Want to step off the plane knowing how to get around Playa like a local? We’ve got the scoop on everything from understanding the layout of the streets to where to find rides to Cancún & Tulum, as well as affordable bike & car rentals.
Originally named “Xaman-Ha,” or “Waters of the North,” by the Mayans, our city began tantalizing ancient travelers as a peaceful rest stop on the way to the sacred island of Cozumel. During the modern era, fishermen have flocked to our Caribbean shore for over 110 years, leading to its founding 1937.
Since then, the countless things there are to love about Playa del Carmen have stirred the wonder of vacationers and expats the world over. The result has been a surge in both residents and visitors every year to the next (so much it’s actually the fastest growing city in Mexico!), while still embodying the relaxed, laid-back air that’s made it such an attractive destination for centuries.
Just Call it “Playa” for Short
Spanish for “beach,” a seemingly endless number of playas may line Riviera Maya, but there’s only one true “Playa.” If leave it at that, the locals will know exactly what you’re talking about. As for “del Carmen,” that stems from the name of the patron saint of Cancún, Our Lady of Mount Carmel.A Quick Guide to Getting Around
The first thing to know is that Downtown is laid out on a grid. The two main east-west streets are Avenida Juárez and Avenida Constituyentes, while a handful of numerical Avenidas run north-south parallel to the beach in multiples of five (including the hip, pedestrian-friendly Quinta Avenida, or “La Quinta”). As far as other throughways, Calles also run east-west, with even numbers north of Juárez and odd numbers to the south.Bike, Drive, Hitch a Taxi or Bus Ride
While you can walk pretty much anywhere in Playa proper, you may want to change your mode of travel or venture outside the city. That’s where bike rentals at the north end of La Quinta can come in handy. You’ll find numerous car rental companies here as well, and taxis are plentiful throughout the city. For further travels, both the bus station and “colectivo” vans are options. The latter run between Tulum and Cancún, and can often be hailed from bus stops along Highway 307.