A Week at the Beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Travel + Leisure’s announcement of their top hotels in the world this week inspired me to write about Playa del Carmen. Over the years it’s been clear that this Travel + Leisure list certainly leaves out some of the best of the best boutique hotels and experiences, but as far as large resorts go, this tends to be a very solid list.

And this year, from a pool of (according to Trip Advisor) 197 hotels in Playa del Carmen, here are the best of the best according to Travel + Leisure!

Banyan Tree Mayakoba Resort & Spa

Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Certainly the big resort thing isn’t really for everyone (and if that’s you, have a look at Hotel Casa Ticul (adult only), Maya Villa and Hotel Lunata as great options in Playa del Carmen), BUT having said that Playa del Carmen certainly does the big resort thing just right.

Easy Access from the United States

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s super easy to get to this part of Mexico from the United States.

You can rent a car or arrange a private transfer to your hotel from the Cancun airport (it’s about a one hour drive).  If you’re going to stay in Playa and enjoy the beach, you don’t need a car since this area is super pedestrian-friendly.

But, if you want to check out Tulum, Xcaret or any other local attractions, renting a car is your best bet (it’s pretty cheap in Mexico).

These beaches aren’t so sleepy anymore!

The Playa del Carmen beaches are a continuation of the stunning white sand beaches found in Cancun. While Playa del Carmen was a sleepy little village about 20 years ago, it’s now a club- and restaurant-filled, massively growing city. BUT it’s still more charming than Cancun so a perfect mix of charm and activity for those looking for some energy and nightlife.

You really can’t go wrong with the beaches here.

You really can’t go wrong with the beaches here.

Finally, I can’t write this post without mentioning that Playa has the BEST street tacos ever!! I don’t have the name of the particular restaurant I’m thinking of, but it’s on Av Constituyentes on the right hand side of the street if you’re driving towards the highway (relatively close to the highway). Can anyone help me out with a name of this place?? We drove for miles each way while staying in the area a few years back just to bring these tacos back to the beach. Absolute street food perfection.

(UPDATE: Special thanks to Derek @WanderingEarl for the answer. Street Tacos were from El Fogon, the restaurant with the yellow awning!)

Booking Playa del Carmen.

Aside from Travel + Leisure’s top hotels above, which can be booked direct, I loved The Royal. This all-inclusive resort has a great beach, amazing location (super close to 5th Ave) and is all around great fun! The perfect venue for a ladies or couples trip, there are plenty of activities (led by hot guys in swim trunks!), bars, evening entertainment and plenty of drinks and music to keep everyone laughing and happy.

The Playacar, located at the far southern end of Playa, has one of the best beaches (according to them!). But certainly worth a look if you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort.

What do you love about Playa? Would love to hear your Mexico and Playa del Carmen travel tips below.

Sarah Fazendin Travel Blogger

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