I was so excited to be heading over to Mexico, home of my favourite food, my favourite drinks and my favourite thing, adventure! It was my partners friend’s birthday, so we decided to go all out and book an all inclusive, adults only hotel in the heart of Playa. This resort is located on the Yucatan peninsula, right on the Caribbean shores.
We flew into Cancun after bottomless mimosa and drag brunch the day before in LA. We had booked transport through Booking.com which was quick and easy, Cancun is a busy airport though so be prepared to wait as they find somewhere to park. Luckily they sell Margaritas as soon as you leave the airport, so we got two huge frozen ones to share for the hour long journey.
We stayed at The Reef 28, a relatively new hotel found right in the centre of Playa, with a rooftop pool, 3 restaurants and a snack bar it was perfect for what we wanted. We spent many an evening playing pool, giant jenga and card games on the rooftop. It was also just 5 minutes walk to the beach, and Quinta Avenida or 5th Ave the next street over.
Here are a few fun things to do in and around Playa Del Carmen….
This sprawling mecca of all things Mexico goes for at least 2km and is filled with restaurants, bars and shops. It’s a vibrant place and no visit to Playa is complete without a wander along here.
There is literally something for everyone, Senor Frogs for the Spring Breakers, up to classier restaurants like Catch and everything in between. Prices can vary from bar to bar so make sure you check a few out before deciding where your first margarita or tequila will be! I love street art and there were so many cool pieces dotted about as we wandered up.
You can check out the Frida Kahlo museum full of information about the famous Mexican painter, 3D museum of wonders or just tequila taste and souvenir shop! If you want something a bit more chill head to 10th ave, the next street over for restaurants and bars without the big crowds or for a big party 1st Ave is the place to be with 3 big bars/clubs on one corner.
For a little bit of culture/relaxation Parque Los Fundadores is a lovely little green space found on one end of the avenue. There’s an impressive bronze archway here, an adorable white church and traditional Mayan performances. Grab some fresh fruit from one the vendors, sit back and enjoy the shows!
The beach at Playa is beautiful, white sand and clear waters, but it’s not the biggest due to development going almost right to the water and lots of areas filled with boats. Instead take a 30 minute walk or catch a bus to Playacar.
This gated and upmarket community has the best beach we visited. The water was warm and so blue, with palm trees lining the powdery white sand. Luckily The Reef has a sister hotel here we could use which was amazing, cocktails , ice cream and a huge lunch buffet to enjoy!
Make sure you stop off and explore some mini ruins on the walk there or back, just as you enter Playacar from the beach at Playa Del Carmen you can spot them, including a crazy palm tree that is growing sideways then vertically! It’s a nice little addition to a fun walk, and Iguanas are sunbathing on the ancient rocks.
This tropical island is found just 30 minuets by ferry from Playa. Get your tickets down near Parque Los Fundadores and head over for a great little day trip.
The ferries leave every hour on the hour which is simple to remember. There’s a wonderful square here where you can get some food and drinks, but if you head down the coast towards the South of the island you can find amazing snorkelling opportunites!
Unfortunately we arrived there on the same day as 5 huge cruise ships did, so taxi prices were super inflated so we didn’t make it as far as Playa El Cielo where there’s meant to be incredible snorkelling just off the beach with a natural reef.
Instead we walked along the road to find a beach club we could eat and swim from. It ended up being a great afternoon as we found El Cid La Ceiba beach! We had a great lunch here, beautiful quesadillas and then got to lounge on the jetty, with hammocks in the water, and hundreds of fish to marvel at while we snorkelled. Locals were chilling out here too which I always think is a good impression of somewhere.
The bar even has it’s own mascot, Cid the Pig! After swimming and relaxing here we walked back, spotting Pelicans diving into the water and Iguanas sun baking. A lot of locals were swimming in the rock pools along the street here too. Then we watched the sunset from the boat as flying fish scattered ahead of us.
Gay Playa Del Carmen
As our group consisted of 3 gay men, I had to have a little section on the gay scene here. While not huge, there’s definitely a lot going on. The main bar/club is Bar69 found just off 5th Ave down a side street. This place was pretty quiet in the week but on the weekend it was full!
They had drag queen performances and Gogo dancers, just make sure you have Pesos for the cover charge and drinks. We felt really safe in Playa and didn’t get any hassle when holding hands or arms around each other while walking along 5th Ave. There’s a good row of cash machines on 10th Ave. Don’t trust the ATMs on 5th they charge loads and most only give out USD.
There were also a couple of bars on Calle 6 which were gay friendly, and Billy Gin which an instagram friend 2minionsontour recommended. This was a great little place for a few drinks before heading to bar69. It was great to meet someone who actually had been living there so we got loads of great advice from Jeroen.
There are soooo many activities and trips you can take from Playa. All the different cenotes (sinkholes you can swim in) Mayan ruins like Coba and Chichen Itza (Which we did) plus activity parks, diving and boat trips. Check out Flamingogaytours and meridagaytours for gay friendly tours all around the Yucatan peninsula!
We had such a great time in Playa, and we would love to visit again one day and see some more of the scenery and snorkelling opportunities. The all inclusive was perfect for what we wanted, but some of our best meals were when we headed out and did some exploring. My favourite street was Calle 38, it was so different to everywhere else, lined with trees and the coolest looking restaurants.
We ate at Amate 38 and it was so good! Lots of veggie options and we got to try some excellent Mezcal surrounded by nature. Check out my link to the Chichen Itza tour and doing a Tulum tour ourselves coming soon HERE.