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If you’re looking for music, dancing, people watching and a good time, you can find all of them in Playa del Carmen. Playa is not Cancun. The wild spring break nightlife is generally not found here, but there are plenty of fun places to spend the evening, including the big disco type clubs found in Cancun, beach fire shows, dance clubs and quiet bars good for conversations.
As with most things in Playa del Carmen, nightlife centers either on or near Fifth Avenue or on the beach. Easily found on foot or by taxi. By no means a comprehensive list. Here are some of the highlights:
There are plenty of great places to get a drink on 5th Avenue. In the north end, you will find Feliz Hora (Happy Hour) between Calles 26 and 28.
Pez Vela Calle 2 y 5th Ave, grab a swing at the bar, always good for conversation with other visitors.
End Zone, one of several sports bars, features big screen televisions and serves sandwiches. 5th Avenue between 12th and 14th Streets.
Heading south on Fifth Avenue, you’ll find the Deseo rooftop bar between Calles 12 and 10. Ultramodern and hip, it features a totally alfresco bar. In addition to chairs, they offer double beds for lounging with friends, many with flowing white linen curtains. You can also take a dip in the rooftop pool, all the while watching 20’s and 30’s silent movies projected onto the adjacent wall. Cool is the operative term here. On the same block is the legendary Tequila Barrel. Sit out front on the street-side lounge and watch the Fifth Avenue nightly promenade. Or move to the interior and watch American sports on the TVs. If you really want to get adventuresome, move into the back where the dance floor features a pole normally found in locales with exotic dancers.
Continuing south, you’ll find the Fah bar between Calle 10 and 8, located in the Siesta Fiesta hotel. Again, an outdoor sidewalk venue, Fah features live music most nights, usually bands covering American rock/pop tunes.
On Fifth Ave between Calle 6 & 4 you will find Roof Bar & Restaurant. It is a nice mellow and friendly bar hidden in an alleyway that serves some great Ceviche. It's a nice mix of locals, ex-pats, and tourists chatting away, trading stories and advice. The staff are super friendly and their attitude seems to be contagious to the patrons.
All the way at the end of Fifth Avenue, in the Paseo del Carmen shopping area, you’ll find Carlos & Charlie’s, the Mexican “it’s always spring break” chain. At the other end of Fifth you will find Bodeguita del Medio, at Calle 34. The bar is large, noisy and fun. The restaurant features a dance floor where incredible salsa dancers practice their stuff in front of a live Cuban band every night. Salsa lessons are offered early in the evenings.
Coco Bongo, corner of Calle 12 and 10th Ave, features acrobatics, impersonators and a party that lasts until the early hours of the morning. $50 cover charge includes full bar, many discounts can be found through hotels of representatives around town.
Santanera on Calle 12, between Fifth and Tenth Avenues, is an extremely cool bar/club featuring DJ music. This is the club for the young and beautiful or those who want to be. Cover charge.
Right across the street, Dubai. Opened in the spring of 2006, it is known locally for outrageous cover charges (up to $25 per person) and a very hip atmosphere.
On Calle 12 heading towards the beach, you’ll find Om. Hookah water pipes, flowing linens, oriental rugs and a European crowd.
Pink Elephant is Playa del Carmen's newest nightclub,
Luna Blue Garden Bar, Calle 26 Norte, between 5th Ave & 10th Ave, attracts locals and visitors to the swings surrounding the bar in a dry rock cenote. Jorge, the resident bartender, serves up creative concoctions like the Sarita b. Careful and other potent adult beverages.
La Ranita, on Calle 10 between Fifth and Tenth Avenues, is a quiet neighborhood bar and a hangout for expatriate American locals. Across the street is the more raucous but equally loved Big Al's and Redneck Steve's Beer Bucket (aka the Beer Bucket). Two floors and two bars, it attracts an interesting mix of locals, expatriates and tourists in the know. It’s nothing special—just a great bar. The Tequila Barrel, Beer Bucket, La Ranita crawl is a local tradition. Also on Calle 10 between Fifth and Tenth Avenues is Básico Lounge. One of the only elevators in Playa takes you to the rooftop bar. New and stylish.
On Calle 4 between Fifth Avenue and the beach is Bliss, an indoor dance club with an outdoor balcony. Live rock music on the weekends, with recorded 70s and 80s music on Sunday nights.
El Diablito Cha Cha Cha, bar/lounge/restaurant located in the "party zone" on the way to Blue Parrot.
Hangover Bar Playa, bar/pub/snacks/karaoke located on calle 28 norte and cozumel. Like going down to Mamitas Beach Club by the beach. The bar is for locals and toursits and it's a great place to meet people from there. They have some amazing drinks that will bring you back from the dead after a night of partying. They open early and is open all day till late at night. They place good music and at night they open up the Karaoke mic. Website is hangoverbarplaya.com
On 1st Avenue between Calles 10 and 12, Dirty Martini Lounge, pours up all types of martinis.
Blue Parrot, the dance club on the beach for those wanting to get down until early hours.
Fusion, offers a variety of live music some nights and a nightly fire show starts on the beach here around 10pm before moving in to Blue Parrot.
Next door to the south of the Blue Parrot you will find the El Pirata housed in the Costa Maya hotel. Also on the beach, it bills itself as a reggae bar. A small dance floor, recorded music, lots of tables and good service, it is a quieter alternative to its more hip neighbor. Here you can drink and hear your companions talk.
Zenzi Beach Club Eat Chill and drink, movie nights on Mondays, jazz and bossanova on Wednesdays and BBQ on Sundays all you can eat, really comfortable place with great atmosphere.
Coco Maya is located on the beach between Calles 12 and 14, features DJ or live music most evenings until 3 am. No cover charge.
On the beach between Calles 4 and 2 is the Bad Boys Beach Club, sometimes called Captain Dave’s on the Beach, since it has the same owners as the now closed Captain Dave’s bar on Tenth Avenue. Look for the Jolly Roger (skull and crossbones) flag flying out front. The BBBC is a standard beach club which, in addition to food and drink, offers live blues music between 3 and 7 pm most days. A pleasant way to spend the afternoon.
Next to the ferry dock at the end of Fifth Avenue on Calle 1 Sur and the beach, you’ll find Señor Frog’s. Music, food, drinks, dancing, frivolity. Part of the chain you will find in Cancun, Cabo and other places. Close to the Playacar community, it attracts a mixed age group intent on having fun.Although Playa is fairly compact and easy to get around, some first timers might want to join an organized crawl . Bar crawl services take groups of travelers out to enjoy the best of Playa's nightlife. So if you are looking to meet other travelers, you are on a time/budget limited trip this might be a good option for you.
The nightlife in Playa del Carmen is easy to find by walking around and using the information above for even one night visitors, solo travelers and groups. There are styles of bars, clubs and lounges for all different tastes, wander to find what fits the night.
The beach bars are safe at night. However, don’t go walking the dark beach by yourself. Boat lines, holes dug in the beach by the waves, rocks and the occasionally unpleasant person make this a bad idea.
Fifth Avenue and the surrounding area are generally very safe. Tourist police patrol on a regular basis. High spirits and a bit of alcoholic based revelry are generally within the limits. Public urination, fighting, or causing a scene will get you an unwanted pass to a Mexican jail. Regardless of the ongoing changes in Mexico’s drug laws, the beat cops are still in charge of law in Mexico. Offers of drugs on Fifth Avenue should be rebuffed or ignored for safety’s sake.
Most of the bars on Fifth Avenue are after-dinner places and close early. By 11 pm or midnight at the latest, Fifth Avenue is pretty deserted.
The dance clubs and beach bars mentioned above generally don’t start getting crowded until 11 pm or midnight (about the time Fifth Avenue closes down) and will often stay open until dawn.
The drinking age in Playa is 18.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive list. Bars, clubs and restaurants come and go in a resort area like Playa del Carmen. As you stroll Fifth Avenue you’ll receive flyers, brochures and free newspapers advertising the latest additions to the nightlife scene. After a long day working or sightseeing, you will enjoy sitting in one of the many Fifth Avenue cafes or restaurants having a quiet drink or cup of coffee and watching the world stroll by. Give it a try. Whatever your preference for nightlife entertainment, have a good time.