North America Port Guide: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

North America Cruise Guide: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Discover Playa Del Carmen in our North America Cruise Guide

A cute yet chic cobblestoned town about an hour outside of Cancun on Mexico’s glorious Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen offers a smaller, more pedestrian-friendly alternative to the skyscrapers and crowds of the city. It used to be something of an undiscovered treasure, but by now it’s definitely turned into a bustling little beach town, with glossy open-air cafes and rowdy bars where fire-dancers perform on the beach at night, and international tourists eat, play, love (if that’s what you want to call it) basically 24 hours a day. Great day trips include a boat trip to Isla de Mujeres and a venture to the pyramids at Chichen Itza.

Airport: Cancun International Airport (CUN)

High season: Dec-Mar, Jun, July. Low season:  , mid-August through mid-November

Currency: Peso

Girlfriend Getaway in Playa del Carmen

North America Cruise Guide: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, photo by Taniastylist (IG)
Girlfriend Getaway in Playa del Carmen

It’s not as wild as Cancun, but for a group of girls out to make mischief and memories, Playa del Carmen is the Mayan Riviera’s best destination. Whether you’re breaking from college or doing a destination bachelorette, traveling with gal-pals or in a multi-generational group, this pretty little town will show you a good time.

For at least part of your trip, it’s totally permissible—even advisable—to spend time on the quintessential vacation pastimes of sunbathing, drinking margaritas, getting cheap massages on the beach, and shopping. But definitely plan a few adventures into the itinerary, ladies. Get muddy and rugged on an ATV tour through the jungle. Or go on a horseback ride along the beach—one  of you (there’s always one) galloping with all the expertise learned in school-age horse shows, the rest following along at a leisurely walk.

North America Cruise Guide: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Rent a boat

One of our Mexican-born gal pals recommends the following daytrip, for those who have the budget: “Rent a yacht to go out fishing!!! Hot English-speaking Captains take you out, teach you to fish and get your drinks. You can pre-order what you want (bottles of vodka, champagne) or bring your own.” Sure, maybe by the end of the day you’ll only have caught one fish, and be lying on the deck totally zonked out from the sun…but even so, it’ll be a relaxing day filled with great photo ops.make food

Four Romantic Playa del Carmen Hotels

Visiting Playa del Carmen with your sweetie-pie? You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to great hotels. But for ultimate sophistication, sexiness and sense of place, we recommend the following four properties.

North America Cruise Guide: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
“Imagine waking up like this at paradise!”

Although the Grand Velas Riviera Maya is an all-inclusive, it feels as personalized and luxurious as an “a la carte” property. From the food to the lobby decor to the absolutely gorgeous spa (where, sadly, you do have to pay extra for treatments), this place is a romantic dream come true. Regularly scheduled cultural entertainment is several notches above the quality level you’d expect from an all-inclusive, and the dress code is resort elegantin the evening.

North America Cruise Guide: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
“La Tortuga Hotel & Spa; is a charming hotel in the heart of Playa del Carmen.”

Among the many boutique lodgings in town, La Tortuga  is a favorite. It’s simple yet charming, with friendly personalized service and a centralized location. Colorful tropical blooms peek out from every corner, and the pool beckons you with one of tropical paradise’s prerequisites: a swim-up bar. Although one tiny deterrent may be the location (two blocks from the beach) free access to two different beach clubs, private Jacuzzis in the junior suites and some very affordable swim-up suites make up for it. 

Located on one of the most exquisite beaches in the Riviera Maya, Maroma Resort by Orient Express is a picture-perfect property. Pearlywhite sands are lapped by a sea that transfixes you with its endless shades of blue. Thatched palapas overlook gorgeous gardens where parrots and tropicalflowers vie for the “most colorful” award. Dining experiences range fromgourmet breakfasts to traditional Mexican cuisine to a ceviche bar known forits hundred varieties of tequila.

North America Cruise Guide: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

When listing romantic resorts in Mexico, it would be remiss not to bring up one “adults only” property. Since Catalonia Royal Tulum isn’t going for the “sexy” or clothing-optional extreme, it tends to draw a similar crowd to those who love Couples in Jamaica. It’s a relaxed all-inclusive that doesn’t require you to dress for dinner—as the more expensive place often do—or participate in organized poolside games as many of the family-friendly places encourage. The beautiful beach is everyone’s favorite attraction.

Looking for a different type of adventure? Check out our Asia Cruise Guide: Phuket, Thailand

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