Playa del Carmen is mostly a place for shopping, bars and night clubs. Yes, the beach is also great, but often packed with teens and crowds. The streets around Playa del Carmen, are great for shopping, so if you are a big fan of shopping, or just to see the shops, this will be the best place in Riviera Maya for buying stuff.
Since I’m not a huge fan of crowds and shopping, stayed away from Playa Del Carmen, and visited only once on our way down to Tulum.
I assume they should have also nice restaurants, but didn’t check properly. It’s also from Playa Del Carmen that you have the ferry or boat services, either to Cozumel Island or Isla Mujeres. Also, if you move further walking north or south from the main center, you should be able to get much better beaches and less crowded.
The area of Playa Del Carmen is also quite famous for beach parties and night clubs, aside with Cancun makes a perfect setting for springbreaks and young teenager parties.
Disclaimer – Please note: some of the experiences listed here may have been sponsored, but this review is independent and reflects exclusively my personal experience.