The Riviera Maya is a region. It starts just south of Cancun airport and includes areas such as Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Playacar, Puerto Aventuras, Xpu-Ha and Akumal. There is one main highway that runs the length of the area running north (Cancun) to south (Tulum).
Playa del Carmen town is pretty much right in the middle of the Riviera Maya. We are 68 km (42 miles) south of Cancun, and 64 km (41 miles) from Tulum.
If you are visiting from Cancun, you have a couple of options. Take a taxi, grab the ADO bus, or the Playa Express colectivo.
If you are visiting from a hotel in the Mayan Riviera, you can grab the colectivo (shuttle mini-bus) on the 307 highway, or take a taxi.
Once in the center of town, pretty much everything is walking distance.
The avenues (Avenida = av-eh-nee-duh) run parallel to the beach: 1st, 5th, 10th etc. up until the main highway which would be 50th. The calle’s (k-eye-yay) run perpendicular to the beach and in the north side, run in two’s with even numbers (2, 4, 6, etc.) and in the south part run in two’s with odd numbers (1,3,5 etc.). So even if you think it is 20 blocks away, from 12th street to 32nd street, it is only about 10 streets and not as far as it may seem.
One main road into town, Ave. Juarez, separates the north part of the town and the south part of town. It also leads you right to the ADO bus station where you can connect with other cities throughout Mexico, but the most popular are Cancun, Tulum and Merida.
The ferry dock to Cozumel is steps away from Juarez. A round-trip ferry ride costs about $24US per person and will get you over to the island in about 45 minutes.
5th Avenue - or la Quinta (Kin-tah) as the locals call it - is the pedestrian street that brings Playa some fame. Here you will find shops, flea market type stalls, restaurants, bars and cafe’s. You can also head along some of the side streets for even more shopping. It begins just south of Juarez at the Paseo de Carmen shopping area and runs through town all the way until the Paradisus hotel complex.