Welcome to Playa Del Carmen Mexico
Playa Del Carmen is a jewel along Mexico’s Riviera Maya. The beaches, the water, the amenities, and the nightlife are just a few of the things that make Playa del Carmen a top Mexican Caribbean destination. With proximity to nearby Mayan cultural centers and offshore islands, there’s a little something for everyone in “Playa”. Below is our guide to making the best of your visit including many of the top things to do in Playa del Carmen. We hope you enjoy!
Playa Del Carmen Map
1. Experience The Adventure Parks
About 20-30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen are a cluster of world famous adventure parks that are unlike anything you’ve probably experienced before.
The most famous is Xcaret with its meandering canals you can swim through, incredible beach coves, cultural shows, jungle hikes and so much more. They are a little pricey, but the adventure parks are widely considered a must do in the area.
Other very popular parks include Xplor with its caves, ziplines, rafting and ATV’s, Xel-Ha with its waterslides, snorkeling, mangrove tubing and other water activities, Xplor Fuego nighttime torchlight adventure, Xenotes cenote experience, Xoximilco floating fiesta and the oddly popular Xenses optical illusion park.
2. Visit A Cenote
Talk about healing properties. The cenote choices in the Playa del Carmen area are vast and diverse as there are literally dozens of incredible locations nearby.
You can swim, scuba dive, snorkel or just walk through one of these breathtaking and powerful forces of nature.
Check out this epic VIP Private Cenote Tour that visits three fantastic cenotes.
Take a look at this highly reviewed cenote cave exploration tour.
This cool best cenotes for Instagram tour takes you to some of the most famously beautiful cenotes including Suytun Cenote.
Check out this popular small group tour that includes a visit to the Tulum and Coba Mayan ruins and a swim at a couple of cenotes. Tour picks up at hotels in Playa Del Carmen.
For more cenote info and great cenote recommendations, be sure to check out our Ultimate Cenote Guide.
4. Get Out On The Water
There are many wonderful day cruises available from Playa del Carmen and the surrounds. Keep it simple and take a sunset sail with cocktails, a snorkeling adventure or even rent a private yacht for the day.
Feel like exploring further? There are several spectacular islands easily within reach of Playa del Carmen as well. Isla Mujeres tours make for an incredible day trip via catamaran or party boat and typically include fantastic snorkeling and then lunch on the island.
The more remote Isla Contoy meanwhile is an uninhabited nature preserve, perfect for getting away from it all to check out wild birds and desolate beaches. Robinson Crusoe eat your heart out.
Explore Palya del Carmen day cruises here.
Here are a number of excellent day tours to Isla Mujeres. While most tours to Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy depart from Cancun, many also include pickup in Playa del Carmen and other parts of the Riviera Maya.
These are the top rated tours to Isla Contoy.
5. Have A Beach Day
There are a lot of great beaches in the Playa del Carmen area. Fundadores is the bustling main beach along the strip in Playa del Carmen center and is always great for lounging and people watching. Restaurants and vendors are scattered along the beach so grabbing a ceviche or a cervesa is easy.
Playacar beach is a bit further south, a long walk or a short taxi ride from Centro, and is a bit more idyllic. Playacar is a residential neighborhood, so the beach is well-groomed and the vibe is more quiet and peaceful.
*Note: Since 2008, Sargassum (seaweed) has regularly arrived on the Caribbean coast of Mexico (Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, etc.) from April to August. Many resorts and beaches remove the seaweed from the sand daily, but it can pile up by the water’s edge and be stinky in places where it’s not removed. For this reason, we suggest getting a hotel with a nice pool area for swimming or spending some time on the islands of Cozumel or Isla Mujeres which are largely protected from the seaweed.
6. Take A Day Trip To Chichen Itza
If you’ve never been to a Mayan ruin, why not start with one of the best! Chichen Itza is an epic collection of temples and monuments that are worth the trip to get there.
Around a two-hour drive from Playa del Carmen, many people combine the adventure with a swim at a cenote on the way back to cool off.
You can rent a car and do the drive yourself, but most people book either a private tour guide or take a group tour for simplicity. This also allows you to zonk out in the van on the way back! Note that tours “from Cancun” also usually pick up in Playa del Carmen as well. Also, group tours typically do not include the park entrance fee of $30 USD per adult or $5 per child.
This top rated group tour to Chichen Itza includes pick up throughout the Riviera Maya (including Playa), a buffet lunch, a trip to Valladolid and swimming in a cenote on the way back.
Here’s a great private tour.
Don’t mind getting up absurdly early? Check out this awesome sunrise tour to Chichen Itza!
7. Explore The Rio Secreto Nature Reserve
This wild little day trip isn’t what you normally think of when you think of Playa del Carmen, but dont let that stop you from taking a break from the sunshine and trying out a new adventure!
Rio Secreto (The Secret River) is an underground cave/cenote system filled with stalactites, stalagmites and beautiful fresh water that you’ll spend the day wading and swimming through.
Small group tours include guide, transport, lunch, wetsuits, hard hats, water shoes and more. This is widely considered an unforgettable experience.
This is definitely one of the most popular tours and has an option for hotel pick up for convenience.
8. Explore The Tulum Mayan Ruins
The Tulum Mayan Ruins archaeological site is a must see in the area. The energy of this magical, ancient place is what has been calling tourists here for centuries. The ruins are perched over the sea in a breathtaking locale near the town of Tulum.
Guides are available at the entrance if you are keen to really understand the historical significance of the place, but strolling solo is always a pleasure too.
To join a great group tour that includes transport from Playa del Carmen, English speaking guide, and a fantastic side trip to swim at a local cenote, check out this tour.
For more info on visiting the Tulum Ruins, check out our Tulum Ruins Visitors Guide.
9. Enjoy The Nightlife
Walking south on the La Quinta 5th Ave pedestrian street towards 1st Street will take you to the nightlife party area. Here you can safely stop in at some of the numerous clubs and tourist bars. Far and away the most famous club to dance and drink the night away is Coco Bongo with its massive interactive stage shows and wild dancefloor.
This VIP package for Coco Bongo has loads of five-star reviews on TA and includes hotel transport, premium drinks, skip the line privileges and more.
Feel like seeing more of Playa’s nightlife? This VIP nightclub tour hits multiple clubs and comes with a party guide, free drinks all night, VIP access and more. Tylenol the next day not included.