Holidays to Playa del Carmen give you a chilled-out beach base, made up of a vanilla-white stretch of sand and buzzing main street. Plus, you're near cenotes, eco-parks and ruins.

Chic beach town

Playa, as the locals call it, is touted as Mexico’s very own Miami Beach. You’ll find it about an hour’s drive down the coast from party-hard Cancun. It’s got a bit of a cosmopolitan feel to it, thanks to a bustling main square and a string of designer shops, art galleries and eateries – known as 5th Avenue. Just so you know, the beaches on this stretch of coastline sometimes experience increased levels of seaweed – called sargassum. It’s influenced by the weather and ocean currents. If your hotel’s affected, the staff will do everything they can to clear it as quickly as possible.

Best-of-both beaches

Playa del Carmen has a beach of two halves. You’ve got the main milky-coloured stretch in the heart of the action. From here, it’s easy to hop on board boat trips out to the offshore reefs. Further up, things get more glam – we’re talking daybeds, trendy beach clubs and posh hotels. Half an hour away, 100-year-old sea turtles and sting rays join swimmers at Akumal Beach.

Easy daytrips

As it’s right in the middle of the Riviera Maya strip, this place is a good starting point for days out at some of Mexico’s top attractions. Head south for the Xcaret Eco-park, often dubbed the Yucatan Disneyland. For even more thrills, you can go swimming in one of the area’s cenotes. These underwater caves are packed with stalactites, stalagmites and heaps of tropical fish.

At a Glance

  • Take the ferry to Cozumel Island for world-class snorkelling
  • Tuck into tacos and tostadas in a Mexican cantina
  • Catch a late-night fire show down on the beach