A Small Dog’s Guide to Playa del Carmen

by Gigi Griffis

As you may know, after spending two months on Mexico’s western coast, Luna and I flew across the country to explore the Caribbean coast, basing ourselves in Playa del Carmen.

We spent a month here from mid-June to mid-July and it officially got Too Hot on July first, so I’d recommend traveling earlier or later in the year if you have your dog along. It’s no fun to be constantly worrying about the dog overheating (which is why Luna and I spent much of our days in places with air conditioning and only ventured out in the evenings or to play in the rain).

That said, here’s the skinny on the town:

Dog-friendly housing: As we so often do, Luna and I rented a little studio that we found on Airbnb. Also as usual, it wasn’t listed as pet-friendly, but when I reached out with a polite email, they were happy to make an exception. I won’t recommend the specific apartment (as they had quite a few water, power, and landlord issues), but I will use this space to remind you – always politely ask about dog exceptions. Most people don’t list places as dog-friendly, but plenty are open to well-behaved pooches.

The beach: There is one spot on the beach where I saw a no dogs allowed sign. However, the entire beach is connected (not separated by rocks or coves) and it’s totally unclear which part of the beach is the no-dogs part, so I think it would be very easy to get out of a ticket if someone did try to give you one (and Luna and I lived dangerously and walked the whole beach, as did many other people with dogs).


Veterinary care: I love love LOVE the vet here in Playa del Carmen. The office is called Sanimal. The vet and his staff speak perfect English – so no worries if your Spanish is rusty. And when Luna got sick over the weekend, the vet was sweet, reassuring, and gave us an immediate solution. He also had a new perspective on Luna’s allergies…so hopefully we’ll be able to implement his suggestions and get better control on her allergic reactions.

Treats and supplies: the vet (Sanimal, info above) carries all the basics – food, doggie toothpaste, etc. And there’s also a shop called Mundo Animal in Centro Maya, which is the mall here in Playa del Carmen. It’s a bit far from town, so you may want to take a cab. Cab fare is 50 pesos from town to Centro Maya if you nab a cab off the street (just pay, don’t ask; if you ask, they charge more).

Restaurants, bars, and shops: Good news, puppy lovers! Playa tends to be a pet-friendly place. I took Luna to restaurants on the beach and on 5th Avenue and they always had a spot for us (usually on a patio or on the beach). We also spent a lot of time in coffee shops, indoors. And I only saw one coffee shop that had a no-dogs sign. Similarly, I didn’t see any shops with no-dog signs and we never had trouble just walking in and looking around.

La Quinta

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Maria July 31, 2013 - 8:24 am

Fantastic to see a post for the pooch!
You’ve created a great resource here. :-)

gigigriffis August 2, 2013 - 6:16 pm


Paula Elliott June 24, 2019 - 12:08 pm

Still the best info, six years later!

Trisha September 2, 2014 - 12:53 am

Hi! Thank you for the helpful information. I will be taking my two yorkies to Playa del Carmen for a month. Do you know what docs are required to take them to Mexico and bring them back to the states (I live in CA)? I was told rabies and health certificate but I wanted to double check since this is my first time. Thank you.

gigigriffis September 2, 2014 - 12:59 am

Hi Trisha,

Here’s the skinny on Luna’s and my paperwork for Mexico: https://gigigriffis.com/how-to-take-your-dog-from-the-us-to-mexico/.

My vet said their regulations change from time to time, so definitely double check these requirements with a USDA-approved vet (they’ll know the latest). You can find a list of approved vets on the USDA website, I believe. Or call the USDA and ask about vets in your area.

Paula Elliott April 17, 2019 - 6:56 am

Nice to see you here! We just moved our Welsh Terrier with us from Texas to Playa. Looking for a place to buy his Blue Buffalo dog food!

Shelly I Norway to Nowhere June 26, 2015 - 7:20 pm

So glad I found this post! I will be moving to Playa for at least 3 months with my adventure dog (he’s a husky) and this post made me feel much better about being able to explore with him! Great idea about reaching out to airbnb hosts even if they are not listed as pet friendly.

gigigriffis June 27, 2015 - 12:38 am

Glad it was helpful!

Sarah December 30, 2016 - 1:11 pm

Hi Shelly how did it work out with your husky in Playa? We are heading there with our German Shepard and I’d love to hear about another big dog’s experience. Cheers! Sarah, Seb, y Bruno

Amanda March 16, 2017 - 4:33 pm

Hello there. So happy I found this post. Can you share with me your experience on flying with your fur baby. I too will be staying in Playa Del Carmen for a month with my toy Yorkie. It will be my first time to travel with my fur child.

gigigriffis March 17, 2017 - 12:02 am

Hi Amanda!

Flying is pretty easy with Luna. She just hangs out in her carrier and naps most of the time. I think the only things to be aware of are that generally when you fly into Mexico you’ll need to find the animal declaration desk (or at least that’s how it was when I went) once you land. The vet will inspect your papers, inspect your dog, and charge you a fee for entry. On the other end of the journey, the thing to know is that when you go through security, just take your little one out of her/his carrier, put the carrier through the xray machine, and carry your fur-baby through the regular scanner. In US airports, they will stop you after you pass through (not through the big scanner, but the usual metal detector ones) and they will swipe your hands to check for chemical residues.

Good luck!

Nicolas November 22, 2017 - 7:25 am

Great post, thanks for sharing your experience!
Do you know what kind of paperwork is required to bring your dog back to the US?

gigigriffis November 22, 2017 - 7:29 am

It may have changed, so do check with a USDA-certified vet, but last time I did it all I needed were her rabies certificate and a health certificate from a Mexican doctor completed within a few days of travel.

Crossroads Vet Clinic January 25, 2018 - 11:05 am

Interesting! Are there any difference you’ve noticed between Mexican vet care and American one?

gigigriffis January 25, 2018 - 12:40 pm

Language and facilities are the two biggest differences. Expect to use some Spanish and in general expect less modern, less clinical facilities.

Byrdi May 31, 2023 - 5:30 pm

How were the other dogs? Were you ever worried about your dog being attacked by street dogs?

Gigi Griffis June 1, 2023 - 1:40 am

There were definitely some suspect strays around, but it wasn’t a constant problem (though keep in mine I was there like eight years ago now, so things may have changed!).


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