Playa Del Carmen is a Mexican coastal city located on the Caribbean Sea in the Riviera Maya in the state of Quintana Roo. It is 45 minutes from Cancún International Airport. Thanks to its excellent location and excellent climatic conditions, it is now one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico.
There are numerous all-inclusive hotels and resorts, restaurants serving traditional Mexican cuisine, and nightclubs such as Coco Bongo, known all over the world. You will love the amazing white sand beaches, Cenotes and other natural beauty of the Yucatan Peninsula. There are many great places for snorkeling, sea turtle diving, catamaran sailing and Jet Ski tours.
Stroll down downtown’s famous 5th Avenue and visit the many galleries, bars, gift shops and boutiques. Theme parks such as Xcaret and Xplor will enchant you, where you can experience an unforgettable adventure.
To learn more about the history of Mexico since ancient times, visit famous Mayan archaeological sites such as the ruins of Chichen-Itza, Coba, and Tulum.
Here are our picks for the best things to do in Playa del Carmen during your vacation.
1. DISCOVER THE MAYA RUINS IN TULUM
If you are looking for the perfect place from breathtaking views to the rising sun, you must visit the Tulum ruins. In the middle Ages, Tulum was an important trading center. That ancient city sits on the edge of a cliff along the Riviera Maya’s famous tourist route.
In the archaeological area of Tulum you can see the main pyramid El Castillo, the temple with frescoes and other ancient stone structures. Below the cliff you will find a beautiful beach and you can swim or sunbathe for a few hours.
2. TAKE A GREAT TOUR in RIO SECRETO
An incredible adventure awaits you in the Rio Secreto Nature Reserve! Rio Secreto is a network of semi-flooded underground caves. You can get to know them in a small group of maximum 10 participants.
You can get all the necessary equipment and instructions from the experienced guides right from the start. Wetsuit, helmet and headlamps on and you are ready for an unforgettable adventure.
During the two-hour tour, you can swim and snorkel in the clear waters, admire the stalactites of the caves, and enjoy exploring hidden caves and underground rivers.
3. VISIT THE FRIDA KAHLO MUSEUM
After exploring the Mayan ruins and a day of adventure in the caves, take a break to visit the museum of Mexico’s most famous artist, Frida Kahlo.
You get a glimpse into Frida’s life and art and hear the exciting stories behind her art. Note that there are no original Frida artworks, but the museum has photos, diagrams, and audiovisuals worth seeing.
The museum also has a gift shop with ceramics and clothing that are fun souvenirs from Playa del Carmen.
4. SEE CITY HOTSPOT LA FIFTA AVENIDA
Quinta Avenida or 5th Avenue is a 4 kilometer long pedestrian street and the main street of Playa del Carmen that runs parallel to the beach.
In the morning you can drink coffee in peace in various cafes and in the evening this place becomes the busiest part of the city and a hotspot for tourists.
Here you will find some of the best restaurants, bars and hotels in Playa del Carmen. You can also visit the many gift shops, including the large Hacienda Tequila & Tequila Museum, featuring Mexican drinks, candies and coffee. Thanks to numerous street performers, the general atmosphere is nice and cozy.
5. EXPERIENCE COCO BONGO parties
Coco Bongo is just steps away from La Quinta Avenida. It is the most popular nightclub in Playa del Carmen, with a capacity of 1,800 people. This nightclub offers the best entertainment in town with dancers, flying acrobats, lots of confetti and bubbles, great music mixes and video production.
The shows usually last about 4 hours and guarantee a great time. The standard entrance fee includes sufficient alcoholic drinks and a snack. So if you want a crazy party experience in Playa del Carmen, the Coco Bongo show is the way to go.
6. DISCOVER INCREDIBLE CENOTES
A cenote is a natural sinkhole with fresh water. Swimming in a cenote is a great way to cool off on hot days in Playa del Carmen.
For a $5 to $20 admission fee, you get a wristband that gives you access to water, lockers, changing rooms, showers, and a snack bar or restaurant. You can swim, snorkel, dive into the cold water or just dip your feet in the water.
The Yucatan peninsula has thousands of cenotes. Chaak Tun is probably the most popular and other famous cenotes near Playa del Carmen include Cenote Cristalino, Cenote Azul and Cenote Chikin Ha.
7. HAVE FUN IN THE TEA PARK
Playa Del Carmen and the Riviera Maya are full of fun outdoor activities. There are several adventure parks with many attractions such as zip-lining, driving amphibious vehicles and kayaking through the caves.
Some parks are located in the middle of the jungle, such as Xplor theme park. You can visit the Xcaret Park Dolphinarium, hike the eco-trails and visit the Bel Air Animal Park Zoo, or get your adrenaline pumping at Xenses Park.
We also recommend visiting Xel-Ha, a natural wonder with incredible marine life and underground rivers.
8. A MONTH OF RELAXATION ON THE BEST BEACHES OF PLAYA DEL CARMEN
The beautiful beaches are one of the main reasons tourists come to Playa del Carmen.
Playa Del Carmen beach is a white sand beach within easy walking distance of downtown. There are many bars along the coast where you can taste your favorite Mexican drinks.
Parque Fundadores is also a very popular beach in Playa del Carmen, known for the gigantic “Arch of Playa del Carmen”. It’s often busy, active and a bit noisy.
Mamitas Beach is a good place to stay due to the many beach clubs with DJs. Punta Esmeralda beach is a great choice if you are looking for a place in the shade of palm trees and lush vegetation. We recommend Puerto Morelos beach for a family vacation with fresh fish restaurants and cocktail bars.
Other popular beaches in Playa del Carmen include tranquil Playacar Beach and Paradise Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches on the Yucatan peninsula.
9. FIND THE BEST DESTINATIONS FOR SNORKELING AND DIVING
Playa Del Carmen is the ideal starting point to explore the best diving and snorkeling spots in the Riviera Maya. There is perfect underwater visibility, beautiful coral reefs and good weather conditions all year round.
The most popular dive areas are 10-20 minutes by boat from Playa del Carmen and there are dive centers for both experienced and novice divers.
One of the dive destinations is Mama Vina, where wreck diving is offered. Jardines Reef also has impressive underwater creatures such as trumpet fish and lobsters. There are also Tortugaja and Barracudaja. Many diving excursions include a visit to the famous Cenotes or the island of Cozumel, diving with bull sharks and night dives.
Snorkeling is also very popular in the Riviera Maya, with El Cielo, Akumal and Isla Mujeres being the best snorkeling spots in the area. Organized snorkel trips with guides usually include hotel pickup, snorkel gear, boat transport, snacks, and excursions to popular beaches and cenotes.
10. DAY TRIPS TO CHICHEN ITZA
A trip to Chichen-Itza is the most popular day trip in Playa del Carmen. It’s a 2-3 hour drive from the city. Chichen-Itza is the ancient capital of the Mayan civilization, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Learn about Mayan heritage from your guides and see the Pyramid of Kukulcan, the Great Ball Court, the Temple of the Warriors, and over 20 other ancient stone structures. We recommend that you visit the night show, where the history of the Mayan empire is explained in a wonderful light and sound show.
Some tour operators include a visit to the ruins of Coba and the beautiful Cenote Ikil as part of their day trips to Chichen-Itza.