Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico — Playa del Carmen Tours & Activities

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Mayan ruins, Playa del Carmen beaches,  Yucatan cenotes and other Playa del Carmen excursions: are you looking for the best things to do in Playa del Carmen Mexico? If so, let be the first to warn you. Whether you’re in Playa del Carmen with kids, with a spouse/significant other or on your own, your itinerary can get quiet full, quite fast!

There are so many things to do in Playa del Carmen that it’s impossible to fit them all into a tight schedule. But let me help lay out your options. Here is what to do in Playa del Carmen. We’ll discuss Playa del Carmen cenotes, waterparks, beaches and other wet and wild adventures. We’ll also talk about lots of greatPlaya del Carmen excursions and tours to nature preserves and the Mayan ruins in the Yucatan, as well as cooking classes, boat cruises and loads of day trips from Playa del Carmen.

cover Things to do in Playa del Carmen

Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is packed with places to go and things to do. Whether you’re a solo backpacker, a couple looking for luxury digs or a traveling family on a week-long holiday, you’ll find more than enough fun things to do in Playa del Carmen to keep you occupied. But what kind of Playa del Carmen excursions and activities are possible? This post provides a great place to start. Playa del Carmen beaches are some of the most beautiful in the Yucatan, with lots of snorkeling, diving and more. There are also lots of clean and clear cenotes in Playa del Carmen for swimming, and the Playa del carmen water parks are some of the best in North America. Is Playa del Carmen safe? We think so. In fact, we recommend family travel in the Yucatan quite a lot. Read on to hear some of our biggest tips.

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General Info on Playa del Carmen Excursions & Holiday Tips

playa del carmen beaches iguana

Where is Playa del Carmen?

Facing the Caribbean island of Cozumel, Playa del Carmen hugs the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. An hour north of Playa del Carmen is the holiday town behemoth, Cancun. An hour south of Playa del Carmen is the hip beach town of Tulum. Three hours west is Merida, the spiritual and cultural capital of the Yucatan. Playa del Carmen beaches face the east and have had less problems with seaweed than some places in the Yucatan, but it’s still a problem they’re learning to cope with. Playa del Carmen cenotes are all a short drive away, and there are several Mayan ruins near Playa del Carmen as well. 

Why Playa del Carmen?

Many people come here for the famous Playa del Carmen beaches and nightlife. This is a hub for cruise ships, which is one reason why there are so many great Playa del Carmen excursions and activities available. Many come here on their way to the island of Cozumel, but we think that all the Playa del Carmen excursions make it a great end destination in itself. There are exceptional restaurants, amazing hotels and resorts, and plenty of fun things to do in Playa del Carmen. Are you longer-term family travelers? If so, there is also a growing and active community of families using Playa del Carmen as their base.

Is Playa del Carmen Safe?

PDC 5th avenue. Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico

When I talk about what to do in Playa del carmen, I hear a lot of people asking: “Is Playa del Carmen safe?” In short, the answer is yes: Playa del Carmen is as safe as most major American cities. Possibly safer. If you read the news and see the travel alerts, it’s easy to wonder about Playa del Carmen safety. It’s easy to ask yourself “Is Playa del Carmen safe?” Or even to question safety in Mexico as a whole. But let me tell you that Mexico in general — and the Yucatan Peninsula in specific — is a safe and fun place to travel.

I’m not going to lie. If you asked me “Is Playa del Carmen safe” again, then I’d give a more nuanced reply. For example, Playa del Carmen is a tourist town, and like any tourist town, there are people out there that will try to take advantage of clueless travelers. Playa del Carmen safety revolves around using common sense and being aware of your surroundings. I personally have a number of friends living in Playa del Carmen now. With children. Is Playa del Carmen safe enough for families? Yes, I think so.

Best Time to Visit Playa del Carmen

Thanks to warm Playa del Carmen weather, you can visit any time of year. However, the best time to visit Playa del Carmen may depend on what you like and a number of factors. If you want to steer clear of the crowds, then avoid the first three months of the year. January, February, and March are the busiest (and most expensive) time to visit Playa del Carmen. That’s when hotels fill up and charge the most. Late summer and fall are the low seasons. If you want fewer people and cheaper rates, then April-July and Sept-Dec are the best time to visit Playa del Carmen.

What to Do in Playa del Carmen

acrobats in parque fundadores. Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico

Now let’s talk about what to do in Playa del Carmen. The eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is packed with fun activities. From cooking classes to cave diving, there are more than enough things to do in Playa del Carmen to keep any traveler or traveling family occupied for months. To keep our Playa del Carmen attractions in order, I’ve divided this post into multiple sections.

Categories:

  • Water-Based Things to Do in Playa del Carmen
  • Yucatan Mayan Ruins & Related Playa del Carmen Excursions
  • Shopping & People-Watching
  • Adventurous Playa del Carmen Excursions
  • Day Trips from Playa del Carmen

Water Fun: Fun Things to Do in Playa del Carmen

snorkeling in playa del carmen — Mexico Family Travel

With so much beautiful coastline, one of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen is simply hang out with your toes in Caribbean sand. Lounging on the beach is what to do in Playa del Carmen, but when you’re ready for something more exciting than napping on Playa del carmen beaches, you’ll have plenty of options.  Here’s what to do in Playa del Carmen in your swimsuit.  

Cocktails and Sandcastles on the Beach

One of the easiest (and cheapest) things to do in Playa del Carmen is hit the beach. Playa del Carmen beaches are beautiful and the water is clear. 

Best Playa del Carmen Beaches

Playa del Carmen Beaches stretch for miles along the Quintana Roo coast. From Cancun to Tulum, you’ll have a number of choices when selecting the right Playa del Carmen beaches for your trip. Here are a few we suggest:

  • Xpu-ha
  • Punta Esmeralda
  • Playa Mamitas
  • Coco Beach
  • Fundadores Park
  • Playacar

Scuba Diving & Snorkeling in Playa del Carmen

When a sea this clear and blue, then you know that one of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen is to explore the underwater world. There is abundant wildlife in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico and snorkeling can be a one of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen with kids interested in the ocean.

Snorkeling Playa del Carmen Excursions

Playa del Carmen snorkeling (3 Sites)

Half-day Snorkeling in Playa del Carmen Reef

Cozumel: 3-Reef Snorkeling from Playa del Carmen

Scuba Diving in Playa del Carmen

Of course, the further from the shores (and the deeper you go), the most opportunities there are to see it. The Caribbean stays warm enough to explore any time of year. This is also a great place to get your diving certification. There are lots of Playa del Carmen tours for diving, and many Playa del carmen excursions where where you can take your PADI. What’s more, the price is more reasonable than in the USA. Our kids were certified in Indonesia, but that’s another story.

It’s not all saltwater, either. One of our best things to do in Playa del Carmen is exploring the cenotes, which we’ll cover later in this post. There are some amazing diving and snorkeling opportunities in these freshwater pools, as well.

PADI Open Water Course — Playa del carmen Scuba diving

Double dive for certified divers – Scuba dive in Playa del Carmen

PADI 3-Day Open Water Diver Course in Playa del Carmen

Discover Scuba Diving in Playa del Carmen

PADI Scuba Diver Course in Playa del Carmen

Swimming / Snorkeling with Whale Sharks

whale shark snorkeling in holbox

Anyone interested in sea life will find this to be one of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen: swimming with whale sharks. The season is usually around May to September, but each year varies. These whale sharks are harmless and beautiful to watch glide through the warm Caribbean waters. 

Whale Shark Excursions in Playa del Carmen

Whale Shark Tours in Playa del Carmen & Riviera Maya

Snorkeling with Whale Sharks Tours from Playa del Carmen

Swim with Whale Sharks from Playa del Carmen or Cancun

Boats & Cruises

Fishing and sunset cruises are what to do in Playa del Carmen for the saltiest among us. Here’s your chance to reel in a big one or simply soak in the last rays of the day. Many Playa del Carmen excursions involve sunset cruises. 

4-Hour Luxury Cruise from Puerto Aventuras

5-Hour Private Luxury Yacht Snorkel Tour with Open Bar

Luxury Yacht & Snorkeling: Lunch & Drinks Included

Playa del Carmen Cenotes

The Best Cenotes in Mexico - Swimming in the Yucatan Peninsula

For our family, swimming in cenotes in one of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen Mexico. Probably THE best thing. The cenotes near Playa del Carmen are part of a large and complex freshwater system that runs under the peninsula. Playa del Carmen cenotes are constantly cool, clean and refreshing. Once you try one, you’ll understand why they are our favorite thing to do in Mexico. There are hundreds of cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula. In fact, there are dozens of cenotes near Playa del Carmen. Here are a few that we recommend.

Cenote Azul: Playa del Carmen Cenotes

This is one of the best Playa del Carmen cenotes for a number of reasons. Firstly, the water is clean and super clear. It also has some shallow areas for kids or anyone else who doesn’t like to swim in deep water. You also have lots of small fish, too. You know the type that eats dead skin in a “fish spa?” That’s these. Stay still long enough and they’ll give you a treatment for free.

Cenote Christalino: Playa del Carmen Cenotes

The last time we visited, Cenote Christalino live up to its name. The water? Crystal clear. There is a small cave area here which can provide some shade. One of the best Playa del Carmen cenotes to visit with little kids. 

Cenote Garden of Eden: Playa del Carmen Cenotes

Out of all the cenotes near Playa del Carmen, this was our favorite. Why? It had a lot to do with the jumping platform. The water is deep at Cenote Garden of Eden. Deep enough that you’ll see scuba divers coming out of caves deep below the surface. The water is also deep enough to jump off a two-story platform into the water. We spent the entire day doing this. All three of my recommended Playa del Carmen cenotes are clustered together. If you wanted, you could visit all three in one day.

Remember that no sunscreen or mosquito repellant is allowed in the cenotes. Both at the cenotes near Playa del Carmen or cenotes anywhere else in the Yucatan, no sunscreen or bug spray. This is in order to keep the water clean and protect the fragile ecosystem that lives here. We suggest wearing a rash guard or other clothing to cover your skin. Most cenotes are underground. However, these three cenotes near Playa del Carmen are mostly open to the sun.

Read Our Full Report on Playa del Carmen Cenotes

Playa del Carmen Cenotes Tours

The Playa del Carmen cenotes mentioned above are easy to visit on your own. Simply hire a car or have a taxi/driver drop you off, as all three are very close to the main road. However, if you want to go deeper (literally and figuratively) into the world of Playa del Carmen cenotes, then consider a cenote tour. Most Playa del Carmen excursions to cenotes hot the big ones mentioned above, but there are so many variations of the cenote tour that it’s worth looking at them to see what would be best for you and yours. Some Playa del Carmen cenote tours go deep underground, while others don’t. Some add in a ride on a horse or ATV. Other cenote tours in Playa del Carmen may visit some Mayan ruins as part of a package. What would you prefer? 

Playa del Carmen Cenote Trail: Caves Visit & Bike Tours

Tulum & Tankah Cenotes Eco-Adventure Tour

Playa del Carmen Cenotes: Mayan Underworld Explorer Tours

Jungle Tour: Tulum, Cenote Snorkeling, 4×4 Ride & Ziplining

Horseback Riding and Cenote Swim from Cancun or Playa del Carmen

Rio Secreto

rio secreto playa del carmen cenotes

One of the most famous Playa del Carmen cenotes is called Rio Secreto (“Secret River”). There are lots of Playa del Carmen tours that center around this cenote. The Rio Secreto cenote near Playa del Carmen is huge and almost completely underground.  Claustrophobics should take heed, but keep in mind that our of all the underground Playa del Carmen cenotes, this is one of the most spacious and cavernous as it gets. 

Full-Day Rio Secreto Small Group Tour

Playa del Carmen Cenote Tours: Rio Secreto Tickets & Lunch

Rio Secreto Underground River Tour with Crystal Caves

Playa del Carmen Cenote Río Secreto Nature Reserve

Rio Secreto “Plus” Tickets — Playa del Carmen Tours

Playa del Carmen Water Parks

Xcaret Best Hotels in Playa del Carmen & All-inclusive Resorts in Playa del Carmen

One of the most popular and fun things to do in Playa del Carmen with kids is to visit one of the many modern and amazing waterparks and amusement parks in the area. Wait: did I say Playa del Carmen with kids? Instead, let me say that Playa del Carmen water parks are some of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen, period. No matter your age. 

There are many Playa del Carmen water parks to choose from. Xelha is built around the underwater world of the Riviera Maya, while Xcaret delves into Mayan history and the wildlife of the region. Xplor taps into the adrenaline junkie in all of us, while Xcaret is a selfie center with lots of optical illusions and surreal backgrounds. Tickets the major Playa del Carmen water parks are not cheap, but you’ll have a day you’ll never forget.

Playa del Carmen Water Parks Tickets

Several Playa del Carmen tours and excursions companies provide ticket and transportation services to the major Playa del Carmen water parks. Here are a few options.

Xel-Há Playa del Carmen Water Park (1-Day All-Inclusive)

Xel-Há Water Park: All-Inclusive Day Ticket from Riviera Maya

Xcaret Playa del Carmen Water Parks Full-Day w/Lunch

Xcaret “Plus” Tour: Transfers from Playa del Carmen & Riviera Maya

Xplor Adventure Park from Playa del Carmen

Night Admission to Xplor Playa del Carmen Adventure Park w/Transport

Playa del Carmen: Xenses Park Entry Ticket

Mayan Ruins in Playa del Carmen (or Near)

mayan ruins in playa del carmen

One of the most fascinating things to do in Mexico is to explore the ruins of pre-Colombian civilizations. That include the Mayans, the Aztecs, the Olmecs, and others. There are Mayan ruins in Playa del Carmen, but venture outside the city and you’ll find even more. When I say “Mayan ruins in Playa del Carmen,” I’m talking about in the general area, of course. Many of these Mayan ruins are closer to cities like Tulum and Valladolid, but they’re all easy day trips from Playa del Carmen. 

Tulum: Mayan Ruins in Playa del Carmen

One hour south of Playa del Carmen, the Mayan ruins of Tulum are some of the most picturesque Mayan ruins in Mexico. Perched on a cliff overlooking the azure sea, the Tulum Mayan ruins are easily part of great day trips from Playa del Carmen.

Chichen Itza: Mayan Ruins near Playa del Carmen

Arguably the most famous Mayan ruins in Mexico, Chichen Itza is an entire Mayan city. Chichen Itza is also the most crowded Mayan ruins near Playa del Carmen, so if you visit, go as early as possible. Keep in mind that this is a little over two hours away by car, and further if you take a bus.

Coba: Mayan Ruins near Playa del Carmen

Another great day trip from Playa del Carmen, the Coba ruins are massive. They cannot be reached completely by car, so you have to walk (or bicycle) in, and we recommend that. One of the best things about visiting the Coba ruins is that like at Uxmal, our favorite Mayan ruins, you can still climb the pyramids. At crowded places like Chichen Itza, that’s not possible anymore.

Mayan Ruins Tours

If you’re self-driving like we usually are, then all of these Mayan ruins in Playa del Carmen are easily accessible by car. If you’d prefer to take a tour, then there are many Playa del Carmen excursion outfitters who do a great job of getting you there and providing plenty of historical context along the way. 

Early Access to Chichen Itza with a Private Archaeologist

Visit to Chichen Itza, Ik Kil Cenote and Valladolid with Lunch

Chichen Itza, Ek Balam and Cenote Hubiku Tour from Playa del Carmen

Chichén Itzá, Ik Kil Cenote & Valladolid All-Inclusive Tours from Playa del Carmen

Tulum & Coba & Cenote Full-Day Excursion

Food

playa del carmen food tours and cooking classes

Love Mexican food? Of course you do. We do too, and the Yucatan’s unique cuisine holds a special place in our hearts. Whether you’re in Playa del Carmen with kids or not, we urge you to explore the markets and street stalls before hitting up the fanciest Playa del Carmen restaurants. It’s all good — from sidewalk stall to white tablecloths — and your Playa del Carmen vacation will be richer by tasting it all. 

Food Tours

A great Playa del carmen excursion for the culinary-minded is a food and/or a market tour. You’ll discover some of the ingredients and dishes specific to the Yucatan Peninsula. Things like kibis and conchinita pibil are hard to find in Mexico City or Oaxaca — good ones anyway. Try them at the source.

Food Hoppers 2.5-Hour Culinary Tours in Playa del Carmen

Juan More Taco-Walking Food Tours in Playa del Carmen

Mexican Street Food Tours in Playa del Carmen

Local Playa del Carmen Food Tours

Cooking Classes in Playa del Carmen

Now that you’ve tasted some of the best food in the Yucatan, why not try making it yourself? One of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen is a cooking class focused on traditional Yucatecan food. 

Playa del Carmen Cooking Class & Market Tours

Cooking Class in Playa del Carmen with Local Markets Tour

Cirque du Soleil in Cancun

And now for something completely different. A branch of the Cirque du Soleil troupe has a theater in Cancun with daily and nightly shows. If your friends and family love a spectacle, then this will be one of the most amazing things to do in Playa del Carmen. Sure, it’s an hour drive north, but many Playa del Carmen tour companies offer transportation and meal options.

Playa del Carmen Cirque du Soleil Joya Show Tickets

Cirque du Soleil JOYA from Playa del Carmen

Shopping & People Watching

_5th Avenue. Best Hotels in Playa del Carmen - Best Resorts in Playa del Carmen

Downtown Playa del Carmen can be a fun place for food, souvenir shopping, people watching and other fun. You’ll find loads of shops and sleek restaurants on the 5th Avenue shopping street, as well as many of the lanes that branch off of it. Head to Parque Fundadores — it’s the city’s most iconic spot and definitely what to do in Playa del Carmen at least once.

Here you’ll see reenactments of Mayan culture and traditional acrobats handing upside down on a pole several stories above the ground. There are swarms of tourists here. Not for everyone, but one of the most interesting things to do in Playa del Carmen at night. 

Adventure Playa del Carmen Excursions

Who’s up for a thrill? I you want a little adventure in your Playa del Carmen excursions then you’re in for some luck. Loads of Playa del Carmen tours have a dose of adrenalin included, and if you’re in Playa del Carmen with kids, teens or any other daredevil, then this is definitely what to do in Playa del Carmen. 

Jungle Ziplining & Horseback Adventure Experience

Zip-Line and ATV Combo Playa del Carmen Tours

3-Hour Dune Buggy Tour and Playa del Carmen Cenotes Tour

ATV and Jet Ski Adventure — Cancun & Playa del Carmen Excursions

Buggy Tours in Playa del Carmen with Cenote Swim & Mayan Village Visit

Jungle Buggy Day Trips from Playa del Carmen Including Cenote Swim

Day Trips from Playa del Carmen

cozumel sunrise. Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico

So you’ve checked off the best things to do in Playa del Carmen, and now you’re looking for more. There are loads of great day trips from Playa del Carmen to consider. From island beaches to Mayan ruins, here are some of the best day trips from Playa del Carmen.

Isla Holbox

This sleeping little island near Cancun is a great spot for a relaxed day on the beach. However, one of the main reasons people come to Isla Holbox is to swim near whale sharks during the season when they’re in the area. 

Discover Holbox Island Tour from Playa del carmen with Transfer

Holbox Island Tours from Playa del Carmen

Isla Mujeres

isla mujeres art

My son and I have spend a few weekends here before taking flights from the Cancun airport. There are some great restaurants on the island and beaches as well. But he and I spent most of our time riding scooters and golf carts around the island, which is very common and easy to do. 

Contoy and Mujeres Islands Tour with Transfer Options

Cozumel

This is one of the most popular day trips from Playa del Carmen. The island of Cozumel is a beautiful place to experience the flora and fauna of the Caribbean. There are exceptional scuba and snorkeling opportunities, as well as beaches and lagoons. You can also see turtles, dolphins, and manatees here. The ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel takes around 45 minutes.

Cozumel Tour: Reef Adventure w/Snorkeling & Lunch

3-Reef Cozumel Snorkeling Day Trip from Playa del Carmen

Cozumel Food Tours

Tulum

tulum ruins Tulum for Kids — Things to Do in Tulum with Kids — Mexico Family Travel

What was once a tiny hippie town is now becoming the hip place to be. Tulum not only one of the best day trips from Playa del Carmen, but also a fantastic destination in an of itself. In addition to beach activities and some of the whitest sand in the Yucatan, Tulum also has Mayan ruins and a unique dining and hotel scene. Lots of Playa del Carmen excursions focus on Tulum and its surroundings. 

Select Day Trips from Playa del Carmen to Tulum

3-in-1 Day Trip from Playa del Carmen: Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling, Cenote & Caves

Tulum, Cobá, & Hilario Cave Day Trip from Playa del Carmen w/Transfer Options

Tulum & Mayan Jungle: Full-Day Tours from Playa del Carmen

Tankah & Tulum Cenotes Eco-Adventure Tours

Tulum, Hilarios Cenote, & Snorkeling Day Trip from Playa del Carmen

Jungle Tours: Tulum, Cenote Snorkeling, 4×4 Ride & Ziplining

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Let’s keep venturing south past Tulum to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to over 300 species of birds. For nature lovers, this is easily one of the best day trips from Playa del Carmen. It is comprised of mangrove forests and fresh and saltwater so the biodiversity here is outstanding. From jaguars to dolphins, this is the best day trip from Playa del Carmen for wildlife lovers. 

Boat Trip and Snorkel Adventure Sian Ka’an

Sian Ka’an Safari with Transfer Options

Sian Ka’an Adventure from Tulum

Half-Day Trip from Playa del Carmen to Sian Ka’an Muyil

Chichen Itza & Valladolid

valladolid. Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico

Head inland to one of the largest and most important Mayan ruins in Mexico. Chichen Itza is an incredible place to spend an afternoon. Yet with this in mind, we recommend staying overnight in the charming town of Valladolid. Valladolid is everything that cosmopolitan places like Playa del Carmen aren’t. That’s a good thing. In addition, the cenotes in the Valladolid area are some of our favorites, as well, making this possibly our favorite day trip from Playa del Carmen.

Merida

Okay okay, calling a visit to Merida a day trip from Playa del Carmen is a stretch. It takes at least three hours to reach Merida by car, but we recommend a visit if you can. We based ourselves there for three months, and highly recommend visiting the cultural capital of the Yucatan.

Read Our Merida City Guide

Where to Stay in Merida Mexico

Getting to Playa del Carmen

beach palapa. Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico

Yes, there is an airport in Playa del Carmen. That said, we recommend flying into Cancun and then getting to Playa del Carmen by car or bus. It’s only an hour’s drive. Thanks to the Cancun International Airport (CUN), getting to Playa del Carmen (PDC) is quite easy to reach from many parts of the world. 

Flights to Playa del Carmen

  • Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen / Playa del Carmen to Cancun Airport: By bus, this takes just over an hour. By car, a little less than an hour.
  • Tulum to Playa del Carmen / Playa del Carmen to Tulum: Total drive time is about an hour by bus, car or taxi.
  • Cozumel to Playa del Carmen / Playa del Carmen to Cozumel: The ferry leaves from downtown Playa del Carmen and takes approx 45 minutes
  • Merida to Playa del Carmen / Playa del Carmen to Merida: By car or bus it takes about 3.5 to 5 hours. You could also fly to Cancun and then bus down, but it takes about the same amount of time and costs 5x as much.
  • Mexico City to Playa del Carmen / Playa del Carmen to Mexico City: Flights CDMX <> PDC are a little over two hours, plus the one-hour bus to/from Playa del Carmen.
  • New York to Playa del Carmen / Playa del Carmen to New York: Flights JFK <> CUN take a little over four hours. Then there’s the one hour on a bus.
  • Chicago to Playa del Carmen / Playa del Carmen to Chicago: Flights from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to/from Cancun (CUN) are about 3.5 hours. Then there’s the bus between the Cancun airport and Playa del Carmen.
  • Houston to Playa del Carmen / Playa del Carmen to Houston: Flights HOU <> CUN take about 2 hours. The bus between CUN and PDC takes about an hour.

From Cancun to Playa del Carmen

Possibly the best way to getting from Cancun to Playa del Carmen is to have a driver waiting for you. Many of the best Playa del Carmen hotels and resorts offer pickup service from the Cancun airport. Some places charge a fee, while others offer it as part of the package. Inquire wherever you plan to stay. is to have a way of getting from Cancun to Playa del Carmen is by bus. You can buy tickets in the airport.* Buses are waiting outside and run every 30-40 minutes. The buses have nice seats and luggage is stored below.

*Yes, you can buy bus tickets in the airport, but be wary as we got scammed here. The woman behind the counter said our card didn’t work so could we pay in cash. We did, and it wasn’t until we got our card statement that we realized that our card was charged. In other words, we paid twice. 

ADO bus station PDC. Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico

Car Rental in Cancun Airport

Of course, another great option for getting from cancun to Playa del carmen is to rent a car at the Cancun airport. The entire Yucatan Peninsula is flat and has good roads and infrastructure. The Yucatan is fantastic for road trips! We’ve driven all over the Yucatan, and it gets a thumbs-up. With this in mind, consider a car rental to those who want additional freedom. This goes double if you plan to visit lots of Playa del Carmen cenotes, as they are difficult to reach without a car. 

Getting Around Playa del Carmen

Our tips for getting around Playa del Carmen depend on where you stay. For example, Highway 307 cuts through Playa del Carmen. On the east side of Highway 307, you have the beach, the town, and all the best resorts in Playa del Carmen. On the west side, it gets more local, and the accommodation prices drop steeply. If you stay on the east side of the highway, then you can cover most of the city on foot. The closer to the beach the better. If you stay beyond the highway (as we did once), then I’d recommend having your own car. Bus service is possible out there, but more challenging.

Taxis in Playa del Carmen

Taxis are plentiful in Playa del Carmen, but always confirm the price before getting in. Also, we suggest asking a few taxis or asking a local or hotel employee what the going rate is. This is a tourist town, so some drivers will try to hike the price. We were told some laughable rates several times…obviously it must work on some people. 

Uber in Playa del Carmen

At the time of writing, Uber is not available in Playa del Carmen, but this could change. Same goes for Cabify, a Mexican rideshare app that we used regularly in Merida.

Buses and Collectivos in Playa del Carmen

colectivo. Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico

Playa del Carmen has an extensive bus network that we have used a lot. We also recommend using colectivos — it’s what to do in Playa del Carmen if you wanna ride like a local. A colectivo is basically a shared taxi that usually takes the form of a minivan. With both buses and colectivos in Playa del Carmen, look for the destinations on the driver’s route in the window. They’re usually written or places somewhere near the windshield.

Transfer

Don’t want to deal with taxis or colectivos from the airport? Not staying at a place that offers Cancun airport pickup? Several Playa del Carmen tour operators and transportation companies offer shuttle services. 

Standard Shared Roundtrip Transfer – Cancun Airport (CUN)

Private Transfer by Van From Cancun Airport

Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen

If you’re looking for where to stay in Playa del Carmen, you’ll have more options than you can count. There are hundreds of hotels and resorts in Playa del Carmen, with accommodation options that can fit almost any budget. 

Read Our Full Report: Best Hotels, Resorts & Other Accomm in Playa del Carmen

Grand Velas Riviera Maya – All Inclusive Resort in Playa del Carmen

This is easily one of the best all-inclusive Playa del Carmen resorts. There are three tiers at the Grand Velas: Grand Class, (adults only), Ambassador, and Zen. The Ambassador class has oceanfront rooms and three restaurants to choose from.

Check Availability: Grand Velas – All Inclusive at Booking.com

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Playacar Palace – All Inclusive Resort in Playa del Carmen

What I like about Playacar Palace best is the location. The resort is minutes on foot to Parque Fundadores and the famous 5th Avenue tourist strip. Most of the best all-inclusive resorts in Playa del Carmen are far removed from downtown. Playacar Palace gives you the best access to what the city has to offer, as well.

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Read: What others say about Playacar Palace

Mahekal Beach Resort – Best Resorts in Playa del Carmen

The Mahekal Beach Resort offers a variety of lodging: from luxury apartments to dorm rooms. There’s even a treehouse. Some of the interior design has a well-worn look of a beach hut. Yet the powerful air-conditioning, kitchenette, and art on the walls tell another story.

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Read: What others say about Mahekal Beach Resort

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen – Best Resorts in Playa del Carmen

If you want 5-star amenities that are walking distance from downtown, then the Grand Hyatt is one of the best resorts in Playa del Carmen for you. This is not an all-inclusive resort. However, the Grand Hyatt does deliver on what any of the best hotels in Playa del Carmen can offer.

Check Availability: Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort at Booking.com

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Read: What others say about Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort

Thompson Playa del Carmen – Best Hotels in Playa del Carmen

Hip, stylish and centrally located. The Thompson is the best hotel in Playa del Carmen for those who want 5-star amenities without leaving the city. The Thompson has sumptuous rooms and a rooftop pool that has one of the best views of Playa del Carmen in town.

Check Availability: Thompson Playa del Carmen at Booking.com

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Read: What others say about Thompson Playa del Carmen

Condominio Fabiola – Best Hotels in Playa del Carmen

Smack in the middle of town, Condominio Fabiola (also called Condohotel Fabiola) offers apartments with kitchenettes. The gated courtyard feels safe and quiet, despite being downtown.

Like most of the best hotels in Playa del Carmen, you have a pool and jacuzzi to relax in. But if you’re ready for the beach, then it’s two blocks away.

Check Availability: Condominio Fabiola at Booking.com

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Read: What others say about Condominio Fabiola

Know More Things to Do in Playa del Carmen?

Things to do in Playa del Carmen sunset

This is a list of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen, but I’m sure it isn’t as complete or comprehensive as it could be. What are some things to do in Playa del Carmen that you would recommend? What’s missing? Let us know so I can keep this post updated regularly.

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you book Playa del Carmen tours or hotels using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find the best things to do in Playa del Carmen. Is this list of things to do in Playa del Carmen missing anything? Tell us in the comments, or contact us directly!

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