Planning a Trip
Getting There & Departing
By Air -- You can fly into Cancún and take a bus directly from the airport, or fly into Cozumel and take the passenger ferry.
By Car -- Hwy. 307 is the only highway that passes through Playa. As you approach Playa from Cancún, the highway divides. Keep to the inside lanes to permit turning left at any of the traffic lights. The two main arteries into Playa are Avenida Constituyentes, which works well for destinations in northern Playa, and Avenida Juárez, which leads to the town's main square. If you stay in the outside lanes, you will need to continue past Playa until you get to the turnaround, then double- back, staying to your right.
Driving the Riviera Maya -- Driving along this coast isn't difficult. There's only one highway, so you can't get lost. Speed limits are clearly posted, but lots of cars ignore them, except around Playa, where police are known to ticket drivers. Watch your speed when you're passing through town. Maximum speed for the center lanes is 60kmph (37 mph); for the outside lanes, it's 40kmph (25 mph).
South of Playa, the highway is four lanes as far as Tulum. You're not allowed to stop on the highway to make a left turn. You're supposed to pull over to the right and wait for traffic in both directions to clear before crossing the road. There are several more gas stations in the Riviera Maya now, so you shouldn't have a problem getting gas. But make sure the attendant gives you back the right amount of money -- I've had people try to short-change me.
By Ferry -- Air-conditioned passenger ferries to Cozumel leave from the town's pier 1 block from the main square. There is also a car ferry to Cozumel from the Calica pier just south of the Playacar development. The schedule for the passenger ferries has been in flux. Lately, ferries have been departing every hour in the mornings and every 2 hours in the afternoons.
By Taxi -- Taxi fares from the Cancún airport are about 650 to 750 pesos one-way.
By Bus -- Autobuses Riviera offers service from the Cancún airport about 12 times a day. Cost is 80 pesos one-way. You'll see a ticket counter in the corridor leading out of the airport. From the Cancún bus station, there are frequent departures -- almost every 30 minutes.
Arriving -- Playa has two bus stations. Buses coming from Cancún and places along the coast, such as Tulum, arrive at the Riviera bus station, at the corner of Juárez and Quinta Avenida, by the town square. Buses coming from destinations in the interior of the peninsula arrive at the new ADO station, on Avenida 20 between calles 12 and 14.
A word of caution: Approach any timeshare salesperson as you would a wounded rhino. And remember that whatever free trinket is offered for simply viewing apartments, it either won't materialize or won't be worth the time you invest in your dealings with these people. You have been warned.
City Layout -- The main street, Avenida Juárez, leads to the town square from Hwy. 307. As it does so, it crosses several numbered avenues that run parallel to the beach, all of which are multiples of 5. Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) is closest to the beach; it's closed to traffic from the zócalo to Calle 6 (and some blocks beyond, in the evening). On this avenue are many hotels, restaurants, and shops. Almost the entire town is north and west of the square. To the south is "Playacar," a golf-course development of private residences and a dozen resort hotels.