Playa del Carmen

The digital nomad guide to coliving and coworking in Playa del Carmen, Mexico!

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Playa del Carmen Basics

Contents- Playa del Carmen Basics:

What Airport to Visit Playa del Carmen

Cancun International Airport (CUN) is the easiest, cheapest, and most commonly used airport for those visiting Playa del Carmen, Mexico. While Playa del Carmen technically has an airport, it’s not a major commercial hub so flights in and out are not common and the airplanes are the smaller jets. 

It is more cost effective to fly in and out of Cancun airport and get a ride for the 40 minutes to Play del Carmen. The ride from Cancun airport to anywhere in Playa del Carmen is very easy and via the main highway.

There are numerous rides daily to and from Playa del Carmen and the Cancun Airport.

How to get to Playa del Carmen from Cancun

Transportation from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen is both easy and common. There are many transportation options available. 

Everyone who arrives at the Cancun Airport will walk out the terminal to the same transportation area. The transportation area will have towns of parking spaces filled with vans, cars, and buses. 

The only differences will be 1. Which parking space you walk to for your vehicle and 2. Whether you have someone with a sign waiting for you or if you need to head to a booth. 

Private or Shared Transfer from Cancun to Playa del Carmen

Vans and black cars are constantly traveling to and form Playa del Carmen and the Cancun airport. All you need to do is reserve ahead of time and someone will have a sign with either your name or the company logo on it the moment you walk out the airport door. 

I do not recommend trying to set up a private of shared car upon arrival at Cancun due to safety, prices, and reliability. It can really be hit or miss in terms of success, and no matter what, you’re going to feel beat up from the negotiation (I’m a lawyer and I’m saying that). 

For private transfer, I enjoy booking with Kalido. Kalido is a private transfer company that operates out fo the Cancun Airport. I have used them multiple times and found them by recommendation form other travelers.
Kalido allows you to book a private transfer to or from Cancun International Airport on their website. They take reliable private transfers to another level of comfort and convenience. They are very easy to use and realible.

But unlike a typical airport transportation company, Kalido adds conveniences like preselecting and reserving beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), or stops at the store on your way to your hotel or home, so you don’t have to wonder if you can get a bottle of water, or find sunblock. 

They also, in my experiences, have nicer and more comfortable vehicles. Once, I had a black leather Escalade to myself! 

If you reserve any food or beverages ahead fo time, they will likely be in the car when you arrive to the vehicle. VIP status!

Kalido is also great for vacation minded where you want some drinks, or tequila on hand the moment you land. They handle it all for you!

Kalido is not going to break the bank, but they are not the cheapest either. Pick and up drop off to your hotel in Playa del Carmen will range from $60-100 one way or $80-120 round trip depending on the size of your party. 

If you don’t mind spending a bit extra for tried and true service that is guaranteed to be comfortable, book with Kalido at least 48 hours before your arrival. And yes, they do sell out. 

If budget is more important than convenience, I recommend taking the ADO bus. 

ADO Bus from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen

The ADO bus is a private bus company like Greyhound, that has nice, clean and safe buses that leave and arrive on (as much as can be) reliable preset schedules. ADO bus IS NOT a random public bus you pick up on the street.  They are an established and reliable bus company that operates across Mexico.

The ADO bus leaves directly from the terminals at Cancun airport and delivers riders to the ADO bus terminal in Playa del Carmen. There is an ADO bus pick up at every Cancun terminal, international and domestic, and is in the same area as the other main airport transportation waiting, like private transfers.

The ADO bus, depending on your departure time, may pick up other passengers from the other Cancun terminals before heading down to Playa del Carmen. Once on the way, the ride to Playa del Carmen from Cancun is about 40-50 minutes depending on traffic.

The ADO bus will drop off all passengers at the ADO bus terminal in Playa del Carmen. The ADO bus terminal is conveniently located at 5th avenue and Benito Juarez, which is the main intersection of Benito Juarez (Centro), 5th Avenue (the main tourist walk), and Parque Fundadores where the ferries to Cozumel are. 

There is also a taxi stand (sitio de taxi) the moment you walk out the bus terminal doors.

The area surrounding the ADO bus terminal in Playa del Carmen is pedestrian only, minus the part with the taxis, because there are may tourists and other guests in the area.

The area around the ADO bus terminal in Playa del Carmen is highly trafficked by tourists and considered very safe. Yes, it is considered safe to walk around here, so If your destination is in a walkable distance from the ADO station, you can walk to your destination.

5th Avenue is blocked off to vehicles and is pedestrian only. If you want to walk, you can safely walk along 5th Avenue. Just me aware that it is brick like, so your luggage wheels will bounce along the ground, but tourists do it every day.

You can reserve your ADO bus ticket ahead of time online or purchase them day-of at the ADO counter at the terminal. All terminals, domestic and international, have an ADO ticket booth once you exit the terminal building. 

Busbud website does not work correctly for ADO busses. It’s the website, not you. If you have a problem reserving ahead of time online, you can purchase your ticket upon arrival at the airport.

And just like private transfers, the ADO bus pick ups at the Cancun airport in the parking spots outside. 

Taxi from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen

Taxis from Cancun airport can vary from being the most expensive option to also being the least reliable.

There have been mixed reviews on whether you can pick up a taxi at the Cancun airport. I have found success some times and failed to find anything other times.

It is unpredictable so I would not rely on it. It is not enjoyable dealing with the harassing business men or negotiating with the drivers when you do find one either.

In my humble option, the ADO bus is a more relaxing option if my wait for the next bus is an hour or less. 

If you do take a private taxi to Playa del Carmen, many roads in Playa del Carmen are one way, so your taxi driver may need to go a block or two out of the way to turn onto a certain road. Or, what is more likely, you may get dropped off a block or two from you hotel to avoid one way roads, or because certain routes are blocked off to pedestrians only.

It may feel you’re being swindled for added milage when it’s just the nature of the city’s set up.

Where is Playa del Carmen located?

Play Del Carmen is a coastal city in the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. The Yucatan peninsula is a popular tourists destination of Mexico and is home to popular designations like Cancun, Play del Carmen and Holbox.

Playa del Carmen is along the coast about 40 mini drive south of Cancun. Cancun is the popular airport used for those accessing Playa del Carmen and the Yucatan Peninsula.

The waterfront of Playa del Carmen faces eastward giving it amazing sunrise views. Just off the coast, about a 40 minute ferry ride, nearly straight East of Play del Carmen is the Mexican island of Cozumel. 

Playa del Carmen Weather

Being south of the United States and closer to the equator, Playa del Carmen, Mexico doesn’t have traditional 4 seasons like winter, spring, summer and fall. Instead, it has a dry season (little to no rain) and wet season (rainy and hurricane risk). 

Wet season doesnt mean it rains all day every day. Sometimes it means an hour or so of rain every day, or it can range to a few days of non-stop rain for a few days then some clear ones. You just don’t know till each day arrives. Forcasts are very inaccurate on when it will actually rain. 

Temps will range from highs in the 80s to 90s throughout the year. However the more moisture (rain) in the air can make that heat feel unbearably humid in rainy season. 

Dry season starts in November and carries on to February. October and March are on the fringe parts of the dry season, so they may have a mix of rain as the season starts or ends. 

May through October are hotter and are more rainy. The back end of March and April will have more winds that will bring in the hot rain. 

Like rainy season, hurricane season doesn’t mean a hurricane hits everyday. It means the air, moisture and ocean temps are more likely to create a hurricane from one of the rainstorms that comes through. 

A benefit of hurricane season is because a hurricane requires a lot of moisture, the day or two before and after a hurricane hits are often clear and sunny. 

The risk of course, is that a hurricane can be weak or very strong. Strong hurricanes can cause damages to buildings and even take lives. 

Have a backup plan and travel insurance that covers hurricane interruption if you plan on traveling over hurricane season and avoid staying in Mexico if you have a strong hurricane approaching. 

Which bring me to my next point, when to go to Playa del Carmen. The answer may not be as obvious as you think. 

When to Go to Playa del Carmen

In picking the best time to go to Playa del Carmen you’ll want to keep three things in mind: 1. Weather, 2. Seaweed and 3. Budget.

Weather in Playa del Carmen

Weather in Play del Carmen varies from dry season to wet season and the mix of higher temps in summer with the wet humidity can make Playa del Carmen unbearable for some on the middle to back end of summer. 

Winter in Playa del Carmen is still wonderful with high ranging from upper 70s to mid 80s. Lows will be 70s to 80s as well. Kinda perfect. 

Playa del Carmen Seaweed Season

Why are we talking about seaweed as a season? Off the coast of Playa del Carmen, as well as Cancun and Tulum, are some major seaweed areas and seaweed also has seasons. 

Sometimes the seaweed is growing, other times, the seaweed lets go and allows the ocean waves to wash it ashore. 

During most of the summer months, the beaches of Tulum, Cancun and Playa del Carmen are covered with washed up seaweed. 

The seaweed is not only a visual problem, but it also prevents access to and enjoyability of the ocean water. It’s no fun getting into the ocean water for a nice dip only to find yourself scraped and wrapped in seaweed. 

Seaweed season is May to October. If you travel to Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum during these months, you may find your enjoyability of the beach diminished. 

Budget Seasons for Playa del Carmen

You may find some amazing discounts if you want to head to Playa del Carmen during rainy season, hurricane season or seaweed season. 

You can save as much as 70% if you reserve in advanced for these times of the year which can mean big savings for your wallet. 

If budget is not a concern for you, aim to reserve for the start of dry season- around November/ December. 

If budget could be the difference between going and not going- aim to pick a data in June October. Avoid hurricane season (July -Sept) as you’ll want to purchase additional trip insurance or risk loosing your vacation spend. 

What is the Best Time to Travel to Playa del Carmen?

The best time to visit Playa del Carmen is November – February because that is the time of year with the best weather, best beach conditions, and the least amount of seaweed washing ashore.

However, Playa del Carmen has three seasons travelers will want to be mindful of when picking a time to visit if they want to maximize their budget or save money in the off season.

  • Dry season is November – February
  • Wet season isn March- October
  • Seaweed Washes Ashore May – October

Which means the best beaches and best weather time is November- February. That also makes these months the most expensive season or Playa del Carmen. With holidays in the United States also occurring at that time, demand is also up. 

I recommend reserving early if you plan on traveling during these dates to try and save money or guarantee the best selection in stays. 

Fringe season, where you could get a little bit of anything, wet or dry, seaweed or not, is March- April, and October. 

Traveling to Playa del Carmen during these months will give you a hit or miss approach to both the seaweed and weather in trade off for lower prices. 

Low season in Playa del Carmen is May- September because there is greater amounts of seaweed washing onshore and the risk for hurricanes and rainstorms. 

While it is possible to have a day without either of these concerns during this timeframe, it is unlikely a stay of more than a day our two would be unaffected. 

As a result, some of the best prices for visiting Playa del Carmen can be found during this season. 

Best Area of Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is very popular with tourists and expats. Because of the large number of foreigners in the area, there are neighborhoods and areas that cater to these foreigner groups that are considered safe or in better alignment to US standards.

North to South: The beach area between Benito Juarez and Avendia CTM is considered tourist /expat area where tourists and visitors are catered to in term of restaurants, supermarkets, and hotels. 

East to West: The beach front up to Calle 30 is considered safe neighborhood to walk, roam, explore. This large area is not all “tourist.’ The Main tourist area is the beach to Avendia 10, and Avendia 10 to 30 is more expats and those long term guests of Playa del Carmen who want a better balance of local vibes and tourists/ beach access. 

These areas are not exclusively the safest or only parts for guests, but the area is the most popular, common, and those designed to cater to those foreigners looking to explore Playa del Carmen or call the city their second home. 

If you’re looking to be a tourist and stay at a resort, many of the resorts are north of Playa del Carmen along the beach between the city and Cancun.

You cannot go wrong with any of these if you pick the right season. They all have great views of the sunrise and nice coastline. There is a line of resorts and hotels in this area for good reason.

The further south of the ferry station at Playa del Carmen beach, at Parque Los Fundadores and Benito Juarez, the quieter the beach becomes. You will find more residences along this trip of beach which means fewer crowds and tourists attractions.

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