Originally a small fishing town, tourism to Playa del Carmen began with the passenger ferry service to Cozumel, an island across the Cozumel Channel and a world-famous scuba diving destination.
Playa del Carmen has recently undergone extremely rapid development with new luxury residential condominium buildings, restaurants, boutiques, and entertainment venues. Tourist activity in Playa del Carmen centers on Quinta Avenida, or Fifth Avenue, which stretches from Calle 1 norte to Calle 40. A pedestrian walkway located just one or two blocks inland from the beach, Fifth Avenue is lined with hundreds of shops, bars, and restaurants. There are many small boutique hotels on and just off Fifth Avenue and on the beach.
The area is known for its white sand beaches, blue turquoise waters, coral reefs, surrounding rainforests, and balnearios. The downtown area of the city revolves around Quinta Avenida, a busy pedestrian thoroughfare lined with many shops, clubs, and restaurants. The weather is hot year-round, with the summer and winter breaks being peak season for tourism.