Playa del Carmen continues to compete with Cancun as the main tourist destination in the Mexican Caribbean

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There is no doubt that Cancun has long been one of the favorite vacation destinations in Mexico among foreign tourists, but Playa del Carmen has continued to compete with Cancun as one of the main vacation destinations in the Mexican Caribbean. The city has received its fair share of tourists from the United States, Canada and Europe this year and continues to fill its hotel rooms even during the off-season months. Some tourism officials even suggest that Playa del Carmen could overtake Cancun in the number of tourists visiting the popular city.

Busy Playa del Carmen beach

Playa del Carmen is located on the Caribbean coast of the Riviera Maya region and is also, like Cancun, part of the state of Quintana Roo. The city is about an hour’s drive from Cancun. Tourists vacationing in Playa del Carmen fly into Cancun International Airport and then take a taxi, shuttle, or other form of transportation from the airport.

View of the city from Playa

A private shuttle will cost around $65 and take the typical hour to get there. A taxi can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 with roughly the same travel time. A shared ride is only about $25, but the ride could take twice as long. And the ADO bus is the cheapest option but it will take you about an hour and a half to travel.

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Sea View Beach

According to data from the Ministry of Tourism recently shared by the municipal president of Solidarity, Lili Campos, Playa del Carmen had two particularly busy periods of time this year. During the week of the Holy Week holiday, the city received 543 thousand visitors and during the summer months, 1.3 million tourists vacationed in Playa del Carmen. These two weeks alone placed the city further ahead than expected with respect to tourism figures.

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Beach Beach

Playa del Carmen has much of the same to offer as Cancun but on a smaller level, with a population of only around 150,000 compared to Cancun’s 600,000 residents. Cancun also has a more vibrant nightlife than its smaller counterpart and as such is often more sought after by younger tourists. Both places have family-friendly options, and aside from a slight variance in hotel costs, everything else is similarly priced.

Boats in Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is known for its stunning beaches, beautiful coral reefs, and a more relaxed atmosphere compared to larger destinations like Cancun. In addition to the many beaches and the usual water sports enjoyed by visitors to the Mexican Caribbean, there are also many tours that can be taken from the city. Cenotes, Mayan ruins, adventure parks and more are just a short drive away and there are all kinds of tours that will take you to these places.

Shopping in Playa del Carmen

Ride a buggy or ATV through the jungle and stop for a swim in a cenote or zipline through the trees. Enjoy the unspoiled beauty of Isla Holbox with a day trip to the paradise island. Take one of the many food tours to sample authentic Mexican cuisine. Or experience your adventurous side by snorkeling, scuba diving, or swimming with whale sharks.

carmen beach statue

No matter where you go in the Mexican Caribbean, adventure awaits you around every corner. This is why places like Playa del Carmen continue to grow in popularity and compete with even the most popular tourist destinations like Cancun. A visit to either location is sure to result in the vacation of a lifetime and memories that will last forever as well.

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