If you visited Playa del Carmen 10 or 15 years ago, you wouldn’t recognize it today. This once sleepy seaside town on Mexico’s Riviera Maya used to be primarily known as the place to catch the ferry to the island of Cozumel just offshore.
But these days it’s a world-class destination in its own right. Visitors from Europe, North America, and all over Latin America come for the white-sand beaches, azure Caribbean Sea, fine dining, and nightlife. Many of these folks have decided to stay full-time, making Playa, as locals call it, a premier expat haven. With plenty of low-cost condos within a quick walk or bike ride to the beach, all the modern conveniences, and the fun in the sun that goes with being in a vacation hotspot, it’s no wonder.
The epicenter of life in Playa del Carmen is the miles-long stretch of pedestrian-only La Quinta Avenida, or 5th Avenue. It’s just a block in from the beach and the place to be in town.
Along its length you’ll find everything from smart boutiques with the latest fashions to gaudy souvenir shops…boutique hotels to booming nightclubs…high-end restaurants that could be in Manhattan to simple eateries with savory and spicy Mexican favorites.
Thanks to the already low costs and very favorable exchange between the U.S. dollar and Mexican peso, it’s cheap to eat a meal, shop, or enjoy a night out on the town.
The avenue’s cafés are meeting spots for retired expats…and portable offices for digital nomads, who are plentiful here. Tourists browse the shops and enjoy tropical drinks on the beach. And by the time the darkness falls the district comes alive with late night dining, live music (everything from blues to solo acoustic troubadours), and busy bars—tequila is, of course, the specialty.
Any time, day or night, La Quinta Avenida is a hive of activity, although always manageable without the feeling of being overcrowded.
And you can enjoy this walking street year-round thanks to the always warm weather. Summer days can call for a hat, a break in the shade, and a cold drink…but it’s doable. By wintertime, “high season” for Playa, the pleasant daytime temps and cool nights make it the perfect place to be 24/7.
Any time you visit, you’re sure to have a good time on La Quinta Avenida.
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