Travel writer, music manager, producer and self-proclaimed foodie Chloe Gunning was recently living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for one month and has shared her top picks for spending the perfect day (and night!) in this luxurious hotspot located in the heart of Mexico’s famed Riviera Maya.
Situated just 40 minutes south of Cancun along the Mexican Caribbean Sea, Playa offers a unique upscale vibe that is always laid-back but still infused with plenty of energy. From where to grab an authentic local meal, to the best beaches and most beautiful infinity pool, this guide has a bit of something for everyone who wants to experience a taste of all Playa del Carmen has to offer!
Start your morning off right with some of the “best coffee in town” and a variety of delectable pastries at Chez Celine, an authentic French bakery located right on Playa’s famed Fifth Avenue. Other favorites include croissants, quiche and – of course – Baguette bread! Open daily from 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Call 984-803-3480 for more information.
Walk or grab a taxi down to Playacar Beach, which is located just south of town next to the Cozumel Island ferry terminal. Here, the pristine white sand beach is always much less crowded than Playa’s main tourist beach in the heart of town. Just be sure to bring something to drink and a few snacks, since this stretch of sand isn’t lined with beach bars and restaurants.
When real hunger strikes again, Gunning recommends checking out El Fogon for lunch, which is a local favorite for good reason. Serving up authentic and always delicious Mexican cuisine in generous portions, this establishment costs a fraction of what you will pay for an identical meal on 5th Avenue. Favorite dishes include the tacos al pastor and the arrechera con queso with a side of guacamole. Open Wednesday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 984-803-0885 for more information.
Want more? Check out a few more choices with this Foodie’s Guide to Playa del Carmen.
If you want to live like a jetsetter for the afternoon,head over to the rooftop infinity pool at the uber-luxurious and uniquely boutique Hotel Cacao to relax amid the quirky décor and amazing views of the sea, which include Cozumel Island in the distance. Of course, the cocktail bar isn’t too shabby either, offering a true mixology experience along with a cold menu based on Chef Cuatepotzo’s famed ceviches. Open daily for lunch, dinner and late night. Call 984-803-0485 for more information.
Cool off after soaking up an afternoon of sunshine and stop by Yogo Chango to sample the best frozen yogurt in Playa del Carmen. With a variety of fresh fruit and unique dry toppings to choose from, it offers a surprising burst of flavor, with ingredients that are made fresh daily in Playa. Open 9 a.m. to Midnight. Call 984-876-3114 for more information.
Enjoy live entertainment while you dine at Fusion Bar and Grill, which hosts belly dancing, live music and an incredible fire show each night on the beach around 10 p.m. The tables are located right on the beach just a few yards from the shore, which makes for a gorgeous view when heat lighting sears through the sky over Cozumel Island. The menu is an eclectic mix of local favorites, pastas, fresh salads, fish, seafood, steak and chicken. Open 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Call 984-873-0374 for more information.
For an amazing view and equally mesmerizing spirits,sip a few cocktails at Deseo Hotel’s rooftop lounge on 5th Avenue. Swanky and with a sleek modern decor, this bar also has a pool and laid-back lounge area that is complete with an old-school projector that plays black and white movies. Call 984-879-3621 for more information.
If you are still ready for more excitement, the late night party scene in Playa del Carmen won’t disappoint. On 12th street near the beach there’s La Mezcalinna, which offers $1.50 shots of tequila and a hip alternative vibe,or experience pumping house music at TriBeCa and La Vaquita. The Blue Parrot is situated right on the beach and offers plenty of variety, including a salsa night, while Coco Bongo presents a nightly tribute show to Michael Jackson, Queen, Lady Gaga and more. Still want more? Enjoy a late-late night dance at Santanera, which is an enormous club with indoor and outdoor areas.
Where is your favorite place to eat, dine and play in Playa del Carmen? Share your top picks or rate these in the comments section below!