Some cruise ships arriving at Playa use smaller boats to tender passengers to the ferry terminal, which is conveniently located near the town's central plaza. After they drop off their passengers, the cruise ships often continue on to Cozumel. Passengers who stop at Playa return to their ship by taking the ferry from Playa to Cozumel.
Some cruise ships dock at Puerto Calica (sometimes called Punta Venado), a deepwater port about 8 mi/13 km south of Playa. There's not a lot to see around Puerto Calica, but there are usually buses and taxis waiting outside the cruise terminal. Expect to pay about US$10 for a taxi ride into Playa.
Printable map to take along.
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Today Playa del Carmen, or just 'Playa' as it is colloquially referred to, is the center of the Riviera Maya concept, which covers from Cancún to Tulum and the Sian Ka'an biosphere reserve. Playa is a stop for several cruise ships, which dock at the nearby Calica quarry docks, about six miles south of the city. A Mayan-themed "ecological theme park", Xcaret (pronounced "e-shcaret") is a popular tourist destination just south of the town. Tourist activity in Playa del Carmen centers on the Quinta Avenida, or Fifth Avenue stretching from calle 1 norte until calle 34, a pedestrian walkway located just one block inland from the beach, and lined with boutique hotels, shops, bars and restaurants.
A typical day in Playa, as the locals call it, can be spent relaxing under an umbrella propped along the breathtaking Mayan Riviera beaches sipping a margarita. The azure sea is the perfect temperature for a swim, and the ocean breeze is steady enough to keep you cool. Seaside bars and restaurants are located all along Playa del Carmen beaches and are the perfect place to kick off your shoes and enjoy lunch with your toes in the cool, white sand.
Tulum: If you have a long day then you might consider a city bus. The bus depot is in PdC boardwalk and it costs about $3.00 per person one way. Drops you off on the main highway and you walk half a mile to Tulum. Entrance fee is about $12.00.
Catch a collectivo bus to snorkel the lagoons at Xcaret or Xel Ha.
Take the ferry to Cozumel and dive in the world-famous reef. Tip: When you buy your ticket, DO NOT buy round trip. If you buy a roundtrip ticket you are only allowed to leave at the designated return time on the ticket. Buy a one way and then another one way when you're ready to return so you can come back as you wish.
Buses from Playa del Carmen to downtown Cancun depart every 15 minutes.
It pays to compare your cruise line shore excursions here.
If you prefer a more serene atmosphere, Akumal and Tulum are a short distance away. You might want to spend a day visiting the historical churches and buildings of colonial Valladolid.
The currency of Mexico is the peso (MXN). The symbol for pesos is the same as for US dollars, which can be slightly confusing. Prices in dollars (in tourist areas) are labeled "US$" or sport an S with a double stroke. There are about 17 peso to 1US$.
US dollars are widely accepted in the far north and in tourist locales elsewhere.
Credit cards are not as widely accepted as in Europe or the USA. Some companies make an extra charge of around 5% on such transactions.
Spanish is the main language.
Cafes which offer free WiFi for customers are scattered all over town, so finding one is no problem. Two of the closest ones to the ferry pier are Atomic Internet Cafe on 8th Street between 5th and 10th Avenues and Cyberia on 4th Street at 15th Avenue.
Mon-Sun 1000/1100-2000/2200 (big towns and cities); Mon-Fri 0900-1400/1600 (rest of the country).
Easter is widely observed nationwide, according to the yearly Catholic calendar (the first Sunday after the first full moon in Spring
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