Located on the Riviera Maya about forty miles south of Cancun and lying opposite the island of Cozumel, Playa del Carmen has grown rapidly over the last couple of decades. Smaller and more tranquil than Cancun, but larger and livelier than other resorts on the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen has found its niche as a medium-sized resort with great beaches, lovely aquamarine Caribbean waters, excellent accommodations, a lively nightlife, and a tolerant, friendly, and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Its great location is a big draw.
From Playa del Carmen it’s fairly easy to get to Cancun, Cozumel, Tulum, fabulous Mayan archeological sites, the amazing eco theme parks of Xcaret and Xel-Ha, and the biosphere reserve of Sian Ka’an. Snorkeling and scuba diving, especially off the Great Mayan Reef, are very popular. Accommodations range from super luxury at the big resorts to budget, passing through a wide range of Playa del Carmen vacation rentals, condo rentals, and many fine boutique hotels.
Street life and nightlife centers on Fifth Avenue, an attractive pedestrian thoroughfare where you will find all kinds of shops, boutiques, stalls, cafés, restaurants, bars, clubs, and a warm international and bohemian ambience. Oh, and of course the weather, warm year round, dry for most of it, and perfect for relaxing and playing – you won’t need to take many clothes. Playa del Carmen is not a specifically or particularly gay resort, but you can feel how the sun, the sea, and the mix of people from all over has turned this into a gay-friendly resort.
Playa del Carmen is a tolerant and easy-going place; it’s always easier to feel positive vibes toward the rest of humanity when you’re lying on a beautiful tropical beach than when you’re getting crushed on the subway at rush hour. A nice bar for a drink with a cool breeze and a view is La Azotea on Fifth Avenue. The gay dance club in Playa del Carmen is Playa69 on Fifth Avenue and Calle 12; it is fun and can get wild, but it only gets going at the weekends and well after midnight. For a mixed crowd at a long-standing favorite try the Blue Parrot on the beach and Calle 12 for its all night partying next to the beach.
In fact, most of the nightlife in Playa del Carmen is on Calle 12. If you fancy a sauna and a massage in a friendly setting, try the X-Mahan-Nah Gay Spa (such an easy name to remember) on Avenida 55 Poniente. There are plenty of good gay-friendly accommodations in Playa del Carmen, including the Acanto Boutique Hotel where you can find luxury and elegance close to Fifth Avenue and the beach, the attractive mid-range Hotel Playa del Karma on 15th Avenue or, if you’re on a budget, try the friendly Pension San Juan on Fifth Avenue. About 45 minutes’ walk along the beach north of town there is a gay beach where clothing is optional and is more frequented in the afternoons. For some excellent traditional Mayan cuisine in an elegant setting try the Yaxche on Fifth Avenue and Calle 22.