Mexico is synonymous with spring break and Cancun especially is know for its crowded pools and fun times. The Riviera Maya has for a long time been an easy escape for many in North Americas to enjoy warm temperatures, sunny beaches and a legal drinking age of 18. Cancun Airport can be a cheap flight but what about other destinations that are close to the Cancun airport? Playa Del Carmen for spring break might just be another option.
Playa Del Carmen for Spring Break
Did you know that Playa Del Carmen is just 40 minutes south of the Cancun Airport and by the time your ride would get you to the Hotel Zone in Cancun you are almost in Playa Del Carmen? Did you know that Playa Del Carmen is now the number two most popular destination for spring break in Mexico? Did you know that Playa Del Carmen is one of the fastest growing cities in Latin America? It is growing for a good reason too. Maybe you should come and discover why it is so popular!
What is Playa Del Carmen like?
Playa Del Carmen is a trendy, chic, and popular European feeling beach town that has been growing in popularity with all age groups. It has a lot to offer that other destinations do not have. For example the downtown area is completely walkable which makes having a car or taking taxis all the time not necessary. Playa (what locals call Playa Del Carmen) has many small beach clubs, restaurants and shops that can offer prices at all levels and quality of service. There are world class clubs that go until 5 or 6 in the morning, and most of these are all on 12th Street. This allows you to go clubbing all night and enjoy your time in Playa. There are also lots of bars in Playa Del Carmen that will keep anyone on spring break happy.
Playa Del Carmen is a great place for your spring break if you are looking for a little more international feel, are a little more independent and want to be able to access great restaurants, club and local attractions.
What to do in Playa Del Carmen on Spring Break
Here are some great options for you to do while in Playa Del Carmen. Below are selected tours and activities you can choose from while here. We are sure you will want to take in some Mayan ruins or visit some cenotes or one of the eco parks when here.
Hit the Beach
The beaches are great in Playa. You can hit up a beach club and get a bed for the day and enjoy the music or take a towel and some drinks to the beach without going to a beach club. It is really up to you and how you want to enjoy the beach. The top four most popular beach clubs in Playa for the young and party minded are:
- Mamitas This is the most popular beach club in Playa and it just keeps getting bigger and better. They have both a beach area and a pool area to lay around at. There are beach chairs and big beds to rent with friends. It is always playing dance music and has a fun beach vibe.
- Coralina is called a daytime club because the concept is a nightclub during the day. There are DJs, a restaurant and small pool here. It is less about the beach and just more about lounging near it with a high end party atmosphere. Be prepared for more expensive beds and champagne service here. Think bling in the daytime with bouncers.
- Canibal Royal is at the north end of Playa and is a smaller more intimate club with small beach but good vibe. There play trendy music and have good food and drinks. This beach clubs is a little more expensive than Mamitas or Kool but has good quality.
- Kool Beach Club. This club is next to Mamitas at the end of 28th Street.
Water Sports in Playa Del Carmen
Besides being at the beach there are many activities on the beach you can do. Here are just a few, jet skis, parasailing, skydiving, diving, snorkeling, paddle boarding, kayaks, body boards, and lets not forget banana boat rides. One way you can save on a lot of these activities is the Saving Club. This is a discount you can get in hundreds of locations and it pays for itself in usually one or two places you visit. We highly recommend you check this out for your trip!
5th Avenue in Playa for Shopping and Dinning
The main pedestrian street, 5th Avenue, offers 20+ blocks of shopping, restaurants and bars will take some time to explore. The best time to see this is in the afternoon/evening and from 8pm-11pm. There is plenty of shopping but you can also check out two shopping plazas, Quinta Alegria and Paseo Del Carmen. Also be sure if shopping is your thing, check out our Ultimate Shopping Guide to Playa Del Carmen.
Going Out at Night to Clubs and Bars
Going out clubbing in Playa is world class and has about every type of club you would want. All of the clubs are located on 12th Street from the beach until 10th Avenue or on 10th Street between 5th Avenue and 10th Avenue. This makes it very easy to walk around and see what is going on.
There are Latin dance clubs, super loud bars with dancing, clubs next to the beach with theme nights like foam parties, bars with shows like Coco Bongo, and small bars with music at a level where you can talk. See our Awesome Complete Bar Guide of Playa here and see what fits your style.
Tours and Excursions for Spring Break
There are adventure parks like Xplor that offer zip lines and other activities that will keep you busy for an entire day. Xel-Ha is a full day of fun all while snorkeling, cliff jumping and other water fun. For other day trip information from Playa Del Carmen see our guide here to all the fun. Here is also our map of excursions and some recommended tours you might like to take a book. Check them out! There is so much to do here!
Where to stay in Playa Del Carmen on Spring Break
Blame it on the spring breakers before you because they have made a bad reputation. Many people coming on spring break spend only about half as much as regular tourist and then there is the reputation as loud and out of control. Because of this, many all inclusive hotels do not advertise themselves as spring break hotels. They may not say this on the website but many will say adult only or at least one person 21 years old in the room. Many people coming to the Riviera Maya are worried about being at an all inclusive hotel and it being full of spring breakers. Hotels have taken note and since non spring breakers are 80% of their customers, they cater to them and not to spring breakers.
Should you stay at an All Inclusive Hotel, Rental or Hotel?
All inclusive hotels are popular with spring break because of the value they offer. Accommodation, food and drinks all included into one price. What has become popular in Playa Del Carmen is apartment or condo rentals for the week. These can be a good deal and it provided you with a kitchen to cook in and you can buy alcohol at the supermarket and make drinks there before going out. It should be noted though that many rental agencies are smart to the fact that many young people will book an apartment for 4-6 people and think they can have 8-10 people stay there with no problem. This would make sense cutting cost but it is not what these units are designed for. Management checks on places that are being rented and take noise and complaints from other tenants seriously. A violation of your rental agreement can result in the loss of your security deposit and/or being asked to leave.
Here is one condo rental property from our Airbnb tab that actually caters to young people. This condo rental property is right on the beach and next to the clubs.
Playa Del Carmen offers all level of accommodation. There are all inclusive resort but most of these are at the edge of town and not really in good walking distance. There are two all inclusive resorts right in the middle of Playa though. Here are some suggestions for places to stay in Playa.
- One is the Grand Porto Real. It is only five blocks from the clubs and the most popular beach club, Mamitas is just up the beach about a five minute walk. This is an all inclusive adult only hotel.
- If you want to rent an apartment rather then stay at a large hotel we recommend Koox La Mar Club Aparthotel. It is only steps from the famous 12th Street with the best clubs and one block to the beach.
- If you want a nice clean basic hotel in the center we recommend One Playa Del Carmen. This hotel is just up the street from the clubs and is an affordable option. It is also right next to the bus station where you can get a bus back to the airport. There is not much charm and landscaping but it is a nice clean place to crash close to the action.
- One other budget hotel option is the Hotel Hacienda Maria Bonita. This hotel is right in the center of Playa with easy access to shopping at Walmart for supplies, three blocks to the beach and is one block from the clubs.
You can check prices below and search for hotel deals for your trip to Playa Del Carmen or the Rivera Maya.
Remember the Playa Del Carmen spring break season often is close on the calendar to the Mexican holiday of Semana Santa or holy week associated with Easter. This is the busiest time for hotels and when the dates of your trip fall close to the national holiday here it is very important to book in advance to get choice bookings.
Note: Just check for age restriction when reserving a room.
We hope you have a great time on spring break and just remember that residents live here year round and love to keep the city clean and safe. Please be mindful of this when on vacation.
Below are additional basic questions that you might be wondering about since it might be your first time to Mexico or Playa Del Carmen.
Other questions about Playa Del Carmen for Spring Break
How to get to Playa Del Carmen?
There are three options of getting from the Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen.
- Taxi. These are a fixed price from the airport and often not the best option due to high price.
- ADO bus is a company that has busses about every 30 minutes.
- Private transfer company. These can be very affordable if you are traveling with friends.
Depending on where you stay, your hotel might offer a transfer from the airport. There is a direct bus called ADO that will get you to the bus station on 5th Avenue in the downtown area and we also recommend a great private transfer company that will take you directly to your hotel. They have the best prices for shuttles and transfers to Playa and often can be better option than the bus. To get the best information for you, read more in our article on getting to Playa Del Carmen from the airport.
It will just matter how many are in your group to see if what is economical and how fast you want to start your vacation.
Do I need to speak Spanish?
No, it always helps but most tourist that come speak English and people working in hotels and on 5th Avenue at restaurants and clubs will all be able to help you or speak some English.
Should I use pesos of dollars on Spring Break?
You might be able to get by just using dollars but you will pay more for things and getting change is going to be in pesos. You will do best by exchanging money at an exchange booth on the street or by withdrawing money at an ATM for your time in Mexico. But we highly reccomend using ATMs at banks only! The reason for this is that many ATMs in the street can possiblely copy your card and you will have a problem. It is true any ATM can give you problems but it is much less a risk at bansk since thye have cameras. All locals will tell you this and we don’t know why people ATMs on the street. Be an educated traveler and avoid problems on vacation.
You can use your credit cards for large purchases. For more on exchanging money in Playa Del Carmen, read our article here.
Is it safe in Playa Del Carmen?
Yes! Playa Del Carmen is used to having tourist come and everyone wants you to have a good and safe time. Crime is very low toward tourist and the most unsafe thing is going to be crossing the street or being charged too much from a taxi. Remember that safely starts with you. Don’t walk around drunk at night and take common precautions with valuables, as you would in any city you go to in the world. For more you can read our safety in Playa Del Carmen article.
What is food like in Playa Del Carmen?
Yes there is Mexican food like tacos and quesadillas but Playa Del Carmen is a very international city and that influences the variety of food. You can find just about everything to eat from Italian pasta to hamburgers. Be sure to check out our Restaurant Guide for some ideas and our Cheap Eats article that tells you how to eat cheaply in Playa.
Is the water safe to drink in Playa Del Carmen?
The water system is different then other countries. Drinking water comes in bottles and the water from faucets is just for washing dishes and taking showers. Every restaurant will serve you drinking water and ice made from purified water.
Just remember to drink more water if you are drinking and sweating at the beach in or warmer climate. One big risk to spring breakers is drinking too much alcohol and you can end up dehydrated and in need of going to the hospital. We see this happen at night outside of the clubs. So drink water and hydrate.
Do I need a visa or passport to visit Mexico for spring break?
You do need a passport to travel to Mexico. Most countries like Canada and the United States do not require a special visa. You are given a piece of paper on the plane to fill out. This is your tourist card and you need to return the one half when you leave Mexico. KEEP THIS TOURTIST CARD UNTIL YOU GET BACK AT THE AIRPORT. If you loose your tourist card from the airport you will need to fill out the paperwork at the airport upon your departure. There is possibly a fee involved of around $35 USD which is sometimes charged. Just avoid the hassle and keep it safe.
If you are from other countries please check the current visa laws.
We hope this article gives you some ideas about what a Playa Del Carmen spring break would be like. Why not share this article with your friends. If you have any questions or comments feel free to comment below. We love hearing from our readers.