Funky Finds, Exclusive Treasures and Tacky Souvenirs in Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen started out as a small fishing village where people caught the ferry to the island of Cozumel. However “Playa” (the locals’ name for the town) has become one of the most popular tourist towns in Mexico. No matter how big it gets, Playa never seems to lose its relaxed, bohemian feel.

Pedestrian street La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue) is the soul of Playa del Carmen. This charming walkway that runs parallel to and a block up from the beach is home to many of the boutique hotels, bars, restaurants and shops that visitors frequent, but there are many other places to search for the perfect souvenir or gift, a new outfit or anything else you might be looking for.

Biuriful and Sol Jaguar are  independent shops that sell unique merchandise. If you’re looking for artwork to take home as a keepsake, Gaston Charro Art Gallery sells art for all budgets. Plaza Playacar Shopping Mall is within walking distance of many Playacar resorts. If you feel like catching a movie (Please note that American movies are sometimes dubbed over in Spanish, so check first) and doing some shopping Centro Maya is your best bet. For exclusive gifts, perfume and cosmetics, Pineda Covalin and Ultrafemme await. If you're look for a modern, American-style mall, head to Quinta Alegria Shopping Mall.

Go on a hunt for endless shopping treasures in Playa del Carmen.


Centro Maya is a shopping center located on the highway in Playa del Carmen that is frequented by both locals and tourists. Shops and services include superstore Soriana, warehouse club City Club, a Cinemex with nine theaters, Coppel department store, shoe stores, clothing stores, an Office Max and Zingara, a beachwear boutique. Restaurants include Subway, McDonalds, Taco Grill and Starbucks. There is also a Baskin Robbins, a car wash and a couple of banks. Catch a movie and then go shopping for a new bikini or sunglasses that you can wear to the beach when the sun comes out tomorrow.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Shopping because: Centro Maya has it all, a large grocery store, a movie theater, shops and services.

Kristin's expert tip: The best way to get to Centro Maya is by taxi since it is located on the highway.

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Ultrafemme is a gorgeous, first world, luxury shop that sells brand name perfume and cosmetics. You'll find Ultrafemme stores in Los Cabos, Cancun and in three locations in Playa del Carmen. There are knowledgeable sales clerks to help you choose the perfect skincare line or make-up palate. Ultrafemme sells luxury brands like Dior, MAC, Burberry and Chanel and more accessible lines like The Body Shop, Victoria's Secret, Maybelline and L'Oreal. Some of their stores also carry fine jewelry and watches. The other Ultrafemme store in Playa is located in Plaza Paseo del Carmen.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Shopping because: Ultrafemme is the place to buy brand name perfume and cosmetics in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

Kristin's expert tip: Ultrafemme also has a duty free shop in the Cancun airport.

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Gaston Charo Art Gallery is like walking into a dream. Tucked in a charming alley off 5th Avenue called Jardin de Marieta, Gaston Charo Art Gallery offers the work of Mexican artist Gastro Charo, which is a combination of cubism, surrealism and expressionism, and more than 30 other local, national and international artists as well. Sculptures, paintings, photographs, jewelry are available, in many different styles, techniques, sizes and prices. The gallery, which has been open for over 10 years, offers caring and personalized attention and shipping services to anywhere in the world.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Shopping because: Gaston Charo Art Gallery offers a dreamy ambiance and many different types of art.

Kristin's expert tip: The little alley where Gaston Charo Art Gallery is located is a great place to take vacation pictures.

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Pineda Covalin is an exclusive Mexican company whose merchandise is sold in boutiques of the same name all over the country. You may have seen a Pineda Covalin boutique in the Cancun or Mexico City airport and there is also a shop located in Playa del Carmen on 5th Avenue. The high quality, beautiful bags, scarves, ties and clothing are made from the finest silk and feature vibrant colors and creative designs. Pineda Covalin's creations combine Mexican history, culture and tradition with a modern esthetic. These upscale items aren't souvenirs, but high fashion treasures that never go out of style.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Shopping because: Pineda Covalin sells exclusive unique merchandise that never goes out of style.

Kristin's expert tip: If you forget to stop by Pineda Covalin in Playa you can pick something up at their boutique in the Cancun airport.

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Plaza Playacar's motto is, "Take Home Mexico," which is very fitting considering the fact that this shopping center sells many different types of Mexican souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, tequila, gifts, silver, handicrafts, cigars and art. This small colonial-style open air mall is in Playacar, the upscale, quiet neighborhood in Playa del Carmen, and within walking distance of many resorts, like the RIU Playacar, Club Viva Playa, Royal Hideaway and more. In addition to the many shops and kiosks, visitors will find services like an internet cafe, a car rental, a bank, a photo lab and a drugstore. There is live mariachi music at Plaza Playacar on many evenings.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Shopping because: Plaza Playacar is within walking distance of many of the resorts in Playacar and offers visitors various shops and services.

Kristin's expert tip: Be sure to take a souvenir photo on the decorated bench.

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Photo courtesy of Biuriful

Biuriful is a fashionable boutique located on La Quinta Avenida between 30 and 32nd streets. The name is a play on the word "beautiful". This chic shop carries sunglasses, accessories, jewelry, clothing, shoes and various unique handmade items for both men and women. Merchandise includes both national and international brands, and is distinctive and made by smaller, independent companies with design, elegance and quality in mind. Prices vary enormously, from an accessible 20 usd to a 1000 usd splurge. This is the place to shop for unique items that you will treasure for years to come.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Shopping because: Biuriful carries beautiful, unique merchandise that stands out in a crowd.

Kristin's expert tip: Buy a unique, quality item that will always remind you of your vacation in Playa del Carmen.

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This outdoor shopping mall is located at the very end of the quiet, upscale Playacar neighborhood. Pedestrian-friendly paths wind between the shops and restaurants including clothing stores Guess, Zara and Benetton and eateries like Rolandi's and Sushiitto. There is also a good selection of locally owned boutiques that sell everything from bathing suits and clothing to cigars and jewelry. In the evenings, street performers juggling fire and doing acrobatics entertain the shoppers. Hours and credit cards accepted vary by store. Paseo del Carmen was recently remodeled and some of the shops have changed and/or closed.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Shopping because: Paseo del Carmen has a wide variety of shops and restaurants and is within walking distance of Playacar.

Kristin's expert tip: Take a stroll around Paseo del Carmen in the evenings to see street performances.

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Sol Jaguar, which also goes by the name Sun Jaguar, is a beautiful gift shop that offers authentic, high quality Mexican handcrafts. You won't find any plastic Playa del Carmen key chains here! What you will find is wood carvings, textiles, pillow cases, tablecloths, table runners, bed covers, ponchos, trees of life, Day of the Dead figures and skulls, scarves, shawls, leather bags, alebrijes (colorful carved wooden creatures), ceramics, stoneware, wall hangings and handmade sterling silver jewelry. These are unique, quality items that can be purchased as souvenirs or gifts.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Shopping because: Instead of cheap souvenirs, Sol Jaguar offers beautiful items that reflect Mexican traditions.

Kristin's expert tip: Prices here are fixed, so you don't have to worry about haggling!

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Quinta Alegria Shopping Mall is three floors of shopping in downtown Playa de Carmen, right on famous Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue). Locals, expats and tourists alike were all thrilled when this sparking U.S.-style mall opened and brought Forever 21, Bebe, Aldo, Victoria's Secret (sans the bras and panties), American Eagle, The Body Shop and much more. Grab a coffee or a treat at Starbucks or Haagen Dazs, or a meal at well-known Mexican chain, Sanborn's, which makes up the entire third floor. Plenty of trees and plants and sitting areas complete the experience. Underground parking is available.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Shopping because: Quinta Alegria offers a modern shopping experience and in a convenient location.

Kristin's expert tip: Have lunch upstairs on the terrace at Sanborn's for an amazing view of the Caribbean.

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5th Avenue (La Quinta Avenida) in Playa del Carmen needs no introduction. This is the lively pedestrian street located one block from the beach that is the heart of Playa's (as it is called by locals) shopping, dining and nightlife. 5th Avenue keeps getting longer and longer and more shops open every day, but it never loses its funky bohemian charm. Visitors will find stores, shops and boutiques that sell souvenirs, clothing, bikinis, art, tequila, silver and everything and anything else they are looking for. You can be entertained for hours without spending a dime in "La Quinta's" shops, but that doesn't mean you won't want to.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Shopping because: La Quinta Avenida is world famous for it's charm. Visitors will find everything and anything they are searching for.

Kristin's expert tip: Visit 5th Avenue in the evening when it's cooler and shop, grab a bite to eat and have a few cocktails.

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Meet Kristin Busse

After vacationing in Mexico many times, Kristin decided to move to Cancun "for a year". That was in 2001.

Kristin grew-up in Michigan and studied Communications at Michigan State University....  More About Kristin