Gay Playa Del Carmen keeps us coming back for more, we’ve visited multiple times and have simply fallen in love with this beautiful, gay friendly coastal town. When it comes to gay destinations in Mexico, it is one of our favorite.
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 LGBTQ+ travellers in Mexico?
Whilst researching ‘gay Playa del Carmen’ it seemed that there wasn’t really anything LGBTQ+ specific available….
However, we quickly realised that the reason for this was that Playa del Carmen is such a gay friendly and welcoming place to all tourists, and as a result, everything from bars to beaches is integrated.
Just like in Cancun (see our Cancun Gay Guide), 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!
Is Playa Del Carmen Safe for Gay Travellers?
In short, yes!
Playa Del Carmen is home to some huge gay events (see more below), runs its own pride celebrations, has a small gay scene and is super touristy.
As such we felt very comfortable and safe as a gay couple in Playa del Carmen. Do be mindful if you head further afield out of the tourist areas, like many places it is always the tourist areas that are typically the safest.
Gay Bars Playa Del Carmen
Currently there is only one official gay bar in Playa Del Carmen and this is a little bit hard to find online. Beyond this one gay bar, there is actually a little more on offer when it comes to the gay scene in Playa Del Carmen.
Club Playa 69 (formerly Club 69)
When we visited it was simply Club 69 but is now know as Club Playa 69, Playa 69 Gay Dance Club or simply Playa 69. Finding details of the bar online is challenging (we are not sure why), but we can see that at the time of writing through researching location tags on Instagram of Playa 69, the bar is still going strong.
This is currently the only gay bar in Playa del Carmen.
Club Playa 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.
The signage has moved since our last visit but the logo is likely to be similar. It really is difficult to see from the main strip so keep you eyes peeled and turn down the alley as mentioned above.
Club Playa 69 is popular mainly with locals, the bar only really gets busy on Friday and Saturday evenings, from midnight until 3-4am.
There is normally a cover charge $4-$6.
Long drinks and cocktails are a little pricey here, as the main drink of choice among the locals is beer which is significantly cheaper.
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.
This is currently the newest gay bar in Playa del Carmen.
Expect drag shows and go-go dancers much like Club 69. You will find Provenza club on 32nd Street between 5th Avenue and 10th Avenue.
Keep up to date with events on their facebook page.
The Roof Bar (was known as Santino Bar)
There is a bar next to Club Playa 69, this was called Santino Bar but seems to have rebranded on Google Maps to The Roof Bar (perhaps because there is another bar nearby called Santino Playa).
Whilst not a gay bar, this is more of a local hangout attracting a very mixed crowd. When Club Playa 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 – Now Closed
This was a gay bar in Playa Del Carmen located a little further downtown on Calle 1 Sur, between 40th and 45th Avenue.
This was more of a ‘gay stripper / dive bar’ rather than somewhere to go and enjoy the music and dance.
Again, the crowd was mainly locals who visit to hang out, meet friends and enjoy the show which had a cover charge of 50MXN from 11pm onwards, but being located out of the centre, the drinks were a lot more reasonably priced.
Strippers here did 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 (with its cheeky marketing) is popular with LGBTQ tourists and is renowned for being ‘gay-friendly’.
The occasionally run gay parties including the ‘Glory’ gay party for spring break and in general host regular pool parties.
Gay parties used to be a weekly occurence with their ‘Apecar Gay Party’ on Friday nights which included DJs, performances and some great drinks offers. Whilst this night seems to have temporarily stopped, 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/Instagram 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, it is super camp and is extremely popular with gay tourists.
Coco Bongos operates on a ticket system which includes unlimited drinks.
Is there a Gay Sauna in Playa Del Carmen?
The gay sauna in Playa del Carmen is (or was) called Spa Club X-Mahan-Nah.
It is unclear whether this is still open, but if you want to check it’s a 5 minute drive from Playa del Carmen centre and the address is Av. 55 Poniente esq. Calle 2-Norte colonia Ejidal, 77712, Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Older reviews suggest this is a small gay sauns mainly frequented by locals.
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 LGBTQ+ friendly – Reina Roja, as mentioned above, The Palm Hotel, and Aventura Mexicana Hotel.
1. 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 and occassionaly has gay parties.
2. The Palm at Playa 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.
3. Aventura Mexicana
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.
4. 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.
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 LGBTQ+ locals and tourists.
The most popular gay beach in Playa del Carmen 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 LGBTQ+ visitors.
We think it’s probably due to wanting to enjoy the music and atmosphere of Mamitas Beach Club, without having to pay!!
The ‘Official’ Gay Beach in Playa Del Carmen (Playacar)
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!
Honestly, this one seems like a lot of effort for little reward, we would suggest just sticking to Mamitas.
Gay Tours of 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 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.
Follow their Instagram Page for more.
Gay Events Playa Del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is home to some incredible events and whilst we were there we we lucky enough to end up at a circuit party deep in the jungle surrounded by beautiful cenotes and even more beauitful men!
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 including the aformentioned party in the jungle…
We had such a good time when we attended, 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!
Things to do for Gay Travellers in Playa Del Carmen
At its core, Playa del Carmen is a beautiful beach town so of course, you might want to spend time relaxing on one of the gay beaches mentioned above or by the pool of your hotel. Beyond relaxing, there are many incredible tours to go on and places to explore including:
Sian Ka’an Tour
Sian Ka’an is an UNESCO World Heritage site, its a stunning biosphere offering a diverse adventure including the Caribbean Sea, lagoons, jungle, coral reef, colourful fish, birds, dolphins, crocodile and giant turtles.
Sian Ka’an is further down the coast in the direction of Tulum (read our Tulum Gay Guide), we love that you get to see such a range of environments on one tour, but for us, searching for dolphins and speedy giant turtles would be a highlight.
Visit the nearby Cenotes
Much of the land in Mexico is made of limestone. This often collapses leaving behind open pools and underground cave systems of fresh water called cenotes. Many of these are now open for public entry for swimming, and some of them even offer cave diving for the more adventurous. There are plenty to choose from, but the closest to Playa del Carmen is Cenote Tajma Ha which is a 30 minute drive (taxi or hire car).
There are also plenty of options to do full day tours including visits to Cenotes further afield including the Gran Cenote in the direction of Tulum.
Scuba Diving or Snorkelling
The coastline along the Riviera Maya has some incredible snorkelling and scuba diving spots which showcase their beautiful coral reef and colourful tropical fish.
If you are really brave there is even the option of cave diving in a Cenote!
Take a look at these providers suggested by Tripadvisor.
Xcaret is a water, theme, amusement, eco-archaeological park and more. It is ranked as the number on thing to do in Playa del Carmen by Tripadvisor.
It is located between the jungle, underground rivers, cenotes and faces the Caribbean Sea. The views here are beautiful.
Besides the stunning locaiton, you can enjoy in different activities. They have multiple locations, one near Cancun and one near Play Del Carmen.]
See more at Xcaret.
Places to eat in Playa del Carmen
Each time we visit we keep returning to the same places to eat over and over again. Here are 4 places we suggest visiting whilst you are in Playa del Carmen (and yes we know they arent Mexican food but they are so good!):
Roma Spaghetti – this is a small, unassuming restaurant which we believe is attached to someones house. It is nothing fancy but wow, the food is out of this world and it has won awards. The pasta is fresh and everything is super flavoursome – this is where we chose to spend valentines day this year.
Mae Thai Restaurant – in a slightly fancier setting nearer the coast is Mae Thai. Again we go here on every visit and highly recommend the pineapple fried rice.
Salade – one for a healthy and tasty lunch. They do huge salads as well as paninis, bagels etc.
Chez Celine – this was one of the best brunches we had. They also have a huge selection of pastries and sweet treats inside (which we took home and sat in bed with!).
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 $50 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.
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!
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