When you are planning a vacation in the Mexican Caribbean, the most
difficult thing is having to decide which destination to choose, as there
are many destination options.
However, today we will talk about Cancun and Playa del Carmen, two
destinations located in the Mexican Caribbean.
Both boast beautiful beaches and offer access to nature hikes and plenty of day
trips and activities. If you still haven’t decided which is the best vacation
destination, don’t worry, here we will show you their differences so that you can
plan your trip.
How to get to Cancun and Playa del Carmen?
If you are heading to Cancun or Playa del Carmen, we recommend arriving
directly at Cancun International Airport (CUN). Due to the proximity of the distances of both destinations, it is more advisable to arrive at Cancun International Airport than at Cozumel International Airport (CZM).
No matter the method you choose to get to either of the two destinations, Cancun
International Airport offers different transfer options, such as:
• There are different types of taxis at the airport, from shareRide and taxiX, to
taxiXL and taxiSUV, with different vehicles for each type.
• A wide variety of buses and shared transfer services that can take you to your
• Car rental agencies.
The only thing that changes is the arrival time. From Cancun International Airport
to the Hotel Zone it is around 30 minutes, while to Playa del Carmen it is 44
It’s important to mention that, if you decide to vacation in Cancun and want to
visit Playa del Carmen, you can rent a means of transportation or take an ADO (a
bus) and it’s about an hour away.
Which one are better?
Cancun and Playa del Carmen are known for their beautiful beaches with warm
turquoise waters, soft white sand, and saturated sunsets included.
The water in both places is warm year-round and is clearest when fewer people
are around and kicking up sand. The only drawback is that some beaches, both in
Cancun and Playa del Carmen, are prone to seaweed, so it can become an
Let’s start by talking about the beaches of Cancun:
The 22 kilometers of impressive beaches make this Mexican city the preferred
destination to enjoy a few days of sun and sand.
Cancun’s beaches are wider and better equipped. Even though they are public
beaches, you will probably have to spend some money on food or drink if you
want to lie on a chair or under an umbrella.
It’s important to mention that there are some beaches in Cancun that have
parking, so if you are on vacation and have rented a car, you can park freely and
enjoy the beach.
There are also some beaches that are calmer than others, and when we talk about
calm we mean both the tide of the sea and the multitude of visitors.
Next, we list the best beaches in Cancun:
San Miguelito lives up to Cancun’s fame of having the most beautiful beaches in
Mexico and the world. One of the advantages of San Miguelito is that it is one of
the hidden beaches of the Caribbean in Cancun, so you will not find crowds. It is
ideal for rest and relaxation, in its more than one kilometer extension.
This beach is pet friendly and is located next to the Mayan Museum. It is between
the Oasis hotel and Ritz Carlton.
Playa Delfines offers the most beautiful calm and crystal clear waters. In seasons,
you can practice a bit of surfing due to its wild waves. On occasion, you can also
see the sighting of beautiful dolphins. It is an ideal beach to explore, relax and
enjoy the Caribbean Sea.
Its location is somewhat removed from the large hotel areas, is Punta Nizuc –
Cancun 335, Hotel Zone.
Playa Linda is one of the best family options in Cancun for its flat and calm
waters. What makes this beach incredible is the color of its waters, a beautiful
greenish blue, because it’s a point where the sea meets the Nichupté lagoon,
turning this Cancun beach into a magical place.
It’s one of the safest beaches to go with the family.
The entrance to Playa Linda is at km 4 of Bulevar Kukulkan, with the sandbank
located on the shore of Puente Calinda.
This beach, with fine sand and shallow waters, is perfect for swimming and
relaxing in the sun. Being away from the large leisure areas, it becomes the best
place to enjoy a bit of tranquility and privacy.
It has a beautiful pier where you can enjoy panoramic views that you will not find
anywhere else. It is located at km 9 of Boulevard Kukulcán.
And the list goes on, as Cancun has 11 public beaches. However, we list our best
Now, it’s time to talk about the beaches of Playa del Carmen:
What To Do In Cancun
One of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen, with an incredible view of the
Caribbean Sea, with its spectacular turquoise blue you will fall in love.
It’s a public beach where you can enjoy music, sunbathing, dancing and more. It
also has a beach club, in which you must pay access if you want to enjoy its
What makes this beach special is its union with an open cenote of cold water, in
which a dip will help you deal with the heat.
It is located on the shore of the colony called Colosio and is very visited by the
locals of Playa del Carmen.
Xpu-ha is practically a virgin beach, its fine sand and crystal clear waters make
this place the ideal paradise to sunbathe and enjoy life.
Although it’scloser to the Riviera Maya, if you are in Playa del Carmen, you can
reach it in just 20 minutes. It is one of the treasures of the locals and one of the
best beaches in the area.
It’s not a public beach, so we recommend you purchase access.
Xcacel – Xcacelito
Xcael is a public beach that allows you to be more in contact with nature, with
crystal clear turquoise waters.
In addition to this, there is a place in the same area called Xcacelito, it is a small
open cenote with controlled access. It has a reef with more than 60 corals, a
reserve for various types of flora and fauna, as well as a Natural Protected Area
and activities such as snorkeling.
It’s located just 45 km south of Playa del Carmen.
Due to the proximity of both places, Cancun and Playa del Carmen share the
same type of climate: hot, humid and sometimes with rainy seasons.
The weather can vary slightly, although not by much, since they are only half an
hour apart. We recommend you visit both places in October to take advantage of
some good sunbathing and excellent prices for lodging, since it is outside of the
Zona Hotelera vs La Quinta Avenida
As its name indicates, the Cancun Hotel Zone is where most of the hotels in the
city are located, however, it is also the area where the best restaurants and
nightclubs are located, as well as activities and shopping malls with a large
number of department stores and luxury.
If we compare it with La Quinta Avenida, this one is much bigger, since La Quinta
Avenida has more variety of restaurants and department stores and local stores,
although you can find the occasional luxury store that is also in Cancun.
Another different point is that on Fifth Avenue you can walk freely, there is no
need to take a bus to go to a restaurant or place that is there. Both places offer
the same entertainment options, everything will depend on what your travel plan
Night life: Which one has better party options?
The nightlife in both places is mainly centered around bars and clubs.
In Cancun you can enjoy the nightlife in the Zona Hotelera, while in Playa del
Carmen you can enjoy it on La Quinta Avenida.
Both offer the same party options, such as Coco Bongo, Mandala Beach Club or
Señor Frogs, they also have different options of bars and restaurants to have a
Cancun Night Life
In Cancun, you can enjoy the nightlife at places like D’Cave, Coco Bongo and
Coco Bongo Beach Club, The City, Mandala Beach Club, Señor Frogs, Cotorritos
and many others.
The advantage is that all those mentioned above are located in Plaza Forum, so it
will not be difficult to find them. There are also other nightclubs, however, the
ones mentioned above are the mainstays of Cancun’s nightlife, so you won’t want
to miss them.
Playa del Carmen Night Life
In Playa del Carmen, you can find many options to enjoy a good night out,
because on Fifth Avenue there are many good options.
If you want to go for the more traditional, you can enjoy the nightlife at Coco
Bongo, Señor Frogs or Mandala.
In case you are looking for something different, you can go to Mamita’s Beach
Club and enjoy an incredible music festival at night and if you want something
more fun, you can go to a bar near La Quinta Avenida and enjoy live music.
Which one should I choose?
Cancun and Playa del Carmen are tourist destinations that favor fun, however,
both share different environments.
It all depends on your travel plan. If you want to travel as a family, we recommend
staying in Cancun, on the other hand, if you want to travel with your friends, we
recommend you visit both Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Cancun has more activities within the area, however, if you stay in Playa del
Carmen you can enjoy the same activities, you just have to plan your
transportation well or contact a tour agency. In both places you can have fun,
have a good time and shop at local and luxury department stores.
As we mentioned before, everything will depend on your travel plan.
Although, if you decide to stay in Cancun, don’t worry, Playa del Carmen is only
half an hour away, so there is no excuse to enjoy both places. So, which of the
two will be your destiny for this 2022?
For more information on activities, please contact us!