Top 15 Playa del Carmen Hidden Gems

I fell in love with Playa del Carmen, Mexico the first time I stepped on the seemingly endless stretches of soft white sand beaches and turquoise waters.  And after living here full time for the past decade, I’ve complied a list of the best venues off 5th Avenue often known only to locals.  From restaurants, stores, beaches and bars, discover the premier spots to spend your days in the Riviera Maya.  Travel more like a local, and enjoy these top 15 Playa del Carmen hidden gems.

Top 15 Hidden Gems in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Quick Links to the Top 15 Hidden Gems in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Map of Playa del Carmen's 15 Hidden Gems
Map of Playa del Carmen’s 15 Hidden Gems

Accommodations

  • Mareazul Condominiums – Residential condominium complex on the north side of Playa, complete with the largest pool in town, its own gym and beach club.  Plus, the Grand Coral Golf Course is next door.  So if you’re not basking on the seemingly endless span of white sand beach, you can be practicing your putt on the greens.  Location: Grand Coral at 120th Street, website: click here.
The Mareazul Condominiums in Playa del Carmen. There are about 300 units in this complex, and it was built in 2008.
The Mareazul Condominiums in Playa del Carmen. There are about 300 units in this complex, and it was built in 2008.

Bars

  • Dirty Martini – Come on Tuesday nights to enjoy half-priced martinis.  Among their extensive selection of drinks, make sure to order a cucumber martini.  Location: Calle 10 Nte between 10th and 12th, website: click here.
The Dirty Martini bar. On Tuesdays in February, try to arrive before 5:30pm to enjoy the 2 for 1 drinks. After that time, the line goes out the door.
The Dirty Martini bar. On Tuesdays in February, try to arrive before 5:30pm to enjoy the 2 for 1 drinks. After that time, the line goes out the door.
  • Zenzi – Beach bar with live music at night.  Stick your toes in the sand while enjoying ice cold margaritas.  Popular among local expats and business owners. Location: Calle 10, y la Playa, Centro, Tel. 01 984 803 5738, website: click here.
Zenzi beach bar, located right next to El Faro (the lighthouse). Arguably the busiest spot in town where local expats congregate.
Zenzi beach bar, located right next to El Faro (the lighthouse). Arguably the busiest spot in town where local expats congregate.

Beaches

  • Emeralda Beach – The most popular beach in Playa for the local Mexican population.  On Sundays it becomes very crowded, and is ideal for people watching.  Ramps have been set up to help the disabled.  Location: 110th Street and the beach.
88th Street Beach in Playa del Carmen. Bring your beach chair and umbrella as this stretch of beach does not have any lounge chairs or shade.
88th Street Beach in Playa del Carmen. Bring your beach chair and umbrella as this stretch of beach does not have any lounge chairs or shade.
  • 88th Street Beach – Quiet stretch of beach frequented mostly by locals.  Location: 88th Street and the beach.
88th Street Beach in Playa del Carmen. Bring your beach chair and umbrella as this stretch of beach does not have any lounge chairs or shade.
88th Street Beach in Playa del Carmen. Bring your beach chair and umbrella as this stretch of beach does not have any lounge chairs or shade.

Restaurants

  • Alux  – A uniquing dining experience in a 10,000 year old cave.  Savor contemporary Mexican and international cuisine while enjoying the colorfully lit stalactites and stalagmites.  Location: Av Benito Juárez Mz 217 Lt2, Ejidal, Tel. 01 984 206 1401, website: click here.
Alux, one of Playa del Carmen’s hidden gems. Allan and I took Allan’s grandson and his wife here for dinner during their honeymoon to Playa del Carmen.
Alux, one of Playa del Carmen’s hidden gems. Allan and I took Allan’s grandson and his wife here for dinner during their honeymoon to Playa del Carmen.
  • Carboncitos – Relish some of the best authentic Mexican food in Playa del Carmen while entertaining waiters serve stacks of margaritas balanced on their heads.  Location: Calle 4 Norte S/N, Centro, Tel. 01 984 873 1382, Website: click here.
Carboncitos Mexican Restaurant. Friends Cacki and Less pose with a waiter balancing 3 margaritas on his head.
Carboncitos Mexican Restaurant. Friends Cacki and Less pose with a waiter balancing 3 margaritas on his head.
  • Coco’s Cabañas –  Delicious mix of Mexican food with a European flair.  We love to come on Sunday nights for the live jazz.  Location: On the beach near the Princess Hotel, Tel. 52 998 874 7056, Website: click here.
Coco Cabanas - One of Playa del Carmen's hidden gems.
Coco Cabanas – One of Playa del Carmen’s hidden gems.
  • Cueva del Chango –  Feast on delicious Mexican food in a fun, garden setting.  In the fall make sue to order their chiles en nogada (stuffed poblano peppers with cream sauce). Location: 38 Norte Mz. 4 Lote 3, Zazil-ha, Tel.01 984 147 0271, Website: click here.
Cueva del Chango restaurant. Chango means monkey in Spanish. There used to be a monkey who lived in these trees (until he stumbled upon electrical wires).
Cueva del Chango restaurant. Chango means monkey in Spanish. There used to be a monkey who lived in these trees (until he stumbled upon electrical wires).
  • Food Carts on 15th and Juarez – Feast on a selection of delicious Mexican food at a series of food carts. From tacos, burritos and more, the selection is both appetizing and affordable.  Location:  Parque Portal Maya, corner of Av. Juarez and Av. 15.
The Food Carts on 15th and Juarez.
The Food Carts on 15th and Juarez.
  • Perla de la Pixan – Artesanal Mexican food with fresh, authentic flavors. This is one of my favorite dining spots in Playa del Carmen.  I especially love their duck huarache, a shredded duck open faced taco on a homemade corn tortilla with the best mole I’ve ever eaten.  Location: Calle 34 Norte between 5ta and 10, Tel. +52 984 120 2616, Website: click here.
Perla de la Pixan – luckily this place is only a few blocks from my house, so we go at least once a month.
Perla de la Pixan – luckily this place is only a few blocks from my house, so we go at least once a month.

Stores

  • Boxha Boc Coffee – Custom roasted Mexican coffee beans imported from all over the country.  Serena, the owner, has set up the family operation in her own home, selling coffee by appointment only.  Certainly it’s some of the best roasted coffee beans I’ve ever had.  Location: Edidal (call or email Serena for directions), Tel +52 984 206 2149, Email: cafeboxhaboc@prodigy.net.mx
Boxha Box Coffee. Friends and Marge and Neil guided me the first time to this unmarked gate in a residential neighborhood. I never would have found this place on my own.
Boxha Box Coffee. Friends and Marge and Neil guided me the first time to this unmarked gate in a residential neighborhood. I never would have found this place on my own.
  • Casa de las Hamacas – A vast selection of premier hammocks at affordable prices. If you want to buy a hammock in Playa, you should come here.  Location: 30 Avenida Norte MZA 274 LTE 13, Entre Calles 50 y 52, Luis Donaldo Colosio, Tel 01 984 859 0007
Casa de Las Hamacas Store. In Playa del Carmen many homes designed for locals come with hammock hooks. In fact, native Yucatecans tend to prefer sleeping in hammocks instead of in beds.
Casa de Las Hamacas Store. In Playa del Carmen many homes designed for locals come with hammock hooks. In fact, native Yucatecans tend to prefer sleeping in hammocks instead of in beds.
  • Fabrica de Vidrio Soplado – Blown glass factory and workshop offering a colorful section of glasses, dinner ware and other unique creations.  Location: Av Chemuyil Mz 26 Smz 70, La Toscana, Tel. 01 984 109 2212
Fabrica de Vidrio Soplado – These glasses serve as perfect gifts and pretty ways to impress your friends at dinner parties. At roughly a couple of bucks USD each, you really can’t go wrong.
Fabrica de Vidrio Soplado – These glasses serve as perfect gifts and pretty ways to impress your friends at dinner parties. At roughly a couple of bucks USD each, you really can’t go wrong.
  • Siete Detalles –  Boutique selling an interesting selection of authentic Mexican pottery and crafts at reasonable prices.  Location: Avenida 1 Norte lote 243, Tel. 01 984 879 4510
Siete Detalles – The owner obtains her merchandise from all over Mexico. In fact, I’ve got a set of her dishes in my home.
Siete Detalles – The owner obtains her merchandise from all over Mexico. In fact, I’ve got a set of her dishes in my home.

 

 

READ MORE ABOUT PLAYA DEL CARMEN

 How to find apartment rentals in Playa del Carmen.

My Top Favorite Things to do in Playa del Carmen

Your Complete Playa del Carmen Skydiving Guide, Including Which Company to Use

Follow:

2 Comments

  1. Chuck Heffernan
    March 18, 2019 / 9:25 am

    Great issue Matt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *