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Playa del Carmen

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Yucatán Peninsula : Quintana Roo : Playa del Carmen
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Playa del Carmen, or just "Playa" as it is also commonly referred to by locals, is a coastal resort town in Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Approximately 70 km south of Cancún (around 50 min driving) and 20 km west of Cozumel, it is at the center of the Mayan Riviera and offers a more relaxed atmosphere, smaller boutique lodgings, and a distinct European flavor. and 65km from Tulum8around 45min)

Get in[edit]

By air[edit]

The closest airport to Playa is the Cancún International Airport (CUN) [1] One can also fly into Cozumel International Airport and take a ferry across to Playa del Carmen. Cancun has the cheapest flights but occasionally deals to Cozumel can be better.

Buses[edit]

The main bus station is at 5a Av & Av Benito Juarez near the shore, in the center of town. The other is an "alternate" and newer bus station further away from the center along Av 20a Norte y Calle 12a Norte. The bus to airport leaves from the main terminal in the center or town but they may also have a stop at the newer alternate terminal while bus to Chetumal and Chiapas stop into the alternate terminal. Check to be sure of the schedules as they are subject to change. At the airport the stop is in the parking lot next to the domestic arrivals (llegadas nacionales) doors at Terminal 2. Come out go out 200m to the right, to the furthest row from the building in the parking lot. From international arrivals at Terminal 2 turn right and go to the other side, past the building to the bus parking lot. At Terminal 3 the bus stop is in the parking lot, past the 'Air Margaritaville' bar (in a hut) to the right when coming out of the doors. In both locations there's an attendant at an 'ADO' podium in front of the stall to buy the tickets from. The buses from the airport to Playa del Carmen do not stop along the highway between the airport and Playa. So the next best thing is to take the bus down to Playa and transfer to a Mayab bus going back up towards Cancun and get off where you need to get off or a bus up from the airport to Cancun and a Mayab bus going back down towards Playa or point further south of Playa.

  • Grupo ADO (Autobuses de Oriente), +52 55 5133-5133 (toll free: 800-009-9090), [2]. they operate the ADO, ADO GL, Platino, OCC (Omnibus Cristóbal Colón), Riviera, and the Mayab brands.  edit
  • There are taxis and 'colectivo' vans lined up along Av Juarez next to the bus station for onward travel other parts of town and surrounding areas. It will be much cheaper to take bus down here from the airport and take a taxi from here than a direct taxi (or private shuttle) from the airport.

Private Transfers[edit]

Private Transfers are a convenient way to get from Cancún's International Airport to your Hotel, condo, or beachfront home in Playa Del Carmen or Playacar. You can book online in advance from well known companies such as:

  • Famar Travel & Adventures, Av Lopez Portillo SM64 MZ26, 77524 Cancún, +52 998-880-4405, [4].  edit
  • Happy Shuttle, =52 998-167-9544 (toll free: 1 800-818-9821), [5].  edit
  • Lomas Travel, +52-(998)881-94-00 (toll free: =1-314-669-6871 (calling from the USA)), [6].  edit
  • Yellow Transfers, +52 (998)193-17-40 (toll free: 01-800-021-8087 (from Mexico)), [7].  edit

By car[edit]

Highway 307 is the only highway that passes by Playa. As you approach Playa from Cancún, the highway divides; to turn left to Playa, keep to the inside lanes heading south. The first east-west artery to Playa is Avenida Constituyentes, which works well for destinations in northern Playa; the second is Avenida Juárez, which leads to the town's main square. If you stay in the outside lanes, you will need to continue past Playa until you get to the turnaround, then double back, staying to your right.

The Federal government is recently built an elevated portion of 307 through Playa Del Carmen. It provides and express highway for those going south past Playa Del Carmen. It certainly helps alleviate the conjestion through this main thoroughfare.

This is the same concept they deployed in Puerto Morelos, which works out great

There are two bus stations in Playa Del Carmen. One is on 5th Avenue and Juarez Avenue. The other bus station is located on 20th Avenue and 12th street. Both stations sell tickets to every destination but busses going father tend to eave from the 20th Avenue station. Check which station your bus leaves from when you buy your ticket. Bus travel is relatively inexpensive, you can either travel second class, or first class, which is sometimes also called 'Express' although it is not notably any faster at all. First class buses cost around 40% more and will have toilets and TVs on them, but both classes have air conditioning. A second class ticket to Chetumal on the Belizean border costs $116 (US$11) and takes around 4 1/2 hours .

There are a lot of so called "Travel Agencies" on the 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen. Please be careful because most of them are Time Share offices. One reliable Travel Agency in Playa is Solatino Tours & Travel. The owners of the Agency have made a fine quality selection of Day Excursions covering the whole area.

Also you can find Travel Agencies in your hotel such a Best Day. Lomas Travel, Amstard, the good thing is that they are serius and well known Travel Agencies, the bad thing is they are a little bit expensive.

  • Royal Rent a Car, toll free number. +1 855' 292 7151, [8].

By boat[edit]

There are two competing companies that will ship you across to Cozumel for around US$24 return. The dock is on the south end of the city, just south of the plaza. Boats leave roughly every hour, from 8AM to 8PM, and the ride itself is 30 minutes.

Get around[edit]

Because the layout of downtown Playa is a rectangular grid, getting around is very easy.

The main east-west street, Avenida Juárez, connects Highway 307 with the town square, El Zócalo, near the beach. As it does so, it crosses several numbered north-south avenues that run parallel to the beach, all of which, interestingly enough, are multiples of five. Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), the closest to the beach, is closed to traffic from the Zócalo to Calle 6 (and some blocks beyond, in the evening).

Almost the entire town is north and west of the town square, El Zócalo. The east-west streets parallel to Avenida Juárez are numbered Calle, with even numbers to the north of Juárez and odd numbers to the south. The other main east-west street Avenida Constituyentes is located where you would expect to find Calle 18.

To the south of the downtown is "Playacar" a golf-course development of private residences and a dozen resort hotels.

By foot[edit]

Playa is pedestrian friendly town and you can basically walk to everything. The main north-south pedestrianized street, 5th Ave, does not allow cars except in the early morning hours for deliveries. On 5th Avenue are many hotels, restaurants, and small shops. The north-south thoroughfare Avenida 30, five blocks west of 5th Ave, is where the large stores are located. To walk from the town square, El Zócalo, and Avenida Juarez to Avenida Constituyentes takes only about 10 minutes.

A bike is a fun alternative to walking; there are a number of bike rental shops at the north end of 5th Ave. Playa del Carmen also offers a network of bicycle paths, along Avenida 10 and along the Motorway 307 to Xcaret.

By car[edit]

Car rentals are readily available at a number of locations at the north end of 5th Ave. Large companies, National, Hertz, etc. are convenient, as well as local agencies, which are generally less expensive.

By taxi[edit]

5th Ave. ('Quinta Avenida' or '5ta Av.') is a pedestrianized street and taxis are available at various intersections along its length. A taxi taken from a 'sitio' (place where taxis park) will cost about 5 pesos more but often Taxi drivers charge what ever they can. It costs about US$5 (70 pesos)to get to Playacar, and about 25-40 pesos in the rest of central Playa Del Carmen. There are no meters but there is an official price map based on zones. This however is not used closely by some drivers so you should familiarize yourself with it if you are going to be taking a lot of taxis.

By bus[edit]

Scheduled bus service to destinations in the region (e.g. Xcaret, Xel-ha, Tulum, Cancun airport, Cancun, etc.) and beyond depart from Playa bus station at southern end of 5ta Avenida and Avenida Juárez, which is near the Ferry terminal to Cozumel.

First class ADO bus departs hourly or so for tourist destination of Xcaret, Xel-ha and Tulum - fares are in US$4 range. The ADO Bus goes directly to the entrances of Xcaret and Xel-ha. ADO also runs direct service to Cancun airport from Playa Del Carmen for approximately $10.

Second class local Mayab buses also leave from Fifth Avenue station. Mayab buses stop more frequently enroute and drop off alongside the highway to Tulum, requiring walking from the highway to the entrances of Xcaret or Xel-ha.

An alternative to the buses is to catch a "colectivo" van. These leave/return at Playa from a location on Calle 2 between Av 10 and Av 15. Colectivos are cheap government regulated air-conditioned vans which transport people on Hwy. 307, which runs north/south along the coast between Tulum and Cancun. Pick-up times for these collectivos vary, roughly every 10 minutes, and pick-up/drop-off is simply along the freeway; but one can get you a ride near to any destination between Tulum and Cancun for as little as US$3. There are also vans either ran by individuals or tour vans returning empty from a drop off that will pick you up along side Hwy 307. The easiest way to catch one is to wait at a bus stop and extend your hand out (like a handshake). Sometimes a van will flash their lights which is asking if you want them to stop. Prices vary, but can be as cheap as $3. They pickup up and down the entire length of the highway. Most all speak English. They drop you off ONLY along the highway at your choice. No door to door service.

Organized bus tours are also available from a variety of companies that cross the Riviera Maya & Yucatan (Tulum, Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Mahahual, Ek Balam, Celestun, Rio Lagartos, Merida, Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Coba, Sian Ka'an, Xcaret, Xelha, etc.).

See[edit][add listing]

Do[edit][add listing]

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Downtown[edit]

Quinta Avenida, also referred to in English as 5th Avenue, is the main tourist thoroughfare in Playa. It is a pedestrian only, cobblestone lined street which spans approximately 20 blocks. Along 5th Ave. you will find a variety of restaurants, bars, clubs, shopping opportunities and various services. In Playa, nearly everything starts from this street.

A recent "beach reclaimation" project, completed in 2010, has restored width to the beach South of the pier at Constituyentes.

Ecotours[edit]

You came this far so don't miss out on all the natural beauty this region has to offer! If you like nature and animals Playa del Carmen is the right spot to set up a day trip to the closeby natural attractions.

Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve is around one hour drive from town and it is one of the biggest protected areas of Mexico. It offers great bird watching, world class snorkeling and a chance to get know the mangrove forests and maybe even spot a manatee. The reserve is famous about still having a healthy population of Jaguars, but you need to be extremely lucky to see one of those.

Ria Lagartos is another Special Biosphere Reserve at the North side of the Yucatan peninsula. This is further from Playa, so an overnight stay is advised. You can stay in one of the most relaxed fishing towns and see crocodiles and thousands of birds, including the famous American Flamingos.

Summertime close to Isla Mujeres around an hour boat ride from Cancun you have the chance to swim with Whale Sharks and Manta Rays. Getting a meter close to a gigantic 9 meter long (27 feet) completely harmless fish is truly a one in a lifetime experience. Winter time around the same spot you have the chance to snorkel with huge groups of Sailfish chasing Sardines.

Less than half an hour away from Playa, just before Puerto Morelos you find a very cool botanical garden. Good birding, and a big colony of Spider Monkeys will make sure you have a great time. Bring a guide to help you learn from the local wildlife!

For the brave ones (and certified divers) from November till March a must is the very famous Bull Shark Diving. If you have some doubts take the official PADI Bull Shark Specialty course to learn about these awesome creatures before getting real close to them. (at the moiment only one instructor is teaching this PADI course - ask around for Barna)

Turtles of Akumal: half an hour south from Playa del Carmen is the Bay of Akumal (some call it Turtle Bay) where you can snorkel with green sea turtles just meters from the shore. This is their natural habitat, they are not closed in any ways, so be extra careful around them. No touching or teasing the turtles if you want them to stick around in the future as well. Summer season is the nesting season for turtles. Not many know about it, but it is possible to organize night walks with the volunteers to look for the turtles on the beach digging their nests and laying eggs. It is an unforgettable experience, as the moment when the little turtles make their way first time to the ocean - a few months after the eggs were layed.

  • Barna (Nature Guide), +52 984 143 5698, [9]. Barna is from Hungary but living in Playa for years with his wife, Elizabeth. He is a PADI dive insrtructor and the only one who can teach the PADI Bull Shark Specialty. He is also a guide for all the reserves, parks, everything which has to do with nature. padi.bullsharkdiver@gmail.com  edit

Fishing[edit]

You may see many boats on the beach in Playa del Carmen waiting for a deep sea fishing charter. Most of these boats are unlicensed and provide the bare necessites. They are generally small "pangas" which may or may not even offer shade. The equipment is generally sub-par.

The professional charter fleet is in Puerto Aventuras which is about ten km south of Playa. Puerto Aventuras is the oldest and nicest marina on the Riviera Maya. The protection is so good that the Cozumel Ferries park there in bad weather.

There are numerous charter boats available from 29' to 47'. For not much extra money (if any) you can upgrade to a private boat. Just walk past the charter boats and you will find private boats. These boats are privately owned by affluent owners who maintain them with an open check book. Some of them offer their boats for occasional charter. The extra effort is well worth it.

As far as bringing your own fish to the restaurant to be cooked goes, there is hardly any restaurant that isn't quite happy to cook up your fish for you along with all the amenities. There are several restaurants surrounding the marina which will happily cook your fish for small money.

Beach clubs can be found along the shoreline, offering loungers and beds available to use for a small fee. Some clubs even have freshwater pools available for patrons. Wait service, including food and drink, is available at such clubs.

The farther North you stroll, you will find the vibe growing more and more European. Beach clubs like Mamitas or Kool are popular for their clear entries into the water and their selection of trendy music. Live DJs are often a part of the music scene at Mamitas.

While topless sunbathing is technically illegal in Mexico, it is generally tolerated by the police. Locals do not particularly endorse it, so it is recommended that ladies wear a top on Sundays when many of the locals enjoy their beaches.

Nightlife[edit]

Nightlife is definitely happening in Playa del Carmen, but is not as wild as its neighbor to the north, Cancun. Typically, Playa's shops and restaurants close around 10PM, but nearly all of the clubs stay open until 6am.. A number of the best nightclubs are located on the beach. If you are interested in nightlife (dancing, drinks late until the evening/morning), then be sure to visit Blue Parrot, El Pirata,Coco Bongo, Mandala, Santenera, and Hotel Deseo. The Blue Parrot has an intense and spectacular nightly fire show at 11PM and offers beach dancing, swings at the bar, and plenty of dancing. Deseo also has a roof deck bar, but it comes with beds. Very relaxing and beautiful. Most of the nightlife is based around 12th St. between 10th Avenue and the beach.

Scuba diving and Snorkeling[edit]

Scuba diving and snorkeling is plentiful around Playa, though the reefs are off the shore require a boat to get to. The offshore reef is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest coral reef system in the world. All hotels have a dive shop, though many can be found on 5th Ave. Better open-water scuba diving can generally be found in Cozumel so if this is the focus of your trip it is best to stay there. Excellent snorkeling is located at Puerto Morelos, located roughly halfway between Playa del Carmen and Cancun, and in the lagoon at Akumal, on the way to Tulum. Several dive shops in Playa del Carmen do offer cenote diving south of town. A good place to do your diving or scuba diving classes is with the Abyss Dive Center and Training Facility [10]. Scuba10 is another great option if you want to do cenote diving with an experienced operator in Playa del Carmen. They are located at avenue 10 between 10 and 12 street.

  • Scuba Diving, [Always Diving].Amazing dive experience in cancun, diving lessons and professional diving guide in the best dive spots in Cancun Quintana Roo.
  • Scuba Diving and Marina Services, [Marina Blue Watwer].Cancun diving, diving certifications, cave diving, diving referal programs, PADI certification.
  • Water Sports, [Marina Blue Watwer].Water sports, snorkeling, flyboard.

Internet Cafes[edit]

There are many internet cafes in Playa del Carmen, most of which also offer international phone service. Prices start at around US$1 an hour.

Cenotes[edit]

Cenotes are cavernous freshwater sinkholes which are found all over the Yucatan peninsula. [11] Many of them are open to the public for swimming, diving, and exploration. Many are open, however some of them are partially underground and the caves associated with these cenotes can run for miles underground. Cenotes also vary in size with openings as little as a foot wide to as large as a small lake. The water clarity in these cenotes is often unsurpassed, often exceeding 200 feet, and makes for exceptionally good swimming. Some of the bigger cenotes are available as tourist destinations, many are locally owned, and many more still are either undiscovered or undeveloped. Entrance to the commercial cenotes is correlated to the amount of development (i.e. if there are washrooms, restaurants, showers, etc.) with fees ranging from US$1-20. for cenote snorkeling tours or cenote dive excursions look up Cenote Dive Center located in the town of Tulum [12] and email them if you want to ask questions about diving in the area info@cenotedive.com.

Learn Spanish[edit]

Spanish language classes are available by the week at International House Maya Riviera, located on calle 14 off Quinta Avenida, at Playa Lingua, located on calle 20 between Quinta Avenida and Avenida 10, and at Academia Columbus, located on calle 6 bis and Avenida 30.

  • Academia Columbus, Ave. 30 Norte x 6 Bis (Take Ave. 30 and turn on calle 6 bis, an orange building), 984 873 2100, [13]. 09,00-14.00h. Academia Columbus offers Spanish language courses for international students at the most affordable prices. Small classes of no more than 5 students per class. Price varies.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

The touristy part of Playa is laden with shops selling 'artesanias'. These basically sell the same products - shirts, bracelets, and souvenirs, but for varying prices depending on the mood of the shopkeeper and your haggling/seduction skills. Haggling is accepted in the less formal shops in Playa, as is the rest of the Yucatan, though it is worth remembering that if you are able to afford an international vacation your income is many times higher than the storekeeper's (most of whom struggle just to pay the very high rents). It is possible to buy both Mexican and Cuban cigars here, but Cuban cigar prices are not particularly cheap. Counterfeits are commonplace in Mexico, so due diligence in the selection of cigars is advisable. If you are young or have long hair, many shop keepers are likely to also offer you marijuana. Marijuana is illegal in Mexico, though its use is widespread amongst tourists.

There are three large supermarkets in Playa del Carmen: Wal-Mart (30 Ave and Calle 8), Comercial Mexicana MEGA (30 Ave. and Constituyentes), Chedraui (Highway 307 between Playa del Carmen and Playacar). There is also a Sam's Club (Highway 307 in front of Playacar).

There are two large shopping centers on the outskirts of town: Centro Maya (on the right of Highway 307 heading towards Tulum - opposite Playacar) and Plaza Las Americas (entrance is on the right side of Highway 307 as you head to Cancún, by the large traffic circle with statue at the entrance of Playa del Carmen). Both shopping centers have multiscreen cinemas and large supermarkets (Soriana and Chedraui, respectively).

Eat[edit][add listing]

There are nearly 75 restaurants in Playa, with foods of every type and price range. There are also various pizza stands with prices ranging from $10-20, most of them remain open up to 6AM when bars begin to close. As is the case in much of Mexico, the street food is not to be missed. Simply walk south down fifth avenue until you reach the pier and taxi stand. There are generally five or six carts there serving tacos of various types. Every seafood taco is generally outstanding, along with the carnitas, pollo, and chorizo. Also, try the stuffed poblano tacos. Tacos are typically in the US$2-3 range. For the best and freshest tacos arrive mid-morning before the lunch rush as the carts are setting up.

  • Ah Cacao Chocolate Café, 5ta Ave. at Constituyentes, [14]. A chocolate-themed coffee shop, selling chocolate in all its forms (including pure cacao beans). Famous for the brownies. Probably serves the best lattes and espresso in Playa.
  • Babes Noodles and Bar Very popular restaurant bar serving Thai-style noodles, loud music, and lots of beer. Two locations: Calle 10 between 5th and 10th, and 5th Ave. between calle 26 and 28.
  • El Asador de Manolo Argentine owned restaurant with the best steaks in Playa! Located on 5th Avenue between 30 and 32 Streets, it's not in the middle of all the tourism, but still nearby. A tenderloin-steak costs about $170, and is well worth the money - especially compared to the many very expensive restaurants located down 5th avenue. The crew is friendly and the atmosphere is relaxed and cosy.
  • HC Monterrey, Calle 1 Sur between 15th and 20th Avenidas, well off the tourist strip of the Quinta Avenida, and a second restaurant on Constituyentes between 25th and 30th Avenidas, opposite the MEGA hypermarket. The arrachera nacional is so tender it almost melts in your mouth. The meat is served simply with a foil wrapped potato and half of an avocado. If you are looking for something a little different, but truly delicious, try HC. With prices around $85 a person for the meat alone and $135 for the full meal, make sure to get there early, they are open until only 7PM.
  • Ileana's Il Pescadore located on the North end of Playa, a newly renamed Italian Restaurant that is a must on any visit to Playa. The Owner, a lady originally from Italy, is entertaining, charming and readily introduced us to her mother and niece. (Guess it is a family restaurant.) The Calamari is great! The tiramisu is outrageously delicious and unique. The home made pasta is superb. The portions are a decent size but you do not leave thinking you over ate. Cash only. 5 Sombreros.
  • La Casa del Agua is on 5th Avenue at 2nd Street, Playa del Carmen. Great ambiance; the Calamari at lunch was excellent as was the fish when we returned on a subsequent day for dinner. A little pricier than other restaurants but well worth a try. Their indoor "waterfall" is a variation of a small pool of water cascading down rocks. The method cools nicely and is emulated in several restaurants. 5 Sombreros.
  • La Cueva del Chango Contemporary Mexican cuisine in an offbeat 'jungle garden' setting. A refreshing change from the frenetic pace of the 5th Avenue restaurants. Calle 38, between 5th Ave. and the beach. The "Monkey Cave" is open for breakfast, lunch and supper and frequented by "locals" and many Americans who own villas locally. The morning breakfast is "Tops" and the coolness of the day makes the open air setting enjoyable. Try the Grenola/Yogurt/Fruit Crepé or the outrageously delicious Chaya Crepé. (Chaya. a local favorite, is a "tree spinach" native to the Yucatan. Do not eat raw chaya as it contains a cyanogenic glucoside that acts as a poison to humans.) The Changos (monkeys) are temporarily not present because they were disturbed by the current condo construction boom. 5 Sombreros for breakfast.
  • La Pesca, Avenida 30, near Constituyentes, across from the Mega grocery store. Arguably the best seafood in Playa del Carmen. Reasonable prices, awesome food. Try the cazuela de camaron. Open every day until 9PM (but if you get there before 9, you'll still be served with a smile). Note that if you choose a main course costing less than $140 you will probably be told that it is "not recommended", and will be advised something in a pricier category. If that happens, just persevere - they will happily serve the cheaper dish too.
  • La Parilla "Mexican Grill" is located upstairs on the corner of Calle 8 and 5a Avenida. The Mariachi band was excellent and would play any single song that they knew for US$10. Similarly, one guidebook mentioned the restaurant as having been excellent, but unable to maintain its excellence with the increase in traffic attributed to its past reputation. 2 Sombreros.
  • Media Luna 5a Avenida between Calles 12th and 14th. The locals think highly of the restaurant, as do others. However, we (four) left without trying the cuisine. Located on the second floor and open to the air on the 5a Avenida side, we found the restaurant too noisy to have enjoyed the food had we ordered. We observed one table where diners were trying to talk over one another which caused us to initially change tables before we left. The restaurant offers vegetarian dishes, fresh fish, wonderful pastas and salads. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sombreros not allocated
  • Oasis Mexican seafood. Battered shrimp tacos, seafood soup, fried fish. Attracts mostly Mexicans and Playa locals. Prices are reasonable and the quality is consistent.
  • PlayaMaya Hotel at the beach. Octopus Tacos, wonderful.
  • Senor Frog's at Centro Comercial Playa Marina, Playa del Carmen, (the ferry terminal). "Americanized" Mexican food, BBQ, standard American fare. The food is good, but most people go for the drinks and the atmosphere. If you are looking for a fun place to drink and grab a bite - this place is for you. If, however, you are looking for a quiet place to eat and socialize, best go some place else.
  • Yaxché Cocina Maya a Mayan Cuisine restaurant located on 5th Avenue, between 22th and 24th Streets, a half block from 5th Avenue. The Hotel gave us a card good for one after dinner drink, a "Mayan Kiss". The soup (a Mayan Name) with Grouper was excellent. The shrimp plate was also tops. We returned on another occasion and had the Grouper dinner...Excellent! Also tried the creamed Chaya soup, wow. The menu for lunch and supper were the same as were the prices. One of our friends didn't care for the spicy shrimp dinner. 4 Sombreros.
  • Cockteleria Veracruz 10 Avenida Sur between Benito Juarez and Calle 1 Sur, diagonally opposite the main ADO bus station. An unassuming exterior hides a cheap, tasty and very friendly seafood restaurant specializing in seafood cocktails. Mama runs the restaurant and personally makes sure all guests are happy. Note that the oysters in some cocktails are raw - but deliciously fresh. Portions are large, so even though the cocktails and ceviches are considered entrées, anything other than a small portion is a meal on its own.
  • Club Nautico Tarraya On the beach between Benito Juarez and Calle 2 Nte. Specializing in seafood, it's almost certainly the cheapest place on the beach, with cevice for around $40 and fried fish for less than $100, and beer to wash it down with costing a mere $20. The atmosphere is slightly spoilt by cheap white plastic tables and very clinical white light after sunset, but at these prices that's par for the course, and the quality and quantity of the food itself is excellent.
  • "'Da Bruno"' Calle 12, Playa del Carmen, Mexico. An Italian eatery that specializes in authentic Italian cuisine, Da Bruno is located on the corner of Calle 12 and Quinta Avenida. Because of their prime locaion and their use of imported Italian ingredients, this restaurant is pricey. They have a relatively small menu, featuring pasta, seafood, and personal pizzas. If you order wine, be sure to specify you want it by the glass - otherwise, you will be charged for an entire bottle. Because the restaurant is rather small, you will be in earshot of all the action, so if you are adverse to hearing "kitchen banter", this might not be the right place for you.
  • Perros Calientes (hot dogs) If you want to eat a great (great is big) hot dog, you have to walk two streets from the Fifth avenue and you will enjoy so good hot dogs.
  • Yogo Chango Yogurt Bar [15], Calle 6 between 5th Ave and 10th Ave. Frozen yogurt made fresh with seasonal fresh fruit toppings, as well as creative and dry toppings. You can also enjoy smoothies, milkshakes, yogurt smoothies, expresso’s, frappuccino’s. Internet is free (laptops are available for free).
  • La Fragata, Calle 26 between 1st & 5th Avenue. Small hole-in-the-wall restaurant with scrumptious food. We asked the hostess (a gracious, friendly lady) to surprise us and serve us what she thought was good that day. She did not disappoint. Tasty fish tacos and seafood pasta that popped with flavor.  edit
  • Benito Juarez and 5th Avenue Street Cart. At the corner of Benito Juarez and 5th avenue there are carts every morning where all the hotel and shop workers stop for breakfast. Gathering starts at around 6AM, they stay there until around 11AM. It is right outside of the main ADO bus station and at the start of the walk to the ferry to Cozamel so it is easy to find. The price in September 2011 was $18 each. One is enough to fill most people. These can be put together in different combinations and if you want something specific (like eggs alone), they will cook it on the spot.  edit
  • King of the Grill, Aviacion Ave (aka airport rd) (Located on Av. Aeropuerto between Federal Highway 307 and 15th Avenue - this is the road that runs on the south side of the airport near Playacar Phase 2. In a building on the south side of the road 500 or so metres going towards the highway coming from 10th Avenue), 52 (984) 879 4219. Tu-Su. 1400 hrs to 2100 hrs or later if busy. Great Mexican Grill. Actually a Weber bbq shop (for rent or sale) that has a small number of tables and serves great food cooked on the Webers. Slightly off the tourist strip and menus only in Spanish - friendly owner speaks English and was very helpful in explaining the menu. Hamburgers, steak and ribs are all highly recommended. Prices are very reasonable - $150 for full rack of ribs, $180 for a large rib eye steak, $100 for a wagyu beef burger.  edit
  • Coffee Stop, Calle 10 North between 10th Av & 15th Av, 984 803 4365. 8am to 8pm. Small independent coffee shop selling filled bagels, croissants and a selection of great cakes and pastries to accompany real Mexican coffee (from Chiapas). Away from the main hustle and bustle of 5th Avenue, it's a calm place to eat, drink and catch up on your emails!  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

There is no shortage of great bars in Playa del Carmen, many of which can be found right on the beach. Alternatively if you are on a very tight budget many shops outside the main tourist area will sell drinks in bottles and cans that you can pack into a cooler for the beach. Prices at the bars in Playa are consistent with any major tourist area, but a US$1 beer is not uncommon.

Liquor can be bought from any number of tourist shops, which typically sell Kahlua and a variety of tequilas at a price which is generally the same. If you are requiring a more diverse liquor supply, there are places in and about Playa that can accommodate. The most prominent is Covi Liquors, located Hwy. 307 in Playa, which offer a wide variety of liquors at prices that are generally cheaper than those shops which cater to tourists on 5th Ave.

The Fifth avenue is packed with restaurants and bars but most close before midnight. There are two main streets to find clubs and bars that close after midnight: The 8th street between 5th and 10th Ave is frequently visited by locals and backpackers, bars like "Los Secretos" offer live music and pool tables and Red Bar offer cheap beer, 2 x 1 Drinks and great music (closes at 2AM). The 12th offers more tourist places like Blue Parrot, Coco Maya and Om (http://www.omplaya.com) in the beach area and Bali Club and Santanera near the 10th Ave.(After Party).

The Dirty Martini Lounge located on 1st Avenue between 10th and 12th street gives you an alternative place to party and chill without all the hustle and bustle of the other bars. With a hotel on site and pizza served to your table for the late night munchies, this community is a great place to spend the evenings in Playa Del Carmen [16]

  • El Bistro at La Tortuga (Hotel La Tortuga), 10th av, & calle 14th, 984 87 30626, [17]. 7-23. El Bistro at La Tortuga & El Bistro en la Quinta. Two gastronomic options of good food in a relaxed atmosphere but always with excellent and consistent service, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 12.  edit
  • Hangover Bar Playa - Karaoke Restaurant Bar in Playa del Carmen (Bar Playa Del Carmen Restaurant and Karaoke), Calle 28 Norte & Cozumel, 984 142 2310, [18]. 10AM-2AM. One of the best bars in town. Featuring he amazing recepie of prepared beer with a special juice. During the day they play good uplifting music with a friendly athmosphere. At night, they plays the same kind of music and the mic is open for Karaoke for whomever is brave enough. (20.63177403799193,-87.06574884808627) edit
  • Coffee Stop, Calle 10 North between 10th Av & 15th Av, 984 803 4365, [19]. 7.30am-7.30pm. Small independent coffee shop selling filled bagels, croissants and a selection of great cakes and pastries to accompany real Mexican coffee (from Chapias). Away from the main hustle and bustle of 5th Avenue, it's a calm place to eat, drink and catch up on your emails! very reasonable.  edit


Sleep[edit][add listing]

Hostels[edit]

There are some inexpensive backpacker style hostels in Playa del Carmen if you are on a budget and don't mind sharing a dorm room with other travelers this is a good option.

  • Hostel 3B [20] is a new hostel located one block from 5th Avenue,close to the ADO station and Cozumel ferry. Clean and comfortable dorm rooms with shared kitchen and tv room Also has a brand new rooftop bar and pool.
  • Hostel Playa is a nice hostel with comfy beds and big kitchen 4 blocks away from the 5th avenue.
  • Urban Hostel is another hostel with private rooms, TV common rooms, terraces and kitchen and its located a block from 5th avenue. It's half a step up from the Che Hostel[21].
  • Hostel Che Known as "Home away from home" probably the coolest environment in Playa del Carmen. Hostel Che has an excellent location (only 3 blocks from the Caribbean Ocean and 2 blocks from the famous 5ta Avenida). You will find a large rooftop bar which is the meeting point for their guests, where you can go every night to have some cold beers and good mojitos and get ready to go out. Here they make thematic parties which characterize this hostel. You can also join them in their special group excursions and have even more fun.

Hotels[edit]

Seriously, the stuff below almost looks like it was written by the hotel owners and is not helpful, other than to illustrate just how competitive lodgings are. There are MANY small hotels in Playa, from Cinco Avenida (road behind the beach and main strip with the ADO station) and heading out toward City Hall and Wal Mart. During high season 2012-2013, prices for a private room in a reasonably clean place, hotel or hostel, started at about 450 pesos and increase. A nice suite on Cinco Avenida can be had for 800 pesos per night during the high season. Many of those book up fast but there are so many hotels one can do a little scouting and find a place. Those who travel light and don't mind bouncing to other hotels can have quite the experience staying in nice, boutique hotels, larger hotels and even clean hostels with one or two nicer private rooms. Not all of them have air conditioning. There are also no shortage of cheap and available rooms in Cozumel. Amenities vary wildly. Asking questions and looking at the rooms is never a bad idea and hotel owners/staff have no problems with letting potential customers have a look.

Unlike other beach destinations, all the "best" hotels are not on the beach. A few face the ocean but the majority are set back a block or two near 5th Ave.

  • Aventura Mexicana, On Calle 24 between Ave 5 and Ave 10, [22]. Very nice and reasonably priced hotel about 3 blocks from the beach in the North end of Playa. Located on a quiet street, but just off busy 5th Avenue with all the action. Beautifully kept grounds, pool, friendly staff and 2-for-1 happy hour drinks (all evening!), as well as decent continental breakfast included in the room rate in their full-service restaurant  edit
  • Casa del Mar Playa del Carmen, Calle 24 entre 5ta y 10ma Avenida, (984) 873 2584. Bed and breakfast style hotel with only 18 rooms. Rooms around a central pool and a sun deck offering a panoramic view of 5th Avenue where they serve continental breakfast each morning.  edit
  • Hotel Casa Tucan, Calle 4 entre Avenida 10y 15, [23]. Hotel Casa Tucan is in the heart of Playa del Carmen, only 2 blocks from the crystal blue Caribbean beach and a block and half from the popular shopping and night life of 5th Avenue.  edit
  • Om Playa del Carmen, Calle 12 Northe con 1.ra privada, n.195, (+52) 984-147-0949, [24]. The prime location is the “pulse” of Playa del Carmen is only steps away from the beach, restaurants, nightlife, and specialty shops located along 5th Avenue. This trendy Lounge & Hotel is the perfect spot for youthful globetrotters looking to enjoy all of what Playa del Carmen and the Rivera Maya has to offer Best rates on official website start at US$55.  edit
  • Hotel Casa Ticul, 5th Av. between 38 street & 40th street, LT 08 MZ 151 Col Zacil-Ha, 52 984 267 3501, [25]. All adult small boutique hotel on 5th Ave. 20 charming rooms with modern design and decorations.  edit
  • Hotel Coco Rio, +52 984 879 3361. Located along the quiet side of Quinta Avenida. The hotel offers rooms with air-conditioning, cable TV, refrigerator, and Wi-Fi access. [26].
  • Hotel Cohiba, 52 984 873 3481. Offers 18 standard rooms, 1 rooftop suite, and 1 superior room. All accommodations have a balcony or deck, air-conditioning, private toilet and shower, and cable TV. [27]
  • Hotel Colorado, (+52) 984 8730381 Calle 4 nte. between 20 y 25 Av. Small, inexpensive hotel with charming, colorful, funky but clean accommodations in a downtown setting. central courtyard, many rooms with balconies, common balcony on second floor. CableTV, mini-fridge, private bathroom with hot water. A/C available. Some rooms with kitchenete. Free WiFi. hotcolora@hotmail.com. Friendly management.
  • Hotel La Tortuga, 52 984 87 30626. A small boutique hotel less than one block from La Quinta, La Tortuga offers the versatility of quaint rooms to suites with private pools. Their pool is considered Playa Del Carmen's prettiest, bursting with lush vegetation, bright flowers, and all the tranquility one could ask for. Their poolside bar, Las Margaritas, offers 2 for 1 happy hours every evening and drinks are delicious! Their hotel restaurant, El Bistro is a first-choice for fresh, consistent meals any time of the day. A full, hot breakfast at El Bistro is included with your stay. Staff at this hotel are outstanding and friendly. Because La Tortuga is not directly on the beach, they graciously offer free passes for loungechairs and palapas at Mamitas Beach.
  • Fusion Beach Hotel Bar & Grill, Calle 6 & the Beach, (+52) 984 873 0374. Located on a white sandy beach with a lounge area that looks out to the blue waters of the Mexican Caribbean Sea. From $59.  edit
  • Hotel Las Golondrinas, Av. Constituyentes 178, entre av. 15 y av. 20, Centro, (0052) - 984.8732384. The Hotel Las Golondrinas is designed in a Mexican style, which highlights the craftsmanship of the region. All rooms have views to the pools and gardens, where you can enjoy a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.  edit
  • Luna Blue Hotel & Garden, [28]. A small 18 room hotel surrounded by a lush garden in the northern, more quiet part of Playa del Carmen--Calle 26 between 5th Avenue and 10th Avenue. This hotel is three blocks from the beach and a half a block from Playa's central pedestrian mall, Fifth Avenue. It has hands-on onsite American owners. It also has the only jungle "swing" bar in Playa del Carmen.
  • Mosquito Blue is a gorgeously styled upper-range option with meandering pools, a reading library and old world charm to spare.
  • Playa Palms Beach Hotel, 1st Av. Bis, Norte Entre 12 y 14, (+52) 984-803-3908, [29]. Offers air-conditioned rooms, all of which have Internet connection, cable TV, and mini-bar. Some of its amenities include swimming pool, beach lounges, and gym.  edit
  • Posada d' Margo, [30]. A very nice small hotel very near the sea and the Fifth Avenue, economic prices, clean and familiar atmosphere.
  • Hotel Posada Mariposa [31] is a boutique style hotel located on 5th Avenue in what today is referred to as "Little Italy" because of the large population of Italians who are today calling Playa Del Carmen home and opening businesses bringing a special Italian style flare to the area. Within walking distance to the beach.
  • Reina Roja Hotel, Calle 20 Norte Entre 5ª Av. y Av. 10 N°298, Centro, (+52) (984) 877 3800, [32]. It offers 63 rooms, all of which have air conditioning, LCD TV with cable connection, and Internet connection. Some of its amenities include pool bar, solarium with sea view, and fitness center.  edit
  • Hotel Riviera del Sol, Av 1 Nte Con Calle 30 Nte, 984 873 3100, [33]. Riviera del Sol Hotel is a unique place where their guests enjoy a peaceful atmosphere, accompanied by a warm and attentive service with a friendly and informal treatment, ideal for a holiday. US$100.  edit
  • Tropical Casablanca Hotel, (52) 984 873-0057, email: info@tropicalcasablanca.com, [34]. A hacienda style hotel just 25 meters from the beach, that has modern amenities and multilingual trip planning specialists to assist in your vacation planning.
  • El Tukan Hotel & Beach Club, 5ta avenida Norte Entre las calles 14 y 16 Col Centro C.P. 77710 Plya del Carmen Solidaridad, 1-800-008-8526. Offers a wide range of comfortable and spacious rooms.  edit
  • Villa Don Julian Guesthouse, 291 Avenidad 20, corner 20th street, (521)984 116 6803 (), [35]. checkin: 12h am; checkout: 12h am. from US$15.  edit
  • Hotel Paraiso Azul's Casa De Gopala, +52 984 873 0054. Hotel with 16 fully furnished rooms, rooftop garden with swimming pool and Jacuzzi, and sightseeing, diving, and snorkeling trips. The hotel is located 300 yards from the beach. [36].
  • Hotel Alhambra, 8th street beach front / Calle 8 con playa, 52 984 873 0735. The Alhambra Hotel is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the sun, the beach and the amazing view from the terrace. In addition to comfortable rooms offers a great atmosphere and service from our team. Discover the soul of Yoga and wellness.  edit
  • Aqualuna Hotel, Avenida 10 Entre Calle 12 y 14, 77710 Playa del Carmen, 00 52 9848731013, [37]. Fringed by lush tropical gardens and inspired by classic Grecian beauty, Aqualuna Hotel is a tranquil escape in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. A gem of the Xperience Hotel Group, the rooms’ pearly white walls and angular shapes are reminiscent of the Caribbean Sea’s underwater treasures and undulating tides. Rekindle romance in your air-conditioned boutique accommodation with a private toilet and shower, cable TV, mini-bar, and Internet access. Then, imbibe the Mediterranean spirit as you take part in night festivities and day activities. Groove to reggae or dance to salsa music on Quinta Avenida, a block from the hotel, during its bewitching hours. When the sun’s up, get tanned or soak up -- the beach is just two blocks away.  edit
  • Barrio Latino Hotel, Calle 4 entre Avenida 10 y 15 Col, (0052) - 984.8732384, [38]. Courtesy continental breakfast, wireless internet in every room , local and international calls to 45 foreign Countries without limits, and access to beach club, and also parking lot.  edit
  • Hotel Hacienda Real del Caribe, Av 10 Esquina Calle 10 Nte, Col Centro, 52 984 8733130, [39]. Hotel Hacienda Real del Caribe is the perfect scenery for its architecture is inspired in a great Mexican hacienda, in each of its corner one will find relaxation and unique elegance. Their luxurious rooms decorated with fine woods, in a finished marble and clear tones in its walls are the complements of warm hospitality, making your vacation or business trip an unforgettable experience.  edit
  • Hacienda Tres Rios Resort, Cancún - Tulum Km. 54, Playa del Carmen, 1.800.494.9173, [40]. checkin: 4PM; checkout: 12PM. Located just 10Km from Playa del Carmen in the heart of the Riviera Maya, the luxurious and eco friendly resort offers an unforgettable stay in an all inclusive plan to discover the beauty of its own pristine nature park, the first class services, the gourmet international cuisine and the comfort of the indulgent suites. Hacienda Tres Rios Resort is where luxury comes naturally.  edit
  • Hotel LunaSol, 984-873-3933 (code de pays: 52), [41]. Small family hotel in the heart of playa del carmen,4 blocks off the beach. Everything you need to relax after a long day at the beach, which is only a 5 minute walk from the hotel. And at night, you are only a 8 minute walk to Playa Del Carmen bustling night life on 5th avenue. There are only 16 rooms set around big beautiful gardens, all designed to make you feel at home.  edit
  • Hotel Playa Del Karma, +52 (984) 803-02-72/42, [42]. The Hotel Playa del Karma, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, is a contemporary ethno-boutique hotel designed primarily with indulgence and service in mind. This Playa del Carmen hotel with its prime location in the heart of the youngest and liveliest city in the Riviera Maya and its close proximity to the Quinta Avenida is centrally located, allowing guests the convenience to access diverse tourist attractions that accommodate all interests and budgets.  edit

Resorts[edit]

There are many all inclusive resorts in Playa, but most are located in the gated Playacar section. The resorts are generally secluded, and prevent one from experiencing the sights, sounds, and tastes of the city, and to some extent Mexican culture as well, since you will be surrounded by Western tourists and amenities. That said, these hotels typically offer nice accommodations that are well served.

  • Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun, [43]. 71 acres, Mediterranean architecture.
  • Grand Velas All Suites & SPA Resort Riviera Maya, Carretera Cancun Tulum Km. 62,Playa del Carmen, Municipio de Solidaridad, Quintana Roo 77710, Mexico, +52-984-877-4400, [44]. New.  edit
  • Iberostar Tucán & Quetzal Av Xaman-Ha. Lote hotelero No. 2, Playa del Carmen Quintana Roo 77710, Mexico (+52) 984-877-2000 The Iberostar Tucán & Quetzal is actually two separate hotels located on one shared resort property. Both the Tucán and Quetzal run perpendicular to the beach, and share the pool and several eateries/bars that are situated between them. Each hotel has its own lobby and buffet restaurant, but any guest can use either facility as they please. The set up of each hotel is identical, in that they are situated in ten “blocks” of three stories, each story containing eight rooms (with the exception of buildings overlooking the beach, which are comprised of fewer “luxury suite” rooms). Besides the more expensive suites, the rooms are all similar, with two full or one king bed, bathroom, and balcony or patio. It is about a five-seven minute walk from one end of the resort to the other, so the amenities/activities you prefer to be close to will determine where you request your room location to be. For example, if you prefer to be near the lobby and restaurants, ask for building 15-19 on the Tucán side, or (with 19 being closest to the lobby and restaurant), or building 25-29 on the Quetzal side (with 29 being closest to the lobby and restaurant). If you prefer being closer to the pool and beach, ask for buildings 10-14 on the Tucán side (10 being the closest to the beach and pool), or 20-24 on the Quetzal side (20 being the closest to the beach and pool).

The resort was carved out of a rainforest, and the developers purposely retained some of the natural landscape as a compliment to the theme of the resort. When walking through the rainforest area (middle of the two hotel buildings), expect to encounter monkeys, peacocks, parrots, and tucans. The pool is the largest of all the resorts in Playacar. There are chairs situated around the pool, as well as populas (thatched umbrellas) to provide some shade. There is a snack bar located in the pool area, serving light breakfast fare in the morning, and lunch/alcoholic beverages in the afternoon. In the evening, it converts to a formal table-service themed restaurant. Besides the snack bar, there is a pool bar located between the pool area and the beach, and a swim up bar towards the back of the pool. Several guests say that the drinks are weak, but the bartenders will double pour if you ask them to. The buffet restaurants cater to American and European palates, as well as providing semi-authentic Mexican cuisine. The nightlife on the resort is quite, however the resort does put on nightly shows. If you are looking for a more lively night out, a cab ride to 5th Avenue is about $8US each way.

Contact[edit]

Wifi Spots[edit]

  • Public Parks : All the parks in Playa del Carmen offer free wifi access. It is nice to see young people carrying their laptops to do homework. You will be surprised to use your Iphone, Ipad, Blackberry or any other device and see how usual is to find wifi internet access in every block . But even so, most of the restaurants and bars will ask for a minimum buy before giving you the password which will change every day. And believe it or not , the more expensive the Hotel or the Condo you rented, the less usual will be to get free access.
  • Calle 4 between 15 and 10 Avenue : This is the 1st BLOCK in Playa fully covered by a free service (powered by Hotel Barrio Latino together with the AHRM, local association of Hotels) : fast, free, in a very local location (ever tried surf & turf? now you can try surf & tacos). Cars, bycicle and even segways seen around checking their emails.
  • Starbucks at Playacar, Paseo Xaman-Ha Lote 19, Col. Playa del Carmen Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo. Great place to get your caffeine and Wi-Fi fix at the same time. Just buy a drink (or anything on the menu) and your receipt will print with a Wi-Fi access code. The connection is not always blazing fast, but it’s good enough for most tasks you’d handle on vacation, such as picture uploading, social networking, emails, etc.

Cope[edit]

Consulates[edit]

  • Us-flag.png United States, The Palapa, Calle 1 Sur (entre Avenida 15 y Avenida 20), +52 984 873-0303 (Emergency cell phone +52 984 807-8355, , fax: +52 984 873-0481), [45].  edit

Get out[edit]

  • Cozumel the large island off the coast of Playa is famous for snorkeling and scuba near the Great Maya Reef, the large coral system. Note that Cozumel is also a main port for Cruise ships, so can be quite busy sometimes!
  • Tulum is a Pre-Columbian walled city of the Maya right on the ocean; the site consists of a large temple, several auxiliary buildings and huts. Many tours frequent the archaeological zone so it is often busy, you can shop at the usual trinket shops on your way there and it is recommended you use the washrooms near the ticket stands. The tour guide packages are unnecessary. After the ruins, a short (50 peso) taxi ride from the beach-side ruin exit is Tulum Playa; a Carribean-style beach with two restaurants and dramatically better sand than Playa del Carmen. There are several other impressive Mayan vestiges within a few hours drive of Playa. Among them are Ek Balam and Coba. The enormous, unmissable Chichen Itza is approximately 3 hours but offers a much more to see.
  • Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve is a wonderful nature preserve, just an hour south of Playa for the ecologically minded. Day tours available from Playa. One group offering tours is Sian Kaan Community Tours [46], mentioned here because it is run by a local Maya community, so your tourist dollars go directly to the community. That apart, it's great value for money (includes a tour of Maya ruins at Muyil, a float down a stream through the mangroves which other companies did not seem to offer, an experienced nature guide who points out the flora and fauna, boating through a lagoon, and not least, a delicious home-cooked Maya meal).
  • Puerto Aventuras Puerto Aventuras is about 20 minutes from Playa del Carmen.
  • Puerto Morelos Either "Puerto" is a much shorter drive than to Cancun and less expensive. In Cancun, fishing the waters, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean, can be extremely rough.
  • ’’’Xel-Ha Park’’’ Carretera Chetumal-Cancun km 240, 77780 is an ecologically friendly water/nature amusement park located about 28 miles south of Playa del Carmen. There are plenty of activities, such as swimming, snorkeling, nature-trail tours, and dining/drinking. Several tour companies offer “all-inclusive” day trips to the park. The pricing is reasonable when you consider that tickets include all you can eat and drink. Safety and environmental awareness is enforced at the park, meaning you are required to wear a life vest while in the water, and to use biodegradable sunscreen (buy the sunscreen at home – it is expensive in resort areas and even more so in the park).






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