Playa Del Carmen Mexico located in the state of Quintana Roo is a touristic ball of energy, good vibes, and a lot of fun things to do and see.
It is perfect for a family vacation, spring break, “baecation”, weekend getaway, or just to hang with friends.
Here are some highlights and a video presentation of my mini-vacation in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
Playa Del Carmen 5th Avenue (Quinta Avenida)
When most people think of 5th avenue, their mind often goes to New York City.
5th Avenue or Quinta Avenida as it is called by the locals is the heart and backbone of Playa Del Carmen. It is the cousin on steroids of Times Square New York City.
The five-mile stretch along 5th avenue is adorned with high-end and affordable restaurants, bars, local craft shops, clothing stores, and street vendors.
Like Time Square, you will be entertained by several street performers as you will watch in the video presentation below.
As you walk along 5th Avenue you will be hackled by locals trying to sell you something; some not so legal if you know what I mean.
Do not become offended or annoyed. This is a normal approach by sellers in Mexico. They are just hustling to make money to feed their families.
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Here Are A Few Restaurant Highlights
Food and Vacation are like a horse and carriage. you can’t have one without the other.
The Food Explora in me enjoys exploring different cuisines, and food cultures whenever I get a chance.
Playa Del Carmen is saturated with hundreds of restaurants with various cuisines.
From my experience traveling, in comparison to chain restaurants or high-end restaurants, the mom-and-pop food shops or even the street vendor’s food are cheaper and tastier. They are usually a reflection of the real food culture of the region.
There are other locations of Senor Frog’s Restaurants in Playa del Carmen Mexico. But I am always ready for dining on the beach.
This location is by the Cozumel Pier. The ambiance is rustic and screams beach vibes. The staff and Managers are super friendly and professional.
At the time of dining, there was a live comedic performance. Even though I did not understand most of what the performers were saying, it was fun to watch.
But nothing is more relaxing than watching the blue seas meet the white sand and hearing the ocean crashing onto the shore while having a delicious meal.
Feel the taste of Frogilious Burger
Frogilicious Burger is one of Senor frog’s top menu items. And no, it is not made of frog meat.
It’s layered with beef, shrimp, bacon, lettuce, onion, tomatoes and a special sweet sauce.
Add an order of fries and a local beer and you have a complete meal.
Fah Restaurant & Bar is located on 5th Avenue. It’s an exclusive out door dining with a rustic lounge feel. The food is banging.
While I am not a lover of Mexican food, My go-to dish is authentic Mexican tacos. Fah’s fish tacos and fries is a crowd pleaser.
I would eat here everyday if I could. but the Food Explora in me only allowed me to explore other restaurants.
The live musical performances every night add another level of enjoyment to the dining experience.
Furthermore, this small mom & pops restaurant has both indoor and outdoor street side dining. It is about 3-5 minutes walk from the Nina hotel I stayed.
I ordered their pineapple burger with beef. Made to order in an open kitchen makes the food experience even more memorable.
Even though I rarely eat at McDonald’s Restaurant, the Food Explora in me wanted to see if there were any difference in the meals served in Playa Del Carmen.
The 1st thing I observe about this egg breakfast is the portion size. In addition, the service was super fast.
Another difference I found was that the English muffin was layered with bean puree and topped with melted cheese.
The Ambiance pays homage to the tropical vibes of the island. I Wish the McDonald’s were like this in the US.
Yum Yum By George is 2 storefronts from the Nina Hotel. I made several attempts to dine here, but the restaurant was always overbooked; no doubt it’s a popular hot spot.
However, based on their website their menu has an international flair of Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian flavors.
If you visit Playa Del Carmen and want to try a few exotic dishes. You may want to pay them a visit.
Street Food In Playa Del Carmen
Walking throughout Playa Del Carmen you will most often come across a street vendor selling food and snacks that are popular in the region.
I encourage you to support them. They are just hustling to make a living for their families. Moreover, their food and snacks are tasty.
Park By The Beach
Parque Los Fondadores (translates Founding Fathers Park) is a hot spot in Playa Del Carmen.
Portal Maya Sculpture In Playa Del Carmen
The park is located next to the Cozumel Ferry Pier and houses this beautiful Portal Maya bronze sculpture of a man and woman holding hands overlooking the beach.
You will need to get up close and walk around the sculpture’s base to enjoy the intricate details of the artist’s amazing artwork.
If you take the bus from the Airport and exit the ADO bus station on 5th Avenue, your eyes cannot help but gaze at this magnificent iconic sculptor by the beach.
Furthermore, it’s a perfect spot to sit and take in the turquoise sea and the relaxing sunset.
It is said that it was designed and built in honor of the Mayan community and its rich Mayan heritage. It represents the ending of the thousands of years of the Mesoamerican calendar developed by the Mayans and the start of a new era.
Playa Park Performances
You will often observe a group of Mayan dance performers by the statue, especially during the nights.
Each night in the park when I was there, huge crowds of people were observed surrounding comedic performances. It is like watching a mini broadway show in the park.
However, if you do not speak or understand Spanish you will not understand the show. But hearing the contagious laughter from the gathered crowd, one cannot help but bust out laughing.
I found that the beach that is north of the Cozumel pier is cleaner and free of seaweed and debris. Furthermore, the sand is more refined and the ocean is a more beautiful aqua blue color.
Nina Hotel & Beach Club
Nina Hotel & Beach Club is in a perfect location. Guest will have easy access to local restaurants and shops.
The hotel is about 3-5 minutes walk to the famous 5th Avenue. However, it is a very old boutique Spanish style hotel.
To be honest, the hotel needs a lot of repairs. I stayed in room 18. The faucet, mirror, shower head and need to be replaced; there were calcium deposits that affected the flow of water. The toilet tank also did not work well. Despite these ordeals, it did not warrant a room change for me.
Low Budget Hotel
If you are looking for a very budget-friendly place to stay for a very short stay or the weekend, where you can walk to the tourist attractions including the beach, then this hotel is a steal deal. However, I would not recommend Nina Hotel if you are going to stay for long periods unless you are ok with the amenities.
The hotel has great potential. But I think poor management has neglected the upkeep of the hotel. You will see video footage in the video presentation below.
The Beach Club
The beach club is not on or near the Nina Hotel. Do not be fooled by the photos on their website. The Nina Hotel is apparently affiliated with the Tukan Hotel and Beach Club.
You are given a wristband on arrival that supposedly gives you access to the beach club. I walked about 10 minutes from the Nina Hotel and was told by a Tukan hotel staff that the club is actually the Kool Beach Club.
If you decide to stay at Nina, make sure you get clarification on what services you may access at the beach club.
Nina Hotel Staff
The front desk staff was helpful. However, they barely spoke English. Therefore, I had to use a translation app to help us communicate.
This hotel policy is so strange. Guest had to get a new 5 digit hotel Wifi password every day.
The hotel room had no phone. Therefore, I had to walk down to the reception area to ask for access to the internet. But I must say, the Wifi worked very well.
The swimming pool is the selling point of the hotel.
You will definitely feel like you are in the middle of the jungle. Laying on the pool chair by the pool lends a very relaxing and private oasis.
There are outdoor showers and restrooms by the pool for your convenience.
I was told by one of the ticketing agents that there are numerous fun and adventurous activities to take part in across the island.
I did not ride the ferry because the agent only accepted cash. However, there are a few different ticketing agents around the pier in Playa Del Carmen.
A round trip ticket at the time of vacation costs around $455 pesos (approximately US $23).
ADO Bus to Cancun Airport
The Uber and taxi services to and from the airport tripled in price at the time of travel. Russia’s War On Ukraine may have been the culprit for this spike.
Uber cab services to JFK airport in NYC was running around $150. shocking, right? The usual average cost was around $40 – $45 in the early mornings.
Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen
Taxi service from Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen would have cost me US$125 at the time. The ride is about a 1-hour ride without major traffic.
However, there were pool shuttle services that cost a fraction of the taxi cost. I pooled with another couple and the trip only cost US$45.
Playa Del Carmen to Cancun Airport
I learned about ADO bus services to The Cancun International Airport while I was in Playa Del Carmen.
Everything Playa Del Carmen provides you with more details about how to take the ADO bus to the airport.
Tickets can be purchased at the bus station. However, 30 minutes before the bus departed, I reserved and paid for the one-way trip on the BUSBUD website. It cost me MX$216 (US$12.24).
The trip was early in the morning and it took about 1 hour to the airport. Plan a few hours before your departure flight, especially if you are unable to check-in online.
Shuttle Bus to Terminal
When I arrived at the airport, I had to take a free shuttle bus to my designated terminal. This was about a 3-5 minutes ride.
Most covid testing centers in Playa Del Carmen were charging $30 for the rapid test. However, I came across International Test Covid, a testing center that is about a 2-5 minutes walk from the Nina hotel and the ADO bus station.
They charged US$25 for the rapid test. The result is emailed to you. You may pay an extra $1 and obtain a printed copy. PCR testing is also available.
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Playa Del Carmen Mexico Video
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