Helping my parents plan a recent trip to Playa I was struck with a bit of a dilemma, I really wanted to show off my adopted city to my parents but would they be able to fully appreciate it?  My parents are disabled and while both are able to walk on their own for short distances, Playa is very much a pedestrian and bicycle town with tons of steps, few ramps and even fewer handicapped parking spaces. Thus, the planning began to revolve around a central theme -is Playa del Carmen handicap accessible?

The first thing we had to figure out was a place to stay. Most of the big all-inclusive hotels are fairly handicap friendly but we were looking for a different experience this time around. They wanted something more private, in town and not on a big property. While researching we found the centrally located Luna Encantada Condos. Beachfront and less than a block from 5th Avenue, this small, gated condo complex could not have been in a better location but was it accessible? It turned out that the condo was very accessible. Not perfect, but better than we expected.  Unlike most condo complexes in Playa, Luna has an elevator that is easily accessed from the parking garage and the front gate as well as from the pool area. In fact the only area that wasn’t accessible by ramp was the beach. All of the condos have fabulous beach and pool views so my parents weren’t too bummed about it since they were able to watch the kids play on the beach or in the pool right from their patio.

Luna Encantada Condo pool view
View from the condo patio. Not too shabby, eh?

Okay so we’d gotten lodging all figured out, now what are we going to do with them? Most activities here involve the stunning natural resources surrounding Playa or the shopping, eating and drinking on 5th Avenue but which activities were handicap accessible?

Dad is an avid fisherman so a deep sea fishing trip was a no-brainer, but many of the fishing operations here require a walk across the soft, sandy beach and through the surf to climb onto the boat. Not an option in our case so I dug a little a deeper and found Captain Rick’s operating out of nearby Puerto Aventuras.  This trip might not work for a wheelchair but for Dad it was perfect. Capt. Rick’s picked us up at the front door of our condo and dropped us at the dock where a golf cart whisked us to our boat “My Obsession”. Once there, the crew helped Dad onto the boat and into the fighting chair and away we went. We caught a few fish but more importantly we got to spend a nice day on the water together, catching up and telling fish stories (mine true, his made up).

Captain Ricks Fishing
I promise, fishing is much harder work than it looks!

Once we had the fishing out of the way it was time to tackle 5th Avenue. The restaurants and shops were a very short distance from the condo but there was one big catch – 5th Avenue is a pedestrian only avenue so driving down it was out of the question. How could we demonstrate the joy of an evening stroll, some good food and some great people watching if it involved walking long distances? Right here is where we (Deidre) made a great decision and contacted Playa Mobility and changed the trip (definitely for the better).

Playa Mobility dropped off two brand new, never been used, mobility scooters that allowed my parents to travel up and down 5th Avenue. These things are awesome! Since we could now access the dozens (if not hundreds) of restaurants on 5th not only did our dining options suddenly became much broader, we now had an entirely new way to spend our evenings.

I've used valet parking before but table side parking is a whole new dimension!
Many restaurants have street seating and we were able to just pull the scooters right up to the table without any stress or hassle. The restaurants were more than happy to accommodate us.

The other great part about the scooters was their portability. Since they are lightweight and collapsible we were able to throw them in the back of our car and take the family down to Akumal for the day. We just told the guard at the entrance about the scooters and we were allowed to park right next to the Lol Ha beach bar. The scooters were once again driven in and right up to the table and the folks settled in to a nice shady, beachfront table to have some food and beverages while watching the kids snorkel with the famous turtles of Akumal.

Akumal Bay Handicap Accessible
Until this day I’d never considered Akumal Bay to be handicap accessible.

The area around Playa del Carmen is full of Mayan ruins, adventure parks, cenotes and of course, beautiful beaches. Some are more accessible than others but there were plenty of options open to us that we just didn’t have time to get to on this trip. All of these options have handicap accessible options and next time around we plan on hitting some or all of them.

  • Xcaret – An archeologic park with underground rivers, beaches and natural pools.
  • Xel-Ha – A unique set of inlets, lagoons and cenotes, arising from the longest underground river in the world.
  • Beach at Parque de Fundadores – The first public handicap beach in Mexico
  • Tulum Ruins – World famous Mayan ruins on a cliff overlooking the ocean.

Is Playa del Carmen handicap accessible? No, not in the American sense, not 100%. Were there some things that my parents couldn’t do while they were here? Yes, there were a few. But that didn’t stop them from having one of the best vacations of their lives nor did it stop them from beginning to plan their next trip down before they even left. They know what anyone who visits here knows – experiencing even a portion of Playa del Carmen is better than experiencing 100% of most other places on Earth.

I am no accessibility expert so for the purposes of this post I used only our own experiences.
I did not try and determine whether things are wheelchair accessible etc.

If you have specific questions about Playa del Carmen’s handicap accessibility please
don’t hesitate to contact me and I’d be glad to help in any way that I can.