Playa del Carmen is located on the Riviera Maya, the stretch of Mexican Caribbean coast earmarked for tourist development which lies between Cancun in the north, and the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve in the south.
The city, once a small fishing community, has endured a phenomenal rate of growth over the past 20 years and, from being little more than a staging post on the way to Cozumel Island it is now a sizeable metropolis bathed by the clear, warm turquoise-blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Whatever the impact mass tourism has had on Playa del Carmen the city has managed to retain a charm of its own due to reasonable building ordinances and by nurturing an expatriate community that adds a cosmopolitan flavor to the local – mainly Mayan, but with strong influences from all over this diverse nation – culture and lifestyle. For better or for worse it is in Mexico, but it isn’t Mexico.
What it can boast of, for sure, is the wealth and variety of diving available. From the richness and sheer numbers of the marine life on our side of the Cozumel Channel, to the visibility and astounding drift diving along the majestic coral walls of Cozumel Island world class reef diving is never farther than a boat ride away. The unique geology and natural history of the vast network of freshwater caves - accessed through the numerous Yucatan Peninsula cenotes - give the Riviera Maya an unparalleled status in the world of cavern and cave diving and make it always fresh and exciting to all levels of scuba divers.
Transport – Playa del Carmen is reasonably well served by a network of road transport ranging from modern air-conditioned intercity buses to private transfer companies. Taxis and local minibuses are plentiful and cheap (always ask the price before riding a taxi!) but do not expect standards of driving similar to what you may count on back home. Car hire starts at around $400 Mexican Pesos per day with smaller rental companies. If you haven’t made special arrangements take the ADO coach from Cancun airport (there’s a ticket stand outside Terminal 2) to the Playa del Carmen terminal on Avenida Juarez and Quinta Avenida. If you are travelling up from the border with Belize you can also hop on an ADO coach at Chetumal to make the four hour trip to Playa in comfort. In Playa you can simply walk or bike it – definitely the best way to get around town after sampling the local nightlife. You can rent decent bikes here. You may also buy a new bicycle from around $1000 Pesos and resell it when you leave here, or donate it to an animal shelter, for instance. There are also some used bikes for sale. Write in and we’ll be glad to give you all the information we can.
Distances – 68km/42m separate Cancun from Playa del Carmen (that’s a 45 minute ADO bus ride). Tulum lies 63km/39 m to the south and it’s a mere 18km/11m swim over to/from Cozumel.
Accommodation – from $300 US Dollars/month for a modest studio on the edge of the town centre, to swanky apartments at $3000 US Dollars/month, to luxury condos starting at $300 US Dollars/night, you’re spoilt for choice. We live here and always know of decent places to stay while you’re training. We can point you in the right direction, or help you with the details before you settle the deal. Just ask us.
Food – one of our favorite subjects. There´s an amazing range to chose from, from cheap and cheerful, to posh and pricey: Mexican everything? Argentinean steaks? Italian pasta? French croissants? German… food? Apart from what the many restaurants, holes-in-the-wall and street carts have on offer you can buy an amazing range of fresh produce and groceries from the many local shops and from the big supermarkets.
Shopping – for diving equipment, that is. We advise you to bring your own. However, at Mexico Blue Dream we have a good range of basic equipment and accessories covering all types of diving found in the Riviera Maya. We stock all the equipment you’ll need for your Divemaster course or your IDC program at special prices for our GoPro candidates. Afterwards, should you decide to stay in the area and get employed locally as a dive professional we’ll continue to offer you great deals on equipment and continuing education, including technical and cave courses. We can even put together a custom package for you; just tell us what you need when you get here.