Once a small fishing village, Playa del Carmen has grown exponentially in recent years. Today, it’s one of the hippest spots in the Yucatán Peninsula and the third-largest city in Quintana Roo. It’s also conveniently situated for vacationers near enough for Cancun airport transfers to and from the hotel and an easy day trip away from other popular tourist destinations like Tulum, Cozumel, and Cobá. While visitors likely want to experience the attractions geared toward tourists, such as various guided tours, they may also enjoy seeing a more relaxed side of the Playa del Carmen area.
This is where bike rentals come into play. With rentals averaging around $10 a day and widely available throughout the city, cycling is not just a means to stay fit while vacationing. It’s an economical way to tour Playa del Carmen that gives you the freedom to explore venues that lie off the well-worn tourist path. Feel free to just wing your route, and you’re sure to find some cool spots and maybe a lesser-known establishment to sample local fare. There are a few tried-and-true routes, however, you may want to follow.
If you want a shorter ride that reveals how the locals really live, just head west past Highway 307. This takes you into a residential area with colorful homes and landscaping. There are also several ice cream shops to satisfy your sweet tooth and help cool you off if the heat becomes too much. Once you build up a more substantial appetite, you may even want to check out La Floresta on the corner of Highway 307 and Calle 14 Norte, which offers lunchtime seafood tacos the locals recommend highly.
Another easy, approximately 2 km ride east of Highway 307 Punta Venado turnoff takes you to Punta Venado Caribbean Eco-Park, which lies at nearly a halfway mark between Playa del Carmen and Cristalino. The park is full of jungle wildlife, and scores of fun activities are available. There, you can lock up your bike and go snorkeling, take a guided horseback ride, or take a dip in a cenote. If you arrive early enough, you’ll likely beat the tourist crowds and have plenty of time for a leisurely pedal back to your hotel in Playa del Carmen.
For those really wanting a secluded spot and a more vigorous ride, go about 25 km south along Highway 307. This takes you to the cenotes in El Jardin del Eden, Cenote Azul and Cristalino. As with other places, the early bird gets the worm, and it’s not unlikely to be the only ones swimming before the heat sets in. Make sure to take a little cash with you for the ride because the cenotes generally charge a modest admission fee, and you’ll surely want to stop for refreshments on the ride back to Playa del Carmen. When touring the Playa del Carmen region by bicycle, however, you should always consider your safety. Many of the roads, including Highway 307, are fairly narrow with a high volume of traffic. So, be aware of your surroundings as you pedal and pull off to the side where necessary. Of course, always wear your helmet when cycling; one should be included with your bike rental. If it isn’t, request one or go to another shop that offers such protection. Your rental establishment should also provide you with a bike lock for when you want to stop and explore.
Most of the bike rental shops in Playa del Carmen are located just north of Constituyentes Avenue on 30th Avenue. Depending on the type of cycling you prefer and chosen route, you can opt for beach cruisers, mountain bikes or road bikes. Be warned, however, that most of the bike shops are closed on Sundays, and you should check that your tires are properly inflated and make any adjustments to the seat or handlebars before you take off.