
Stylish, adults-only beachfront hotel with a rooftop pool and bar, beach club and restaurant, and spa services. All suites are bright and spacious with private balconies, sea or partial sea views, futuristic decor, and a strong urban beach vibe that perfectly suits its location in the heart of Playa del Carmen. Grand Suites boast private, outdoor jacuzzis. The beach bar restaurant Keel (chilled out) and rooftop Deck 5 Skybar (lively, late night dancing) serve farm-fresh local and international fare with fantastic cocktails. Great location just steps from the ocean, Quinta Avenida shopping, and nightlife. Hotel phone: +52 984 803 2409
Staying in Downtown Playa del Carmen
Formerly a small fishing village, Playa experienced a huge tourism and population boom after the Cozumel ferry began service here. Since 1995 the residential population has grown by ten times, with most people now working in the tourism industry serving the millions of travelers coming through the hundreds of new hotels and resorts that have sprung up. Downtown is home to a plethora of resorts, mostly set up along the long public beach that runs the full length of the town and beyond.
Downtown Playa is known for its lively atmosphere, especially along Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue), the beachfront, and Calle 12 Norte. Quinta Avenida runs for four kilometers, beginning at Paseo del Carmen mall in the southwest and ends near the Paradisus Resorts at its northwest end. The first three or so kilometers are pedestrian-only, each side lined with malls, street vendors, the city’s best restaurants, and relaxed bars. The newest and flashiest part of the town is here, near the Quinta Alegria mall. The beachfront is home to several beach clubs, with lots of music, cocktails, and bites; the best among them are Mamita’s Beach Club and Coralina Daylight Club. Downtown is also the nightlife hub, with tons of nightclubs lining Calle 12 Norte, north of the Cozumel Ferry terminal. The biggest clubs are Coco Bongo, Mandala, and La Vaquita, all of which have sister properties in Cancun, but the best one is Diablito Cha Cha Cha.
The Best Hotels in Downtown
- Mahekal Beach Resort • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 873 0611
- Playacar Palace • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 873 4960
- Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 875 1234
- Live Aqua Boutique Resort • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 206 4199
- Thompson Playa del Carmen • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 206 4800
- Thompson Beach House • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 206 4805
- The Carmen Hotel • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 803 2409
The Best Restaurants in Downtown Playa del Carmen
- Las Hijas de la Tostada • $$-$$$ • Bomb seafood tostadas, stellar guacamole, and creative cocktails, served al fresco.
- Oh Lala! • $$$$ • Intimate, upscale fare featuring local ingredients and international flavors.
- Ah Carbón! • $ • Casual, authentic, taco joint, with the best al pastor in town.
- Byblos • $$-$$$ • French and Italian fine dining with a great wine selection.
Staying in North Playa del Carmen
At the far end of Quinta Avenida, the North Playa area is home to several luxury resorts, residences, and restaurants, along a stunning stretch of beach. This area is substantially less populated than downtown while still being easily accessible, just a twenty or thirty minute walk into downtown (depending on the resort) or a quick ten minute drive. This is an ideal spot for travelers looking to have all the varied experiences that the city has to offer, while still far enough from the party atmosphere for a peaceful rest.
The Best Hotels in North Playa
- Viceroy Riviera Maya • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 877 3000
- Paradisus La Esmeralda • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 877 3900
- Azul Fives Hotel • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 877 2750
- Paradisus La Perla • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 877 3900
The Best Restaurants in North Playa
Staying in Mayakoba
This is a luxury resort complex just outside of Playa del Carmen’s north end. Its design incorporates the natural geography of the area, with cenotes, lagoons, and a sandy beach, and is home to a variety of native animals, including coati, iguanas, spider monkeys, and tropical birds. The complex includes a PGA golf course and El Pueblito village, designed after a traditional Mexican city square with a chapel, art gallery, and restaurants. Most people get around via the boat taxi on the lagoon, included in the hotel rates, but guests can also go on foot or use the bikes provided by the resorts to ride along the nature trail.
The Best Hotels in Mayakoba
- Banyan Tree Mayakoba • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 800 953 0565
- Rosewood Mayakoba • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 875 8000
- Fairmont Mayakoba • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 206 3000
- Andaz Mayakoba • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 149 1234
- Grand Velas Riviera Maya • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 322 226 8689
(Grand Velas is located just outside of the Mayakoba complex.)
The Best Restaurants near Mayakoba
Staying in North Riviera Maya
Riviera Maya runs the length of the coast, from just south of Cancun to just south of Tulum, with Playa del Carmen in the middle. It also includes the island Cozumel. The stretch of beach on the mainland is fronted by the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, running from Cancun all the way down to Guatemala.
The North Riviera Maya, between Playa and Cancun, is home to some of the largest all-inclusive resorts. Most of these sit in mangrove jungles on long stretches of beach protected by the reef, making for mostly gentle waves. Outside of the two main towns here, Puerto Morelos and Punta Maroma, the resort beaches are nearly private, because they’re not walking distance to anything. Near Puerto Morales, the more northerly of the towns, travelers will find a botanical garden and Croco Cun Zoo, with several refreshing cenotes just inland. Punta Maroma has a more pristine beach, as well as dolphin encounters and more at Maroma Adventures.
The Best Hotels in North Riviera Maya
- El Dorado Maroma • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 206 3470
- Blue Diamond • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 206 4100
- Generations Riviera Maya • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 998 872 8030
- El Dorado Royale • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 998 872 8030
- Valentin Imperial Maya • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 206 3660
The Best Restaurants in North Riviera Maya
- DK • $$-$$$ • Amazing restaurant in a shipping container. Their signature menu item is lionfish, prepared as tacos, burgers, or Thai style.
- La Sirena • $$-$$$ • Mediterranean and Mexican flavors with balcony seating, live music, and a dancefloor.
- Doña Triny’s • $ • Down home, Mexican kitchen with authentic flavors, open all day.
Staying in South Riviera Maya
The South Riviera Maya, between Playa and Tulum, has long swathes of white sand beach, protected by the reef and Cozumel, making the waves extra soft. Hotels here are set into the jungle and fronted by kilometers of unspoiled beaches. The main town between Playa and Tulum is Puerto Aventuras, with a Dolphin Discovery park, along with restaurants and resorts. Some of the biggest draws to South Riviera Maya are the adventure parks, such as Xel-Ha, Xcaret, and Río Secreto. This is also home to the biggest and most popular cenotes; Akumal, Gran Cenote, Dos Ojos, and many more.
The Best Hotels in South Riviera Maya
- Hotel Esencia • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 873 4830
- Hotel Xcaret Mexico • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 206 4805
- Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 875 1100
- Grand Palladium • Reviews • Hotel phone: +52 984 877 2100
The Best Restaurants in South Riviera Maya