Located about an hour south of world famous Cancun by an easy drive or inexpensive and comfortable bus ride is the smaller village of Playa del Carmen. You won't find any high rise resorts here, but you will discover a wonderful seaside gem with smaller boutique lodgings and a distinct European flavor.
And no wonder, since Playa del Carmen is popular with many European tourists and has many residents originally from there, who visited and returned to stay. There are many fine restaurants, cafes and bars to choose from, all set in a nice foot-traffic only street that parallels the beach for length of the town.
For those who want to shop, you'll find some of the internationally known fashion stores, as well as a big selection of local shops with everything from Cuban cigars and handicrafts, to sports equipment and services for the tourist. Internet cafes are plentiful and makes keeping in touch easy. It's all here within walking distance of your hotel.
There is plenty to do around Playa del Carmen as well. The ferry to Cozumel island is here, with scheduled trips there and back several times a day. You'll also be close to the Eco-Parks in the area, several of Mexico's famous archaeological sites can be reached from here, and for the more adventurous there is great SCUBA diving offshore or in one of the nearby Cenotes, the underground water filled caverns.