We loved our first visit to Mexico when we visited Cancun back in 2015, and so were very excited to see how the second most popular beach resort of Playa del Carmen would live up to our expectations.
On first impressions, we were very impressed. Stunning beaches, the crystal-clear water you would expect from the Caribbean, an abundance of restaurants, and what looked to be plenty of nightlife options stretching along the main street of 5th Avenue. We loved it straight away, and knew we were going to have a great time.
But what about gay Playa del Carmen? With so much on offer for your general holidaymakers, did Playa del Carmen have anything to offer LGBT tourists?
Whilst researching ‘gay Playa del Carmen’ it seemed that there wasn’t really anything LGBT specific available, other than one bar/club (Club 69 – see below) that we kept reading about.
Upon arrival, we realised that the reason for this was that Playa del Carmen is such a friendly and welcoming place to all tourists, and as a result, everything from bars to beaches is integrated.
Gay tourists are welcomed in all the bars, and you will find gay tourists scattered along all the beachfront where they can feel just as comfortable as their straight counterparts.
But after spending almost 2 weeks in Playa del Carmen, we found that scratching the surface a little bit deeper revealed a lot more on offer than just one club.
And so we decided to put together this complete guide to ‘Gay Playa del Carmen’. We hope you find it useful when you visit!
- 1 Gay Bars Playa Del Carmen
- 2 Gay Friendly Hotels Playa Del Carmen
- 3 Gay Beach Playa Del Carmen
- 4 Gay Tours Playa Del Carmen
- 5 Gay Events Playa Del Carmen
- 6 Other Useful Information
Gay Bars Playa Del Carmen
Whilst initially, it only seemed that there was one official gay bar, there is actually a little more on offer when it comes to gay nightlife. There are two official gay bars in Playa del Carmen:
This is the only gay bar in the ‘centre’ of Playa del Carmen.
Club 69 can be found on the main street of 5th Avenue, halfway between 4th and 6th Street.
The easiest way to find the bar (it’s pretty tucked away) is to locate the 7/11 shop, and turn down the alleyway right to the end.
It’s also directly opposite an underwear shop, appropriately named ‘Tops and Bottoms’ – which tickled us!
Popular mainly with locals, the bar only really gets busy on Friday and Saturday evenings, from midnight until 3-4am.
There is a cover charge of 80MXN, which is about $4.
Long drinks and cocktails are a little pricey here, as the main drink of choice among the locals is beer which is significantly cheaper, 40MXN.
The bar itself is quite small, with most of the indoor space taken up by a large stage area where on both Fridays and Saturdays they have an entertaining drag show.
This usually starts around midnight, with performances continuing throughout the night. When the show is not on, the stage doubles as the main dance area.
There are also a few other smaller stages / blocks where from time to time there will be stripper and go-go dancers performing.
There is also a larger outside courtyard area where locals tend to sit, drink and chat during performances.
The music is a mixture of pop and recent chart hits, with Spanish, Latino and reggaeton mixed in. The DJ was happy to take requests, and gladly played Ariana Grande for us, making our night!
The club also has a small darkroom and cruising area towards the back.
Note: There is a bar next to Club 69, called Santino Bar. Whilst not a gay bar, this is more of a local hangout attracting a very mixed crowd. When Club 69 closes, most people will head next door. Drinks here are quite reasonably priced, and the music tends to be very mixed.
La Cueva del MAYA-T
This bar is not in the centre, and is located a little further downtown. Located on Calle 1 Sur, between 40th and 45th Avenue, you would probably need to take a taxi.
This is more of a ‘gay stripper / dive bar’ rather than somewhere to go and enjoy the music and dance.
Again, the crowd is mainly locals who visit to hang out, meet friends and enjoy the show.
There is a cover charge of 50MXN from 11pm onwards, but being located out of the centre, the drinks are a lot more reasonably priced.
Strippers here do put on a FULL show (if you get my meaning), and also offer private lap dances.
Reina Roja Hotel
Whilst this is a hotel rather a bar, this hotel is popular with LGBT tourists and is renowned for being ‘gay-friendly’.
During the past year, the hotel has hosted a weekly ‘Apecar Gay Party’ on Friday nights from 8pm until 2am.
The night would include DJs, performances and some great drinks offers. Whilst this night seems to have temporarily stopped as of December 2018, the rooftop bar itself still remains popular with both locals and hotel guests, as a place to hang out, dance or just talk.
Keep an eye on their Facebook events page for any upcoming parties. Reina Roja Hotel is located just off 5th Avenue on 20th Street.
Also worth a mention is Coco Bongos.
This has to be one of the best, if not the best nightlife venue found in Playa del Carmen.
Coco Bongos offers your dance-club experience combined with a full on, Las Vegas-esque performance, lasting over 4 hours.
Whilst you dance the night away you can watch the aerial acrobatics fly overhead on silks, watch videos projected all around you, either embrace or dodge the foam bubbles and enjoy the various tribute acts, including Michael Jackson, Queen and Madonna.
This one is definitely worth a visit, and is extremely popular with gay tourists.
Coco Bongos operates on a ticket system, starting at $80 including unlimited drinks.
Gay Friendly Hotels Playa Del Carmen
Being a relatively small beach resort, Playa del Carmen does not have any ‘gay’ hotels as such.
However there are three hotels that are known for being LGBT friendly – Reina Roja, as mentioned above, The Palm Hotel, and Aventura Mexicana Hotel.
Hotel Reina Roja
Hotel Reina Roja is a 4-star boutique hotel, with 63 rooms.
As well as enjoying a great location close to the beach, the hotel also offers a rooftop bar and a rooftop pool, along with an onsite restaurant and sun terrace. Reina Roja is also an adults-only hotel.
Prices start from $84 plus taxes, season dependent.
The Palm Hotel
The Palm Hotel is also located close to the town centre and relatively close to the beach, on 8th Street between 5th and 10th Avenue.
Slightly newer than Reina Roja, the Palm also has a rooftop pool, that has been known in the past to host gay pool parties during the annual Arena Festival (usually held end of January/early February).
The hotel has 69 rooms, and also has an onsite gym and spa.
Prices start from $144 plus taxes, season dependent.
Aventura Mexicana used to be an exclusively gay hotel whilst under old management, but is now open to all guests.
However, it has retained its reputation and remains a gay-friendly hotel, mostly due to the gay-friendly staff.
The hotel has a great location, found on 5th Avenue and 24th Street, close to some great restaurants and beach clubs.
Whilst this is a family-friendly hotel, one side of the hotel remains adult only, with an adult-only pool and garden area.
Prices average at $150 a night, plus taxes, season dependent, although offers can be available.
Hotel Riviera Caribe Maya
This Hotel Riviera Caribe Maya is considered another gay friendly hotel near Reina Roja.
As a result, it is in a good location for the gay nightlife. It is 2 minutes from the quiet end of 5th (the main street) and very clean with extremely attentive staff.
It also has a small pool and garden area.
Price average at $60 a night, plus taxes, season dependent, although offers can be available.
Gay Beach Playa Del Carmen
Again, whilst there is not an ‘exclusively-gay’ beach in Playa del Carmen, there are beach options that are popular with both LGBT locals and tourists.
The most popular beach spot is the beach located in front of and to the left of (facing the ocean) Mamitas Beach Club.
This is a popular spot for everyone, not just the gay crowd, but it is known for attracting LGBT visitors.
We think it’s probably due to wanting to enjoy the music and atmosphere of Mamitas Beach Club, without having to pay their hefty prices!!
The ‘Official’ Gay Beach
Aswell as Mamitas, there is another stretch of beach that is probably better known as ‘the gay beach’ of Playa del Carmen.
This is a very quiet stretch of beach between two hotel complexes, but public access is all the way on 112th Street so it is a little way out of the centre.
Being so far out of town and quieter, this beach attracts few guests and is known for nude sunbathing and cruising.
Bear in mind, this beach is between 2 expensive hotel complexes, so there will be beach patrol and security passing by frequently – if you do decide to visit, be wary of this and keep it decent!
Gay Tours Playa Del Carmen
Whilst this might not be something you would expect to find in a relatively small beach town, you can actually book yourself onto a gay tour whilst in Playa del Carmen.
Pink Flamingo gay tours are a relatively new but quickly growing tour operator. They offer both private and small group day trips and packages in and around the Riviera Maya. Tours include a visit to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, Chichen Itza or Holbox to name just a few.
Best of all, they take along an inflatable pink flamingo for that all-important insta pic.
Take a look at their Facebook page for current contact details, however a booking form will be coming soon!
Gay Events Playa Del Carmen
Arena Festival is Playa del Carmens take on the classic European circuit parties.
It generally runs from late January early February and lasts the best part of a week, with a huge selection of parties.
We had such a good time when we attended in 2018, that we decided to write up a full guide to Arena Festival. We hope you enjoy!
Gay Pride Playa Del Carmen
Yes, Playa del Carmen does have its own annual gay pride!
Whilst not as large as the Pride you would expect to see in Mexico City, it still comprises of a variety of events and parties spread over a week during June each year, and is classed as ‘one of the largest international events’ held in the area.
One of the most popular Pride events is the Beach Pride Parade, that winds its way along Avenida Juarez, ending in front of the City Hall with of course, a large party!
For more information on the various events and upcoming Pride, visit www.PlayaPride.com.mx
Other Useful Information
Getting from Cancun to Playa del Carmen
Most international flights will arrive into Cancun International Airport, which is only a 30-40 minute drive from Playa del Carmen.
The two most popular options upon arrival are either a private taxi or ADO bus.
A taxi should cost around $30 with some haggling.
You can find the ADO bus directly outside the arrival terminal. Despite being a public bus, the journey still only takes 40 minutes and is a much more reasonable $5.
What is the Currency in Playa Del Carmen?
The main currency in Playa Del Carmen (and all of Mexico) is the Mexican Peso, however US dollars are accepted everywhere.
You will often see prices quoted in US dollars, especially hotel rates and excursions. The typical exchange rate is $1 = 18 Mexican Pesos.
Weather and the best time to visit Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen benefits from a warm climate pretty much all year round. However, like most of the Caribbean, Playa del Carmen does have a significant wet and dry season.
The most popular time to visit tends to be the slightly cooler dry season, running from November through to March. Temperatures average 25-30°C/75-86°F during this period with limited rainfall.
We have thoroughly enjoyed both of our visits to Playa del Carmen, and are seriously considering making a third trip to enjoy Arena Festival 2020.
For anybody wanting a beautiful Caribbean beach town that is gay-friendly and welcoming (often hard to find in the Caribbean!) then we can’t recommend it highly enough. We hope you enjoy your visit!
There is so much to see in the Riviera Maya, make sure you check out these posts too!
- Cozumel Travel Guide: 2 days in Cozumel
- Gay Guide to Cancun
- Arena Festival – Playa Del Carmen, What to Expect?
- Tulum Travel Guide: 4 Days in Tulum
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