Grand Velas Riviera Maya

When people think of visiting the Mayan Riviera, the first city that they think of is Cancun. Cancun is a great destination for tourists; the beach area has some of the most famous beach resorts in the world and it is almost as if you were isolated from the world. The other popular destination is Cozumel as it is one of the top cruise destinations in Mexico. The island of Cozumel also has great beaches many of which allow you to walk on the sand without anyone else in sight. Does that really make them the best choices? What about Playa del Carmen?

Playa Has Great Resorts Too

If you are looking for resorts then Playa del Carmen has a few of them which can compete and often receive a higher rating than those up north in Cancun. There are 12 resorts in Playa or close to it which are given five stars by the Five Star Alliance website. One of the newest resorts is the Grand Velas Riviera Maya which opened in 2008 and has quickly gained international recognition. The resort includes fine dining, a fitness center, an infinity pool and great views of the ocean.

Another great choice for travelers is the Viceroy Riviera Maya resort which is a luxury beach front property. The main restaurant offers a fusion of Mexican and Mediterranean cuisines. You will have great views from your suit and from the pool with beachfront Yoga also offered. The laguna at the resort makes for a great photo opportunity.

Viceroy Riviera Maya

Other big name resorts in Playa include the Esencia Resort which was once the home of a Duchess, now a five-star resort, the Royal Hideaway Playacar, the Fairmont Mayakoba and the Banyan Tree Mayakoba. No matter which one of those resorts you choose you will see that Cancun has nothing that Playa del Carmen lacks.

Closer To Town

I am not here to tell you that the resorts anywhere else in the Mayan Riviera are not great destinations, they are; but to get to know the real Mexico you would need to take a 20 minute ride into town. The resorts in this smaller Mexican beach town are much closer to town which usually means that you can walk to many places or take a short shuttle or taxi ride from the resort.

Some resorts are so close that they have the beach on one side and town by the entrance. That gives you access to a lot of activities and restaurants. The dance clubs and bars are right by the beach so you will not have to go that far to have a lot of nightlife fun, if that is what you are looking for. One of the better things about Playa del Carmen is that you will be able to taste the real flavors of Mexico. There are plenty of international restaurants, and while they will have great food, that food is not what the local population has each day. You can get authentic Mexican food, the way it is supposed to taste, just as much as you can enjoy the fancy take on it from some of the best chefs in the country.

In The Middle Of It All

While Cancun gives you easy access to other places in the Mayan Riviera, Playa del Carmen is right in the middle of it all. A trip up north will take you to Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Isla Holbox etc. A quick ferry ride will take you to Cozumel, and if you head south you will be able to enjoy Tulum, Punta Allen and Puerto Aventuras. There are two bus terminals in the city that can take you to different parts of the Yucatán Peninsula including Mérida, Chichen-Itza, Valladolid, Chicxulub etc. Playa del Carmen’s location in the map is very strategic for those looking to see a lot more of the Mayan Riviera and the highlights of the area.

The Ocean

Playa del Carmen

The main reason people visit the area is the Caribbean ocean. The water at Playa is the same that you would find anywhere else in the region, and both the resorts and the city do their share to keep the beaches clean. If you are staying at a resort the beach will be beautiful and clean, but you can also walk north and south to other beaches if you wish to do so. If you were staying at the resorts in Cancun you would have to walk a lot to get back to the street because though the beaches are public, the resorts are not. The staff at the resorts is vigilant of people who are not supposed checked into their property, but that includes people who are just looking to get back to their resort.

Safety at the resorts in Playa del Carmen is also a priority but if you visit the main beach by Benito Juarez, then you will be able to go from the beach to the street without a problem. The good news is that even if you walk on the sand and into a resort you are still in a public area, so walk just a bit longer and you will be able to reach the street again.


you will not have to worry about not finding the right services in Playa del carmen. This is a medium size city and it has all the things that you would expect in a tourist town. There are plenty of ATM machines and banks, internet connection businesses, currency exchange places, fast food, great cell phone signal, supermarkets etc.  

There are two bus stations that can take you to different spots in the area. One is right by fifth avenue and Benito Juarez, the other one is a bit closer to town by the Wal-Mart. The station close to the beach will take you to places like Chichen Itza, Cancun, Tulum and other attractions nearby. The one in the center is mostly used for people going on a longer trip. There are smaller buses that will take you north or south in the area like Tulum and Cancun. The buses are smaller, and they are also cheaper. The public transportation system in Playa del Carmen is only serviced by buses, and taxis are available 24 hours a day.