We visited Playa del Carmen over New Year’s and the first two weeks of January, and as always in Playa, we have fun finding new places to go and still love some old favourites.
Fusion at sunset
Fusion Beach Bar – on the beach in the heart of old Playa, Fusion is a place we go several times each visit. During the day it is a great place to lay in the sun, have lunch and and people watch. At night, Fusion is beautifully lit with candles and lights and you sit right on the beach to watch live bands each night under the stars. Address: 6 Norte S/N Centro
Dirty Martini – our favourite go to bar in Playa just renovated to double its space and is just as charming as before. Home to many expats living in Playa, Dirty Martini is famous for martini’s and its friendly staff. After walking 5th Ave with thousands of people we ended up at Dirty partying on the street for New Year’s Eve! Address: 1ra Avenida entre calle 10 y 12
Kool Beach and Pool Bar – you can rent a chair on the beach for the day (about $5) or sit by the beautiful pool bar for the day which has a DJ that starts mid to late afternoon. My favourite things to have at Kool are the Fish Tacos and any of the sushi rolls, delicious!
To sit at the pool you definitely have to enjoy dance music spinning by the DJ and a lot of people. On busy days like New Years Day when we were at Kool to get a seat you need to order bottle service so be prepared!
El F0gon – this is my favourite local ‘tacoria’ or (lovingly called) street meat place in Playa. Everything on the menu is meat, it’s cheap and it is delicious! You will usually have to wait in line a few minutes but it is worth it (there’s a mariachi band to listen to on the weekends) – I always have the grande margarita and the archerra steak fajitas! Address: Calle 6th & 30th Ave
La Bodeguita – relocated on the newer North end of 5th ave this cuban bar is pure energy; a 10 piece live band plays as salsa dancers take the floor and this is definitely the place to get a freshly made mojito. Forget the quesadillas – the authentic cuban food on the menu is what to order. Address: 5ta Av esqu. Con 34 norte
Akumal – we rented a car for our entire trip this time so we made sure to use it to take some day trips. Akumal is an old fishing village located 30 minutes from Playa and is so worth a trip. We went snorkelling in a fresh water lagoon called Yal Ku in a protected park and it was an amazing experience I would completely recommend! We wandered through the village of Akumal and spent the remainder of the day on the beach of Half Moon Bay where you can see turtles just off the beach while snorkelling.
For Top 5 Playa del Carmen experiences from my 2011 trip.
Salsa Rosa - located on the same side street as Piola (above) Salsa is a small indoor-outdoor bar with a great staff serving up creative martinis and cocktails with a small tapas menu. The north end of 5th Ave continues to grow so Salsa is definitely one of the new trendier bars. Address: 38 Norte, 5 Avenida Norte
Club de la Cerveza - a quaint casual bar with a fantastic patio (and the owner is a great DJ) on the north end of 5th serving up an international beer menu, many of which are from micro breweries in Mexico. I tried out some of the Cucipa brand beers from Mexico and absolutely loved them! Address: entre 34 y 38 Norte, 5 Avenida Norte
Chez Celine – a lovely French boulangerie pâtisserie serves fresh pastries, croissants amazing expressos and cappuccinos and decadent brunch and sandwiches. I loved sitting on the outdoor patio watching people go by in the mornings. Address: Av. 5 and Calle 34.
Imprevist - definitely our new favourite place to eat (3 times this trip!) Imprevist is a small and chic restaurant with a few outdoor tables on a quaint street I love (across from my favourite candle shop) the food is inspired and amazing – and affordable! I would definitely recommend the Duck with vanilla mashed potatoes or the Quail and Wild Mushroom Risotto, insider tip; have the sticky toffee pudding if on the menu! Imprevist also serves one of the best breakfasts in Playa every day with all items at $14 each (you get more than you pay for!). Address: 1 Ave entre 16 Nrte y 14 Nrte calle
Bijou Bijou Jewellery – I have followed the Mexican artist in Playa since 2006 that now sells his jewelry along with an Argentinian artist at Bijou Bijou and I am in love with their one of a kind pieces. Located in the Plaza at the end of 5th near the entrance to Playacar I visit every trip!
Travel Tips for Playa Del Carmen
Credit card/cash - When you travel to Playa at high season (Christmas and New Years) as we did for the first time this year we learned some lessons. Many small restaurants, bars and local venues did not take credit card, and, On New Year’s Eve, all the banks and bank machines literally ran out of cash leaving line ups of people unhappy – be prepared!
Car rental – we learned that when renting a car (probably anywhere not just Playa) you need to read the fine print; the promoted price will not include the insurance coverage that per day can be more than the car rental per day so just be aware!