Playa del Carmen’s main pedestrian and commercial drag is Quinta Avenida, or 5th Avenue, which stretches more than 20 blocks from the ferry dock northward. Pronounced KEEN-ta av-en-EE-da, you may see it written as 5 Avenida or 5a Avenida—5a is akin to 5th in English.
The first several blocks, especially around the ferry dock, are typical tourist traps, with souvenir shops and chain restaurants. Around Calle 10 or Calle 12, the atmosphere turns mellower, with bistros, jazz bars, and high-end boutiques. The section north of Avenida Constituyentes is cool and youthful, and has a number of Italian restaurants and Italian-owned shops there.
You’ll probably walk the length of Quinta Avenida once or twice—the best beaches are in the northern part, the bus terminal and ferry dock in the southern—and everyone seems to find his or her favorite part.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition