Settling In: Playa del Carmen for Digital Nomads

Looking to settle in to Playa del Carmen as a digital nomad or new expat? This guide will outline all you need to know and where to go for all your basics so you can get living your best life quickly.

You’ll find answers to top questions like, where’s the reliable laundry place? What’s another place with great wifi? And how fast can I get a Sim card with data? 

GoogleMap Layer: Playa del Carmen

First things first, you don’t need to save any of these into your googlemaps app, we’ve done it for you!

Simply save the Adventureontheside googlemap layer for Playa del Carmen here and you’ll instantly have every location and notes saved to your googlemaps!

The only location in this article we didn’t save to the list are all the OXXOs and thats because there are so many locations you won’t need to save them. 

The list also includes our favorite restaurants, too. 🙂

Playa Del Carmen Grocery Store

You gotta eat! Playa del Carmen has some great eats, from amazing tacos to some of the best seafood, there is so much for the tastebuds to explore!

But settling into a place means being budget conscious and not eating out every night. 

In order to make meals at home, you’ll want to know where to find those groceries with a decent selection and prices. 

Here are the main supermarkets to know in the Playa del Carmen area:

Walmart Playa del Carmen

Yes, Playa del Carmen has a Walmart and it’s everything you’d expect from Walmart. From household items like clothing, hangars and towels, to fresh food and frozen meals, you’re guaranteed to get those “Precio Bajo” (Low Prices) here at the Walmart Playa del Carmen. 

The Walmart is centrally located to the tourists area and 5th Avenue where you can get here with a 7-10 minute walk if you’re living on the south half of the city. 

There is also a biciliplaya bike rack in the front as well as free parking onsite. 

Mega Supermercado Playa del Carmen

If the Walmart seems just a tad too far, you probably are staying near the Mega.

And that’s ok because this multi floor grocery store may have the best grocery selection in town. 

Like the Walmart you’ll find all your grocery needs filled here at the Mega, but the Mega beats Walmart in terms of selection. 

Access to Mega is easy with free onsite parking and walking accessibility along 30th Avendia. 

An added bonus, some of the best taco/ food carts in town are along the side street of the Mega, 14 Avendia. Be sure to grab a bite on your way in so you don’t shop hungry. 

Fruit and Juice Stand Playa del Carmen

A very unassuming name, Jugos y Frutas (juice and fruit). This fresh fruit stand is popular with locals and visitors alike. 

Just a couple blocks off from Playa del Carmen’s Centro district you’ll find a corner market with amazing produce. An easy walk for anyone staying on the south side of town.

Get fresh juice made each morning for $1 for a small and $2 for a large. They also have fresh produce on hand and you can get a fresh fruit bowl for under $2.

Arrive in the morning for the best selection, but don’t worry, there’s always some extras on hand. 

Tienditas (Little Stores/ Convenience) Playa del Carmen

If you just need some bottled water, a quick snack, or cold soda, you will find local tienditas on every block that you’re away from 5th Avenue.

Prices get lower the further you are from the beach. Even a block will save you 20-40% on water!

Nearly every tiendita will have the same limited variety of candy, sweets, and beverages. 

Every block or two, you’ll find one that has a few canned items and possibly sweet breads. Selection is more geared towards the locals working in the area, so do not expect the same variety and brands you are used to. 

OXXO Playa del Carmen

OXXOs are the local convenience store that seems to be located on every other block in Mexico. OXXOs are like your local 7-eleven, AmPm, and Circle K. 

OXXO locations are perfect for that quick bite on the go, convenience items like batteries, cold beverages, and my personal go-to for cellphone SIM cards and data plan refresh. 

SIM card and Data Plans in Playa del Carmen

OXXOs sell both the physical SIM cards, as well as data plans for TELcel.

SIM card requires payment in cash or Debit at some location, but you can always add data with a credit card. 

Why I love getting my SIM card and data at OXXO is that OXXOs are all over Mexico, not just Playa del Carmen.

So anytime I explore Mexico, I know I can find an OXXO within a block or two and recharge my SIM card. 

Data plans are dollars per day, week and a month is about $15-20. Verizon and many US data plans, charge around $5/ day for .5 GB. Between the cost of the SIM card and data, you’ll save money within 3 days. 

Advice: There is a barcode and a series of numbers on the SIM card packaging. You’ll need that information each time you add data. You can take a pic of the barcode and carry it on your phone, not need to keep the container, just don’t throw it away without saving the info first. 

Playa del Carmen Gyms and Fitness

Want to keep that swimsuit body in top shape? You may want to get a workout in during your stay in Playa del Carmen.

If your coliving or condo location doesn’t have an onsite gym, have no fear. There are a few centrally located places to work out at that offer daily, weekly and monthly passes. 

The Gym- Playa del Carmen

This is possibly the best gym in town. From cleanliness, modern facilities, and custom service (they have free fast wifi and great locker rooms), this is the place to get your workout in at. 

Aptly named, the Gym, it is located just off of Constituyentes on Avendia Uno. Short term passes are available starting around $8-10/ day, in one day, three day, or monthly passes. 

Despite being all the way on Contituyentes, this is the closest gym to the Centro part of Playa del Carmen. 

This being the higher end Gym, it is a bit pricer than the next popular gym, Evolve. 

Evolve Gym- Playa del Carmen

Evolve is a get to the point Gym offering all you need for that DIY work out. Less modern and updated than The Gym, Evolve does come at a more approachable price point. 

Depending on which side of town you’re coming from, it may be closer to you too. 

Evolve offers short term passes up to annual passes so no matter the length your stay in Play del Carmen, you can be sure you won’t have to buy more than you need at Evolve gym. 

I opted for The Gym during my stay due to its detail-minded approach and convenience to ly location, while my digital nomad family chose Evolve due to price. 

Both are great gyms where you will have all you need to stay fit during your stay. 

Yoga in Playa del Carmen

YogaLoft and Playa Yoga Tribe are both highly recommend yoga studios in the area and both offer a great selection of class times. 

Unfortunately, both locations were closed during my stay due to COVID protocol; however both YogaLoft and Playa Yoga tribe came highly recommended and were super convenient- even more convenient to those on the Centro side of town than The Gym or Evolve!

Playa Del Carmen Laundry

If you’re going to stay somewhere more than a week, you’ll like need laundry service. Playa del Carmen, like many latin American locations, doesn’t really have DIY laundromats. 

You’ll either want to have in building laundry at your condo, or drop your laundry off at a lavanderia location. 

There are many great lavandarias in Playa del Carmen. Most will have your clothing washed, dried and ready for pick up within 24 hours (check on weekends and for Sunday hours). 

On slower days, you may get same day service at no extra charge. 

Prices are generally the same across town- around $4-8 USD for a week’s worth of clothes. Pricing is by weight, so hold off washing those jeans if you’re looking to save a bit. 

The lavandaria will handle everything from detergent and folding. You just drop it off, grab a ticket, and return the next day. 

My go to location isn’t even on Googlemaps, it’s that unassuming. It’s located on the east side of the street on 15 Avendia Nte, just off Calle 2 Norte between Torus Coffee House and Thai Dish restaurant. 

Here’s a pic of my fave laundry location so you know what to look for. If you download our googlemaps list, it’s marked at “Birra” because that is the closest Googlemaps item near it.

Playa Del Carmen Cafes for Digital Nomads

Best Cup of Coffee: Marley’s Cafe

Located on the corner of Calle 2 and Avendia 10, Marleys’ coffee not only has a great space, its has the best cup of coffee in town!

Marleys, named after Bob Marley, the Jamaican reggae musician, provides a warm space with inviting colors, great seating, and chill vibes. The coffee will have your tastebuds happily bouncing awake each morning, too. 

I love they Quickie breakfast. You’ll get a warm croissant breakfast sandwich, coffee, and a piece of fresh fruit for only $6. 

Expect a line if you arrive after 9:15a, and if you encounter one- it’s well worth wait! 

Coffee for the Community: WOW Cafe

If you’re looking for a way to connect with locals and the community, you’re going to love Wow Cafe. 

This boutique cafe has homey touches as well as indoor and outdoor seating.

Wow Cafe  is not only locally owned, the owners host regular events where local artists can sell their handmade items (not the touristy ones you find on 5th Avenue), and guests can donate to the community.

Wow Cafe makes working and coffee fun and community filled. During my stay they had a DJ, Santa and an artisan craft sale as well as a holiday food drive.

We also had holiday karaoke and baby goats- How can you resist?

Getting Around Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is s city large enough for cars and vehicles; however, a majority of the places remote workers, digital nomads, and tourists explore are not car friendly. 

About 2-4 blocks before the beach, roads are blocked off to pedestrians only. Which means, you’d end up walking a few blocks anyways and paying a lot for parking (estacionmiento).

If you’re looking to travel too far to walk, I recommend using Biciplaya. Biciplaya is a bike sharing program that has bike stands and bike parking all over the main parts of town. 

You simply download the app, set up your account and payment and go! 

Passes can be by the ride, daily, and all the way up to annual. If you’re going to use Biciplaya more than a week, it’s often cheaper to get the annual pass. 

One downside to the app is that you need signal (aka cell data) for it to work. So be sure to have that data plan or TelCel SIM card set before you try to ride

You’ll need cell data to both unlock/ access the bike and to return it/ park it.

Bike racks are also limited to the more popular/ touristy parts of town, and not too far inland. 

For other transportation, you can get a taxi next to the main taxi stand next to the ADO bus station, or by having your concierge call for one. I do not recommend picking up a taxi on the road or using Uber. 

If you’re headed to the airport, transposition is about $15-20 via ADO bus, or $40-60 via Taxi. Taxis will charge you more if you cannot pay in cash- be prepared for this. 

Vacation Mode in Playa del Carmen

In need of a staycation during your Playa del Carmen stay? There are two great rooftops little known to tourists so they provide a great escape with luxury spaces.

These are the perfect getaway without feeling like you’re stuck in a tourist trap. 

Both of these locations offer day passes to their rooftop pool, bar and restaurants for around $25-$45/ person depending on the day of the week. 

Rooftop at the Thompson Hotel

The best, and therefore more expensive, is the rooftop at the Thompson Hotel.

This rooftop has multiple pools overlooking 180 degree views of the Mexican beach and Playa del Carmen city that stretch all the way to Cozumel. 

My favorite view in the city!

The rooftop has a great mix of shade and sun, daybeds and loungers, as well as a bar and food service to your seat. You can also grab a table at the sit down restaurant that offers a wide selection of brunch and lunch bites. 

I recommend arriving by late morning for the best seats and to maximize your day pass. The rooftop closes at sunset. 

Rooftop at the Fives

The Fives is a condo and hotel space just off from Centro. The rooftop is less luxurious than the Thompson Hotel, but it has just the right amount of luxury without being overpriced or too instagram ready- if you know what I mean. 

For the price points, often around $15-25, it cannot be beat. 

The views from the rooftop a the Fives overlook the Centro neighborhood to the Mexican ocean waters and there is a bar and restaurant as well. 

If there is a downside to this rooftop, it’s that all the pool seating is almost 100% sun- no shade. If you’re looking for shade you’ll want to head over to the cushioned seating in the restaurant. 

The restaurant areas is a great cozy space, just without the poolside vibe or view to the ocean. 

The rooftop at the Fives is open in the evenings and often hosts great social activities like salsa and bachata classes. 

It’s a great space to relax at in the evening and connect with more of a local crowd as opposed to tourists without being too far out of your element.