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Playa del Carmen – Not a Sleepy Fishing Town Anymore!

5th Avenue

Playa del Carmen is a city about 30 minutes south of its more famous cousin, Cancun, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.  This town is somewhere between a sleepy Mexican fishing village and a modern Resort town.  Being thousands of miles away from the trouble spots in Mexico, it’s safe to travel to and has some of the best resorts (and bargains) in all of the Caribbean.  It wasn’t all that long ago that this was simply a place to pass through while traveling to somewhere else.  But those days are long gone

Typical Mexican shop

and Playa, as the locals know it, is truly a destination of its own.

Hundreds of years ago, Playa was simply a place to stop and rest when traveling from Tulum (one of the great Mayan towns) to the island of Cozumel, just across a short span of water from Playa.  Playa gradually became a fishing town and continued in that vein for

Carol shopping... again

many years until the passenger ferry arrived and began transporting people between Cozumel and Playa. With this, tourism arrived to the sleepy little village and life hasn’t been the same since!

Today Playa’s biggest industry is tourism.  Cruise ships arriving in Cozumel transport passengers to Playa aboard the ferry to travel to much-visited sites like Tulum and other Mayan ruins, or reserves and archaeological parks like Xcaret.  Playa is also part of the Riviera Maya area that stretches from Cancun in the north to Tulum in the south.  As such, there are many fabulous resorts of all type and shapes.  There truly something here that would appeal to anyone.

Mexican mother w/ child out making a livingOne of hundreds of small restaurants on 5th Avenue

In many ways, the center of Playa for visitors is 5th Avenue.  The avenue is located just two blocks inland from the Caribbean Sea and stretches some 40 blocks long.  Lined with shops, bars, restaurants, this is THE place to be on any evening of the week.  It still maintains the feeling of that sleepy Mexican fishing village of long ago with many local vendors running their own small businesses.  While many tourist areas around the world have lost their identity to big business, Playa has fought the battle and, I believe, won!

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