The Playa del Carmen Honeymoon Guide for the Ultimate Riviera Getaway

The Yucatán destination sets the stage for wellness, nightlife or both.
The sun peaks over the dunes at Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images
Beth Ann Mayer - The Knot Contributor.
by
Beth Ann Mayer
Beth Ann Mayer - The Knot Contributor.
Beth Ann Mayer
The Knot Contributor
  • Beth Ann writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, including venues, honeymoons and planning advice.
  • Beth Ann is a lifestyle freelance writer, with bylines on healthline.com and parents.com.
  • Prior to freelancing, Beth Ann was a writer and editor for Long Island Pulse Magazine.
Updated Jan 24, 2023
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Along Mexico's Riviera Maya, located south of Cancún and north of Tulum, is the destination of Playa del Carmen. With its palm-tree-lined beaches, wildlife sanctuaries and coral reefs, Playa offers a paradise-like setting to honeymooners looking to explore the Yucatán Peninsula for their romantic getaway.

Plenty of adventure is offered nearby, whether it's snorkeling in Akumal or exploring ancient Mayan ruins. Into the evening hours, Playa del Carmen is a bustling hot spot for nightlife and partying. Most recently, Playa del Carmen and nearby Tulum have established the region as a wellness destination for couples who choose to abstain from partying entirely in favor of body treatments and rituals. A quick flight from the East Coast of the US and six hours from San Francisco, direct, a Playa del Carmen honeymoon is a good idea for couples who want their choice of luxury resorts, fun nights out or wellness options. Read our guide to plan the best honeymoon along the Riviera Maya.

Is Playa del Carmen Good for a Honeymoon?

The Pros of a Playa del Carmen Honeymoon

It's beautiful, for one, and easy to access. A trip to the destination can also be à la carte, if that's your preference. After all, Playa del Carmen isn't exclusively for people who want all-inclusive accommodations, though these resorts provide ease for travelers. Reco trip designer Dana Franklin remarks, "Beautiful beaches, amazing resorts, fun tours and shopping on the two-mile-long Avenida La Quinta, commonly called Fifth Avenue, make Playa del Carmen a great spot for a honeymoon." The vibrant nightlife scene also allows honeymooners to turn their romantic trip into a dance party.

Cons of a Playa del Carmen Honeymoon

Nightlife is engrained in the culture of Playa del Carmen, which is a pro for couples looking to bust a move. However, it's worth noting that Playa del Carmen isn't the quiet, remote destination many couples imagine for their honeymoons. "Playa is for honeymooners looking for vibrant nightlife options off the resort," Franklin says. "It's a more populated and busy location. The ferry to Cozumel is in Playa del Carmen, so if you are looking for a quiet, off-the-beaten-path honeymoon, look elsewhere." There are, however, resorts close to Playa del Carmen that offer this energy if you're looking for a day trip or evening out.

The Best Times of Year to Go on a Playa del Carmen Honeymoon for Good Weather

There is an ideal period to visit for the best honeymoon weather. The driest (and most popular) months are December to April, when 80 degrees Fahrenheit is the average temp. The summer months are even hotter (highs close to 90) and September and October are often rainy (and hurricane-prone). Prices begin to come down at the end of spring break season, around May, and you can find bargains from then until around Thanksgiving when the peak season begins again.

Things to Do During a Playa del Carmen Honeymoon

Swim Across a Cenote

Cenotes are naturally occurring, water-filled sinkholes that form after an underground cave collapses and are commonly found across the Yucatan Peninsula. These gorgeous pools of water offer relief from the humidity and heat. Cenote Azul's open-air setting and shallow waters make it perfect for swimming. Gran Cenote, situated just outside Tulum, provides plenty of opportunities to explore by swimming, snorkeling or walking through a gigantic cave. Private tours offer intimate trips to multiple cenotes with lunch included. Resorts can often help you arrange these swims, but Franklin suggests bringing your own inflatable swim float.

Learn About Mayan History in Tulum

A walled city during the pre-Colombian era, Tulum is home to Mayan ruins. Tour them on a self-guided tour or with an in-the-know pro. As you learn about Mayan history, passed down orally and through murals around the municipality, you'll also take in stunning views of seaside cliffs and the Caribbean below. There will also be time for shopping. "Pack bubble wrap flat in the bottom of your suitcase to wrap and bring home delicious Tequila or breakable souvenirs," Franklin suggests.

Stroll La Quinta Avenida

Playa del Carmen's vibrant main street is lined with shops, hotels and an eclectic mix of street performers. Beware, however, as some street vendors can get pushy. Just keep it moving as you pop in and out of souvenir and jewelry shops, fast-casual cafes and bars together.

Seek Natural Thrills at Xcaret Adventure Park

A day at Xcaret Adventure Park is a popular itinerary item for Playa del Carmen honeymooners. The eco-archeological park, named for the nearby settlement built by the pre-Colombian Maya, boasts otherworldly, nature-based attractions like underground rivers, pools, lagoons and snorkeling opportunities.

Give Back Through Volun-tourism

Franklin loves to give back to places that bring her so much joy, and there are opportunities to do that for children in Playa del Carmen. "Bring school supplies and join a group going to a village school to make a difference in a child's life or donate through your resort," she says. If you've hired a travel agency, someone can help you find the best, highly-vetted opportunities for these efforts.

Take a Dance Class

As mentioned, nightlife is popular in Playa del Carmen, which means you can brush up on those dance skills. A class will help boost confidence during nights out (or during future impromptu dance parties at home with your partner). Select instructors offer a choice of salsa or bachata. The private or small-group experience offers a reprieve from the bustling resort town.

Take a Bike Tour

Hop on a bike, take in the fresh air, and cruise the streets of Playa del Carmen. With plenty of local bike shops in the region, it's worth exploring Playa by wheels. Certain tours take guests through caves or on quirky detours to find delicious bites and cool graffiti.

Check Out Top Bars and Restaurants

The Playa del Carmen streets are lined with bars and restaurants. Porfirio's Restaurante boasts tacos to write home about, from traditional steak and fish to savory rib-eye. If ordering drinks by a pool is your ultimate form of relaxation, The Thompson Playa del Carmen Main House hosts day parties. Dancing during daylight hours is a blast, as is a chance to take a dip in the rooftop pool. If day partying has you in an afternoon slump, order a Café de Olla or Café Mexicano. The authentic Mexican coffee is made with brown sugar, orange peel and cinnamon sticks.

Best Hotels and Resorts in Playa del Carmen for a Honeymoon

Palmaia - The House of AiA

Secluded beaches, ancient wellness rituals and locally sourced plant-based cuisine make this one of the top all-inclusive resorts in Playa del Carmen. Vegan-friendly suites include minibars stocked with kombucha. The Atlantis Spa offers chakra-based treatments for physical and mental TLC.

Hotel Esencia

Arguably the luxury resort along the Riviera Maya, this property from Oetker Collection is secluded and palatial. The hotel is set on a secluded 50-acre estate that was once home to an Italian duchess. Enjoy eclectic cuisine, three approachable and upscale restaurants and simply peer out at the pristine beach and lush gardens. Five rooms, three villas and 45 suites make this hotel a bit more intimate than a large resort but offers more anonymity than a B&B. Travel agents and editors highly recommend it.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya

With scenic surroundings and adult-only perks, this property's rooms are situated across mangrove trees, gardens and directly in front of the water. For honeymooners who want the experience without screaming kids, the property offers an adults-only tower. Cenotes and soft white-sand beaches make way for gorgeous water adventures, and eight restaurants and five bars offer something for every taste. The kicker? Franklin says the service is five-star.

Secrets Impression Moxché Playa del Carmen

In the heart of Playa del Carmen, couples can find a newly-opened, all-inclusive, adults-only property perfect for romance. With 198 suites, 14 restaurants, at least 10 bars, 24/7 room service, a spa and direct beach access, their Secret's out.

Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Resort

Despite what the name suggests, the new Hilton all-inclusive property is equidistant between Playa del Carmen and Tulum city center, allowing couples to experience the privacy of a distanced resort and their own swimming alcove. Like many properties in the region, this Hilton property is all-inclusive so that newlyweds simply have to choose between multiple restaurant concepts (and securing their spot at the adults-only pool on site).

Rosewood Mayakoba

This five-star, tropical hideaway is surrounded by natural beauty and a popular winter resort for trendy East Coast couples. Imagine emerald jungle, beautiful water lapping against a soft, sugary-sand beach. Other amenities guests of the gated resort have access to include 20 restaurants and bars, the Mayakoba Dive Center and El Camaleón, and an 18-hole PGA golf course.

Viceroy Riviera Maya

This private all-villa resort offers plush accommodations inside and out. Inside, each villa has a private plunge pool, patio, soaking tub and minibar. Outside, soft white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters make leaving hard. But it's a short six-mile ride from downtown Playa del Carmen with easy access to the bustling nightlife scene.

Banyan Tree Mayakoba

The secluded feel of this luxury hotel is just one perk of staying at the five-star Banyan Tree. It's a short car ride from downtown Playa del Carmen and Riviera Art Gallery. The property's decor is inspired by the past with both Asian and Mayan influences adorning the chic villas. Private plunge pools, a rooftop bar and tennis courts are among the amenities. Banyan Tree also offers a PGA golf course.

Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun

Travel Channel has named Maroma Beach the world's best beach for four straight years. Honeymoon packages are available at this resort nestled along the lauded alcove, where couples' massages, breakfasts in bed (complete with mimosas) and a beachfront dinner for two are among the perks newlyweds can enjoy at this Hyatt all-inclusive property.

What to Pack for a Playa del Carmen Honeymoon

Swimsuits and sunscreen are no-brainers for a trip to Playa del Carmen. Airy linens, cute dresses and espadrilles are must-packs for this honeymoon destination. If you plan to venture out, you'll want to throw colorful attire, polos and little black dresses into the suitcase.

With active excursions, pack water shoes for cenotes and sneakers for arduous day trips to Mayan temples. Bug spray and reef-safe sunscreen are must-packs (turtle sanctuaries like Akumal request you abstain from sunscreen entirely). Franklin notes most resorts accept US dollars, and to mindfully remember small bills to tip for quality service.

–Celeste Perron contributed to this article.

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