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Playa Del Carmen is not a large town, and most of the development has taken place along the beach front. At the southern end the Playacar area is home to many large, all-inclusive resorts as well as a golf course, private homes and condos and some of Playa’s most intriguing Mayan ruins.
Playacar is just south of the dock and the main square, El Zocalo. Just west of the square is Avenida Juarez, where you will find a number of banks and post offices, the bus station and the police. Avenida Quinta, or Fifth Avenue, runs north from the square and is a common point of reference in direction. This is a pedestrian walkway lined with shops, restaurants, bars, galleries and hotels. The central part of Quinta gets very crowded especially during high tourist season and starts to get quieter once you have moved north past Avenida Constituyentes (Constituents or voters). The bay between Avenida Constituyentes and Coco Beach boasts some of the loveliest beaches that Playa has to offer. There are a number of dive shops and hotels for those interested in taking in the water sports. Further north of Coco Beach the beach is less populated and makes a good place to relax away from the crowds.
Playa Del Carmen is small enough that almost any attraction in town is within walking distance. To get from the dock to Coco Beach is only about a twenty minute walk. If the weather is unpleasant, there are many taxis and the rates are more than decent.
Beginning at and running parallel to the beach, the Avenues are numbered in increments of five, starting with 1st Avenue (nearest the beach). Next comes 5th Avenue, 10th Avenue, etc. Beginning at Benito Juarez Street on the south end of town near the ferry dock, the Calles (Streets) are numbered in increments of two, perpendicular to the ocean, beginning with Calle 2. If the calles are even numbers and getting larger, you're walking north. In the small area south of Benito Juarez (before Playacar and the tiny airstrip), the calles are numbered in increments of two beginning with Calle 1 and increase as you walk south.
The town away from the beach is less geared toward tourists and more residential. However, there are a number of excellent places in town to get authentic Mexican food, particularly along 30th Avenue. There are shops and markets as well for those willing to explore beyond the beachside resorts.
To get from Playa Del Carmen back to many of the surrounding resorts, you can take a taxicab, or just do as the locals do! The colectivos are plain white 12 passenger vans which run from Cancun to Tulum. Simply stand on the highway and hail one down. $20 pesos per person each way and they stop at the major hotels. Or, if you're in Playa del Carmen already and want to travel north or south, simply go to Calle 2 between 15th and 20th Avenues, and get in a van heading either north or south as you wish. This is where the colectivos start. It's an easy and affordable way to get around.