Things to Do in Playa del Carmen

by Daniel Nikulin
Things to Do in Playa del Carmen

Grab the kids, your partner, or your friends, and get moving! Our list of things to do in Playa del Carmen and its very best must-see attractions are here, ready to take you on.     

Play in the Sea

things to do in Playa del Carmen, scuba and snorkle

Swimming, kite-surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, sea kayaking, snorkelling, fishing and scuba diving are all widely available here and it isn’t hard to find good gear. There’s a beach best suited for each activity and plenty of them. For the perfect seafaring holiday, Playa del Carmen is hard to beat.

Enjoy the Waterparks

things to do in Playa del Carmen, waterparks

Whether you have kids in tow or not, a visit to one of the area’s excellent eco-waterparks makes for a memorable, action-packed day. Xel-Ha, Xcaret and Xplor are all good options, using the Yucatan’s natural surroundings, flora and fauna to entertain its many visitors.   

Stroll Parque Fundadores

things to do in Playa del Carmen, street food

Watching the Voladores de Papantla take to the skies in Parque Fundadores is like taking in a magical outdoor circus. What began as an ancient ritual of song, dance and brave acrobatics has entertained locals and visitors for hundreds of years, and is as true to its original form as ever.

Swim with Whale Sharks

things to do in Playa del Carmen, swim with whale sharks

As summer begins to wind down, the activity in the waters in the Yucatan Peninsula begins to heat up. Scores of migrating whale sharks make their annual pilgrimage here, feeding in the plankton-rich waters, gliding gently alongside divers and snorkelers lucky enough to experience this heart-warming and spectacular encounter. The docile whale shark is the largest fish in the sea and truly a sight to behold.    

Explore Nearby Beaches

things to do in Playa del Carmen, beaches

If you’re looking for a stretch of sand all to yourself, you might not find it in Playa del Carmen. The beaches there are a lot of things but deserted they are not. To get your fix of solitude, head a little further south to Playacar, and you can stretch right out. While some beaches belong to resorts and are private, many stretches are open to everyone to enjoy.

Watch Endangered Sea Turtles

things to do in Playa del Carmen, sea turtles

If you’re looking for an enthralling outdoor activity that will stay with you forever, wade into the waters of nearby Akumal and dive in. The beaches along the Mayan coast are important breeding grounds for the endangered Green Sea Turtle, and they are plentiful here. No group or tour to join, just grab your mask and flippers and get out there. Remember, the turtles are protected, so keep your distance and no touching.     

Dance the Night Away

things to do in Playa del Carmen, dance

You don’t have to head to Cancun to dance the night away. From traditional mariachi bands to some of the world’s most sought-after DJs, finding a good dance party is a breeze. Playa del Carmen has its fair share of booming discos, dance clubs, lively cantinas and chill lounges, and if you come at the right time, even a world-famous music festival or two, too!

Check out the Arena Festival (Feb), La Fete de la Musique (Jun), the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival (Nov), and Heineken Winter Beach (Dec).  

Eat & Drink Well

From your morning huevos rancheros and lunchtime quesadillas to beautiful dinner ceviches and late-night street tacos, your appetite will be well taken care of here. Sink your teeth into the freshest local ingredients, just-caught fish, and the rich, world-famous local chocolate.

things to do in Playa del Carmen, eat and drink

But it isn’t just authentic Mexican fare that’s turning heads in Playa. Great Italian, Mediterranean, Japanese, and other world cuisines are all at your fingertips and delicious. Chase it all down with a refreshing smoothie, a cold cerveza, world-class coffee or a shot of mezcal, or two, and you’re golden. Tequila!  

Dive into a Cenote

The Gran Cenote of Tulum, with its shallow waters and viewing platform for those wanting to keep dry, is one of the region’s biggest natural attractions.

things to do in Playa del Carmen, cenotes

The cool waters of Cenote Cristalino are remarkably clear, so much so that it’s worth bringing your snorkel gear, (as well as your bravery) if you wish to dive in from its rocky overhang. Those wanting to go deeper can dive the 200-foot deep Cenote Angelita, exploring its natural brackish beauty.        

Learn Ancient History

From Yucatan’s ancient capital, Merida, all the way down to the border of Belize, and beyond, Mayan history awaits.

things to do in Playa del Carmen, see the ruins

Hidden in the overgrown jungles of the interior, and sometimes even directly on the beach (Tulum), sit stoic reminders of this indigenous civilization in the form of pyramids, forts and temples, all discovered relatively recently. Join a tour or explore on your own but do not miss your chance to visit these breathtaking archeological wonders.   


As you can see, Playa del Carmen and the Mayan Riviera can keep even the most active of travellers entertained. Replenish and rejuvenate, recharge and re-establish your zest for life in Mexico’s ultimate playground for everyone.


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