Playacar is a lovely oceanfront gated community located on the south side of Playa del Carmen in Mexico’s Riviera Maya.  The community features multiple all-inclusive resorts, condos, and private villas.  The beach is beautiful with white sand and clear water.  It is a short walk to 5th Ave where you will find restaurants, nightclubs, shopping and the ferry to Cozumel.
We have stayed in Playacar several times and have always enjoyed our stay.  It’s a beautiful master planned community with an upscale feel.  The streets are quiet and there are paths to take a bike ride and enjoy the golf courses and jungle.  Our only complaint is that it can be inconvenient to access the beach.  There are only a few entrances to the beach, as much of the coastline in Playacar is taken up by all-inclusive resorts that you are not allowed to pass through.  


Playacar is a gated community, so you will need to check in at one of the 3 gates.  Be sure to have the address of your condo or rental home available for the guard and ask the owner or management for a card if you are staying for any length of time, so you can enter through the ‘resident’ gates.

5th Ave

Just outside the gates of Playacar is the start of 5th Ave (Quinta Avenida), the main pedestrian street of Playa, running for three miles right along the beach.  Along 5th Ave you will find restaurants, nightclubs, Gelato stands, vendors, bars and transportation including taxi stands, the ADO Bus Terminal and the Ferry to Cozumel.  There are also several doctors, pharmacies, and banks along the street.  
Please don’t be tempted to take a picture with the cute lion cub, monkey, macaw or giant yellow snake.  The photos are contributing to illegal animal trafficking and most of the animals are drugged.  The police arrest the handlers regularly, but they will keep coming back as long as tourists keep paying them.


We don’t recommend using any ATMs that are out on the streets.  They regularly get skimmers put on them to steal your ATM card numbers, and the exchange rates are terrible.  Only use ATMs that are part of a recognized bank building (Santander and Scotiabank have branches on 5th Ave).   This is generally true throughout the Yucatán: only use bank ATMs.

Beach Access: Bahía del Espíritu Santo and Cunaro de Piedra

Much of the beach access along Playacar is only accessible from the all-inclusive resorts which line the beach.  Beaches in Playa del Carmen are public, so as long as you stay off the resort chairs and roped-off areas, you can enjoy the beach.  You can get access to the beach in Playacar Phase I in front of the Mayan ruins.  It’s very hard to park near the entrance so be sure to ask if your vacation rental is close to the entrance or comes with bicycles.  

The Xaman Ha Mayan ruins

Playacar was built around a small Mayan site from the post-classic period.  The ruins are small but are free to visit.  You can find them by walking from 5th Ave towards the hotels and look to your left for signs and paths to get to them.

Places to Eat


Ave. Paseo Tulum | Local 17, Playa del Carmen
+52 984 803 0175
Buenerrimo is a small Italian restaurant in Playacar.  They serve up thin crispy pizza and yummy pasta. The prices are great and the service is friendly.  They deliver and ordering in English is not a problem.  Buenerrimo also has a gelato shop a few doors down from the restaurant.  They make everything on-site, and it is the best gelato we have had since we were in Italy. 

Don Pepperoni Playacar

Paseo Xaman-ha lote 16 mz. 16 local 3, Playacar
Very small restaurant featuring good pizza and empanadas.  Delivers in Playacar.

La Vaqueria Burger Bar

Paseo Xaman-Ha, Mza 19 | Lote 1 Local 1 Playa Del Carmen
+52 984 803 5042
Hamburgers, bacon wrapped hot dogs and salads are served up by friendly staff.  They have a cute patio and often set up a bounce house to entertain the kids.

Dona Aurelia Sabores Mexicanos

Mza 16 Paseo Xaman Ha Lt 16 Loc. 7
+52 984 879 3777
Small Mexican restaurant in Playcar.  The staff is friendly and the food is consistently good.  Try the wonderful chicken mole!

La Brioche French Bakery

Plaza Pakal | Local 2 Playacar Fase II
+52 984 803 4500
French bakery serving an assortment of pastries and baguettes with quality coffee.  Great place to grab a sandwich or a quiche to take to the beach. 


A small drug store in Playacar, next door to Oxxo in the same complex as Buenerrimo.


These ubiquitous convenience stores are all over the Yucatán, and there are two in Playacar: one is in the same complex as Buenerrimo on the south side, and the other is to the north, next door to Don Pepperoni.  It’s a great place to get light groceries, sand toys, and ice.  They typically have some basics to cook with, like avocados, tomatoes, chilis, tortillas, milk, and eggs.  You can buy or swap out 5-gallon water jugs there, which is important, as you can’t drink the tap water, of course.

Grocery Stores

For larger grocery runs, we recommend the Soriana “Hypermarket”, which is in the Centro Maya shopping center, right across the main highway from the southern entrance to Playacar.  It has a great produce section, all the major brands, a good meat department, and fresh pressed corn tortillas (look for a large cooler in the bakery).  There’s also a movie theater, banks, phone stores, a sporting goods store and a shoe store in the same complex.  On the Playacar side of the highway, there is an OfficeMax and Sam’s Club for other retail items.

Car Rentals

Renting a car is a great idea for getting out from Playacar into the rest of the Yucatán peninsula and seeing Chichen Itza, Tulum and Mérida.  If you’re staying in Playacar or only popping out to Quinta Avenida, a taxi or scooter is more convenient and cheaper (parking is tight in town).  Car rentals in Mexico can be tricky and expensive, so if you want to rent a car, we recommend reading our post on renting a car in Playa del Carmen and Cancun.  It’ll save you time, money and frustration.

Thanks for reading our guide to Playacar!  If you want to find out more about the Yucatán and the Riviera Maya, check out our First Timer’s Guide to Visiting the Riviera Maya and Cancun.

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Staying in Playacar

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