Located just off the ferry dock, Fundadores Park (El Zocalo) is the center of Playa del Carmen. This beachside park sits along Playa del Carmen’s famous Fifth Avenue, and it’s the main square from which the rest of the tourist area branches out. From El Zócalo you’ll have a gorgeous view of the ocean and easy access to the beaches.
The perimeter of El Zócalo is lined with shops selling local crafts that make great souvenirs and gifts; popular hotels; a bandstand; Our Lady of Carmen church; the arched beachside Portal Maya sculpture; and a playground for kids.
Visitors can also see a performance of the Papantla Flyers ritual, most commonly associated with the Papantla, Veracruz, area of Mexico, during which four men tied to ropes descend from a 98-foot (30-meter) pole while a fifth remains on top playing a flute.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Visit El Zócalo independently or as part of a sightseeing tour.
- English is widely spoken in almost all of the tourist areas.
- Bring sun protection and plenty of water, as there is little shade in the park.
- Set aside time to peruse the shops located along the perimeter of the square.
How to Get There
Fundadores Park sits just outside of the ADO Bus Station on Fifth Avenue between Avenida Benito Juarez and the ferry dock. If you take a bus into the city, it’ll likely be the first place you see. If you’re staying in downtown, it’s an easy walk to El Zócalo.
When to Get There
Playa del Carmen’s El Zócalo can be visited year-round and it’s almost always crowded. If you want to try and beat the crowds, plan to arrive early in the morning before the shops open. It’s also a good place to watch the sunrise.
Portal Maya Sculpture
At the front of the park, a beachside sculpture depicts a man and women clasping hands in a spiral of wind and water to form an archway. Portal Maya stands over 50 feet (15 meters) high and commemorates the December 2012 end of the Maya calendar. Visitors to El Zócalo can walk around the piece to see it up close.