15 Best Things to Do in Playa Del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is hands-down one of our favorite places in Mexico. There is so much to do for everyone. Whether you want to go kick back on the beach, hit some clubs, or spend time in the beautiful Caribbean jungles, everyone can find something to do in Playa. It can be overwhelming with all of the options. Every time we go, we have a hard time deciding what to do! Here are 15 of our favorite things to do in Playa del Carmen when we’re visiting. If you need more ideas, check out our post 16 Best Playa del Carmen Tours, Excursions, and Activities.
Staying in Playa del Carmen? Be sure to check out our favorite hotels in Playa!
Things to Do in Playa Del Carmen
1. Visit Xcaret
Xcaret is one of several eco-parks in the Riviera Maya. Definitely a tourist attraction, you can swim with stingrays, play with dolphins (learn more about this in our post How to Swim with Dolphins in Playa del Carmen), go parasailing, feed nurse sharks, and see a reenactment of an ancient Maya village. Xcaret offers fun for the whole family and is under ten kilometers from Playa del Carmen.
You can get a day pass to visit Xcaret and buy additional activities. They’ve worked with the National Institute of Anthropology and History, funding the preservation and rebuilding of many ruins within park grounds. You can get discounted tickets to Xcaret here.
2. Zip Lining
Zip lining is an awesome activity. Some people find it thrilling, while others enjoy the scenic views offered. Whatever your case may be, this is simply one of the best ways to see the area around Playa del Carmen. Although you can go zip lining almost anywhere, the Riviera Maya offers some truly beautiful environments. We’ve gone zip lining multiple times in Playa del Carmen, and we have created incredible memories.
There are many places to zip line in Mexico, with some in jungles and others along the beach. We recommend checking out the zip-lining tours from Beach Tours Mexico. They offer zip-lining and combination packages that include snorkeling and ATV rentals as well!
3. Visit 5th Avenue
5th Avenue in Playa is the popping center of the tourist area. With shops, restaurants, and some bars, 5th Avenue is a must-visit. Running through town, you will find cheaper and less touristy shops at one end. If you’re looking for shopping in Playa del Carmen, this is your place! As it moves through the center of Playa del Carmen, it becomes quite touristy. You can get your gifts here, find restaurants inspired by food from across the world, and meet other travelers who have come from everywhere. If you’re going to Playa, you can’t miss visiting 5th Avenue!
4. Xel-Ha Park
Xel-Ha is another tourist park, and our personal favorite of the bunch. You can read our post Xel Ha vs Xcaret to learn more about some of the differences between these two eco parks. You can find amazing views, beautiful natural lagoons, take a ride down a river, go zip-lining, jump off cliffs into cenotes, hike jungle trails, and much more. I first went when I was 12, and have been back several times as an adult. Xel-Ha offers fun for adults and children alike, and you can spend an entire day in the park without seeing close to all of it. If you’re going to Playa del Carmen, take the time to get down to Xel-Ha!
Xel-Ha was the first tourist park in the world to be certified gold by EarthCheck, signifying their dedication to sustainable tourism. You can save a good amount of money by purchasing your tickets to Xel-Ha ahead of time online, but you can also get tickets at the gate. To get your tickets in advance, visit their website.
5. Snorkel and SCUBA
The Riviera Maya offers some of the most beautiful snorkeling and SCUBA diving you will find. The Mesoamerican Reef runs along part of Quintana Roo, and you can find great snorkeling up and down the coast. See tropical fish, sea turtles, stingrays, sharks, and more. With the clear Caribbean waters, snorkeling is a must-do. You can find snorkeling and SCUBA shops all across Playa del Carmen and the towns south along the coast. Rent some snorkeling gear, be mindful of currents, and get out there to see the beautiful wildlife! One of the best places to Scuba is Cozumel, so be sure to check out post about Cozumel Scuba Diving!
6. ATV Rides in Playa del Carmen
ATV tours are super fun if you’re looking to get your adrenaline pumping. Of course, you can ride an ATV where you currently live. But in Playa del Carmen, you can rent ATV’s to go riding through jungles, along the beaches, and through beautiful wilderness. An ATV tour gives you the chance to be in nature, see the sights, and get some action. Maybe not ideal for kids, but there are many ATV companies that offer shared rides and are kid-friendly! Make sure to bring some goggles and a helmet. You can find our favorite ATV tours here.
7. Yoga on the Beach
INTI Beach Club is simply one of our favorite places in Playa del Carmen. A newer spot, INTI offers a refuge for the spiritually-minded travelers in Playa. You can find organic food, beautiful beaches, and yoga classes right in the sand. If you’re into meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and taking care of your mind, you have to visit INTI. Prices are reasonable, and you’re sure to meet some like-minded people. Check them out on Facebook at Facebook.com/IntiBeachPDC.
8. Horseback Beach Tours
Horseback riding has a long history in Mexico, and Playa del Carmen is no exception. This is a relaxing way to see the sights, and you can even take a trip via horse to a local cenote. I’ll admit that I don’t love horseback riding. It isn’t a hobby of mine. But I do love spending time with these beautiful animals in such a beautiful atmosphere.
Beach Tours Mexico offers our favorite horseback riding tour. You get to go down the beautiful white-sand beach, into the jungle, to a cenote where you can swim. Check it out here and remember to book in advance as these fill up!
9. Visit Tulum
The Tulum ruins are an absolute must-do for those interested in Mayan culture. Just a short drive south of Playa del Carmen, you can see the remnants of Mayan culture. One of the later cities of the Mayans, Tulum lies less than an hour south of Playa del Carmen. It’s just one of many ruins near Playa. On the beach, you can see incredible ruins situated in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The guides are always helpful, we have gone several times and learned something new every time, and it always sparks some deep curiosity.
10. Visit Cozumel
Cozumel is a small island off the coast of Quintana Roo. At just under 250 square miles, Cozumel is just a short ride from the beach of Playa del Carmen. You can take tours, visit incredible beaches, and find some of the best snorkeling and diving in the Yucatan. We recommend checking out these tours as they offer simple packages like passes to Playa Mia and more inclusive packages that include tours to different parts of the island. Check out our post 11 Exciting Things to Do in Cozumel for more things you can do while visiting this beautiful island.
Akumal is a town just south of Playa del Carmen and north of Tulum. Meaning land of the turtles, Akumal is the best place to go snorkeling to swim with some turtles. If you’re there are the right time of year, you’re practically guaranteed to see some of these swimming beauties. Just a short drive down the highway, we strongly recommend taking the time to go down to Akumal, rent some snorkeling gear, and jump in the water to see these wonderful creatures!
12. Relax on the Beach
This is one of the free things to do in Playa del Carmen that you can’t pass up. Playa del Carmen makes our list of the best beaches in Mexico for good reason. Going somewhere as exciting as Mexico, you may be tempted to spend your time with different activities and explorations. Although there’s a lot to do, make sure to take time to just go sit on the beach. There are quiet parts of the beach and busier parts closer to the center of town. If you go to the center of town, you’ll surely get some great people watching. People come from all over the world to Playa del Carmen, and it makes for a fun time seeing the different tourists, activities, and smiling faces. Check out our post 11 Best Beaches in (and near) Playa del Carmen for our favorite Playa del Carmen beaches!
13. Rent a Jungle Buggy
Do this. We were a bit skeptical when we first heard about these tours, but they’re truly awesome. Rent a little buggy and go on a guided tour through the jungle. With a tour guide, you will get the chance to see the jungle up close, get some adrenaline popping, and swim in beautiful cenotes. If you have the time and like moving quickly, rent one of these buggies with a friend or family member and let loose!
14. Club Crawl
If you’re looking to engage in the famous nightlife in Playa del Carmen, you have to check out some of the bars and clubs. There are many of them, with construction seeming to never end on new ones. There’s a great Playacrawl you can learn about on TripAdvisor. This is a way to visit the different clubs, have some drinks, dance, and meet like-minded individuals. When you do this club crawl, you’ll meet people from around the world who want to let go and have a good time. You can visit individual clubs as well, or ask a local for a recommendation.
15.Caverns and Cenotes
Finally, go visit some of the famous cenotes or caverns. You can swim in crystal clear waters, jump off cliffs, and feel the seclusion of the Riviera Maya. There are tons of cenotes near Playa del Carmen. You can ask a local, find a guide, or check out this cenote and cave tour. These underground tours are one-of-a-kind, and are sure to give you great stories and memories. Bring a bathing suit and your adventurous spirit!
If you’re looking for other things to do in the area, check out post 11 Awesome Things to Do in Cancun. For a place to stay, we recommend the Pueblito Luxury Condohotel right in Playa! For other great places to visit in Mexico, check out our post 13 Best Places to Visit in Mexico this Year. If you need help getting to Playa del Carmen from Cancún, check out our post Getting from Cancún to Playa del Carmen.