21 Things to Do in Playa del Carmen

The Riveria Maya should be a top destination when considering where to go in Mexico. And with so many thing things to do in Playa del Carmen, it should be one of your first stops.

From great beaches and exciting activities to the fantastic food, this city is a must. 

However, with so many options, it’s hard to know where to begin. This blog will help give you a headstart. 

Keep reading. 

About Playa del Carmen

Girl laying on the beach in Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen, Mexico, is a superb beach destination in the state of Quintana Roo, located on the Yucatan peninsula. 

The beach is dotted with lots of great accommodation options, no matter your budget. You can find hotels ranging from backpacker-friendly to super swanky all-inclusive.

If you’re wondering, is Playa del Carmen safe? The good news is that it is one of the safer places to travel to in Mexico. While it is the fastest growing city in Mexico, it has little for tourists to worry about. The best advice is to keep your wits about you and avoid wandering around the streets alone or drunk late. And don’t buy drugs. But that’s good advice in any country.

The most common crime here is pickpocketing, so keep your valuables safe, and you should be fine!

Getting around is town is simple. Walking is actually the best way to see the city, and most of the tourist destinations are packed close together. 

Otherwise, Playa del Carmen transportation services are somewhat limited. There is no Uber, but you can hail a taxi. Taxis are fairly cheap and are safe, even for solo travelers. 

Things to do in Playa del Carmen

There are plenty of things to do in Playa del Carmen to keep you entertained, no matter how you like to travel. 

Beaches of Playa del Carmen

Beach in Mexico

Of course, the main reason you’re here is to go to the beach. Playa del Carmen’s beaches are among the best in the world. If relaxing on a white sand beach and soaking up the sun is your priority, the beaches you need to check out are:

  • Parque Fundadores: The most iconic beach in Playa del Carmen
  • Punta Esmerelda Beach: This is a locals beach on the north end of Playa del Carmen
  • Calle 10 Beach: Great if you like going to beach clubs
    (Pro Tip: Lido is fabulous if you’re on a budget; Zenzi is perfect if you want to hear live music)
  • Mamitas: The party beach with a great beach club called Mamitas Beach Club
  • Coralina Daylight Club: A high-energy beach club if you prefer to party during the day instead of at night.
  • Playacar Beach: It is a little out of the way, but it is definitely one of the most beautiful beaches in the area.

Pro Tip—try an adventurous activity on the beach. There is SUP, scuba diving, parasailing, kayaking, and so much more to experience. If you’re an adventure junkie, you can definitely find something to get your heart pumping!

Playa del Carmen’s Cenotes

cenote in Mexico

One of the most unique things to do in Playa del Carmen is swimming in a cenote. Cenotes are underground sinkholes or caves filled with water, perfect for adventurous swimmers to explore. 

These mystical places to go for a dip are located all over the Yucatan peninsula, but the best ones near Playa del Carmen are:

  • Cenote Dos Ojos (great if you are a licensed diver)
  • Garden of Eden
  • Katun Chi (actually five cenotes in one location)
  • Cenote Azul
  • Cenote Ik Kil (the best semi-open cenote)

Nightlife in Playa del Carmen

Nightclub

Another great thing to experience is Playa del Carmen’s nightlife. While it isn’t as crazy as Cancún, the city still has plenty of options once the sun goes down. If you are looking for things to do in Playa del Carmen at night, try:

  • Coco Bongo is one crazy nightclub and it’s definitely worth visiting.
  • Try salsa dancing at Zenzi, a beach bar right off of the main beach.
  • Head Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue. This is where you’ll find loads of bars, restaurants, and shops.
  • Have an epic night at Mandala, one of the top-rated clubs in town.

Day trips from Playa del Carmen

Tulum ruins

If you have more time and want to take a day trip, there are plenty of excursions available. 

  • See the Mayan Ruins in nearby Tulum. Or better yet, head to the even less visited site of Coba. This ancient Mayan site actually still allows you to climb on the ruins.
  • Explore Xcaret, an eco-archeological park with three underground rivers, wild animal sightings, archeological sites, and more! It’s only 7 km from Playa del Carmen to Xcaret and well worth the trip. 
  • Take a jungle buggy from Playa del Carmen to a cenote and see some stunning nature on the way. 
  • Head to Akumal Monkey Sanctuary to spend the day with endangered and rescued animals. Akumal beach is also one of the best places to swim with sea turtles in the entire world!
  • Go underground at Rio Secreto, an adventure park that allows you to explore a labyrinth of caves below ground. You can actually swim through these magical caves too!
  • Take a day trip to Cozumel. The 45-minute ferry ride will allow you to enjoy even more of Mexico’s heavenly beaches.

How to get to Playa del Carmen

Girl floating in water

Now that you’re ready to book your dream vacation, you may be wondering how to get to Playa del Carmen as quickly as possible. 

The closest airport to Playa del Carmen is Cancún International Airport (CUN), located about 45 minutes north.

But once you’re in Cancun, then what? There are a few options to get you from Cancún to Playa del Carmen quickly and cheaply. 

Ado bus company offers a bus for $5 per person. The ride takes about an hour and is a safe and comfortable option if traveling from Cancún airport.

If taking a bus isn’t for you, grab a seat on a minivan for around $15. 

Hiring a private transfer is your third option. This service will cost between $50 and $60, but it could be worth it if you are traveling in a group or prefer to make your own schedule.

You can also get from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen pretty easily.

FAQ

Does Playa del Carmen have an airport?

No, the closest airport is in Cancún.

How far is Playa del Carmen from Chichén Itzá?

It is about two hours away from Chichén Itzá by car. It’s totally doable as a day trip. Still, it would be a very long day exploring and driving, especially when the Tulum ruins are less than half the distance away and incredibly interesting. 

Is Xcaret eco-park worth the trip?

This is an excursion for the entire family. However, it is a pricey one. Tickets start at $109 per person. There are more than 50 activities to choose from, from Mayan rituals and ruins to wildlife sightings and underground caves. It can be an entire day of excitement if you decide to go.

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