Playa del Carmen is the second biggest resort on the Carribbean coast of the Yucatan after Cancun. It is significantly smaller and more charming than Cancun. A lot of development has happened in the past 10 years and it will continue. You'd better get down here before they pave paradise and put up a parking lot.
Playa has an interesting mix of chic and tacky. Neither is authentically Mexican, so if you are looking for that, you might want to go somewhere else. Playa is a beach and party town. It reminds me somewhat of South Beach before it was taken over by glamazons and development tycoons. On the end of town closest to the ferry, there are tacky shops selling Mayan kitsch and tacky restaurants like Senior Frogs that are frequented by gringo frat boys. Who are these people who buy that stuff and go those places?
Fortunately, further along the beach north of the ferry dock things improve. Bars and restaurants line the narrow beach. I enjoyed the palapa on the beach at the Blue Parrot Hotel for breakfast and lunch one day. My breakfast was scrambled eggs with green salsa, tortilla, black beans, sausage, and avocado. It was tasty but rather spicy for my taste buds at 9am. For lunch I had a mountain of guacamole and salsa with chips. By this point my handsome friend and I had staked out our chairs and umbrella on the beach so we had our lunch right there in the sand.
Another day I ate lunch on terrace of the Alhambra Hotel. It was my favorite meal. I started off with a mojito and guacamole. My goal was to eat avocado every day! I love them. So good for one's complexion! The guacamole needed more salt and a squeeze of lime. I preferred the Blue Parrot's. My main course was a delicious fish and seafood ajillo which is dish cooked on a clay bowl with a sauce of butter, garlic and ajillo chilis. These chilis are flavorful but mild. The fish was something white and fleshy, probably grouper. The seafood included lobster, shrimp, clams, mussels, crab and scallops. It was perfectly prepared. The seafood was tender. The fish fell off the fork. When I eat such wonderful things, I know that life if good.