Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico — Mexico Travel Blog

This post may contain affiliate links. Please visit our Disclosure page for details.

Looking for the best things to do in Playa del Carmen Mexico? You’ve been warned: there are simply too many choices to fit into a tight schedule. Let’s talk fun things to do in Playa del Carmen. But be aware that unless you plan to stay for months, you’ll never get to do everything. That said, here’s our advice on what to do in Playa del Carmen Mexico.

_Parque Fundadores 2. Best Hotels in Playa del Carmen - Best Resorts 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 to keep you occupied. But what are the best things to do in Playa del Carmen Mexico? This post provides a great place to start, but stay a few months and you’ll find even more.

Save & Share on Pinterest!

Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico PIN 3

Contents

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.

Related Posts

Why Playa del Carmen?

Many people come to Playa del Carmen for the beautiful beaches and nightlife. Many come on their way to the island of Cozumel. Indeed, this town is a stopping point of cruise ships for a reason. 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 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

A common question I hear: “Is Playa del Carmen safe?” In short, the answer is yes. As safe as any major American city. Possibly safer. If you read the news and see the travel alerts, it’s easy to ask yourself “Is Playa del Carmen safe?” Or even to question Mexico in general. 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: 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. But they are few and far between. I personally have a number of friends living in Playa del Carmen now. With children. Is Playa del Carmen safe enough for families? Yes.

Playa del Carmen Weather

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

Playa del Carmen weather is warm all year round. The temperature never goes below 65ºF/ 18ºC. However, from May to September, the highs can go into the low 90’s F/33 C. Humidity plays a serious role in Playa del Carmen weather. The area is muggy for most of the year, with the highest humidity levels (90-100%!) in August and September. It can feel like walking through soup. There are some rainy days every month, but the most happen between May-June and September-October.

Best Time to Visit Playa del Carmen

Thanks to warm Playa del Carmen weather, the area can be visited 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.

Getting to Playa del Carmen

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

Thanks to the Cancun International Airport (CUN), getting to Playa del Carmen (PDC) is quite easy to reach from many parts of the world. 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.

Possibly the best way to getting from Cancun to Playa del Carmen drive 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.

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

Of course, you also rent a car at the airport. The entire Yucatan Peninsula is flat and has good roads and infrastructure. 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 the additional freedom. This goes double if you plan to visit lots of cenotes, as they are difficult to reach without a car.

For those getting to Playa del Carmen (PDC) via planes and automobiles, here’s a quick breakdown

Getting to Playa del Carmen / Leaving from 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.

Getting Around Playa del Carmen

Our tips for getting around Playa del Carmen 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 ground 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.

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 ride share 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. 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.

Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico

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

Okay! now that we’ve got the logistics out of the way, let’s talk about fun things to do in Playa del Carmen Mexico!

Water Fun: Fun Things to Do in Playa del Carmen

With so much beautiful coastline, one of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen is playing in the Caribbean Sea. Here are a few of our top recommendations for Playa del Carmen attractions that deal with the ocean.

Hit the Beach

The easiest (and cheapest) thing to do in Playa del Carmen is going to the beach. Playa del Carmen beaches are beautiful and the water is clear. There are areas and seasons where seaweed is an issue in some parts of the Playa del Carmen coast. Even so, going for a dip on Playa del Carmen beaches is almost always a great plan.

Scuba Diving & Snorkeling in Playa del Carmen

Total Snorkel Cancun Review — Mexico Family Travel

When the water is 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. 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. It’s possible to take your PADI course here year-round. 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.

Watersports in Playa del Carmen

The entire east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is a playground for watersports enthusiasts. There is sea kayaking. There is paddleboarding. You have jet skis and water skis, as well as crazy obstacle courses on the water for young ones. Then there is also windsurfing and paragliding. Both are more weather-dependent, but fairly reliable sources of fun things to do in Playa del Carmen.

Shopping, Eating & Hanging Out in Playa del Carmen Town

_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. The 5th Avenue shopping street has loads of shops and sleek restaurants, as well as many of the lanes that branch off of it. Head to Parque Fundadores — possibly Playa del Carmen’s most iconic spot. Here you’ll see reenactments of Maya culture and traditional acrobats handing upside down on a pole several stories above the ground.

The swarms of tourists that crowd downtown are not for everyone, but one of the most interesting things to do in Playa del Carmen if you like people watching is taking a stroll through downtown.

Mayan Ruins near Playa del Carmen

Things to Do in Merida with Kids (or Without Them) Chichen Itza Pyramid Mayan Ruins

One of the most fascinating things to do in Mexico is to explore the ruins of prehispanic 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.

Tulum: Mayan Ruins near 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 Mayan ruins of Tulum are easily part of a great day trip 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, 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 Mayan ruins of Coba 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 Mayan ruins of Coba 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.

There are many more fascinating Maya ruins around the Yucatan Peninsula. Yet these are three that are (fairly) close to Playa del Carmen.

Cenotes near Playa del Carmen / 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. Probably THE best thing. Cenotes are underground swimming holes. They are part of a large and complex freshwater system that runs under the peninsula. They 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 literally hundreds of cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula. In fact, there are quite possibly dozens of cenotes near Playa del Carmen, but here are a few that we recommend.

Cenote Azul: Playa del Carmen Cenotes

This is one of the best cenotes near Playa del Carmen 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.

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 cenotes near Playa del Carmen 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.

Waterparks Near Playa del Carmen

xcaret. Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico

One of the most popular and fun things to do in Playa del Carmen is to visit one of the many modern and amazing waterparks and amusement parks in the area.

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 are steep for these places but will provide a day out you’ll never forget.

Day Trips from Playa del Carmen

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

So you’ve done some of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen, and now you’re looking for more. Here are some of the best day trips from Playa del Carmen.

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 Caribean. 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.

Akumal

Drive a half hour south of Playa del Carmen and you’ll come to the village of Akumal, which is famous as a place where sea turtles gather. If you or your friends and family like these gentle shelled creatures, then this is one of the best day trips from Playa del Carmen.

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 is an hour south of Playa del Carmen. 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.

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.

Valladolid & Chichen Itza

valladolid. Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico

If you head inland, you come 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. 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.

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 you or your friends and family love a real spectacle of a show, then this will be one of the most amazing things to do in Playa del Carmen. Sure, it’s an hour drive north, but there are many options that include transportation and meals as well.

Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen

_Fairmont Mayakoba. Best Hotels in Playa del Carmen - Best Resorts 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 the more detailed post dedicated on the Best Hotels and Resort in Playa del Carmen to find the one you’d enjoy. Here’s a sneak peak of the list of the best hotels 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 ocean front rooms and three restaurants to choose from.

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

Compare Prices: Grand Velas Riviera Maya – All Inclusive at HotelsCombined

Read: What others say about Grand Velas Riviera Maya – All Inclusive

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.

Check Availability: Playacar Palace at Booking.com

Compare Prices: Playacar Palace at HotelsCombined

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.

Check Availability: Mahekal Beach Resort at Booking.com

Compare Prices: Mahekal Beach Resort at HotelsCombined

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

Compare Prices: Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort at HotelsCombined

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

Compare Prices: Thompson Playa del Carmen at HotelsCombined

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

Compare Prices: Condominio Fabiola at HotelsCombined

Read: What others say about Condominio Fabiola

There are more than 15 hotels and resorts on our list of the best hotels in Playa del Carmen as well as tips on how to enjoy all inclusive hotels.

Read: The Best Hotels, Resorts, and Other Accommodation in Playa del Carmen

Do You Know of More Fun Things to Do in Playa del Carmen?

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.

Plan Your Travel to Playa del Carmen

Find The Cheapest Flight to Playa del Carmen on Kiwi.com Flight Search

Book The Best Hotels in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Don’t Forget to Get Travel Insurance

 

Further Reading

PIN THIS!

Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico PIN 2

Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico PIN 1

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you book a tour or a hotel in Playa del Carmen 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 best things to do in Playa del Carmen missing anything? Tell us in the comments, or contact us directly!

Image credits: #1, #6, #7, #17

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

css.php