During the afternoon Playa is quiet, but as the sun sets the town is at its most festive. Street performers stroll Quinta Avenida Playing guitars while singing Spanish folk song, and lovers walk hand in hand, their ruddy faces glowing in the red rays of the setting sun.
Happy hour, which can last for a generous 120 minutes, gets under way at most taverns and the village becomes a international social club. American football flashes on giant screens before enthusiastic Italians; which, at least, provides a new opening line: "Can you explain this game to me?" (Asking if you live near by seems unlikely in Playa)
From Playa it's only a short boat trip to Cozumel. Twin-hulled ferries depart every hour and take takes less than that to make the crossing. Conveniently, they arrive in the heart of the island's downtown, where tourists can find dive shops (Cozumels main attraction) or shop in duty-free stores. The island is so close that many people go over for breakfast rent a scooter and motor around to see the sights then come back to playa to spend the night.
Playa itself has Mayan roots; its original name was Xaman-Xa. The Maya used it as launching point for pilgrimages to Cozumel, which they held to be the home of Ixchel, the goddess of the moon, love, pregnancy and childbirth. Though remnants or buildings left behind by this ancient civilization still dot Playa's shores, the town has changed somewhat since the decline of the Maya, much less over the last twenty years. Those who remember it as nothing more than a ferry stop will be stared by the changes. Some locals claim the town is the fasted growing community in Mexico. First time visitors are the lucky ones. They simply arrive, find themselves dazzled by the charm, and never want to leave.