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7 Things We Love and Hate About Playa Del Carmen

The beach in Playa Del Carmen

Each destination has it’s good points and bad points. We thought we would compile a list of things that we love and hate about Playa Del Carmen. This might be helpful for people looking to move to the area or just interesting to learn more about what it is like here. You might have some things you love and hate about Playa in addition to this list and we would love to hear from you in the comments below.

We Love…..

  1. The international feel of Playa, everything from restaurants that feature almost every type of international cuisine to the ability to meet people traveling or living here from all over the globe. This international feeling makes Playa Del Carmen a unique place.
  2. Sunny skies and year round outdoor living. How many people complain about the cold winter? Most people do and the coldest it gets here is a fall day in other places. The warm climate affords people to enjoy walking on the beach or swimming year round, using your backyard for grilling or just swinging in a hammock.
  3. Playa is a walkable city. The most notable tourist attraction in Playa Del Carmen is 5th Avenue.  It is a pedestrian street about 20 blocks long. This makes it very easy for tourist to visit shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. Besides the pedestrian street of 5th Avenue most of the downtown is walkable because things are close. This makes Playa Del Carmen very different from Cancun because it is much less car centric and pedestrian friendly.
  4. The spirit of the Mexican people. Mexico is one of the most welcoming countries to outsiders. When here as a tourist you are for the most part treated as a guest and most people realize that tourism brings many jobs. Mexicans take pride in their country and what there is to offer people here. You can be in beautiful places but if people are not nice then it kind of ruins it for you, that is not the case here and the warmth of the locals can certainly make a vacation or living here an enjoying thing.
  5. The beach! The city is all about the beach and it is fairly easy to get to either by walking or a short drive. In fact most of Playa is just 10 minutes from the beach. Some beaches get more families, some are where fisherman come back with catches, and others have beach clubs on them for tourist and locals. To see what we mean, you can see our pick of the top 5 beaches here of what the beachfront looks like. The beach and the Caribbean waters is one thing that most people love about Playa.
  6. It is so close to so many great getaways. Playa Del Carmen sits in the heart of the Riviera Maya. For tourist we are closer to most tourist destinations than Cancun. For people living here, the location affords an easy day or weekend trip to Mayan communities, colonial towns, cenotes, lakes, and remote beaches. Just check out our Day Trip Guide here to see for yourself!
  7. The food!! Not only is authentic Mexican food great, there are so many other cuisines here you will never get tired of eating. People that move to Playa and open a restaurant often have a passion for something they know and want to serve up their specialty to the public. You can see from our gallery of food here that there is a tremendous variety!

We Hate…..

  1. The inconsistency. Playa is a fast developing city, and that means that things do not remain the same. This might be notable year from year to year with new buildings and developments but inconsistency goes much further. We really are talking about inconsistency in service, products, restaurants, and how you never really know what you are going to get. We at find it hard to recommend restaurants because the consistency of places is always changing. For example we recommend a restaurant and the next week we hear back from readers that they did not have a great meal. We ask the owners what is going on at their restaurant and find that the chef quit and they had to get a new one fast and are still training him. The end result is inconsistency of the meals. We rarely comment about service at restaurants because it is ALWAYS changing. It is in part due to the fact that we are a tourist destination and people come to work a while and then move on or find other work in another restaurant. We consistently see different quality service at many places and hear about it from readers. If you live in Playa you might see something in a store that you want only not to find it again. Supply chains are notoriously changing and one week a grocery store has product but not for the next few weeks. You really have to learn to be flexible and go with what is available.
  2. Bad architecture. From the moment you drive into Playa Del Carmen you see a lot of concrete square buildings with steel rods sticking out, tanks on the roof and a general messy look. Not only is this not very visually appealing, most buildings are not built in a way to reduce heat and only causes people to use more air-conditioning. You would think in a hot climate that more trees would be plants, overhangs and shading used to make life cooler and also more visually appealing.
  3. Hot weather. Summerlike weather is nice but day after day can become grueling. With nighttime temperatures only dropping a few degrees, it can be hard to cool down your home and you find yourself sweating a lot. Even a small errand to the store will have you changing clothes afterward. It is not the worst thing but everyone has to get used to it and live with it.
  4. Bad taxi drivers. Taxi drivers are notoriously zipping around the city, speeding to get the next fare. They are also known for charging the wrong prices. Taxis are not metered in Playa Del Carmen but rather go on a rate sheet of neighborhoods.  Taxis are supposed to have this on display in the car but many do not. There are some good taxi drivers that work hard, charge the correct prices and offer courteous service but the bad ones sure stick out in your mind once you experience one.
  5. It is more expensive then most other Mexican cities. Most people expect Mexico to be cheaper then where they come from but Mexico is a developing place that just happens to have a lot of tourist coming and particularly to the Riviera Maya. Playa Del Carmen is more expensive then most other places in Mexico because rents are high on 5th Avenue and prices have to be passed on. Many things are imported to Playa and this adds to the cost as well. Once you travel out of the area you start to notice how things are cheaper but after a while you get used to what things cost and how to stretch your budget if you live in Playa Del Carmen.
  6. Bad tourist. Most tourist are well behaved but go out at night around 12th Street and you can see tourist behaving badly. If you happen to live in a condo building that rents out to tourist then you are living next to people on vacation and usually that means a little more partying and everyday is a weekend. The police here do a very good job with putting up with drunk tourist and trouble makers and have to get an applause for their calm manner in which they do this each week.
  7. Street sellers on 5th Avenue that bother tourist and locals. A tourist walking up 5th Avenue will garnish many offers to come into a shop or they may offer you some cheap or illegal items. Some of them are too direct or say some not so nice things to get your attention. We hope this does not get any more out of hand because it can become obnoxious to tourists as well as locals.

Love it or leave it

For most people that come to Playa Del Carmen or live here, most people love it. The city continues to change and develop. We hope that it continues to work on being a great place to live and visit. We also will continue to bring the you best things and warn you about things to watch out for so you can enjoy Playa Del Carmen.

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