Wondering about the best places to stay in Playa del Carmen? In this beautiful beach town, there are incredible options for travelers on every budget!
Updated: July, 2021
With its alluring turquoise sea, white-sand beaches, and reliably warm climate, Playa del Carmen just might be the ultimate location for a beach vacation.
Determining where to stay in Playa del Carmen is no small task, given that there is a vast range of accommodation options fit for any type of traveler.
In this article, I’ll do my best to highlight a selection of great places to stay in Playa del Carmen. I’ll also offer my tips on which areas of Playa are best to stay in, along with some additional travel tips to help your visit go smoothly.
I lived in Playa del Carmen for a year. My picks for this article are based on places I am familiar with, whether from visiting the accommodation facilities or recommendations from friends and fellow travelers.
If you’ve visited Playa in the past, I’d love to hear where you stayed and what you thought of your accommodation! Let me know in the comments!
How Long to Spend in Playa del Carmen
There are so many incredible things to do in and around Playa del Carmen that you could easily spend months exploring.
If you’re on an extended trip to the Riviera Maya, I suggest splitting your time between the three, so you can experience the different lifestyles of each destination.
When is the Best Time to Visit Playa del Carmen?
Honestly, the best time to visit Playa del Carmen is between November and February. During these months, the weather is ideal: warm with very little rain and no storms.
However, this also happens to be the busiest time of the year to visit. If you’re willing to brave the crowds (and the prices), you’ll be able to enjoy the best of what the region has to offer.
March and April have great weather, but this is also “spring break season,” meaning the whole area is in party mode. It’s still an excellent time to visit, but make sure you come mentally prepared to contend with spring breakers.
May through August is the rainy season in the Riviera Maya. It is also the hottest and most humid time of the year. If you can tolerate the heat and humidity, this is a great time to visit.
The beaches and attractions aren’t as crowded, and you’ll be able to score off-season rates on accommodation. Typically the rain holds off until the afternoon, around 4 pm when it will pour torrentially for a couple of hours.
Hurricane season technically stretches from June through October, but the storms are most likely in September and October. These two months can be rainy, and while the weather is still hot, beach days in the rain just aren’t that much fun.
I’d avoid visiting during September and October just to ensure you make the most of your vacation dollars.
Best Area to Stay in Playa del Carmen
When it comes to figuring out where to stay in Playa del Carmen, there is certainly no shortage of options. From vacation rentals and hostels to boutique hotels and expansive resorts, you’re sure to find something that fits your travel style.
However, in a city as sprawling as Playa, choosing accommodation in a convenient location can make or break your vacation.
Unless you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort (or renting a car), I highly recommend staying somewhere within the pink rectangle in the image below. Staying in this central area will make it easy to walk, cycle, or hail a quick taxi to anywhere you need to go.
These parts of Playa are also safe and chock-full of any amenities that you may need, including grocery stores, lavanderías, co-working spaces, restaurants, bars, and more. Most importantly, this will put you within easy walking distance of the beach!
Again, there are surely plenty of attractive accommodations to be found outside of the pink rectangle, but you’ll want to consider your transportation options before you commit.
Taxis in Playa can add up quickly, especially when you consider that they often bump up the rate for tourists. Budget a minimum of $60 MXN per ride if you’re traveling anywhere outside of the rectangle.
You may be able to save a few bucks by booking outside of Playa’s centro, but once you add in the taxi fees, it may not make sense anymore.
Below I’ve provided an overview of some of Playa del Carmen’s main neighborhoods for more context.
Playa del Carmen Centro & La Quinta Avenida
La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue) is the heart of Playa del Carmen’s tourist zone. It’s a pedestrian thoroughfare lined with restaurants, shops, bars, nightclubs, and hotels. Even if you’d rather avoid the most touristy areas of Playa, there’s no denying that it’s handy to stay within a short distance of this street.
The North end of La Quinta, from about Calle 26 and beyond, is the newest part of this street. Here you’ll find the more modern and trendy hotels and restaurants.
Further north, Calle 38 is one of my favorite streets in Playa. It has a lush canopy of trees and leads down to a beautiful beach. This street is also lined with some of Playa’s best eateries, including Trujillos Cantina, a romantic place to grab dinner or drinks in a jungle setting.
The South end of La Quinta is a little more congested. The buildings are older and don’t have the same refined feel as those in the other direction. But, there’s still plenty to appreciate about this end of downtown. Here you’ll find beach bars like Fusion, Zenzi, and INTI Beach.
You’ll also find the Cozumel ferry terminal, Parque Fundadores (where you can catch live performances, including the voladores de Papantla), and the Paseo del Carmen shopping center. All of this leads out to Playacar Beach, a popular spot for locals.
Playacar is a large, gated luxury sub-division South of downtown. It consists of two sections, Phase 1 and Phase 2. This area was largely developed in the 80s so some properties now look a little dated.
Phase 1 is mainly made up of houses, small apartment buildings, and a few small hotels. There are a handful of beachfront vacation rentals in this area if that interests you.
There is also a small ruin in this neighborhood. It’s not very remarkable but serves as a reminder of what was here before.
To access the beach in Playacar Phase 1, walk to the South end of La Quinta and cut through Señor Frogs to the beach. Then head south along the beach until you find an appealing spot.
Though Playacar is gated, you can still enter the community. It has large beaches and they are less crowded than many of the beaches in downtown Playa del Carmen simply because they’re a little further away.
North of downtown, Colosio is where many Playa del Carmen locals live. There’s not much for travelers to see here as it’s largely residential. However, if you’re looking for affordable, hole-in-the-wall eateries, you’ll surely find a few.
There are a few all-inclusive hotels along the beach in Colosio, including Paradisus La Perla (mentioned below).
There are public beach access points in Colosio, too, so if you’re looking to avoid the crowded beaches downtown those could be a good alternative.
Mayakoba & Luxury Hotel Zone
There is also a golf course, some high-end sub-divisions, high-end restaurants, and a luxury shopping district.
There is public beach access here, though it can be difficult to locate. The beaches in the Mayakoba area are meticulously maintained and some of the most beautiful in all of the Riviera Maya.
Click here to grab a done-for-you Google map, including my favorite Playa del Carmen restaurants & attractions.
Best Places to Stay in Playa del Carmen On a Budget
One of the best tips I can offer for visiting Playa del Carmen on a budget is to stay in the center of town. This way, you’ll be close to all the main attractions, and you won’t have to waste your travel budget on costly taxi fares.
Below are a few of the best hostels and hotels in Playa del Carmen for travelers on a budget.
Selina is a popular chain of hostels and co-working spaces with locations throughout Latin America. The Playa del Carmen location is conveniently located just half a block from La Quinta Avenida and one block from the beach. It features a swimming pool, a palapa bar/restaurant area, and a co-working space.
Selina’s dorm rooms offer lockers to securely store your belongings while you’re out and about. If you’re not up for a dorm experience, there are also private rooms available.
I haven’t stayed at Selina, but I have visited their restaurant and always received top-notch service and tasty food at reasonable prices. It’s one of my favorite cafes to work from in Playa del Carmen.
Cheap Hotels in Playa del Carmen
If you feel that your hostel days are behind you, fear not. Some of the best places to stay in Playa del Carmen are super budget-friendly. These properties aren’t necessarily the most luxurious, but they are conveniently located and equipped with all the necessities for an enjoyable trip.
Hotel Casa Tucan
This cute, colorful hotel is centrally located and just two blocks from the beach. The rooms are basic but come equipped with the necessities. It’s worth noting that not all rooms come with A/C, so if this important to you, be sure to request it ahead.
Casa Tucan has a pool and a garden with hammocks for guests to lounge in. They also offer convenient extras such as beach chairs and luggage storage to ensure their visitors are well looked after. If you’re looking for a solid budget-friendly accommodation, this hotel is a top contender.
Be Playa Hotel
Located on Avenida 10 and Calle 26, this hotel is super close to Mamitas beach, one of the most popular beaches in Playa del Carmen.
The rustic/modern design and neutral color palette create a chic space with a romantic feel. The spacious rooms come equipped with large jacuzzi tubs and rainfall showers. They offer floor-to-ceiling windows, which create an airy space. Breakfast is included in the price of your room.
Be Playa also has a rooftop pool and bar perfect for enjoying afternoon cocktails before an evening out.
La Pasion Hotel Boutique by Bunik
This beautiful hotel is located just a couple of blocks from La Quinta and a few blocks from the beach, making it easy to walk everywhere within Playa del Carmen.
The rooms are decorated with rustic, hacienda-style furnishings. Each room features free WiFi, air-conditioning, bathrobes, and complimentary toiletries.
The hotel property holds three pools, including a rooftop pool area that offers sweeping views of the city. The main pool area is adorned with lush tropical plants, creating a lovely jungle setting.
Guests will also be delighted to find that the hotel has an on-site restaurant and spa and offers complimentary parking.
Best All-Inclusive Resorts in Playa del Carmen
One of the Riviera Maya’s biggest draws (aside from the incredible scenery, of course) is the range of all-inclusive resorts the area offers. If you’re short on vacation days and seriously in need of relaxation, an all-inclusive might be the best way to go.
Once you arrive, your only worry will be finishing that cerveza before it gets warm!
Below I’ve listed a few of the best all-inclusive resorts within Playa del Carmen, including a couple of options that are particularly good for travelers with children.
Paradisus La Perla
This stylish, adults-only, all-inclusive resort just outside of Playa del Carmen is the perfect place to pamper yourself. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and some of them even have a swim-up option!
The property itself features over a dozen restaurants and bars, each with different specialties. There is also a spa and an assortment of planned activities such as dance lessons or tequila tastings that are sure to keep your schedule packed. And, of course, you’re sure to spend plenty of downtime soaking up the sun at the pool or the beach!
If you’re looking for a relaxing, luxurious vacation, the Paradisus La Perla sounds like the perfect place!
This beautiful beachfront resort is a lovely place to relax and enjoy the sunshine. However, with activities such as diving or snorkeling, windsurfing, and parasailing available right from the resort, there’s unlikely to be a dull moment.
And the fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. The resort offers nightly entertainment in the form of music, dancing, or comedy performances for guests to enjoy.
If you are traveling with children, you’ll be interested to know that the Iberostar Quetzal also features a pool and activities designed specifically for kids to keep them engaged and entertained throughout their stay.
All-Inclusive Family Resorts
If you’re traveling with kids, a family-friendly resort is key. These properties have everything from kids’ pools to daycare centers, children’s activities, and more to ensure you and your kids are thoroughly entertained for your entire trip.
Hotel Xcaret sits just south of Playa del Carmen and shares the property with the Xcaret adventure park. In fact, the all-inclusive package at this resort includes admission into each of the Xcaret parks, including Xenses, Xplor, Xel-Ha, and more!
The resort itself features attractive rooms with sleek, modern finishes that nod toward Mayan culture. The property is also home to 10 restaurants, 8 bars, a wellness spa, a fitness center, and of course, a series of pools and a beachfront.
As a bonus, transportation to and from the airport, adventure parks, and tours is also included in all-inclusive packages!
Grand Riviera Princess
With spacious, well-appointed rooms and 12 gorgeous pools, the Grand Riviera Princess is a lovely place to enjoy the perfect weather in Playa del Carmen.
The resort also offers various facilities and activities, including water sports, tennis courts, and a Family Club with activities catering to children.
There is nightly entertainment available in the resort’s Princess Theatre, which features acts ranging from Latin, Pop, or Rock bands to theatre performances.
Playa del Carmen Hotels on the Beach
Not in the mood for an all-inclusive? No worries! Playa del Carmen has plenty of beachfront hotels that don’t require the purchase of an all-inclusive package.
Below I’ve included a couple of options that are within Playa del Carmen’s downtown, making it easy to explore beyond the resort.
This beachfront resort sits right at the end of La Quinta Avenida, with views extending out to Cozumel! When I was living in Playa (in 2017), this hotel underwent an extensive renovation, so I’m sure the facilities are top-notch.
The dreamy pool overlooks Playacar beach, which is also a great swimming spot if the seaweed is not present. If you’re looking for a relaxing resort and also hope to spend time exploring Playa’s colorful streets and vibrant nightlife, this is a perfect option. You’re within easy walking distance of anywhere you might like to visit!
Mahekal Beach Front Resort
With palapa-roofed villas situated right in the soft sand along Playa del Carmen’s shore, Mahekal seems like the perfect peaceful escape.
You’re just a short walk from La Quinta Avenida (technically one long block), where you’ll encounter shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. At the same time, you’ll be able to fall asleep listening to the sounds of the ocean lapping the shore. What more could you ask for?!
Palm trees and other tropical plants surround the bungalows to help you feel like you’re on a jungle escape. Meanwhile, the interiors are tastefully decorated in earthy tones with accents in vibrant prints which recall Mayan culture.
By omitting TVs from the rooms, Mahekal encourages you to unplug during your vacation (but don’t worry, there’s WIFI)!
The resort offers pools, a spa, and on-site restaurants, so you don’t have to leave (ever!) unless you really want to.
Is Playa del Carmen Safe?
Playa del Carmen is generally considered a safe destination in Mexico, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions.
Because Playa del Carmen is such a popular tourist destination, it tends to be insulated from cartel violence. However, tourists can make easy targets.
Think about it… if you don’t know much Spanish, you’re unfamiliar with Mexican laws, and you’re (potentially) drinking or drunk, you’re an easy victim for someone with ulterior motives.
With that in mind, here are a few safety tips to help you avoid being seen as a target…
- Always be mindful about your consumption of alcohol. Don’t drink too much, and when you are drinking, always keep an eye on your drink.
- Avoid being out in public when you’re inebriated, as police have been known to ticket or arrest tourists for public intoxication.
- Don’t walk alone at night — just don’t, even if you feel safe. Call a radio taxi to take you back to your accommodation safely, or have someone you know and trust walk with you.
Related Reading: Essential Riviera Maya Safety Tips
How to Get to Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen, Mexico sits about 1 hour south of Cancun in a region known as the Riviera Maya.
If you are arriving by air, the closest international airport is the Cancun International Airport (CUN). This airport receives flights from most major airlines, including AirCanada, Delta, and Alaska Airlines.
Upon touchdown, you’ll be greeted with many transportation options to get you from the Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen. These include:
- Rental Car — If you plan to explore beyond Playa del Carmen, a rental car is a great way to do it. For those more inclined to stay within the city, a rental car isn’t necessary. If you wish to rent a car, I recommend Discover Cars to help you find the best rate.
- ADO Bus – This Greyhound-style bus line runs frequently from the Cancun airport to the station in downtown Playa del Carmen. A ticket will cost you approximately $200 MXN/$11 USD.
- Airport transfer – These will cost a pretty penny, but they are convenient, especially if you’re exhausted and disoriented. There are multiple companies offering service from the airport’s arrivals area, and they will drop you directly at your hotel. Plan to pay about $40 – $60 USD.
- Taxi – Taxis are a simple way to get from Cancun to Playa, but due to the length of the journey, they will cost a fair amount. This is a good way to go if you’d prefer private transport. Plan to spend up to $50 USD and be sure to agree on the price in advance.
Related Reading: How to Get From the Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen
Which of these places to stay in Playa del Carmen is calling your name? Let me know in the comments!
Mexico Travel Planning Resources
🌡️ Do I need travel insurance?
Yes! Healthcare in Mexico is affordable for minor ailments, but travel insurance will give you peace of mind if an emergency arises. Plus, you can add coverage for trip interruption, theft, etc. Get a quote from SafetyWing.
🏨 What’s the best way to find accommodation in Mexico?
I use a mix of Booking, Airbnb, and Hostelworld.
💸 How should I exchange money in Mexico?
Use local ATMS to withdraw cash. US travelers should open a Charles Schwab bank account because they’ll refund ATM fees at the end of the month.
Travelers from outside the US should open a Wise account to secure the best currency exchange rates.
📱 Where can I buy a local SIM card in Mexico?
Pick up a Telcel SIM card at any convenience store. Or, buy an Airalo eSIM online so you’re connected as soon as you land.
🗣️ Do I need to speak Spanish in Mexico?
No, but it definitely helps you feel more confident and connected.
✈️ What’s the best way to find affordable flights?
I use Skyscanner because it makes it easy to compare rates across different travel days.
🚖 How do I find a safe airport transfer?
I recommend GetTransfer for airport transfers anywhere in Mexico.
🚗 What’s the best way to find rental cars in Mexico?
I recommend Discover Cars because they aggregate prices across rental car companies, making it easy to find competitive rates.
🚐 How do I book bus tickets online in Mexico?
🤿 How do I find cool activities and tours in Mexico?
🇲🇽 How can I experience Mexico like a local?
Solo female travelers can hire a local female guide through Greether. Greeters will tailor tours based on your interests— it’s basically like experiencing a destination with a local bestie!
🧳 What’s the best luggage for Mexico?
Unless you’re staying at a resort, a travel pack is recommended. I’ve used this one from Osprey for the last 8+ years.
👯♀️ How do I connect with fellow travelers in Mexico?
Join my Female Travelers in Mexico Facebook group, a supportive community of fellow Mexico travel enthusiasts, where you can find answers to all your travel questions!
For more travel tips, check out these Playa del Carmen blog posts:
- How to Spend 5 Magical Days in Playa del Carmen
- Best Beachfront Airbnbs in Playa del Carmen
- The Best Things to do in Playa del Carmen
- The Ultimate Riviera Maya Transportation Guide
- 18 Wonderful Things to Do in the Riviera Maya
- The Ultimate Dos Ojos Cenote Day Trip
- 10 Thrilling Day Trips from Playa del Carmen
- What to Pack for Playa del Carmen & the Riviera Maya
- Best Things to do in Tulum