Playa del Carmen doesn’t have nearly the number of nightclubs that Cancún does, nor would many of the people who visit regularly want it to. But Playa does boast a great bar and lounge scene, and you’ll find plenty of lively spots along Quinta Avenida just about any night of the week.
A hot spot is at and around the corner of 1 Avenida and Calle 12, where the Blue Parrot, an oldie but goody, has been joined by a handful of newer bars, and you can bounce from one to the next well into the wee hours.
Lounges and Bars
With retro tables and armchairs, low beats and even lower lights, Diablito Cha Cha Cha (1 Av. at Calle 12, tel. 984/803-4506, www.diablitochachacha.com, 1 p.m.–3 a.m. daily) is certainly one of the most stylish of the bars in this up-and-coming area. Order anything under the sun from the bar, and munch on unlikely Mexican-Japanese fusion snacks and meals.
DJs spin urban beats at Deseo (5 Av. at Calle 12, tel. 984/879-3620, www.hoteldeseo.com, 5 p.m.–12:30 a.m. daily), a sleek minimalist lounge bar that attracts local and foreign hipsters most nights of the week. Part of a like-named hotel, the rooftop lounge is the centerpiece of the place; a candlelit stone stairway leads to a pool surrounded by queen-size cushions and billowing curtains.
One of Playa’s only gay bars, Playa 69 (off 5 Av. between Calles 4 and 6, tel. 984/876-9466, 9 p.m.–4 a.m. daily) is hopping on weekends, when tequila shots are almost mandatory. Popular with locals (and twenty- and thirtysomethings), the entrance is kind of hard to spot—look for the 7-Eleven minimart on the west side of Quinta Avenida, then follow the rainbow sign down an alley. Get there around 1 a.m. for the best crowd.
And of course you can always find a party at Señor Frog’s (ferry pier, tel. 984/803-3498, 9 a.m.–3 a.m. daily) and Carlos n’ Charlie’s (Paseo del Carmen, southern end of 5 Av., tel. 984/803-3498, 10 a.m.–1 a.m. daily), both near the Cozumel ferry pier. These bars are a fixture in Mexican beach towns and are famous for their yard-long drinks, dancing on the tables, and nonstop parties.
One of Playa del Carmen’s classic hot spots, the Blue Parrot (Calle 12 at the beach, tel. 984/206-3350, www.blueparrot.com, 7:30 a.m.–4 a.m. daily, US$8.50 after 10 p.m., free before 10 p.m.) has sand floors, swing bar seats, a candlelit palapa lounge, and a small dance floor that have kept customers streaming in for years—since 1984, to be exact. DJs play everything from old-school rock and roll to techno; be sure to check out the fire dancers nightly at 11 p.m. Ladies drink for free on Monday and Thursday.
Coco Bongo Playa (Av. 10 at Calle 12, tel. 984/803-5939, www.cocobongo.com.mx, 10 p.m.–3:30 a.m. daily, US$50–60) is a satellite of the famous nightclub in Cancún. Like the original, Coco Bongo Playa features a slew of celebrity impersonations, from Kiss to Beyoncé, plus acrobats, light shows, and multiple DJs to keep everyone dancing. The space here is fairly small, but the crowds can be huge and boisterous—tons of fun, assuming you’re not claustrophobic. Ask at your hotel or resort about VIP tickets and party-hopper tours; shows begin at 11 p.m.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition