White, silky beaches. Crystal clear, turquoise water reflecting the sky and clouds above. Majestic palm trees sway along the coast. This is the paradise of Mexico’s Playa del Carmen.
Originally named Xaman-Ha by the Mayans, a name meaning “waters of the north,” Playa del Carmen was once considered sacred land. Today a similar sentiment remains, although for rather different reasons. One of the world’s most exclusive resort towns, Playa del Carmen basks in the center of Mexico’s famed Riviera Maya, along the Caribbean coast. Playa, as it’s affectionately known to locals, was once a small fishing town used as a jumping-off point for excursions to nearby Cozumel Island, but its natural beauty and stunning waters secured its reputation as a lavish tropical getaway.
Playa del Carmen’s stunning estates dazzle the imagination. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open onto grand terraces overlooking the Caribbean, palm trees canopy over sparkling salt pools, and illuminated waterfalls add to the tropical ambiance. Gated communities offer lush greenery and paved walking paths, while modern designs impress with striking architecture and luxe details. Surrounded by the blue water of swimming pools and the Caribbean Sea, the candy-colored sky, and the sounds of waves lapping the shore, Playa del Carmen is heaven on earth.
One of the few places in the world that truly caters to all ages, Playa del Carmen is an outstanding spot for everyone from families with young children to those looking to retire in paradise. Barefoot beach walks after dinner and early morning bike rides keep this community active, while the luxe spa services and fresh, local cuisine ensure residents are well-fed and relaxed.
As the seat of lavish living, Playa del Carmen boasts an incredible array of culinary superstars. Start your day with gourmet French-inspired fare at Lara and Luca or cold-pressed fruit juices and smoothies from Nativo. The fresh seafood at Las Hijas de la Tostada is so good the restaurant doesn’t even bother with a website – word of mouth about the superior cuisine does just fine. Stunning creations and Texas-sized fare await at TX Gastro Bar, while the gastropub bites at Argentinean bistro El Patio de la Milanesa dazzle the palate with bold flavors. The gourmet burgers at laid-back Mu. Burgerhouse are truly a sight to behold, and the wagyu beef is a delight for the palate. Porfirio’s haute cuisine of fusion Mexican fare is legendary, and its lush waterfront patio sets the stage for a romantic dinner. Harry's Prime Steakhouse elevates dinner to a transcendental experience with its superior hospitality, sleek dining room, and decadent dishes like Caribbean lobster tail risotto. A tribute to Greek culinary art, Ilios presents a vibrant rainbow of dishes almost too beautiful to eat… almost. Stop in at El Fogon for Playa’s best tacos, or enjoy a light lunch at vegan cafe Green and Fit.
Beach club culture is strong in this stunning locale, and Playa del Carmen offers elegant accommodations with first-class touches. From the sumptuous design of Mvngata and the chic cabanas at Martina Beach Club to the high energy and live music at Coralina Beach Club, Playa del Carmen is the place to be pampered.
With its privileged position in the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen boasts magical sights and jungle adventures straight out of a movie. Bring your sense of adventure to Xplor and Xcaret and explore underground rivers, soar down the world’s highest zip lines, and get out on the aquatic road with amphibious vehicles. If sartorial exploration thrills you more, visit the vibrant, indoor-outdoor Calle Corazón Shopping Center, Quinta Alegria, or Paseo del Carmen’s open-air complex for sweet treats and international designers.
Las Vegas glitz meets Mexican fiesta ambiance at Coco Bongo Show and Disco, one of Playa del Carmen’s best-loved shows. Dance your heart out or just sit back and take in the sights of acrobats flying through the air at this stunning high-energy club on Playa’s famed 12th Street. Life in Playa del Carmen isn’t complete without 5th Avenue. Also known as Quinta Avenida, this vibrant spot is the place to see and be seen. Spanning five miles and dedicated entirely to pedestrians, 5th Avenue boasts the area’s finest shops, cafes, and museums.
Playa del Carmen is home to several top private schools, including the excellent Colegio Ingles Playa for students in preschool through high school.
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