Playa del Carmen, 50 minutes from the Cancun airport, is the Riviera Maya's most cosmopolitan destination. It is a world full of fun and flavor for its multinational ex-pat residents and national and international tourists.
You can take in an eyeful of this fun and flavor any day of the week on the famous Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue), which traverses the city north and south, and runs parallel to the Caribbean Sea. Most of its cobblestone-like blocks prohibit automobiles and allow pedestrians to stroll languidly down the many rows of boutiques, gift shops, tour guides, restaurants, sidewalk cafés and hotels. All of this sophistication is but a block away from one of the most powdery beaches and bluest-green waters in the world. Here, water sports are abundant. You can sail, scuba dive, snorkel, windsurf, kite surf, kayak, parasail and sky dive, to name a few.
Of course, if bath-temperature, aquamarine water is not your thing, there's always shopping or golf. There are several renowned golf courses in the area. As far as shopping is concerned, 5th Avenue is loaded with gifts, art, and crafts from all over Mexico. Also, silver, gold, amber, jade and whatever your jewelry needs are, abound along the street. If you don't find what you're looking for on 5th, or even if you do and still want to shop, walk south to the end of the street to get to Plaza Paseo Del Carmen, an upscale shopping center. If you're not satisfied with the shopping or golfing in Playa, you can always take the ferry (pier is located near the end of Avenida Juarez and to the right) to Cozumel for the day and do either, or both.
If all this swimming and shopping wears you out or arouses hunger, you can unwind in one of the many spas in town or dine at one of the hundreds of restaurants nearby. In Playa you'll find seafood, Mexican, Italian, Fusion, Thai, French, Mediterranean, Tex-Mex, vegetarian, fusion, Mayan, Argentinean, Brazilian, Spanish, and even United States chain restaurants.
If what you have in mind comes in a glass or a bottle, Playa is the place for you. Name your drink, and you'll find it here. The question you have to ask is what setting you'd prefer. If a drink on the beach is what you want, you can stroll along and drink from a lounge chair, a hammock, a swing, by a pool, or in a palapa (wooden Maya structure). Head to 5th Avenue if you'd prefer a quiet café or a loud sports bar with pool tables. After dark, you'll have even more choices for drinking. You can drink to live music, djs, jazz, salsa, rock, electronic, blues, mariachi, whatever your style may be. If you want to hang out with the jet setters, head to 12th Street, near 5th Avenue, where you can also find a scene for every taste. At night you can find dancing, karaoke, Cuban bands, and even wet t-shirt contests.
Km 25 Carretera Cancun
24th Street between 5th & 10th Aves.
10th Avenue & 24th Street
at Calle 4 Norte