Monday, October 02, 2006

Riviera Maya Journal 2 #7 - Playa del Carmen

The bustling beach town of Playa del Carmen is located in the center of the the Riviera Maya. From the north (Cancun) it's about a 45-minute drive down 307. You can enter Playa on the northern end via Avenida Constituyentes, or through the center of town using Avenida Juarez.

Both of these main thoroughfares lead to the popular shopping district known as 5th Avenue (locals call it Avenida Quinta or La Quinta). 5th Avenue is a mile-long pedestrian-friendly street that's packed with shops, stores, restaurants, cantinas and boutique hotels. There are several modestly-priced public parking lots conveniently located near Avenida Constituyentes and Juarez, and street parking is often available along 4th and 6th Avenues. If you're traveling by cab, just have the driver drop you at one end or the other and start walking.

Overwhelming as 5th Avenue can be at first, it's virtually impossible to get lost in here. An excursion to 5th Avenue is most fun starting in the early evening. After 6:00 p.m. the sun starts setting and the temperature drops accordingly. Restaurant owners entice you into their establishments, strolling mariachi musicians entertain at a moment's notice, and the neon signs cast their their colorful glow over the street.

You'll pay a little bit more for all the ambience here, but not that much. Food and souvenirs may run 10-15% higher, but it's worth it. 5th Avenue offers a family-friendly environment and is an extremely clean and safe place to spend an afternoon or evening.
-Larry Widen