Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen, a quaint town that has been on the brink of rediscovery with its newly built resorts and golf courses, truly defines how there is beauty in simplicity. Nothing can be better than being surrounded by the unique flair of local culture, while also having a more modern option as well. The enchantment of the native buildings, with all of the amenities from world-class resorts creates a perfect blend and an ideal cruise destination.
Playa del Carmen is a vacation that spoils your senses. The sapphire seaside invigorates and cleanses the imagination as the white sands dance with you in the light of each perfect sunset. Stroll through picturesque streets uninhibited by cars and take part in a European atmosphere unique to this part of the Caribbean coastline. The opportunity to see it all by foot makes it very convenient for the visitor. There is no need to be constrained to a car, especially when there is so much to see and experience around every corner.
This small getaway is the perfect place to find those unique and unusual gifts one will treasure forever, providing welcoming reminders of an enjoyable vacation. So take pleasure in the plethora of shops and please your taste buds with the finest of restaurants. Allow this town to seduce your senses with its European flair. Situated right in the middle of the Caribbean coast, there is no excuse not to visit this fascinating land.
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships dock at the new Puerto Calica Pier located eight miles south of downtown Playa Del Carmen. Taxis and bus services are available to take you to the main city center.
This charming town is quite small and perfect to be explored by foot. However, to get to the many surrounding beaches and golf courses, one may choose to use a different mode of transportation that is available here. Buses are found all along the Avenida Principal that is just a brief walk from the ferry pier, the hotels and the restaurants. Tricycle Taxis are mainly used to travel between the ferry, bus stations and Avenida 5. They will go anywhere and fear not, for they can accommodate all of your luggage as well.
Playa del Carmen may be a very small town, but it has more than enough attractions for its lucky visitors. Many parks have been created to preserve the amazing wildlife native to this environmentally friendly town. A 1.3 million acre Biosphere Reserve, also know as Sian Ka'an, (984/871-2499) is a great place to get in touch with its two-thousand-year old history.
Xcaret Park (www.xcaretcancun.com, 984/871-5200) is well worth a trip . Swim in an underground river and play with the dolphins. Roam through Mayan ruins, and visit with the jaguars and tortoises. Arrange for a guided horseback riding tour of the park, and pay a visit to the small museum that recreates the lives of the ancient Mayans. Located in Tulum, Xcaret Park is a 45-minute drive from Playa Del Carmen.
If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, visit La Selva (the jungle) and marvel at the native birds and monkeys that inhabit this mangrove swamp. Or, see the jungle on a smaller scale by going to the Xpu Ha Eco Park. A guided tour includes food, drinks, and many planned activities. Here you will be able to see a wide range of animals and birds, windsurf on the pristine coastline, and kayak to your hearts delight.
No visit to Playa del Carmen would be complete without appreciating the clean white beaches of Xaman-Ha, the original name of Playa del Carmen. There is always an afternoon volleyball game going on, and the atmosphere is relaxing and tranquil. Swim in the clear blue waters and enjoy a marvelous sunset. If you get hungry or thirsty, there are plenty of restaurants and cafés that are waiting nearby to serve you.
Whether you are a professional golfer or an amateur at the sport, there is a course for you. For the beginner, the Porto Real (984/873-7325) is known for its prime location. It is located on the northern end of Playa del Carmen. The southern end is more accommodating for the seasoned golfer at the wonderful Continental Plaza Playacar (998/881-6088). A new golf course (984/873-0624) created by famed designer Robert Von Hagge is an 18-hole championship course and one of the sporting highlights of Playa Del Carmen.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Enjoy all the clear blue seas have to offer with the reef-diving opportunities Playa del Carmen affords you. Guided diving trips can be arranged at the Hotel Maya Bric (984/873-0071). Tank-Ha Dive (984/873-0302) offers reef diving and tour packages which include all of the equipment you need and beverages as well. The Alberto Leonard diving company also gives you the opportunity to dive caves and cenotes.
There is no better place to shop than on Avenida 5. Here you will find the American standards, such as Guess? and Gap, surrounded by tiny shops, which carry a variety of gifts and souvenirs. You will be able to get clothing made from beautiful Guatemalan threads, hand-made pottery, blown glass, and even Cuban cigars.
Dining and Night Life
The nightlife is when Playa del Carmen truly blooms. There are several restaurants and bars that are on the beach and offer that priceless ocean view. There are cafés and the popular Blue Parrot located at the beachside, offering jazz music. Located at the Blue Parrot is a large pirate ship bar, Captain Tutiz, which houses a dance floor perfect to match its live entertainment.