The Riviera Maya stretches on 200 km (124 miles) of beaches along
the most beautiful ocean in the world. It is a true paradise for
the amateurs of farniente : blue sky, turquoise water, fine white
sand beaches and golden sun. In addition to these essential four
elements, the shore has other unsuspected interests to discover
and enjoy : the Mayan world first. You can discover many vestiges,
hidden in the tropical jungle. Their origin dates from the distant
past, one or two thousand years ago. From these old stones polished
by the millenniums, emerge the soul of the Mayas. The descendants
of these people, at the origin of the whole Meso-America civilization,
are still living there.
The Mayan World is also the world of the jungle, their natural
habitat, thick tropical vegetation with a surprising variety of
animal species. There is also the Sian Ka'an reserve the largest
natural reserve in Mexico with an area of 530
000 ha. It is hard to get in but fascinating when you get there.
And there is also the miracle of the "cenotes". These
small and big lakes, shimmering under the opulent foliage of the
jungle, supplied by a large underground river net, are the hot
spots for diving in caves. All level divers can enjoy the ocean,
particularly the Arrecife Maya, the divers’ El Dorado.
There is a long band of beaches and coves between the ocean and
An enviable geographical location, large beaches, a sea paradise
of divers : here is Playa del Carmen, key of Riviera
Maya. The old fishermen village, a modest seaport for the ferry
to Cozumel, after years of quiet life along the immutably blue sea,
has been converted into an international sea resort able to welcome
400,000 tourists in high season. It is a lively place with every
service a demanding tourist expects. Playa del Carmen, "playa"
for the regulars, Xaman Há in Maya, is located 52 km (32miles)
from Cancun airport and from the Mayan city Tulum.
The maximum hotel capacity is still not reached so Playa del Carmen
is still a good choice. But, for how long ?
Playa del Carmen is an ideal base to share your time between the
sea and the country : the surroundings offer many possibilities
of excursions, walking or horse riding. You can also go further
: air conditioned bus tours leave the city to the whole Riviera
Maya through Federal Road 307. There are also many beaches,
coves and lagoons, as well as a wonderful coral reef, close by.
At the north, Coco Beach is one of the nicest beaches in the area
offering, less than 50m (164feet) from the coast, a coral reef.
The best diving spots are "Tortuga" and "Barracuda"
In Playa del Carmen, several diving centers offer beginners and
advanced, equipment rental and scuba or snorkel expeditions.
Here is the website of a friendly and effective center : (eng,span,german,dutch).
There is also an interesting golf course.
a sunny day, Playa del Carmen offers a long stroll. Quinta Avenida,
mainly walking street, is really busy with relaxing people. You
can find any kind of lodging, from the most luxurious ones to the
simplest, and restaurants that can suit all taste and purses in
Playa del Carmen. There are also many beach clubs “in”
with night activities, cafés and music bars. The avenues
are parallel to the sea and the streets perpendicular. The other
important axis is Avenue Juárez, perpendicular to the sea,
lined with banks, traditional shops and cheap restaurants.
: sunset in Playa del Carmen
Be aware that many hotels don’t have a beach anymore. Check,
not with the travel agency that will tell you that everything is
fine, but with the hotel and ask for a picture of its beach.
The problem of no beach is worst every year either because of the
cyclones, or because of the real estate developers !
recommend small scale hotels. They are many in Playa, and they are
more charming than the "all inclusive" resorts.
The Hotels Association of the Riviera Maya (AHRM) publishes a list
of hotels and resorts :