Playa del Carmen is a fun coastal town located along the Caribbean coastline in Mexico. Lined with palm trees on its beaches, scuba diving sites and coral reefs Playa del Carmen is a popular beach town and one of the top diving destinations in the world. Don’t believe it? Check out the view from the air!With its picturesque and pristine beaches and waters, it makes for an ideal beach holiday.
Check out all these following top things to do in Playa Del Carmen and be sure to add ‘em to your itinerary!
Cenotes are sinkholes that result from the collapse of limestone bedrock, thus exposing the groundwater beneath it. These then become natural swimming “holes”. It is noteworthy that most cave cenotes have fresh water that has been wonderfully filtered by the earth, making it so clear and pure that you can see fish swimming across extremely clearly! It is said that open-air cenotes have mineral and vitamin-rich algae that can protect and nourish the skin. So a dip in this kind of a “pool” will make you feel all the more nourished, physically and mentally!
One of the best cenotes is the Cenote Dos Ojos. The entry fee is around 100 MXN (approximately 5.50 USD). You can hire diving / snorkelling gear. It is very exhilarating to see sunlight beams through the clear water. To reach this cenote, you will need a car or a taxi.
Private Snorkeling Tour in 2 Cenotes with Mayan lunch
Price: from 102 USD
A must-do in Playa del Carmen is a visit to the Mayan ruins. There are quite a few locations such as Tulum, Muyil, Ek Balam, Chichen Itza to name a few. One of the more interesting sites is Tulum, which is referred to as the “place of the rising dawn”. Tulum is a huge ancient walled city, located south of Playa del Carmen. You could choose to take the guided tour of Tulum to get a better understanding of this Mayan site. Tulum is right next to a beach, so you can also go for a swim (particularly refreshing on a hot day)! There are also a couple of cenotes in Tulum so you can spend an entire day here - you can read our guide on the best things to do in Tulum for more information!
Tulum Mayan Ruins and Playa del Carmen Tour from Cancun
Price: from 72 USD
3. Enjoy a night at the Coco Bongo Nightclub
Coco Bongo is one of the best nightclubs in Playa del Carmen. It is said to be one experience that you should not miss out on when you are in Playa del Carmen. You can see congo dancers, flying acrobats, and even rockstar impersonators! This club is open to people of all ages. People who frequent say it is important to wear comfortable shoes since you will be either standing or dancing all night! You need ID verification to enter, so keep it handy.
4. Swim with sea turtles at Akumal Beach
The little beach town of Akumal in Playa del Carmen offers you some activities that you will certainly enjoy doing. One of them is swimming with the turtles at the beach at Akumal. This can be done as a day trip. For this, you needn’t rent a boat or require a guide to snorkel as the lovely turtles are just a short swim from the shore. The turtles come near to eat some of the sea grass that covers the seabed, giving you a chance to see the turtles up close and personal.
5. Stuff your face with tacos!
Tacos are something native to Mexico and you should not miss trying them when you are in Playa del Carmen. Feast on Mexican food … and what better than tacos! There are plenty of places where you get amazing Mexican food; some of them include Pastor Taco, Senor Taco, and El Fogon. The taste is said to be very authentic and mouth-watering.
6. Take a boat trip to Cozumel
If you’re looking for more things to do near Playa del Carmen, this is yet another day trip you can do even if you are on a budget. You can reach Cozumel from Playa del Carmen via a ferry ride and it couldn’t be any easier! There are several ferry companies operating, and they have ticket kiosks at the ferry terminal. The cheapest ticket costs about 135 MXN (approximately 7.50 USD) per person (one way). The duration of the trip can be anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes depending on the roughness of the sea. When you reach Cozumel, you can hire a car, which makes going around a lot easier. You can snorkel and swim at the beach here – a very picturesque beach under the azure skies. If you’re looking for a hassle-free day in Cozumel, be sure to read our article on the best tours in Cozumel and make a booking!
7. Ride a colectivo
Images of colectivos are currently unavailable.
A colectivo is a very commonly-used mode of transport in Mexico, similar to a mini-van. These colectivos ply between Cancun and Playa del Carmen and also run from Playa del Carmen to Tulum and back, all day long. You can find one colectivo every 5-10 minutes, and they start running from 5 am in the morning. It is also pretty cheap at about 20-30 MXN (approximately 1.10-1.70 USD) per person one way.
8. Shop at La Quinta Avenida
La Quinta, also referred to as La Quinta Avenida, is located right at the heart of Riviera Maya at Playa del Carmen. It is said to be one of the most happening places in Playa del Carmen. La Quinta is famous for its beaches, stylish ones at that! You can not only access the beach, but you can relax at the spa and do watersports.
During the day it is packed with tourists and locals alike, window shopping or making good purchases at the boutiques, while at night you can get to unwind with some great music by talented musicians. So you can shop, laze at the beach, eat great food, and listen to great music at this happening place in Playa del Carmen.
Do take the time to check out the Portal Maya Sculpture.
This is the best shopping spot when you are hunting for souvenirs, beachwear, clothing, tequila, or even silver! Even if you do not want to spend a penny, you will certainly be able to spend a lot of time window shopping in this place, such is the variety. The 5th Avenue of Playa del Carmen is one of the liveliest of places in the town, a very lively street dotted with boutiques and shops selling all kinds of things.
9. Enjoy Xcaret Park
This is an ecological and Mayan-themed entertainment park. There is a zoo, a typical theme park and lots of touristy stuff to do. It is a bit pricey, costing 1,605 MXN (89 USD) per person (when booked online). There are quite a few attractions inside such as a Mayan river, snorkelling, and a sea trek, something that kids will surely enjoy. There are shows at night too, and together with its cultural attractions make for an unique experience.
Another must-do in Playa del Carmen is Xel-Ha – a beautiful naturally-wonderful spot. Although not a very adventurous place, it still makes for a good holiday for a family. There is scuba diving, snorkelling, animals, different water activities and special children’s activities, such as getting up close and personal with stingrays and swimming next to tropical fish, to name a few.
Xel-Há Park All-Inclusive 1-Day Pass
Price: from 89.99 USD
11. Bird-watch in Xaman-Ha Aviary
Wish to see a pelican flying low over the Caribbean waters or listen to the cackle of parrots by the beach? If so, you should head to the Xaman-Ha Aviary Park. The park is in a natural setting and you can get to see pelicans, flamingos, different varieties of parrots, orioles, and macaws – it is more like a walk-in aviary since the birds are not caged.
From the American White Ibis to Flamingos, surround yourself with these wondrous animals!
The park is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm. There is an entry fee of 300 MXN (approximately 16.60 USD).
12. Spot a spider monkey in Jungle Place, Quintana Roo
This is a sanctuary for the endangered spider monkey species in Playa del Carmen. The spider monkeys live as a colony, and the caretakers of the sanctuary ensure that the inmates are given the utmost care and attention. This is because the endangered species are unable to survive in the jungle by themselves. Visiting this sanctuary is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There are tours conducted upon booking in advance, for a donation of 1,440 MXN (approximately 80 USD) per person and it is worth every penny! Some say the price could be tripled but still worth it, so you can imagine how great it is! This is something you should not miss because you get to actually interact with the endangered and cute-looking primate species!
13. Swim with a dolphin, Quintana Roo
The Maroma Adventure at Playa del Carmen offers something known as Dolphin Discovery. As the name suggests, it is a dolphin habitat. It is about a 10-minute drive from Playa del Carmen. You can hug, kiss, and even pet a dolphin here, and don’t forget to play ball with these friendly sea creatures. This activity is available for anyone above the age of 6. Kids from age 6 to 12 have an entry fee of 1,605 (89 USD), and people over 13 years of age need to pay 3,050 MXN (169 USD). This is highly-recommended because it is an easy way to keep kids entertained and also get them to learn a lot more about dolphins.
Somewhere in the dense jungle between Xel-Ha and Akumal lies the enchanting Aktun Chen Park. Be ready to see underground dry caves with stalagmite and stalactite formations, as well as a freshwater cenote. If you are lucky, you might just spot a spider monkey! Want more? There are different species of snakes – both poisonous and non-poisonous – at the serpentarium. The park is open from 9.30 am until 5.30 pm on all days except Sundays.
Tulum with Underground Cenote and Caves from Cancun
Price: from 109 USD
The Mayan ruins of Coba is another interesting site to explore remnants from the past. It is a lot less-crowded than the more-popular site at Tulum. If you hate crowds, skip the ruins at Tulum and head to Coba instead. You can climb a pyramid on a day trip here as well! There are 120 steps on the pyramid and can be a steeper climb than it actually looks. However, the view from the top is worth the climb and the effort. Do note that the climb down is a bit more difficult than the climb up! So take care! You can reach Coba by colectivo, bus, or taxi.
Coba Ruins Early Access Tour with an Archaeologist from Playa del Carmen
Price: from 50 USD
16. Go skydiving in Cancun
Would you love to catch a breathtaking view of the town of Playa del Carmen? You must do the skydiving activity here then! This is one of the best places around to skydive. The trainers are said to be very good and very professional, and they ensure that people who are going to undertake the skydive understand everything about the dive. This activity is highly recommended.
17. Take a day trip to Isla Mujeres
Another thing to do near Playa del Carmen is a visit the nearby Isla Mujeres, which literally translates to “island of women”. The island is quite tiny – about 13 kilometres (8 miles) long. You can reach the island by ferry from Playa del Carmen, and it takes about an hour. The lovely white sandy beaches are what pull people to this little island. You can rent a golf cart to go around the island. Try to visit the “downtown” area of the island; it’s very charming to say the least! If you’re looking for more activities to add to your itinerary, read our article on the best things to do on Isla Mujeres.
In addition to the ruins at Tulum and Coba, you can also visit the Mayan ruins at Muyil. It is one of the earliest and longest-inhabited Mayan sites on the peninsula. There isn’t so much to see when compared with other ruins, but the Muyil site still has a charm of its own. There is no place you can shop for souvenirs, people go just to see the ruins and then head back. You can, however, find some food if you happen to be hungry.
Private Tour to Muyil, Tulum, and Coba from Playa del Carmen
Price: from 148 USD
Playacar is the swanky resort area of Playa del Carmen. Private beaches, lovely rooms, and great activities for kids – what more could you ask for?! Situated in the best location, with a sandy white beach, azure skies above, and crystal clear waters, Playacar is a family-friendly resort. It is also an all-inclusive resort, meaning there are bars, pools, restaurants, water-based activities, golfing, a spa, and even scuba diving! This is one place where you must book your stay!
Sandos Playacar Beach Resort
Address: Paseo Xaman-Ha Manzana 1 Lote 1, MX 77710 Playa del Carmen, Mexico (see map)
Price: from 350 USD
Star Rating: 5 Star
Travelers Review: Very Good 8.4 (from 630 reviews)
Rio Secreto is a crystal museum that gives you a glimpse into the Mayan Underworld. Curious to know more? It is certainly an interesting feature you must visit in Playa del Carmen. See the stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations beneath the ground. Some tourists who visited go to the extent of saying that it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! It’s simply too fabulous to miss!
Full-Day Rio Secreto Small Group Tour
Price: from 109 USD
21. Have a drink at Don Mezcal
Finish off your day of adventure with a nice drink of mezcal. Similar to tequila, mezcal is made from the agave plant and if you want to enjoy its smoky flavors, order it straight or neat. However, if you feel like the flavor might be too strong for you, you can always opt for one of their many delicious cocktails!
Nothing less than an adventure!
From the above things to do you must be wondering when to pack off and reach Playa del Carmen. It is certainly no less than an adventure to spend a few days here, with all the fantastic things to do! So, let the adventure begin and book your trip to Mexico’s stunning Playa del Carmen!
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