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March 15, 2022

Honest Photo and Travel Guide To Playa Del Carmen Mexico

Honest guide to Playa Del Carmen Mexico with Annie Miller

If you looking for something between the influencer vibe of Tulum, and the over touristic Cancún, Playa Del Carmen MIGHT be for you. I say MIGHT for a reason.

We chose Playa Del Carmen because Cancún is just a tad too touristy for us, and I just can’t with what I’ve seen of Tulum – a haven for influencers. If that’s your vibe, YOU DO YOU. Truly, bless. We wanted a more relaxed option with a *maybe* a bit more Mexican character. That’s how we found PDC.

Getting to Playa Del Carmen

$160pp first class all included – layover in MCMX – the first class from Mex to PDC was VERY NICE. It almost felt wasted on an hour and 40 minute flight. Full recline chairs, in their own pods. I say “wasted” but I wouldn’t NOT choose to do it again. Especially for the price.

Car Rental: We rented via enterprise. They (and all other companies) have a shuttle from the airport. It’s a straight shot from the air port to PDC.

HotelANTERA (with private rooftop jacuzzi). We booked this trip last minute. So perhaps look for a beach front property. By the time we looked, beach front hotels were upwards of $300/night and we just weren’t willing to pay that.

You’ll see I give you beach options below…but we just bought some beer and glued ourselves to this private roof top most of the time.

Antera Hotel in Playa del Carmen Mexico
Roof top at Antera hotel

Beach Day

If you want better beaches than that of PDC, that might mean staying in PDC, heading to Tulum, Cancún…or….for a less influencer infested feel, head to Akumal.

Central Akumal Beach is lined with beachside shops, restaurants, dive shops, and homey beachfront accommodations.

  1. North Akumal Beach – close to Yal-Ku
  2. Jade Bay – a residential area.

We didn’t do this due to time (and having our private roof top for sunbathing and relaxation), but we 100% would have chose to head to Akumel seeing that we had a car.

Iguana in Mexico by Annie Miller
bright blue waters in Playa del Carmen Mexico
Annie Miller in Playa del Carmen Mexico

Ruins Day

If Mexico provides in any area, it’s ruins. We hit up Coba and Chichen Itza. I wanted to visit the Tulum Ruins but as of May 9th, 2021 they were closed indefinitely.

You can book through your hotel, or drive on your own.

Chichen Itza:

It is located 2.5 hours away from PDC. We added an additional 40 minutes and then 30 minutes (an hour and 10 minutes). This was due to selecting tolls route, the main road being closed, followed by faulty detours. Chichen opened at 8am, we arrived at 12:30. Not ideal. We don’t suggest this.

Cost was $588 pesos per person. They said cash or card was available but once we arrived they were only accepting cash. So I’d just be prepared with cash, or pay ahead of time through your hotel.

This attraction is can be a VERY quick stop, or you can take your time (2 hours at the location maybe? With a tour). Even with almost 4,000 visitors per day, I was surprised to see how much open space there was around the main pyramid to take photos.

We parked on the road, walked 600m in to the main entrance. Then it’s maybe 100m walk to the ruins. Be sure to check up to date hours of Chichen Itza.

The first four photos below are Chichen Itza and I didn’t even have to erase any humans. Mid day it was packed but somehow pretty easy to get clear photos. Just be a bit patient!


We left Chichen Itza at 1:25pm in hopes of arriving at Coba before 2:30pm. You’re required to arrive by 4:30pm; and the attraction closes at 5pm.

Annie Miller visiting the ruins outside Playa del Carmen
visiting Chichen Itza in Mexico
Exploring Chichen Itza with Annie Miller
Exploring the ruins in Mexico with Annie Miller
Annie Miller exploring the ruins in Mexico

Food in Playa Del Carmen

…Was lacking. In comparison with other cities we’ve visited in Mexico, the food in PDC left something to be desired. But I suppose you’re coming here for the sun and beaches? With that, we suggest:

Yum Yum (breakfast, coffee, smoothies)

La fisheria (seafood – get a whole fish)

Lara & Luca (breakfast)

Tour or other options from Playa Del Carmen

Isla Mujeres – Known for Playa Norte, one of the most pristine beaches, Isla Mujeres is 1.5 hours from Playa del Carmen.

Cozumel Island – A 40-minute ferry cruise from Playa del Carmen will take you to Cozumel Island. One of the best diving regions of the world – you can dive to see underwater coral reef!

Like the travel posts? Want to visit Playa del Carmen? Pin these and save it for later!

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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