12 Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen

4.5min read

Published 23 December 2021


Grab the kids, your partner, or your friends, and get moving! Our list of things to do in Playa del Carmen is here, ready to take you on.  

1. Play in the sea

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.

Riviera Sunset Sailing Tour
2 hours
From $105.96 per adult

Luxury Sailing & Snorkelling Tour with Gourmet Lunch
4 hours
From $141.68 per adult

2. Enjoy the 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 Yucatán's natural surroundings, flora and fauna to entertain its many visitors.   

Xenses Park
9 hours
From $107.14 per adult

Xplor Feugo (evening)
7 hours
From $154.76 per adult

Xplor Day Pass
8 hours
From $178.58 per adult

Xcaret Park Plus (includes buffet lunch)
14 hours
From $190.48 per adult

3. Stroll Parque Fundadores

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.

Note: Access to Parque Fundadores is free, though we recommend bringing cash to show your appreciation to the performers.

4. Swim with whale sharks

As summer begins to wind down, the activity in the waters in the Yucatán Peninsula begins to heat up. Scores of migrating whale sharks make their annual pilgrimage here, feeding in the plankton-rich waters, and 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.    

Most tours can be booked for around $200 per adult.

5. Explore nearby 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.

Taxi rides between Playa del Carmen and Playacar range from $10–20 each way (depending on how large your group size is). Ask your travel consultant about booking your rides in advance or renting your own car for the day.

6. Watch endangered 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. 

Underwater World from Riviera Maya
9 hours
From $105.96 per adult

7. Dance the night away

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 Fête de la Musiqueue (Jun), the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival (Nov), and Heineken Winter Beach (Dec).  

Tour Xoximilco (carnival games, live music and open bar)
7 hours
From $154.76 per adult

8. Eat and 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.

But it isn’t just authentic Mexican fare that’s turning heads in Playa del Carmen. Great Italian, Mediterranean, Japanese and other delicious world cuisines are all at your fingertips. 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!  

Tour Travellers Table (adults-only)
Learn to recognize the culinary influence of Spain, Africa and the Middle East on Playa del Carmen cuisine. Your guided five-course meal is paired with wine, mezcals and tequilas.

3 hours
From $165.50 per person

Chichen Itza Mayan Cuisine
Visit Valladolid, Chichen Itza and Ik kil cenote, plus enjoy a gastronomic and drinks demonstration highlighting traditional Mayan cuisine.

11 hours
From $153.59 per adult

9. 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.

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.      

10. Learn Indigenous Mayan history

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

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.   

Tulum Discovery from Riviera Maya
6 hours
From $67.87

Mayan Night from Riviera Maya with Cenote Swim
7 hours
From $117.87 per adult

11. Go on an ATV and zipline adventure

Enjoy the great outdoors in Riviera Maya’s beautiful jungles. Don’t let a little helmet hair stop you from jumping onto an Outlander ATV and hitting the scenic trails. Then, go for the bird’s-eye-view with a seven-part zipline circuit through the treetops. Finish your adventure by cooling off with a refreshing swim and a tasty lunch filled with local flavours.

ATV Xtreme & Zip Line
3 hours
From $153.59 per adult

12. Treat yourself to a professional photoshoot

Selfies are great, but they definitely can’t beat the real deal (no matter how nifty your tripod is). Perfect for families and friend groups so nobody gets left out of the picture, make sure your memories last forever with a beautiful photo that captures the perfect moment!

Travelshoot Playa del Carmen
1–4 hours
From $383.14

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.

We offer travel consultations in-person, by phone, email, online chat, video chat and our 24/7 Customer Care line. Whatever works for you! Get in touch today.

*Conditions apply. Prices are in CAD. Additional important conditions and supplier terms may apply. For full terms and conditions, please speak with a Flight Centre travel consultant. CPBC#2790, TICO#4671384, OPC#702971.

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*Conditions apply. Prices are in CAD. All advertised prices include taxes & fees. Air travel in economy class unless otherwise stated. Package, cruise, tour, rail & hotel prices are per person, based on double occupancy for total length of stay unless otherwise stated. All-inclusive vacations include airfare on a per person basis. Prices are for select departure dates and are accurate and subject to availability at advertising deadline, errors and omissions excepted, and subject to change. Taxes & fees due in destination are additional and include, but not limited to, local car rental charges & taxes, one-way rental drop fees which are to be paid upon arrival, resort fees & charges, and airline baggage fees. Additional important conditions and supplier terms may apply. For full terms and conditions visit please speak with a Flight Centre Travel Consultant. CPBC#2790, TICO#4671384, OPC#702971.

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