What travel is like now to Playa Del Carmen
It is a weird time in the world and often it feels like people are living in one of two realities. Travel this year is going to be different no matter what reality you live in. Right now in Playa Del Carmen it is a tale of two worlds as some things seem completely normal and some things seem really odd. Here is what travel is like now to Playa Del Carmen and the Riviera Maya.
During the height of the lockdowns around the globe, the Cancun Airport saw a year on year drop of travelers by 96%. Since the depths of quarantines and lockdowns, flights have been returning to Cancun. You might wonder, who is travelling? Well, there was a lot of pent up demand from dual residents and people needed to travel to visit family. The tourism market is slowly coming back to the Riviera Maya as well.
If you fly in and out of the Cancun Airport now, you might be surprised at how busy it is. This is in part to now having all the 4 terminals open now, but there is still a lot of people using the airport.
One notable difference is the transportation to and from the airport. The only public bus option has limited schedules now in part because of the drop in demand. Also, this year many more people are choosing private vans to and from the airport to their destinations.
Playa Del Carmen
Tourism is slowly returning to Playa Del Carmen. It can, however seem like two different worlds and it depends on your viewpoint of how it looks now.
5th Avenue in Playa Del Carmen
Some people share photos of 5th Avenue all torn up and wonder what is going to happen to Playa. The truth is not all of 5th Avenue is being remodeled and the work that has started is on schedule. The newly remodeled portion of 5th Avenue and Park Fundadores will be a new welcome to visitors this year and for years to come.
Even during this time, some stores are open on the lower end of 5th Avenue that is being remodeled. Cafes are open and more and more of the businesses are opening along 5th Avenue, which is the main pedestrian tourist street in town.
It currently is a patchwork of what restaurants are open. Although, if you were to walk down 38th Street from 5th Avenue to the beach you will notice that almost every restaurant is open. Many of the long time favorite restaurants in Playa are now open and more and more are opening each week.
Delivery services are also popular now. One of the great local grocery delivery services has expanded to offer restaurant food delivery. So if you are coming soon to Playa, you have more options to get food to your door.
Parks, attractions and tours
Traveling now to Playa Del Carmen opens you up to some of the best tours and hot spots without many tourists.
Xcaret, Xel Ha and Xplor are all open now with limited visitors allowed each day and a reservation are necessary. People visiting the parks now have all mentioned how nice it is to visit with so few people there. It is easy to move around and you can enjoy the facilities with not much waiting.
Cenotes are open to the public at limited capacity. We do recommend not going on weekends. This is when many locals have time off of work and will visit. Visiting during the week will allow you to enjoy cenotes more since there will be less crowds.
Rio Secreto is just south of Playa Del Carmen and allows you to explore the underground cave system. These guided tours are in small groups and some have even gone recently and had a private tour because of the amount of tourists visiting.
Private tours are also popular this year. Groups, families and couples are booking more private tours to go places. Absolute Adventure is a great local private tour company. They are currently offering tours to private tours to cenotes and snorkeling destinations along the Riviera Maya.
Resorts in the Riviera Maya
Some large all inclusive resorts started opening in June and more following in July. Resorts have a limited capacity now, but those that visit are finding them to be comfortable and similar in experience to years past. The resorts have an agreement to have the beaches open to guests, so this makes them feel pretty much as they always have.
A few noticeable changes are no buffets, lots of cleaning, staff with masks and most require masks at check-in only for guests.
By the winter season all resorts should be up and running all along the Riviera Maya. For now, resorts are the most popular option as people feel safe in these resort bubbles. The more independent traveler that books hotels in cities like Playa Del Carmen, are more apprehensive that not everything will be open or they will not have access to swim in the ocean (which as of now, the beaches are still closed outside of the resorts).
If you are thinking about visiting the Riviera Maya this year, you might want to consult with Lori, who is an expert travel agent that helps many of our readers book their perfect vacations. She is based here in the Riviera Maya and stays at many of the resorts that are currently open. If you are interested in contacting her, here is our article about her with her contact information.
What is Tulum like now?
Tulum is a separate tourist market all together than the other parts of the Riviera Maya. During the height of the lockdown, there were many non residents staying there. Some tourists lefts other countries to the south to ride out the lockdown in Tulum. Some even rented houses for six months to spend time in Tulum rather than somewhere else during traditional winter months for many.
The vibe and attraction of Tulum is for both the adventurous backpacker and upscale eco chic tourists. With wealthier people hunkering down, this kept Tulum pretty stable and when things started to open in June, Tulum looked almost normal. Beach clubs, restaurants and many businesses are open in Tulum now.
Quintana Roo vs. Yucatan state travel
The Yucatan Peninsula is composed of three states, the two most traveled being Yucatan and Quintana Roo. These two states are very different places to visit. However, because of the variety of the two states, there is a lot of crossover travel between the two. During the closure and stay at home orders the two states took different approaches. Yucatan state took stronger measures to close down earlier and with more restrictions. Many towns in Yucatan State instituted checkpoints so that only residents entered.
The largest tourist attraction that garnishes attention from tourists visiting the Rivera Maya is Chichen Itza. This Mayan ruin site is still not open at this time. Yucatan state is not as open as Quintana Roo now. Some towns, like Valladolid for example, will ask drivers to show their reservations to enter the town.
While tourism is of great importance to both states, Yucatan still is more reserved for tourism now. Think of Yucatan as more the bedroom/living area of the peninsula and the Riviera Maya as the playground. We predict that once the ruins open, there will be more travel to the Yucatan side.
Thank you for reading our article. We try to keep you updated with new articles and content so you can take advantage of everything the Riviera Maya has to offer.