The Playa History

Posted By on September 13, 2017

The History of Playa Del Carmen.

Playa del Carmen is named after the patron saint of Cancun, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It was during the early stages of the Mayan civilization that the city first began to be recognized. The first visitors to Playa del Carmen stopped on the beaches to rest on their journey to Cozumel. This ancient travelers would ready their canoes while here. They traveled the very coast that now houses many of Playa del Carmen’s hottest spots. The city progressed into a Mayan center for religion and trade. By the end of 1500 the population of 50,000 had begun to severely dwindle because of storms, exploration, and wars.

The Old Ferry Terminal

Spanish settlers discovered Playa del Carmen and surrounding areas in 1518. They brought with them the Catholic religion and smallpox. The Mayan population began to decline drastically due to this disease. Few Mayans resisted change and set-up small villages that retained the purity of their culture.

In the 1700 and 1800s, pirates raided Playa del Carmen and the nearby cities. This was mostly due to the growing trade port that the city had become. Playa del Carmen was the ideal port city for the trade route of Mexico. It was midway between the northern and southern ports. Things such as salt and honey, locally produced, were bartered for items from other regions. This mix of items and people gave Playa del Carmen a diverse and interesting feel. It also helped secure Playa del Carmen’s place in the Mexican economy.

Playa del Carmen kept a very low profile for most of the late 1800s. This was mostly in part of its location in the dense jungle. It officially became part of Mexico in 1902 and remained quiet until the 1960s. During this time famed underwater explorer, Jacques Cousteau, made a documentary about the Great Mayan Reef, which stretches between Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. In the following year the tourism commission of Meixco announced plans to make neighboring Cancun a top destination. Hotels were constructed and travelers flocked to the new destination. A boat dock was constructed in Playa del Carmen and people came on ferries from the bustling areas of Cancun and Cozumel. As these cities flourished, Playa del Carmen struggled to be known in the same right.


Old Playa Beach

The 1980s brought growth for Playa del Carmen and slowly businesses began to pop up. Cruise ships stop in Cozumel and people often day trip to Playa, which is only 45 minutes by the hourly ferry. Luxury hotels were built and brought a new kind of traveler to Playa del Carmen. The city has continued to grow into a wonderful vacation destination.


In the 1990’s, Playa del Carmen’s population substantially grew, making it known as the fastest growing city in Mexico. Playa del Carmen started becoming more popular in the international community. Fifth Ave. Playa del Carmen’s main avenue, became filled with more shops and restaurants that international tourists enjoy. Playacar also became popular to the more affluent tourists visiting the city.

The Riviera Maya is now a top international. In the midst of commercialization, Playa del Carmen’s local government has tried to keep the city’s reputation as a small charming fishing area, making it perfect for travelers who want a comfortable and fun-filled vacation.

Estimated Population in 2017 has passed 220,000 people living here and this trend is expected to continue over the years. On overage there is a 5% increase per year.


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