Cancun’s environs are famous for their unparalleled nature and the number of historical sites related to, first and foremost, the mysterious Maya civilization. We’d dreamt of seeing these ancient Indian sites with our own eyes, so the instant we settled in Cancun, we decided to begin exploring the surrounding areas. Thanks to our rental car we were free to travel the peninsula at our leisure.

One of the sites on our list was an archaeological site – Tulum, and Playa del Carmen – a small tourist town located half-way, which tourists often prefer to Cancun.

Playa del Carmen: History

Playa del Carmen is a popular resort on the Caribbean coast, located in the heart of Riviera Maya. A charming and homey town with a well-developed tourist infrastructure. Pedestrian zones, beautiful plazas and cozy town squares, public beaches, abundant entertainment, the proximity to national reserves and archaeological sites make this resort an awesome vacation hotspot.


Although we spent a few days in Playa del Carmen, we decided against renting an apartment there. The drive from Cancun took less than an hour. We’d come in the mornings, visit the sites, relax at the beach, take a stroll down the evening city, have dinner, and be home by nightfall.

It’s hard to imagine that this town wasn’t even here 40 years ago. Back in the pre-Columbian times, it was a small settlement, where the Mayan Indians would stop on their way to their sacred island – Isla Cozumel.

плайя дель кармен история

After the Mexican lands were taken over by the Conquistadors, the place was abandoned. And it wasn’t until the 20th Century that people – mostly fishermen and resin cultivators – began to settle in the area. Up until the mid 80’s, Playa was just a tiny village with a population of only 1,500. But once the harbor was built and the ferry service was launched between Playa del Carmen and Isla Cozumel, everything changed. Tourists flooded into the town. Today, Playa del Carmen is one of the fastest growing towns in Mexico.

Playa del Carmen Landmarks

плайя-дель-кармен достопримечательности

Stretching along the coastline is the town’s main tourist street – Fifth Avenue. The avenue is overwhelmed with shops, cafes, restaurants, tourist centers and souvenir shops, where you can buy anything: from postcards and fridge magnets to national costumes and local alcohol. With transport prohibited on this pedestrian street, it was very convenient to walk along it with the kids.

Another popular site among tourists is Plaza Mayor near the harbor. The plaza is surrounded by countless cafes and adorned with flowerbeds and small squares, where you can hide from the sun in the shadows of palm trees.  If you’re headed to the beach, you will be greeted by unusual gates – Portal Maya. The monument was erected in 2012 to commemorate the Doomsday, which was predicted by the Mayan calendar but never happened.

портал майя плайя-дель-кармен

In fact, this is where you can often spot the famous volador dancers performing their magic and dangerous dance – La Danza de los Voladores. American Indian descendants climb a pillar – a few dozen meters high – and begin to jump and spin around it, holding on only to a rope, with no other safety!

танец воладоров

A long time ago, Danza de los Volodores was used to appease Xipe Totec – the god of fertility, but now the dance is just a tourist attraction.

Military Tech Expo

The spacious square Andador Solidaridad in the city center was turned into a military theme park.

A large number of exhibits were displayed in the plaza, in