Friday, May 19, 2006

Riviera Maya Journal #5 - Playa Del Carmen - Larry Widen

At the center of the Riviera Maya is the port town of Playa del Carmen and the neighboring beach resort community of Playacar. Playa del Carmen is the region’s number one shopping district. In the evening, Avenida 5, or 5th Avenue, comes alive with strolling musicians, singers, street performers, artists and more. The multitude of sidewalk cafés, bars and restaurants hum with activity long into the night.

Carlos ’n Charlie’s is just one of the many hot spots along the strip. Americans are usually in the minority here and it’s common to hear conversations in German, Italian, Portuguese and other languages in addition to Spanish. Playa del Carmen is also popular with travelers from South America. This is also where you’ll find an unparalleled assortment of imported cigar stores, dive shops, international boutiques and vendors selling items from local artisans that include jewelry, black coral, pottery, masks, wood carvings, paintings, blankets and apparel. And the side streets off the Avenida are home to lower prices and bargains galore.

Shoppers who are willing to compare prices before buying will invariably get a better deal. Playa del Carmen is also the debarkation point for the tropical island of Cozumel. The UltraMar and Mexico WaterJet ferry lines make the 40-minute trip across the Caribbean Sea approximately every hour. For a small charge visitors can travel to this island paradise via one of these high-speed boats.

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