Nomads of Playa del Carmen
We won’t claim Playa del Carmen is an undiscovered gem known only to a few. It’s not. The once pristine backpacker hideout has exploded into a sprawling city which in some ways rivals Cancun in terms of tourist overload. Expat housing developments, malls, posh restaurants and designer shops have replaced the solitary dune-backed beaches of yore. There’s even a huge Walmart!!!
So why does the town pop up over and over again on so many travel blogs from Wandering Earl to Never Ending Voyage to Travel with Bender? The answer to that question is that the town provides a modern infrastructure with monthly apartment rentals, excellent Internet, and fantastic transportation options. It also has some pretty impressive beaches, especially to the north. It’s the perfect base from which to explore the Mayan Riviera. Playa, like Berlin and Chiang Mai, seems to have become a nomadic hub. Not a shabby place to get some work done.
In fact, when we came to Playa del Carmen, fellow nomads and friends Kit and Nick from Seek New Travel established themselves here as well (lead pic). And there are several newbie bloggers getting their start here. But not everybody loves it. 91 Days chose to base themselves in more authentic Merida instead, but they did spend some time here on their way to Cozumel.
Playa del Carmen is definitely not perfect. Like all large beach towns, it struggles to keep beach erosion and algae growth in check. If you’re here for a week in an expensive beach resort, pray there isn’t a seaweed die-off. But if you set off north or south, the coast is still quite beautiful and you can find a nice stretch of white sand to call your own.
And all that development means that you can find whatever you need. I think the food options are much better here than in Cancun, and there are tons of cafes, coffee houses and bars to hang out in and make some friends. You also have an unlimited supply of tourist crap shops, which can be fun to walk through to giggle at the garbage that people buy as souvenirs (sometimes humanity scares me).
More importantly for us, Playa has the dive facilities to dive the world famous cenotes located nearby as well as local reefs and the reefs off Cozumel. A range of packages are available. (More on that in an upcoming post).
A bit of practical info, many of the nomads arrange long-term accommodation through Liz Aceves. Liz found us a perfect little apartment in the north of Playa. Here’s her contact info: