Playa del Carmen Gay Travel
What is Playa del Carmen gay travel like? Discover the local gay scene, plus where to stay, all-inclusive hotels, experiences and gay travel tips.
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.
I visited Playa del Carmen during the month of August while traveling with my amazing mom and one of my little brothers. We took advantage of low-season pricing and stayed ten wonderful days in an all-inclusive resort. It wasn’t the most “gay-oriented” trip I’ve taken, but I was certainly able to learn about local the gay vibe.
Now…all-inclusive resorts are not normally my thing. I’m usually out exploring the most authentic areas of cities, taking in the local culture. However, when in Playa del Carmen, it’s most common that you stay in an all-inclusive. It’s what this town does best!
PDC is not really a city where you’ll want to lace up your sneakers to pound the pavement. There is of course a cute town center, but that is not why most people visit Playa del Carmen. Instead, people go to Playa for the leisurely resorts that line the oceanfront.
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!
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 circuit festival like Barcelona Circuit or the like. ARENA 2021 is scheduled for October 28th. through November 2nd. When this festival comes to town, expect gay guys everywhere.
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 less 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.
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 within what is considered to be Playa del Carmen. There are plentiful resorts as well as stunning Playa del Carmen Airbnb rentals throughout the area.
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 in PDC.
Don’t believe me? The official “Everything Playa del Carmen” Website says it themselves! So ultimately, this decision more so concerns if you want some gays around, or if you’re are comfortable with 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. Otherwise, I suggest rounding up your friends and crashing whatever hotel you find to be the best.
Mayakoba is a compound of several hotel and resort chains in Playa del Carmen. During my second trip to Playa del Carmen, I stayed at the Andaz Mayakoba, which was absolutely perfect.
My favorite thing about the Andaz Mayakoba was the hotel’s commitment to embracing local culture, a signature touch of the Andaz brand. Aside from the pleasant cultural experience, the resort was simply fantastic. Everything from the glass-walled gym to the pristinely kept beachfront was impeccable.
Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Hotels
I stayed at the Grand Riviera Princess Hotel in Playa del Carmen back 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.
Just next door to the Grand Riviera Princess Resort is a similar hotel called Ocean Riviera Paradise Hotel, another all-inclusive spot. 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. I’d say Oceans Riviera is definitely worth checking out.
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. Staying along the waterfront will give you awesome views, quick beach access and close proximity to fun activities nearby.
Playa del Carmen Gay Travel Experiences
Cool off inside at 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 the 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!
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
Visiting a cenote is one of the most popular things to don 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 mother’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 too 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 relax 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
La Cueva Disco Bar is a local gay bar in Playa del Carmen that is a little seedy but a ton of fun. It more closely resembles a strip club that also has drag performances. 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 officially-labeled “gay bar” in Playa del Carmen. I unfortunately did not have the chance to go! It’s a small space and there is a cover charge. If you give it a try, let me know how you liked it.
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Playa del Carmen Gay Travel Tips
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.
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.
Playa del Carmen Pharmacies: What Can You Buy?
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.
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 certainty was sweltering hot. In my opinion, the discomfort is mostly from laying in the direct sun. It can be too hot to lay out for 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?
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 shoreline closest to the sand.
Many hotels work very hard to remove the seaweed as best they can. But sometimes, it can become unmanageable.