Playa del Carmen is recognized for its many shops, restaurants, and nightlife along its popular main street that parallels the beaches called La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue). This pedestrian walkway has a variety of stores with European fashions, Cuban cigar shops, arts and crafts shops, trendy bars, and upscale restaurants. The walkway fascinates passersby with its mix of performers, such as fire breathers, painted mimes, musicians, and other atypical street theater.
5th Avenue (Quinta Avenida) is the main street that runs parallel to the ocean. It’s around 500 meters from the water. In between the water and 5th are hotels, resorts, Bed & Breakfasts, Inns, Rentals, vacational clubs, and restaurants. It is commonly referred to as, “Playa del Carmen’s Pedestrian Walkway”.
Along 5th Avenue you will find numerous stores selling interesting items as well as restaurants and hotels. There are clothing stores selling the latest trends from Europe as well as Cuban Cigar and Rum stores. It is a vibrant atmosphere reminiscent of a carnival. We have seen live lions, fire breathers, giant boa constrictors and a cavalcade of characters parading down 5th.
There are also lots of bars along 5th making it a good place to party. The after hour clubs swing into action after 12:00. These clubs are located on the beach away from the majority of hotels and resorts because of the noise level.
Intersecting with 5th are streets that all lead to the beach. Along many of these streets are dive-shops, convenience stores, hotels, resorts, tour operators, Internet cafes, coffe shops, currency exchanges, and restaurants. All the beaches in Playa del Carmen are open to the public.
Playa’s beaches are nice. Along 5th, in the tourist zone the beaches are all clean white sand, not white powder. There is some coral but not much. There are also a number of snorkeling, dive and fishing boats ready to take you out.
The Playa del Carmen beaches closest to the ferry docks are the busiest and you have to walk either north or south to find seclusion. Outside the tourist zone the beaches are lined with jungle.
The restaurants along fifth are mostly Italian but there are American, latin american, international restaurants and Mexican restaurants that cook American style food with some Mexican dishes. Off 5th on any of the intersecting streets that head away from the beach you will start to find Mexican restaurants as well as numerous Italian cafes.