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 huge 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 as to 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 nearly a year, so I didn’t find myself in need of staying in a hotel or resort. However, I would never want to recommend anything in vain. My picks for this article are based on places I am familiar with in some way, whether it be from visiting the accommodation facilities or recommendations from friends and fellow travelers.
And, I’d like to add that even though I haven’t stayed in these accommodations, I absolutely would in the future!
If you’ve visited Playa in the past I’d love to hear where you stayed and what you thought of your accommodation!
- How Long to Spend in Playa del Carmen
- When is the Best Time to Visit Playa del Carmen?
- Best Area to Stay in Playa del Carmen
- Best Places to Stay in Playa del Carmen, on a Budget
- Best All-Inclusive Resorts in Playa del Carmen
- Hotels on the Beach
- How to Get to Playa del Carmen
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. Realistically though, I recommend spending 5 days to ensure you have time to hit the main highlights (and lounge in the sun).
Due to its central location in the Riviera Maya, Playa makes the perfect basecamp for exploring the whole region. However, nearby Tulum and Cozumel both warrant spending multiple days as well. If you’re on a longer trip to the region, I suggest splitting your time between the 3 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. This is when the weather is at it’s very best: 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 as well, but this is also “spring break season,” meaning the whole area is in party mode. It’s still a good 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 won’t be 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 supposedly the storms are most likely in September and October. These two months can be rather rainy, and while the weather is still very warm, 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 Airbnbs, hostels, 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 really 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. This will ensure that your accommodation is centrally located. You’ll be able to easily walk, bike, or hail a quick taxi to anywhere you need to go.
These areas 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.
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 pricey taxi fares.
Below are a few of the best hotels in Playa del Carmen for travelers on a budget.
Hostels in Playa del Carmen
Selina Hostel – 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.
Enjoy Playa Hostel – The Enjoy Playa Hostel is centrally located on Calle 4 Norte, just 2 blocks from La Quinta Avenida and 3 blocks from the beach. The property is decorated with vibrant murals which add plenty of character to this lively hostel. You can opt for dorms or a private room, depending on your travel style.
The hostel also has a bar and restaurant for your convenience, but you’ll also find plenty of tasty budget-friendly restaurants along Calle 4 within a couple of blocks from the hostel.
Cheap Hotels in Playa del Carmen
If you feel that your hostel days are behind you, fear not, there are still plenty of cheap hotels to accommodate your Playa del Carmen budget. These properties aren’t necessarily luxurious but they are conveniently located and equipped with the necessities.
Hotel Casa Tucan – This cute, colorful hotel is centrally located and just 2 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.
El Acuario Hotel – Another vibrant, centrally-located accommodation, this hotel is just a few blocks from La Quinta Avenida and the beach. Rooms are equipped with air conditioning and ceiling fans along with cable TV and the property features both a pool and a garden area to enjoy.
Each of El Acuario’s 12 rooms come complete with a mini kitchenette (fridge, sink, microwave, grill, and dishes), which makes it easy to prep picnics to enjoy at the beach! In the blocks immediately surrounding the hotel, you’ll encounter no shortage of delicious, budget-friendly eateries serving everything from antojitos to tacos and beyond.
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!
Iberostar Quetzal – This beautiful beachfront resort is a wonderful 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
Hotel Xcaret – Hotel Xcaret sits just south of Playa del Carmen and shares 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 wonderful place to enjoy the gorgeous weather in Playa del Carmen.
The resort also offers a variety of 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.
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. I haven’t stayed at either of these resorts, but I have lusted after their stunning pools and dreamy ambiance while strolling past!
Playacar Palace – 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 situated 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?!
The bungalows are surrounded by palm trees and other tropical plants 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.
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 to the area by air, the closest international airport is the Cancun International Airport (CUN). This small, but mighty airport receives flights from most major airlines, including AirCanada, Delta, and Alaska Airlines, among others.
Upon touchdown, you’ll be greeted with a plethora of transportation options to get you from the Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen. These include:
- Rental Car – If you’re planning to explore beyond Playa del Carmen, a rental car is a great way to do it, but a rental car is overkill if you’re more inclined to stay within the city. I recommend Hertz if you choose to pick up a car.
- ADO Bus – This Greyhound-style bus line runs frequently from the 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 arrivals area of the airport and they will drop you directly at your hotel. Plan to pay about $40 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/$1000 MXN, and be sure to agree on the price in advance.
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