Playa del Carmen is a balneario resort city just south of Cancun on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, in the northeast of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The city is the seat of the Solidaridad municipality. In the 2010 census, the city had a population of 149,923 people and it is rapidly growing in population. It is the third largest city in Quintana Roo, after Cancun and Chetumal.
Playa del Carmen is named for Our Lady of Mount Carmel, who is the patron saint of Cancun. The first recorded visitors to the beaches of what is now Playa del Carmen came during the Early Classic Period (a.d. 300-600) of the Mayan civilization. Then called Xaman-Ha, or "waters of the north," Playa del Carmen was a rest stop of sorts for travelers making their way from the great cities of the Mayan World to the island of Cozumel. The coast and lowlands of the peninsula were still heavily populated with the descendents of the fallen civilization when the Spaniards arrived. Tulum, less than an hour south of Playa, was the last Mayan outpost and there are plenty of small ruins in Playa del Carmen. The Spanish focused their attention around the area of Merida, where conditions were better for growing henequen (sisal), a fibre used to make rope.