Playa del Carmen Gay Travel
What is Playa del Carmen gay travel like? Discover the local gay scene, luxury resorts, all-inclusive hotels, experiences and gay bars.
The Gay Travel Experience: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
So, you’re interested in visiting Playa del Carmen. That may mean one of a few things. Maybe you want a cheap destination for some sun near beautiful blue waters. Perhaps you’ve heard of the bountiful all-inclusive resorts here. Or, maybe you just found a cheap flight direct to nearby Cancun from your home city.
Let me help you get oriented with Playa del Carmen gay life. I’ll go over the basics and explain if PDC is a good spot for you as a gay traveler.
All-inclusive resorts are not normally my thing. I’m usually out exploring the most authentic areas of cities, taking in the local culture. But when in Playa del Carmen, it’s incredibly common to stay in an all-inclusive. It’s what this town does best! I’ve done it once with my mom and little brother, and again with my partner Michael.
Playa del Carmen has a cute town center, but pounding the pavement here is not why most people visit. Instead, people come for the leisurely resorts that line the oceanfront, as well as the be beautiful local cenotes!
The Playa del Carmen Gay Scene
Playa del Carmen is primarily a family-oriented destination. Since the area is full of all-inclusive resorts, families book group vacations. This heavily outweighs the number of gay travelers in PDC. The gay scene in Playa del Carmen is small and mainly comprised of locals, but it does exist!
Overall, there are no herds of gay men visiting Playa del Carmen. PDC simply doesn’t compare to places like Miami, Florida. But, if you’re still reading, maybe permeating a gay crowd isn’t really what you’re after.
If your main question is “where do gay guys stay in Playa del Carmen,” then I can tell you that you’re likely to find them in the central PDC area. Gay guys are usually found here instead of resorts farther away. Why? It’s closer to gay nightlife.
I only noticed one or two gay guys at the hotel I stayed at, north of central PDC. When I made a trip into the center of town though, there were some more bopping around.
The big exception to all of this is during the huge gay festivals that come to Playa del Carmen! WE Party, a giant gay circuit festival organization, partners with the ARENA International festival in Riviera Maya once a year.
I have never been, but I can tell you it is a typical international circuit festival like Barcelona Circuit, for example. When ARENA comes to town, expect gay guys everywhere. Wear your best circuit gear!
A Note on Mexico Gay Rights
Mexico can get a bad reputation, especially if you’re used to hearing a lot of American media outlets talk about their neighbor to the south. Interestingly though, the gay rights situation in Mexico fares much better than that of the United States in many respects!
Both nations are fragmented, with state governments grappling to deal with federal laws. More secular areas have fewer LGBT protections. Even still, Mexico probably has a much better set of LGBT protections than you may have thought!
Head to the end of this Playa del Carmen gay guide to learn more, including the amazing help the country gives to HIV/AIDS patients.
Gay Playa del Carmen: Hotels & Where to Stay
When people mention Playa del Carmen, they may be referring to one of two things. Firstly, there is the town center of PDC. This is the part of town with narrow, pedestrian-friendly streets lined with stores and restaurants.
A vacation apartment in downtown Playa del Carmen will be perfect if you prefer city life or close proximity to gay bars.
Then, there is the greater Playa del Carmen township area. This is the larger swath of resort property that is separate from the town center but still generally considered to be Playa del Carmen.
There are plenty of stunning vacation rentals and resorts throughout the area, especially in places like Mayakoba.
Before booking a hotel as a gay traveler, you should decide if proximity to other gay men is a priority for you. Remember that the gay population in Playa del Carmen is slim and there are no official gay hotels.
Don’t believe me? The official “Everything Playa del Carmen” website says it itself! So ultimately, this decision largely depends on whether you want some gays around, or if you’re comfortable having none.
If you prefer more gays than none, then check out some of the hotels in Playa del Carmen that claim to be gay favorites like The Palm at Playa.
I recommend staying at one of the hotels on the beach if you choose to stay in the Playa del Carmen town center. Just a few blocks inland will start to feel a bit bland.
Mayakoba is a serene compound of several hotel and resort chains. Everything is private and highly secured. You can only enter if you’re staying in one of the luxurious hotels here.
I stayed at the Andaz Mayakoba during my second trip to PDC and it was absolutely perfect. My favorite thing about it was the hotel’s commitment to embracing local culture, a signature touch of the Andaz brand.
Everything here was pristinely kept, from the glass-walled gym to the beachfront lounge areas.
All of the hotels in the Mayakoba compound are of excellent quality. In addition to the Andaz, the Fairmont and the Banyan Tree Mayakoba properties are also here. Any of these hotels would be an excellent choice.
Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Hotels
I stayed at the Grand Riviera Princess Hotel in Playa del Carmen during my first visit to Playa del Carmen. Booking the hotel far in advance, I was able to get an upgrade to their Platinum Suites area which included some extra amenities.
The Ocean Riviera Paradise Hotel is another all-inclusive spot that’s next door to the Grand Riviera Princess Resort. I took a walk around the grounds of this hotel and it’s magnificent!
Their swimming pools were built with this white concrete that makes their water look super blue. Oceans Riviera is definitely worth checking out.
Further down the coast, my friends Gian and Mark highly recommend Unico 20 87, an adults-only all-inclusive resort.
Playa del Carmen Gay Travel Experiences
Cool off inside the Quinta Alegría Shopping Mall in the Playa del Carmen town center. Inside you’ll find all the typical modern brands. The mall is indoor-outdoor, so it’s a great spot to stroll around, grab a snack and buy some new threads.
Why did you come to Mexico again? The wonderful weather, of course! You don’t need me to tell you to get out and catch some rays. If you’re wondering, the beach in downtown Playa del Carmen is perfect for swimming.
The town center beach was not any cleaner or murkier than the beaches near the resort I stayed at. It all seemed similar.
While on the subject of sun, make sure to wear an appropriate amount of sunscreen. There’s nothing worse than getting burned on your first day of vacation. Plus, sun damage causes wrinkles, and not just on your face!
Head to Señor Frog’s for margaritas or a bite to eat. The Señor Frog’s restaurant is a favorite chain of mine, especially because it’s a familiar spot for me in Miami Beach.
They have an awesome elevated terrace where you can people watch on the streets below. Sometimes you just need a good chain establishment to be satisfied!
Swim in a Cenote
Taking a cenote tour is one of the most popular things to do in Playa del Carmen. These natural pools of water are absolutely breathtaking. They’re bright blue, perfectly clear and just the right temperature to cool off.
Most of the Cenotes are in southern Playa del Carmen and Tulum. While there are many cenote options, only a handful of them have that true wow factor.
I visited Cenote Dos Ojos with my partner Michael. We booked a driver through our hotel who also acted as our guide and helped us get our entry tickets. It took about 40 minutes to get to this cenote in Tulum from Mayakoba, but it was 100% worth it.
I loved every part of it from the little fish swimming near my feet to the glowing water illuminated by the sun.
PDC Dolphin Swimming Experiences
One of my mom’s dreams was to swim with a dolphin. Neither of us had done it before, and so we had to make it happen!
I know all of the animal rights advocates are not going to like me for this, but I booked a half-day dolphin experience with my family! Before you get angry, let me explain the circumstances.
We went to Dolphin Royal Swim at “Dolphin Playa del Carmen.” We each had some time with a sea lion, a dolphin, and a huge manatee! I must say that every sea animal we touched and interacted with had huge amounts of free space to roam.
The animals seemed happy and appeared to love their trainers. I didn’t see any signs of mistreatment, abuse or unnecessary captivity. For example, when the sea lions weren’t interacting with us, they swim and relaxed in huge open areas of water.
For those wondering more about this experience, here’s some more detail about the general options. Usually, dolphin experiences take place in small groups of five and eight people.
Each person takes turns doing the same activity with each animal. Personally, I loved the manatees because they’re so huge, slow, and easy to get up close to!
Playa del Carmen Gay Bars
Since La Cueva is a little farther outside the town center of Playa del Carmen, you’ll find tons of locals there. Definitely not a tourist bar!
I also have a few friends that have been to La Cueva Disco Bar and liked it very much. If you’re in the area of central PDC, go give it a try.
Playa 69 is a Playa del Carmen gay bar in the main town center. This is the only official “gay bar” in Playa del Carmen. It’s a small space and there is typically a cover charge. I unfortunately did not have the chance to go, so let me know if you give it a try.
Note that the gay bars in Playa del Carmen will be most busy on Friday and Saturday nights, as you might expect.
If you can’t get there on one of these days, I would consider skipping them unless you happen to be nearby. No one wants to make a long trip out to visit an empty bar!
Looking for the best Mexican gay nightlife destinations? Explore the countless gay bars in Mexico City, lesser-traveled Guadalajara, or tourist-friendly Puerto Vallarta.
Playa del Carmen Gay Travel Tips
Consider Adults-Only Resorts If You Don't Have Kids
You may want to consider an adults-only resort if you plan to stay with an all-inclusive hotel. Remember that Cancun and Playa del Carmen are family-oriented destinations. In some traditional resorts, you will certainly find children squealing with happiness by the pool.
Arrange Airport Transport in Advance
To visit Playa del Carmen, you will fly into the Cancun International Airport. It is best to arrange transportation in advance to your hotel in order to avoid getting ripped off. Some of the prices for private transportation are absolutely ridiculous.
I recommend using Bookaway to book a shuttle from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. They also can arrange price car transfers.
On-the-spot taxis can demand the equivalent of up to 200 USD for one way! If you’re more flexible, there are also coach buses that go to central PDC.
Pack Your Tropical Vacation Essentials
Before you head off to paradise, check wolfyy’s useful list of what to pack for the tropics. You’ll find my favorite waterproof gear, lightweight clothing ideas, rain gear, and tons more.
Playa del Carmen Pharmacies: What Can You Buy?
Many Playa del Carmen gay travel newbies are naturally curious about the medications and supplements that are legally available for sale in Mexico.
Firstly, I will tell you that these pharmacies are everywhere. There are dozens around the town center, so you will have absolutely no issue finding one.
Mexico sells many medications that are only available in the United States with a prescription. I won’t list them here, but if you have a hunch about what you might find, you’re probably right.
Not all pharmacies sell the same things. Many times, one pharmacy will only carry the most basic of medications while another will advertise that they sell the supplements that are hard to come by. Disclaimer: always abide by your country’s laws regarding international transport of medications.
Prices for different medications at different pharmacies in Playa del Carmen vary significantly.
Sometimes it has to do with how close you are to the waterfront and other times there is no logic behind it. My mom actually got an infection while in Mexico and so I took it upon myself to get some antibiotics for her. Look at all I learned!
Should I Visit Mexico in the Summer?
Summer is the tourist low season in Mexico for the obvious reason that all of North America and Europe have other destinations that tourists flock to.
Mexico is much cheaper in the summer, and so those who want even more of a bargain may decide to visit Playa del Carmen in the summer.
I personally was one of those people who visited Playa del Carmen in the summer. Although I had a fantastic time, it certainly was sweltering hot. In my opinion, the discomfort is mostly from laying in the direct sun. It can be too hot to get a tan!
I think this would have been more avoidable if the hotel I was staying at had a cooler pool temperature. I’m not exactly sure how you can check this for a specific resort. But escaping the summer heat is difficult if the pool water is also hot!
If you prefer the shade, then you really shouldn’t have an issue! For me, the overly warm pool water made it difficult to relax.
Do Playa del Carmen Beaches Have Seaweed?
Playa del Carmen beaches have the clear blue water that you have come to expect while visiting Mexico. However, it is very common for large blooms of seaweed to cloud the shoreline. During these times, the beaches in Playa del Carmen are not so clear.
During these algal blooms, you can get to a point where the beach water is clear and blue by wading through the bit of organic debris on the shore. Seaweed tends to collect along the first few meters of the shoreline closest to the sand.
Many hotels work very hard to remove the seaweed as best they can. But sometimes, it can become unmanageable.
Next, check out wolfyy’s gay travel guide to Holbox Island and discover absolute blue-water paradise. Or, hop over to San Juan, another top Caribbean destination.