Come Playa With Me! – Mexico

northern Playa del carmen beach

Day 12 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and I’m relieved to say that the weather has come right! We arrived here on Nov 11th at what should have been the end of the rainy season but then had several days of torrential rain which made us think we may have timed our visit wrong. I was feeling decidedly damp and despondent when I posted last week but now we’ve had a week of glorious sunshine and I feel so much brighter too 🙂

Heading to the beach, Calle 26
Heading to the beach, Calle 26 Norte.

I had come to Mexico with no expectations and completely unprepared, especially in the language department. My partner Kate had some knowledge of Mexico from reading the blogs of her travel friends but I knew nothing. Now I am learning some basic Spanish on the free language website Duolingo 🙂 I think the local people appreciate it when you make the effort to try and speak their language. I can now say a few words like, “Yo no hablo Espanol” which they knew already 🙂

Although Mexico is a popular destination with Americans, Playa seems to be particularly popular with Argentinians, Italians and fellow Mexicans. It’s mainly Spanish that we hear on the streets and on the beach.

You can separate the beach at Playa del Carmen into 3 sections: South, middle (between the 2 ferry jetties) and North. We have been swimming in the northern section because that’s the area of town we’re staying in. It has a bit of a party vibe. This is added to by one or two of the beach bars sometimes blaring out loud “doof doof” music (which I personally find irritating) and even the odd Mariachi band joining in. The sand is fine and golden cream colour, and the water lovely and warm. There are no big waves but it can be choppy. Since the return of the fine weather the water has cleared and we have really loved our swims this week. I’m pleased to say that the strange and unpleasant odour on the beach when it was raining a lot has all but gone too (I still get the occasional faint whiff).

Party atmosphere 4 pm on beach
Party atmosphere on the beach at 4pm. It’s dark by 5:30pm in November!

The southern most section of Playa has a nice wide stretch of sand but I’m afraid the middle section (between Avenues Benito Juarez and Constituyentes) has a big sand erosion problem. The width of sand that you can relax and walk on is quite narrow. If you were booking beach-front accommodation I would choose something that is on the northern or southern end.

Southern end of middle section of beach near ferry jetty.
Sand erosion, middle section of PdC beach at level of Calle 14, near ferry jetty.

Beach erosion middle section of beach, Playa
Sand erosion between Avenues Benito Juarez and Constituyentes.

Playa del Carmen is the fastest growing town in Mexico and I can believe it. There is a lot of construction going on. If you are planning to visit here and are booking accommodation I’d check to make sure there isn’t a new hotel going up next door! Re. beach front hotels, most construction seems to be going on in Playa’s northern section of beach but we haven’t had any noise problems during our swims there.

Northern beach, Playa del Carmen
Northern section of Playa del Carmen beach. Note the small cranes in background.

Construction on the beach
Construction on northern section of PdC beach, between Calles 20-24 Norte.

I am embarrassed to admit this but I’m a bit of a tourist snob i.e I really don’t like being around crowds of other tourists even though I know I am a tourist too! The main tourist street here is 5th Ave which runs parallel with the beach and is about 2-3 minutes walk from it. Most of the tourist shops and restaurants are on or around 5th Ave. We stayed our first night in a Playa del Carmen in an hotel on 5th Ave. The room was lovely but we were kept up to the early hours by a xylophone and flute player of all things! I wouldn’t recommend staying on 5th Ave because of the bar music. I prefer to hang out on 20th and 30th Ave which are further away and feel more more raw and authentic. It’s good to shop and eat where the locals do and it’s cheaper. So far I’ve enjoyed Tomales, Quesadillas and Enchilladas from local street stalls and restaurants.

Playa del Carmen is the ideal tourist attraction. This might sound like a bad thing (especially if you like to avoid touristy areas) but there are definitely ways to avoid the crowds and hustle and bustle if you want to. The beauty of this is that there are ample tourist activities to partake in, but also plenty of localities to experience the real flavor of Mexico.

Tomales from street vendor. They taste a lot better than they look!

This post was written in association with Seaside Mexico but all views expressed are my own.

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