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Playa Del Carmen Ranked Among World’s Top 10 Most Tranquil Holiday Destinations

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One of the things travelers love the most about Playa del Carmen is its laid-back beach town atmosphere, a stark contrast to Cancun’s fast-paced and energetic lifestyle.

Even as the trendy Riviera Maya destination keeps attracting increasingly larger numbers of tourists every year, it remains an excellent option for those seeking a more relaxed Mexican Caribbean getaway – and the numbers prove it.

Sun loungers on the beach with lush jungle background in Playa del Carmen

A recent study by SkyParkSecure, specialists in airport parking and travel extras, compiled a list of the world’s most tranquil holiday destinations, ranking Playa del Carmen at the 9th spot.

The rankings were determined by various factors, including the quality of beaches, nature and wildlife tours, the number of spas available, and air pollution levels.

While Cancun also made it to the list, earning the 13th spot, there are a few reasons why Playa del Carmen outshines Cancun when it comes to these aspects.


Relax. Relate. Release. Solo trips once a year have been something I’ve added to my recipe of life. This time I did Playa del Carmen.

♬ original sound – Omarion

Let’s take a closer look at them.


There is no shortage of spectacular coastlines in the Mexican Caribbean, as you’ll find gorgeous, white sand beaches practically everywhere you go.

While Cancun holds the crown for the most picturesque beaches, with world-class gems like Playa Norte in Isla Mujeres or Playa Delfines and Playa Marlin in Cancun’s Hotel Zone, these shores often get pretty crowded, especially during peak seasons, and some have become exclusive domains of resorts.

@karinasayed Playa del Carmen is Home of some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, white sand, clear turquoise waters and swaying Palm trees. Upcoming summer is just around the corner 😎 . . . #playadelcarmen #caribemexicano ♬ Café Con Miel – Sebastián Romero

On the flip side, Playa del Carmen’s beaches, while still popular, tend to be less crowded.

The beaches found near the Quinta Avenida area of Playa del Carmen might not be as impressive as Cancun’s, but a short drive from downtown reveals some of the most peaceful and breathtaking beaches in the Mexican Caribbean.

One example is Playa Maroma, located between Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos, renowned for its striking beauty, tranquil turquoise waters, and lack of crowds regardless of the time of the year.

And just a 15-minute drive from Playa del Carmen, near Puerto Aventuras, there’s Playa Xpu-Ha, an equally stunning beach, which, despite featuring excellent beachfront restaurants and bars, also never feels crowded.

@darronhatch XPU HA beach 🏝️ #tulum #tulummexico #playadelcarmen #mexico🇲🇽 #cancun ♬ original sound – Darron Hatch

Nature & Wildlife Tours

Playa del Carmen’s lush natural surroundings, coupled with its proximity to major Mexican Caribbean Nature Reserves and adventure parks, make it the perfect choice for those seeking unique and exciting experiences in nature.

The region is full of breathtaking cenotes and natural sinkholes, perfect for a refreshing swim, exploring underground caves, or enjoying a fun ziplining adventure.

The Rio Secreto Nature Reserve stands out with its collection of cenotes and underground crystal caves –  some of the most spectacular in Mexico.

cave swimming

For a close-up look at local wildlife, you can take a half-hour drive south to Akumal, which is famous for its large sea turtle population and charming monkey sanctuary.

Just a bit further down south, you’ll find the highly popular Xcaret Parks, featuring cenotes, rivers, caves, and exciting activities like zip lining and ATV buggy rides through the jungle. Plus, there are awesome nightly shows and entertainment.

Spas & Wellness

In recent times, the Mexican Caribbean has become a hotspot for wellness, with numerous top-notch spas and wellness centers constantly popping up, not to mention the fantastic wellness offerings at the all-inclusive resorts in the region.

While Tulum is known as the ultimate wellness destination in the Riviera Maya, even getting the title of the World’s Capital of Yoga from Forbes, Playa del Carmen isn’t trailing that far behind.

Maroma Beach Spa Bungalow in Playa del Carmen

There are more than a hundred spas and wellness centers in and around the beach town, offering treatments crafted with local ingredients and seamlessly blending modern practices with ancient Mayan healing techniques.

Stand-out spas include the Beach16, featuring relaxing massages by the beach, and Nisa-Ha Natural Spa,  renowned for its exceptional personalized massages, and Alma Thai, a wellness center offering treatments inspired by Oriental practices.

Pollution Levels

The Mexican Caribbean’s privileged location and expansive natural areas make air pollution basically a non-issue. However, in terms of overall pollution, that’s a different story, as balancing sustainability with tourism is a challenge for any major tourist hotspot. 

This rings especially true for Cancun, where, despite relatively low pollution levels, issues like hotel waste being dumped into mangrove forests and the overall reduction of these forests have affected the quality of the water and the beaches.

Stunning Beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

However, Playa del Carmen has taken a more proactive approach, with both the community and establishments prioritizing sustainability and coming up with creative solutions to address pollution.

This commitment has earned Playa del Carmen a place in the Green Destinations Top 100 Stories, a competition that highlights stories of sustainable tourism and exemplary development practices in both 2022 and 2023.

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