Playa del Carmen
Travel guides and tour operators are still spreading the legend of the ‘fishing village’, which has ‘preserved its tranquil atmosphere’. Unfortunately, this is no longer the truth…
However, one has to admit that the development in “Playa” was not as brutal as in Cancún that is located only a few kilometres to the north. Here, the hotels are smaller and many of them also clearly cheaper than the resorts of the big neighbour. In contrast to Cancún, which is dominated by vistitors from the United States, the majority of tourists come from European countries. Many small hotels, pubs and other tourist facilities have European owners who “got stuck” here in the eighties. The biggest hustle and bustle reigns in the “Quinta Avenida”, colloquially called 5th Avenue, which has partly been converted into a pedestrian zone.
Hotels, pubs, cafés, souvenir shops and car rentals line up almost seamlessly here. The tourists in beachwear are joined by flying merchants and partly “folkloristically” dressed restaurant and business employees who try to lure visitors into their respective establishments. After dark, Playa becomes a party town. Away from this promenade life runs quieter, apart from the beach section of the “city centre”, where at times there is quite little space. The devastating hurricane Hugo did not only cost Playa del Carmen the last palm trees in 1988, but also a considerable part of the once heavenly beach.
Despite all this, the fishing village, which has meanwhile grown into a veritable city, is still a good starting point for exploring the coastal sections to the north and south.