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Playa Carmen is in the middle of everything, as you first come down the hill to the Costa Rica beach area of Santa Teresa / Malpais, and is the most popular surf spot in the Malpais / Santa Teresa area for two reasons. First of all, there are the largest number of hotels and businesses, so the population density is higher. It also has a beachfront pizza place and bar, which is one of the very few places that you can eat and stare at the waves in the area, since the first 50 meters of beachfront is supposed to be undeveloped wildlife corridor. And of course it doesn’t hurt that it has the most consistently great waves in the area.
Playa Carmen is the name of a beach, and there’s no official town here, although it is the commercial hub of the area, with two banks, the pharmacy, the best bakery, sushi restaurant, half a dozen surf shops, and many other places of interest to shop. One of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, it starts near Malpais Surf Camp and stretches north. There are several rocky spots within the water, with nice-looking waves that look very inviting to surfers, such as in front of Casa Zen and Super Vistas Bungalows. So it’s a good idea to use some caution to find out where the safe places to surf are.
Best Places to Stay:
The Palm Villa: One of the most beautiful beachfront rental homes in the area
La Casona: Next to the Palm Villa, you can rent them both for larger groups or families up to 16 people.
Hotel Casa Azul: Probably the best value for a beachfront place in the area, it’s the one that I recommend most. It’s often booked up however.
Casa Zen: Casa Zen is the coolest place around, with yoga, a great restaurant, and a great owner and staff.
Best Restaurants in Playa Carmen: