Playa del Carmen (Xaman Ha' or Pláaya in Modern Maya) is a city on the coast of the Caribbean Sea in the north east of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, located at 20.62° North, 87.07° West. The city is the seat of the Solidaridad municipality. In the 2005 census the city had a population of about 100,383 people, and is rapidly growing in population. It is the third-largest city in Quintana Roo, after Cancún and Chetumal.
Originally a small fishing town, tourism to Playa del Carmen began with the passenger ferry service to Cozumel, an island across the Cozumel Channel and world-famous scuba diving destination. While passing through, many people realized that it was a nice place to relax away from the crowds of Cancún but with the same quality beaches and turquoise waters. Perhaps just as impressive as Cozumel, Playa del Carmen's coast offers good scuba diving opportunities, as well as cenote diving for the more adventurous.
Today Playa del Carmen, or just 'Playa' as it is colloquially referred to, is the centre of the Riviera Maya concept, which covers from Cancún to Tulum and the Sian Ka'an biosphere reserve. Playa is a stop for several cruise ships, which dock at the nearby Calica quarry docks, about six miles south of the city. A Mayan-themed "ecological theme park", Xcaret (pronounced "e-shcaret") is a popular tourist destination just south of the town. Tourist activity in Playa del Carmen centres on the Quinta Avenida, or Fifth Avenue, a pedestrian walkway located just one block inland from the beach, and lined with boutique hotels, shops, bars and restaurants.
Elements within the Playa del Carmen local community and government have attempted to retain Playa del Carmen's reputation and charm as a small fishing village and artists' colony, without becoming as large or tourist-dependent as Cancún. To this end, the city passed an ordinance limiting buildings to three stories. A few four-story buildings were built before the ordinance, however.
There is a significant European influence in Playa, with a number of local business proprietors drawn from the European expatriate community.
* From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.