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Riviera Maya

Playa del Carmen Shore Excursion Tips

Fifth Avenue, Playa del Carmen
Shoppers stroll along 5th Avenue; © Scott S. Bateman

A Playa del Carmen shore excursion showcases one of the best attractions to visit in the area around Cozumel and Riviera Maya. That attraction is Fifth Avenue.

La Quinta Avenida, the local name for Fifth Avenue, ranks among the top shopping, nightlife and restaurant districts in the Caribbean. The avenue was packed with tourists on the days that we went there.

It is a popular place to visit for people staying in nearby Riviera Maya resorts, the Playacar tourist development, larger hotels that line the waterfront and even some people who stay at the small boutique hotels that have a low-key presence along the avenue.

Playa del Carmen and Fifth Avenue also attract cruise visitors who stop at the nearby Calica docks about six miles south of the city.

Western Caribbean cruise visitors to Cozumel island can take a ferry out of San Miguel that brings them over for a day trip.

Fifth Avenue Attractions

It may take visitors an entire day to enjoy everything that Fifth Avenue offers along the brick-lined, pedestrian-only street that is more than a mile long.

During the day, visitors will find the street filled with many shops that range from basic to high end. Although many of the goods can be found in other Caribbean destinations, the number and variety of shops on Fifth Avenue make it an excellent shopping experience. U.S. currency, traveler’s checks and credit cards are readily accepted.

Most of the restaurants have open-air seating either on the first floor or in some cases on the second floor. Tourists will often just grab a seat and something to drink while watching other tourists wander by. The restaurants stay busy throughout the day. Everything about Fifth Avenue is casual and relaxing.

The entertainment is casual as well. The avenue often has performers in elaborate costumes. Some of them dress up in startling makeup and costumes and stand frozen in place like statues. Tips are encouraged.

As the sun starts to go down, the nightlife on Fifth Avenue starts to pick up. People visit bars, nightclubs or again just sit in the outdoor restaurants and watch others walk by.

Note that Fifth Avenue is quite safe because of the large number of tourists. However, we did not feel safe when we explored some nearby streets that did not have tourists. Be aware of the surroundings at all times and turn back if entering a quiet neighborhood with no other people nearby.

Fifth Avenue is one block from the waterfront. For anyone visiting by car from nearby resorts, take Mexico 307 into the city. From the south, turn right on Constituyentes or 34th Street. From the north, turn left on 106th or 72nd. Expect to take some time to find parking.

Playa del Carmen hotel
Quiet boutique hotels dot Fifth Avenue. © Scott S. Bateman

Cozumel Ferry Rides

Ferry rides are available for anyone visiting Cozumel for a cruise or resort vacation.

Cruise visitors to Cozumel may stay on the island to explore the beaches, Mayan ruins and other attractions. Others may want to take the ferry ride if they want to spend the day shopping, dining and wandering along Fifth Avenue. Although they can do the same at Cozumel’s three cruise docks, Playa del Carmen and Fifth Avenue offer much more.

Ferries travel to and from Cozumel every hour and take about 45 minutes to make the crossing. The typical cost is about $17 each way for an adult and about $7 for children.

Most cruise visitors will need to take a taxi from the cruise docks to the Cozumel ferry terminal. The terminal is at the end of Av Lic Benito Juarez across from Palmeras Restaurant.

The Playa del Carmen terminal is downtown about a block and a half from the main square and Plaza Playacar. Take Av Benito Juarez all the way to the end and turn right.

Some cruise lines offer shore excursions that include the ferry ride and transportation to the ferry docks.

Anyone who arrives at the Playa del Carmen terminal from Cozumel simply needs to take a right turn out of the terminal, a quick left and then a quick right onto Fifth Avenue / Quinta Avenida.

Visiting from Cancun

Tourists staying in Cancun will find they can reach Playa del Carmen almost as quickly as cruise visitors to Cozumel.

Anyone renting a car will find that Route 307 is a straight shot south from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. The drive takes about 45 minutes to an hour with few stops. Although road signs are in Spanish, they are easy to interpret.

On arriving, take a left onto Av Constituyentes to reach Fifth Avenue. Several streets beyond Av Constituyentes also reach the same destination. Be on the lookout for parking because Fifth Avenue is a pedestrian street; cars are not allowed.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
March 14, 2024

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