Make sure you check out the archaeological sites! There's Tulum (a national park with old mayan temples and such) and Xcaret (which is an ecological park full of caves and ponds and a few more temples). These are all I can think of right now! Also, you can find lots of nice lil' restaurants and cafes along Playa del Carmen's 5th Ave. Oh, and there's a huge coral reef too somewhere!
Gwen_dlc: You are going to have soooo much fun!! I love Playa..I've been there 2x and am thinking of going down again this winter. FYI - the "best" beaches are a bit north of the main drag - walk up towards Mamita's and Shangri La Caribe. Wider beach, less rocky and usually less crowded.
There are tons of shops right along Fifth Avenue, (better known as "La Quinta"), with everything from souvenir trinkets to Diesel. There is also a mall of sorts at the extreme southern end of La Quinta. You can also take a quick ferry over to Cozumel for the day - take in some of the shops, dining, and beaches over there.
As the previous poster recommended, I too suggest a day trip to Tulum. The ruins are fabulous, and are perched on a giant cliff overlooking a gorgeous beach with the most amazing water. Go early, before it gets too hot. You can take a bus from the bus station in Playa and get to Tulum (about 30-45 minutes south) for like $3.00 - something ridiculously cheap!! There are also several beach clubs in the immediate area, and are quieter than those in Playa. A real getaway.
If you are a more serious history buff, try the ruins at Chichen Itza.....further away, and more of a day trip, but well worth it. You can even climb the pyramid there. I hear Xcaret and Xel-Ha are both great, but I've never been to either.
Restaurants and nightlife in Playa are amazing..there are just so many options. Here are a few of my recommendations: Babe's Noodles, Palapa Hemingway's, Java Joe's, Mandarina's (sp?), Karen's, Don Emilione's. Also try Mamita's beach club for daytime fun and food. Just stroll anywhere up La Quinta, and it's immediate offshoots, and you'll find lots of choices. I also felt very safe walking up and down that strip at any hour.
By far my fave restaurant was a little place further north of downtown Playa (up near Calle 38, a bit out of the main tourist area) called La Cueva del Chango. Cute little place with outdoor patio, and fabulous, reasonably priced food. But the best part was our dinner companions - a mama monkey and her tiny baby swinging in the trees above us! It was just the most precious thing I've ever seen. You just have to go...but don't tell too many folks about our "secret"!!!
Where are you staying, hotel wise? If you are staying at an all-inclusive, I'm sure it'll be great. But I truly recommend one of any of Playa's more reasonably priced hotels in town, which leaves you free to take in all of the great dining in town. Feel free to PM me if you need any further info.
Oh, and by the way, be careful if you rent a car. Not that it's not safe, but the drivers are a bit crazy, Mexican driving laws are a bit different, and the police there have been known to pull over tourists in rental cars with a bit more frequency than they do locals (rental cars are easily identifiable in Playa). Just be cautious if you do......have fun!!
Thank you so much for all the great suggestions. I am really excited and can't wait to go since Vancouver has been hit with nothing but rain for the past few days. I will definetly be posting pictures of our trip when we get back. You guys are great!!
Have fun! I'll be going for a week in March, can't wait
I can't remember the hotel we're staying at, but I believe it's close to Tulum. I know we're visiting all the ancient ruins, and doing a bit of shopping too! I can't wait to lie out on the beach, and get some sun! I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time