Enjoy the beautiful sights and delicious vegan food on offer with Anna Keeve's vegan Playa del Carmen and Tulum guide.
When you think of the top vegan-friendly places to travel, Mexico might not be at the top of your list. However, if you target the right cities in Mexico, there is a plant-based foodie haven, and heaven, begging to be explored.
And heaven is what you’ll discover in Playa del Carmen, a city in Mexico just south of Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula located on the coast (between Cancun and Tulum).
White sand beaches, turquoise water—and yes, an incredible abundance of vegan food. Playa del Carmen is even home to the world’s first all-inclusive plant-based resort with an amazing vegan menu.
You can also explore the city centre finding delicious dishes on an all-vegan food tour.
These are just to name a few things that solidify Playa del Carmen’s claim-to-vegan-fame and makes it the most vegan-friendly city in Mexico.
Plus, Playa del Carmen is just a 45-minute drive to Tulum. This eco-conscious vegan-aware town is steeped in historical significance, natural beauty and is a vibey place to party.
This entire stretch of Mexico, from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, on the Caribbean sea is the place to go for the veg-seeking nature-loving traveller.
The best place to stay in Playa del Carmen for vegans
Palmaia, House of AïA
Playa del Carmen is home to the world’s first plant-based all-inclusive resort, Palmaia, House of AïA.
Playa del Carmen can now claim the world’s first plant-based all-inclusive resort, Palmaia, House of AïA.
Forget everything you thought you knew about “all-inclusives,” Palmaia is in a category of its own.
Not only will you find exquisite plant-based cuisine across the three dinner restaurants, the casual beach-front cafe, and an on-site taco truck, but there is also 24-hour room service so you can get your vegan foodie fix any time of day.
All the food is vegan-first, meaning everything on the menus is vegan. Additionally, there are a few options for meat add-ons to accommodate all food preferences in your group.
Nowhere else in the world will you find a resort as plant-food focused and vegan-forward as Palmaia.
Palmaia's vegan menu is filled with tasty vegan dishes such as vegan nachos and French toast.
They’ve covered every detail for the veg-minded. Even the bathroom products, as well as everything used in the spa, are vegan and cruelty-free.
But the carefully sourced products and thoughtful plant-based food are just the beginning of what might excite you.
The luxury resort also provides a “progressive wellness” program which includes an array of classes throughout the day.
From talks with a Shaman, to yoga classes, Tai Chi, astrological readings and more, you’ll have an expertly engineered set of life-changing and -centring programming at your fingertips.
The resort is also family-friendly, and they even have a Waldorf school on-site for kids of guests to be entertained with activities to help bring them closer to nature.
If you want to venture outside of the resort, they provide bikes so you can take a short ride through the private community, Playacar where the resort is located, directly into the main town of Playa del Carmen.
Holiday rentals in Playa del Carmen
If you are looking for a non-inclusive option or a more in-the-heart-of-the-City place to stay, there are rentals via house share apps around 5th Ave. strip, which is the main thoroughfare in Playa del Carmen, with shops, restaurants and hotels.
Stay within a few miles and you will be within walking distance of the many things to do, see and taste. You can also find budget accommodations if you travel a little further away from 5th Ave.
If you love to travel, plan your next trip with our vegan travel guides:
The best vegan foodie activity
For the friend-making foodie, the Eating with Carmen Food Tour, Vegan Delight, guides guests on an all-vegan food-tasting around the city.
During the three-hour tasting walking tour, you will walk around the lesser-known streets in downtown Playa del Carmen to discover the complex flavours of Mexican food.
You’ll get a taste of authentic Yucatec dishes followed by a delicious vegan ceviche and too-good-to-be-true vegan tacos.
On the tour, you’ll also encounter some must-visit local spots in Playa. Explore the colourful fruit market and public market, as well as street art murals all along the route.
Not only will you absorb the flavours of the city, but you’ll also take in history and facts. Here are a few spoilers: Playa del Carmen is one of the most diverse cities in Latin America; 80% of its population is either from a different part of México or from a different country altogether.
Also, in its recent history, Quintana Roo (which houses Playa del Carmen, Tulum, etc.) was the first state in México to prohibit the use of single-use plastics.
You’ll see and feel the eco-conscious vibe across the city and at many resorts like the aforementioned Palmaia.
The best day trip from Playa del Carmen: Tulum
If you have time to venture outside of Playa del Carmen and take in another city, Tulum is a 45-minute drive down the coast.
While Tulum is a little tough to navigate as the roads can often be under construction, you will find some spectacular wonders in this little eco-conscious enclave.
If you are day-tripping, it’s recommended to have a few specific spots to visit.
First, up is the Tulum Archaeological Zone. This is made up of Mayan ruins, which are a must-visit to fully appreciate the history and origins of both Tulum and civilization in general.
This rare ancient Mayan city is the 3rd most visited tourist destination in the entire country. It’s best to go early before it gets too hot or busy as there is not much shade as you walk around.
Where to find vegan food in Tulum
If you continue down the coast further into Tulum you’ll find the small village. Past that is the hotel zone which is a row of resorts with beach clubs, eateries and some party-centric life.
For a mind-blowing architectural wonder, visit Azulik. This resort and restaurant is a labyrinth of bridges, huts and even little ocean-facing “nests” where you can dine.
There is a limited menu with vegan options, but you visit Azulik first and foremost for the architectural magnificence and views.
Some vegan eateries in Tulum of note include The Real Coconut Kitchen. This vegan cafe whips up healthy plant-based food, all of which is gluten-free and sugar-free.
Being beach-front is nice as you can spend some time at the beach after eating and having a few drinks.
In this hotel zone area, you will also encounter Raw Love. This cafe set on the beach with little wooden seating and hammocks for an ocean-front healthy food retreat.
Its massive indigenous female-figure sculpted is also a major attraction so you’ll want to reserve time for a few Instagram-worthy photos.
The best cenotes to visit
Just a 20-minute drive from Playa del Carmen (towards Tulum) there are a number of Cenotes, which are famous in this area of Mexico.
Cenotes are water-filled sinkholes that have formed over time due to limestone collapsing. Cenotes can be wide open sun-facing lagoons or underground caves—so they certainly vary depending on where you go.
While some can get crowded, Jardín Del Eden is spacious above ground Cenotes with many areas to swim through. It even has little spots to lay out in and soak up the sun.
If you want to escape the coast and dive into a more jungle-based Cenote, head to Cenote Choo-Ha. This Cenote is perfect if you’re looking for an underground, cave-like experience.
The water is crystal clear and intricate water formations will leave you feeling like you’ve landed on another planet.
Has this vegan Playa del Carmen and Tulum guide made you feel hungry for some Mexican food?
Try these vegan taco recipes!
Anna Keeve is a freelance journalist covering plant-based food and vegan lifestyles. Anna is also the founder of the blog and social channel, Life’s Alternate Route, helping keep people’s veg-friendly life informed and inspired. Instagram: @lifesalternateroute and website: www.lifesalternateroute.com