Playa del carmen is safe to travel in 2023, but tourists are advised to exercise increased caution due to the rise in violence and criminal activities.
If you’re considering visiting Playa del carmen, then the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory is a must-read for every tourist.
The advisory informs tourists about travel safety in Mexico and explains which regions are dangerous and which are safe.
Mexico states are divided into 4 groups:
- Do Not Travel
- Reconsider Travel
- Exercise Increased Caution
- Exercise Normal Caution
Playa del Carmen is part of the Quintana Roo state, where tourists should “Exercise Increased Caution”. This means that although tourists are not discouraged from visiting Playa Del Carmen, they should be vigilant as there’s a rise in criminal and violent activities in the region.
Playa Del Carmen has a crime rate of 47.31%. While this is a moderate rate, the state to which this city belongs, Quintana Roo, is Mexico’s 10th most dangerous state. Between June 2022 and May 2023, Quintana Roo recorded as many as 721 homicides.
Still, Playa Del Carmen has relatively low crime rates compared to other notorious cities and states in Mexico. The balmy Cancun, for instance, has a crime rate of 56.16%, whereas the state’s capital, Mexico City, has 67.95%.
So, why should tourists in Playa Del Carmen be increasingly cautious?
According to statistics by Numbeo, crime in Playa Del Carmen has skyrocketed in the last 3 years, with corruption, stealing, police extortion and drug use & abuse being the top offense.
Playa Del Carmen is also no stranger to cartel violence, and citizens and tourists may be at risk, particularly if they’re not careful. To get more insights of how violent Playa Del Carmen can be, let’s look at some of the most shocking crime reports that are slowly tarnishing the reputation of this city.
Playa del Carmen has become a major drug distribution center in recent years. Some of Mexico’s most vicious cartels have a strong presence in the city, and where there’s cartel presence, there is often violence.
One illustrative incident took place in March 2022, where the bodies of 4 males were discovered near an apartment building. Officials believed that the incident was related to gang activity because of the number of people killed and how their remains were hidden.
Another horrific incident rattled the media in June 2022, when 2 Canadians, a man and a woman, were discovered dead from knife wounds, and another person was injured. The event occurred in a “problematic” neighborhood of Playa Del Carmen, and, allegedly, the man who was murdered was wanted by Interpol.
Soon after, in August 2022, 2 tourists were killed in a bar due to multiple gunshot wounds. According to local media, the incident was a targeted strike, and the police confirmed that they made 2 arrests.
A similar incident happened at a bar in May 2023, where the target was again tourists. 7 shots were fired which badly wounded an American citizen.
When it comes to drug distribution, authorities believe that Fifth Avenue, more precisely, a place there called “Animalandia Maya,” is the drug point-of-sale in Playa Del Carmen. In March 2023, police officers made a significant drug bust, seizing over 2,000 street doses of narcotics such as marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, crystal meth, LSD, crack, and hashish. They also found a shotgun and around 8,000 pesos of cash. According to the police, more than 1,300 of the seized drugs were cocaine.
As we can see from the news reports, crime and violence do happen in Playa Del Carmen.
To be on the safe side, stay alert and exercise caution at all times. Stick to tourist areas, book only recognized hotels, and, most importantly, avoid engaging in illicit activities!
COVID-19 Safety in Playa Del Carmen
COVID-19 still exists in Mexico, but the country has lifted all pandemic-related entry restrictions.
This means that tourists can enter the country without a COVID-19 test or a vaccination certificate. Plus, there’s no longer a curfew or mandatory mask-wearing in public places.
Playa Del Carmen offers private testing for COVID-19. You can get tested at any hospital, clinic, or laboratory and receive the results by email or text message.
PCR tests cost between 950 and 4500 MXN ($53 and $250), and viral antigen tests cost between 200 and 1000 MXN ($11 and $55) for viral antigen tests.
As of July 2023, there are 7,633,355 positive cases in Mexico, 334,336 deaths, and 6,885,378 recovered. Quintana Roo ranks 28th in Mexico in terms of positive cases, with a daily average of 15 infected.
This may be a small number for such a large state, but keep in mind that it only took one person to spread it worldwide. Make sure you maintain social distancing, wash and sanitize your hands, and, most importantly — do not travel if you carry the virus.
Perils of Nature: The Risk of Natural Disasters in Playa Del Carmen
The hurricane season at Playa Del Carmen lasts from June 1st to November 30th, with the peak season between August and October.
Playa Del Carmen hasn’t been hit by a hurricane since October 2005 — yet Hurricane Wilma, which hit that year, was one of the region’s most catastrophic hurricanes. The hurricane made landfall near Playa del Carmen, causing major damage to the area, widespread flooding, and the loss of 23 lives.
Nature’s powers are unpredictable, and while Playa Del Carmen hasn’t had a hurricane since 2005, it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of this happening. Monitor approaching storms on the National Hurricane Service and plan your trip accordingly.
Carbon Monoxide Awareness and Prevention
Carbon monoxide is an undetectable and odorless gas, yet it’s lethal — every year, approximately 420 people are poisoned by it in the United States.
So what’s so toxic about carbon monoxide? The gas is created by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels. It can leak from faulty appliances such as stoves, gas water heaters, and furnaces, and since it’s basically invisible, our senses are unable to detect it.
When inhaled, carbon monoxide prevents the blood from transporting oxygen to the cells and tissues. Depending on how long the gas is inhaled, it can cause headache, nausea, and dizziness, or something more serious like paralysis, brain damage, and death.
Playa Del Carmen hasn’t suffered any deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning.
However, even though there haven’t been any reported deaths in the area, many residences could be unknowingly exposed to this dangerous gas. A study in Juarez discovered that more than 60% of the city’s homes with gas and wood heaters had harmful carbon monoxide levels.
Despite the very real danger of carbon monoxide poisoning, it’s actually easily avoidable with a carbon monoxide detector. This is a device that detects the presence of the gas in an enclosed room and sounds an alert if it detects it’s present at unsafe levels.
Installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home is a must, but packing one for your travels is also a good idea. Maybe your accommodation won’t have one, so this way, you’ll have backup protection.
Playa Del Carmen is renowned for its beaches. The entire length of its coastline is endless, silky sand, and its vibrant beachside promenade is dotted with restaurants, cafes, and stores.
The beaches of Playa Del Carmen are not only stunning, but they are also clean. 4 beaches have been given the prestigious Blue Flag status, which guarantees that a beach is clean and safe.
The blue-flag beaches are Pelicano, Xcalacoco, Calle 18, and Punta Esmeralda.
In Playa Del Carmen, you’ll also see many other flags with different colors. They indicate the swimming conditions and signal if there are dangerous marine animals in the water. Here’s a legend that can help you decipher what the colors mean:
- Black — Do not swim; deadly currents
- Red — Avoid swimming; dangerous currents
- Yellow — Semi-safe; swim with caution
- White — Dangerous marine life; swim with caution
- Green — Safe to swim
When in Playa Del Carmen, take note of the flag system and plan your beach day accordingly. It’s best to soak up the beautiful sun on the beaches that have earned the Blue Flag certification, as they are the safest.
Playa Del Carmen has a wet and a dry season.
The dry season spans from November to April. Precipitation is low, so the skies are clear, with plenty of sunshine. Temperatures range from the mid-70s to the mid-80s°F (24-30°C), ideal for beach activities, water sports, and discovering the region’s attractions.
The wet season in Playa del Carmen lasts from May through October, followed by increased humidity and frequent rainfall. May and June have the least rain, while September and October have the most. Temperatures throughout the wet season range from the high 70s to the low 90s°F (25-33°C). It’s crucial to note that rain usually falls in the form of intense but brief afternoon showers. Furthermore, the rainy season has some advantages, such as fewer tourists and lower hotel and activity prices.
The summer season at Playa Del Carmen runs from June to August. The average daily temperature is around 83°F (28°C), whereas, on the hottest days, the temperature at Playa Del Carmen can reach 91°F (32°C). Summer nights are pleasant, with temperatures around 75°F (24°C).
Playa Del Carmen’s fall season lasts from September through November. The average daily temperature can reach 82°F (27°C), with a maximum probable high of 90°F (32°C). At night, the temperature begins to drop and may fall as low as 70°F (20°C).
The winter season in Playa Del Carmen lasts from December to February. The average daytime temperature is around 74°F (23°C), with a high of 83°F (28°C). Winter nights are cool but pleasant for the season, with temperatures around 67°F (19°C).
Playa Del Carmen’s spring season lasts from March until May. The daily average temperature is 79°F (26°C), while on the hottest spring days, Playa Del Carmen can reach up to 89°F (31°C). The nights in spring are comfortable, with lows of 69°F (20°C).
The best time to visit Playa del Carmen weather-wise depends on your preferences.
The optimal time to visit Playa del Carmen is mid-March and late May. Visiting during this time of year means pleasant temperatures, slight humidity, and little rain — the perfect conditions for outdoor pursuits and beach relaxation.
Booking a trip between December and mid-March is also a good idea, especially for those who prefer milder weather. During this period, tourists can expect chilly and cloudy days, which are ideal if you want to organize an enjoyable and not overly scorching trip to the Mayan temples.
For fans of hot and humid weather, July and August are the perfect months. However, tourists should also expect showers and tropical storms, which, when you think about it, can be a welcome relief after hours of blistering heat.
Yes, it’s safe to travel alone and with family to Playa del Carmen. However, crime and violence, as we already discussed, are present, so exercising increased caution will help you stay safe.
Here are some tips to help you stay safe in Playa Del Carmen.
To begin, learn some fundamental Spanish so that you can blend in with the locals. Purchase a Mexican SIM card with an internet connection so that you always have good cell service. It’s also a good idea to have some pesos on hand, as some establishments may not accept other currencies.
Always keep the following emergency numbers on hand in case of an emergency: 911 (police), 066 (ambulance), and 080 (fire services). When you get to your destination, use Google Maps to find the nearest police station, just in case.
Make sure to book at reputable, well-known hotels and accommodation options — Booking and Airbnb are excellent & reliable. While in Mexico, we recommend that you avoid drinking tap water because it’s contaminated.
This is essential for solo travels — never venture out alone at night and never stray too far from the hotel. Experience the city throughout the day and call it a night once the sun sets.
Staying in touch with a friend or relative is also very important. Talk to your loved ones so they always know your whereabouts; share your plans for your day and the locations you are planning to visit.
While out and about, drink responsibly so you’ll always be in control, and dress modestly, just to play it safe. Avoid places packed with people to avoid intoxicated incidents.
When drawing money, don’t use public ATMs, as they are the most common areas for robberies. Instead, opt for banks, malls, or supermarkets where there are cameras, security, and people present.
When traveling with family, especially children, it’s critical to have a first-aid kit on hand. Make sure you have sunscreen in the kit too, as the sun in Playa Del Carmen is strong and may lead to sunburns!
For the sake of your family’s safety, never go out at night. Plan your activities during the day and return to your hotel at night so you are well-rested. Renting a car is the most convenient option for getting around the city rather than paying for taxis. Make sure not to drink alcohol while driving, though!
At the beach, keep an eye on your kids. The waves and currents are strong, and there’s always the risk of an encounter with dangerous marine life.
In conclusion, Playa del Carmen is a must-see tourist destination that is relatively safe for tourists who exercise caution. In reality, many other tourist destinations in Mexico, such as Cozumel or Cabo, are more dangerous for tourists.
In Playa del Carmen, take the standard precautions you’d take when visiting any other tourist location. Remain informed of local guidelines, monitor the weather conditions for possible hurricanes, and be cautious of your surroundings at all times! This way, you’ll be able to enjoy the charm of this Caribbean paradise without jeopardizing your safety.
Have a fantastic trip to Mexico!