Playa del Carmen

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Playa del Carmen
View from the Ferry Docks
View from the Ferry Docks
Official seal of Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is located in Mexico
Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen
Coordinates: 20°37′39″N 87°04′52″W / 20.62750°N 87.08111°W / 20.62750; -87.08111Coordinates: 20°37′39″N 87°04′52″W / 20.62750°N 87.08111°W / 20.62750; -87.08111
Country  Mexico
State Quintana Roo Quintana Roo
Municipality SOLIDARIDAD.png Solidaridad
Founded 1937
 • Mayor José Mauricio Gongora Escalante
Elevation 10 m (30 ft)
Population (2010[1])
 • City 149,923
 • Urban 149,923
 • Demonym Playense
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) Central Daylight Time (UTC-5)
Postal code 77710 y 77720
Area code(s) 984
Major Airport Cancún International Airport

Playa del Carmen is a city located along the Caribbean Sea in the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico. It is a popular tourist area in eastern Mexico.


Tourists entering Playa del Carmen's ferry terminal
Playa del Carmen central beach 2010

Originally a small fishing town, tourism to Playa del Carmen began with the passenger ferry service to Cozumel, an island across the Cozumel Channel and world famous scuba diving destination.

Playa del Carmen, or just "Playa", has undergone rapid development over the past two years with many new luxury residential condominium buildings, restaurants, boutiques and entertainment venues. Currently there are plans to develop six luxury boutique hotels, several American chain restaurants including Hard Rock Cafe as well as a small upmarket shopping plaza offering designer boutiques, a small cinema, luxury condominiums and the first international House of Blues entertainment venue. Avenida Quinta is slated to become a cultural and economic stronghold for the Yucatan peninsula with the development of civic venues and up-market retail. Several luxury brands are currently developing retail locations, those under construction or already open including Louis Vuitton, Carolina Herrera, Paul & Shark, Hugo Boss and Christian Dior. El Palacio de Hierro has also begun construction of a luxury department store at the corner of Avenida Quinta and Constituyentes. Luxury department store Liverpool will open their Riviera Maya flagship store in Playa del Carmen in 2012. Liverpool will anchor a large urban lifestyle center that includes retailers: Zara, Zara Home, H&M, Massimo Dutti, Armani Exchange and Lacoste. Several international retailers will be new to Mexico including: Design Within Reach, Apple Store, Chipotle Mexican Grill and REI.

Playa del Carmen is located within the Riviera Maya, which runs from south of Cancún to Tulum and the Sian Ka'an biosphere reserve. Playa is a stop for several cruise ships which dock at the nearby Calica quarry docks, about six miles south of the city. The Xcaret Eco Park, a Mexican-themed "eco-archaeological park", is a popular tourist destination located just south of the town in Xcaret (pronounced "shkar-et"). Tourist activity in Playa del Carmen centers on Quinta Avenida, or Fifth Avenue, stretching from Calle 1 norte until Calle 40, a pedestrian walkway located just one or two blocks inland from the beach. Fifth Avenue is lined with hundreds of shops, bars and restaurants. There are many small boutique hotels on Fifth Avenue as well as just off Fifth Avenue and on the beach, such as Luna Blue Hotel & Bar, Fusion Beach Hotel Bar & Grill, Deseo, Basico, Casa Ticul, Barrio Latino, La Tortuga and many others.

Church in Playa del Carmen
Modern church in Playa del Carmen (interior view)

The Playa del Carmen local community and government have attempted to retain Playa del Carmen's reputation and charm as a small fishing village and artists' colony, without it becoming as large and metropolitan as Cancún. The city passed an ordinance limiting buildings to four stories. A few five story buildings were built despite the ordinance, however. Playa del Carmen is currently expanding north beyond the Colosio section and on the other side of highway 307, the Ejido.

Playacar is a residential and tourist development in Playa del Carmen, just south of the main urban area. In this development most of the all-inclusive hotels, the aviary, and the golf course are located. There are two phases, phase 1 is mostly residential with a few hotels and some stores. Phase 2 contains the largest all inclusive resorts along with the golf course and a significant number of residential properties. Playacar was developed starting in 1979 by Mr. Fernando Barbachano's company: Compania Impulsora Turi­stica de Playa del Carmen, S.A., The development was later sold to Aircoa, an American Corporation, which later sold the development to SIDEK of the Martinez Huitron Family and more recently sold to Mr. Ernesto Echeverria.

There is a significant Canadian, European and Argentinian influence in Playa, with a number of local business proprietors drawn from the American, South American and European expatriate community. In addition a significant amount of Playa's tourists include thousands of backpackers from around the world, who pass through Playa while touring Mexico and the surrounding region. There are currently three foreign consulates in Playa del Carmen representing the United States of America, Canada and Italy.

In October 2005 Hurricane Wilma passed directly over Playa del Carmen, remaining in the vicinity for two days and causing significant damage and a temporary drop in tourist arrivals. Fortunately most of the damage was relatively superficial and repaired within a few weeks of the storm. Hurricane Wilma arrived from the Caribbean Sea, passing over Cozumel before making landfall in Playa del Carmen. It then moved north along the Mexican coast, hitting Cancún especially hard.

Recently Playa del Carmen city planners have taken initiative and have begun making the town more pedestrian friendly. A 4 km foot and bicycle path will run the length of the town along 10th Avenue in Centro, along with two additional foot and bicycle paths which will connect two commercial corridors near Centro Maya in south Playa del Carmen and Col. Las Americas where a state of the art municipal facility, city hall and theatre is being constructed alongside the largest master-planned urban development in Mexico. The city has also completed several urban spaces designed to provide a safe environment for families to enjoy outdoor activities, this includes two junior skate parks, an outdoor fitness gymnasium, tennis court, basketball court, volleyball court and children's play zone all of which are located underneath the federal highway, creating a covered space which is shaded throughout the lit at night. This space also provides shelter for pedestrians during inclement weather.

In popular culture[edit]

The telenovela Peregrina takes place in Playa del Carmen. The Real Housewives of Vancouver featured Playa del Carmen in two episodes. The Amazing Race has shot on location in Playa del Carmen. The Celebrity Mole was set in the Playa del Carmen area. UK Reality Series Geordie Shore featured Playa del Carmen.

Notable residents include WSOP winner Barry Shulman, artist David Guetta, Mexico hoteliers Carlos Couturier and Moises Micha and fashion designer Tory Burch.

Playa del Carmen is host to several major annual events the largest being BPM, a world famous electronic dance music festival which takes place in January each year.


The city is home to Inter Playa del Carmen, a football (soccer) club founded in 1999, currently competing in the south group of the Segunda División Profesional, third tier of Mexican football league system.

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