Playa Del Carmen 5th Avenue
…where it all begins…
Fifth Avenue is not only the primary attraction in Playa Del Carmen – it is quite simply a crossroads.
Fifth Avenue is the heart of Playa Del Carmen.
If Playa Del Carmen was a lavish lollipop, Fifth Avenue would be that nice creamy filling that you would find after you sucked your way to the center.
To both the residents and tourists alike, Fifth Avenue is a diverse cesspool that keeps giddy tourists grinning and locals living leisurely.
It is an amalgam of cultures and cuisines. Its spectrum spans the six habitable continents of the world.
At the edge of the Yucatan Peninsula, right on the Caribbean, it’s also a meeting place of influences from Mexican, American, Caribbean, Central American and even South American cultures.
Far from being exclusive or elitist, everyone is accepted here.
Whatever you do, don’t overdress. Not only will you stand out like a disenchanted dork, but you may be uncomfortable to boot.
Remember: Comfort is King in Playa Del Carmen.
Are you looking for an adventure?
Follow me, and by the way, welcome to Fifth Avenue!!!
FIFTH AVENUE MAP
NOTE: Fifth Avenue extends further north than the red line shows. However, this is not part of the “tourist-friendly” zone and becomes non-commercial around 46th Street (also known as CTM Street).
5th Avenue History
As you may know, Playa Del Carmen started out as a small fishing village and artists’ colony.
From that time forward, it grew exponentially as a tourist destination.
Since then, it has consistently been ranked as one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico – and even the world.
What many visitors don’t realize is that the government and local community have actually tried to preserve that original character.
That’s probably why it’s not your typical cookie-cutter beach resort.
It still has the charm of a small Mexican beach town.
It is the only centrally-planned city in Mexico (“what? cental planning?” – unheard of in this country).
Moreover, the city does not allow buildings more than four stories tall.
Believe me, it is very rare for Mexicans to plan anything – especially limiting a city’s growth for the sake of charisma when there is cash involved!!!
Personally, that’s one of the things I first loved about Playa Del Carmen–and 5th Avenue in particular.
Here, both the beach and the Fifth Avenue experience is for all to enjoy. That’s the way it should be.
NOTE: In order to keep the area safe and tourist friendly, vehicles are not allowed on Fifth Avenue; it is only accessible to pedestrians.
Fifth Avenue also runs parallel to the beach.
FIFTH AVENUE VIDEO – FUN VIDEO!!! WATCH IT!!!
From insanely low-priced authentic Mexican food, all the way up to restaurants befitting Hollywood clientele, it is all here: Italian, American, Argentinean, fusion, and of course, Mexican.
FACT: There is intense competition on Fifth Avenue. By extension, most of the restaurants serve at least one delicious dish.
However, not all of it is authentic food from original sources.
The best way to find the most delicious food in this city is to go on a Playa Del Carmen food tour.
Speaking of food tours……
If You Don’t Go On a Food Tour, Start Here
A conundrum…. And a solution!
There is one thing that I can promise: You will be overwhelmed by the amount of restaurants on Fifth Avenue.
Watch some videos on YouTube about Fifth Avenue. You will see what I mean.
Unless you are staying here for several months, there is no way that you will have time to visit them all.
In order to save you as much time as possible, I have put together a list of the best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen.
Not all of them are located on Fifth Avenue. However, any exceptions are very close.
If you are going to eat out only 10 times throughout your trip, I would recommend eating at these places before considering anywhere else.
Their food is so delicious. You won’t want to miss them.
For convenience, I have relisted them here:
- Carboncitos (Best Mexican – in Hotel Cielo)
- Ajua Maya (Best Mayan/Mexican – 2 locations) (**PERMANENTLY CLOSED**)
- Yaxche Mayan Cuisine (Best Mayan)
- Como Como (Best Italian)
- El Diez (Best Argentinian)
- Manne’s Biergarten (Best for cheapskates–but a FUN PLACE FOR FOOD AND DRINKS!! Two blocks off 5th Avenue.)
This list is neither comprehensive nor complete. There are no rules when it comes to eating – only guidelines and suggestions.
Trust me. You will absolutely love the restaurants above!
Also, remember that tipping in Mexico is different than in the United States and other parts of the world! (HINTS: You shouldn’t ever tip more than 10% at any restaurant! Also exchange your money for pesos before visiting ANY restaurant in Playa! You will get ripped off if you don’t!)
In addition to the amazing food, Fifth Avenue represents a great place for both tourists and locals to shop. You can find almost anything here.
A diamond ring for the betrothal on the beach? Easy!.
Souvenirs for all your second cousins? No problem!
Hundreds of varieties of tequila from Tampica? Covered!
On Fifth Avenue, you can also shop at upscale outlets like Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss, or you can choose to visit department stores with all the services from home.
Don’t forget to stop at the kiosks selling handmade crafts from local artisans. (There’s no shortage of Mexicans selling authentic wares as souvenirs.)
NOTE: I would recommend buying at least one souvenir with the words “Playa Del Carmen” on it–just in case you consume too many Coronas the night before and forget where you are. (KIDDING.)
Over and above the saturation of sombreros and souvenirs always on sale, you can also find unexpected offerings.
Was your iPod stolen the moment you stepped off the plane? (Note: Take care with expensive belongings. This is Mexico, after all.)
No worries: There’s an Apple Store right on 5th Avenue.
Did you decide last minute to climb the pyramid at Coba, but didn’t bring climbing shoes?
Problem solved: There’s an REI on 5TH Avenue. It has all the exploring accessories you might imagine.
With its hodgepodge of offerings, 5th Avenue is truly a meeting place of touristy comforts and local flavors.
CAUTION: Just make sure you don’t go flashing your money around–or the stuff you buy with it. Locals have a tendency to think all foreigners deliver dollars like Bill Gates. Many of them would be all too happy to help you unload that mountain of money.
As most of you already know, I like to drink. Fortunately, I found the perfect place to do it!
If you’re looking to party in Playa, Fifth Avenue is a fine place to be.
Although Playa Del Carmen is not as “in-your-face” as Cancun, to be sure, there are plenty of places to besiege your sobriety and pay homage to the all-forgiving and formidable deity, Dionysus.
Unlike eating at a restaurant (which you can only do up to three times a day), there is no limitation on how many bars and clubs you can visit.
For your convenience, I have created several lists that will help you make the right decisions about which places to patronize:
I would like to tell you that you have to be careful in Playa Del Carmen, that you have to maintain a conservative composure, and that you shouldn’t drink yourself into oblivion…….I would like to tell you that…..I really would.
However, it would only be vicious and venomous verbiage.
Playa Del Carmen is a very safe place.
Because of the many other tourists–and a broad base of diversity–you will feel comfortable no matter what your blood alcohol level is at.
Don’t get into any fights, though – it is not worth it, and you don’t want to end up in a Mexican jail!
For a guy who likes to kick back like me, 5th Avenue is the place to be seen.
It’s close enough to the beach to make your way over after a satisfying day in the sun.
It’s upscale enough to buy diamond rings, souvenirs, and fashionable attire.
Finally, it has food to die for, and the partygoers don’t retire until the sun rises.
You won’t regret time spent on Fifth Avenue.
The year-round beach weather makes it an eternal destination that can be difficult to divert yourself from.
And if you happen to fall in love with one of the local lovelies, or bed one of the bountiful bellas, it’s certainly not the most hellacious place to hail as home.
Worst case scenario: There are plenty of beach bars where you could make some bucks–a la Tom Cruise in Cocktail.
I hope to see you all on Fifth Avenue soon!!!
Lots of love,
It’s your turn. Do you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for visitors about Fifth Avenue? Leave them in the comments section below!