Whether you have a couple of days or loads of days in Playa del Carmen, the things you do will make or break your trip. So, if you have been pondering things to do in Playa del Carmen, we’ve got everything you need.
We’ll even tell you how to get from your luxurious stay at Cozumel across to this gorgeous place to ensure you have the most relaxing, fun-filled time possible.
Things to Do In Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Let’s get straight into these ideal things you can do when visiting Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
In This Article…
- 1. Take a Dip in a Cenote
- 2. Visit Coco Bongo for Nightlife
- 3. Ocean Parasailing
- 4. Salsa Dancing at Zenzi
- 5. The Parque Los Fundadores
- 6. Visit The Best Beaches
- 7. Discover Xcaret Park
- 8. Attend a Tequila Tasting
- 9. La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue)
- 10. Dine Underground at Alux Restaurant
- 11. Artistry at the Frida Kahlo Museum
- 12. Gaze at the Mayan Ruins
- 13. Xavage Park
- 14. Go Treetop Ziplining
- 15. The Sweet Life at a Rooftop Pool
- 16. Underground Rivers at Rio Secreto
- 17. Try Mexican Cooking
- 18. Swimming With Turtles
- 19. Playa del Carmen Street Food
- 20. Escape to Xpu Ha
- 21. Head to Gaston Charo Art Gallery
- 22. Experience Live Glass Blowing
- Playa del Carmen FAQ
- Getting from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen
- Should I Know Anything Else Before I Go To Playa del Carmen?
1. Take a Dip in a Cenote
Ever heard of a cenote? No? Well, it’s essentially a cave filled with water. They are the place to swim in Playa del Carmen!
Over the years, a load of sinkholes appeared in the area and eventually filled with fresh water. You’ll be hard pushed to find a clearer swimming spot.
You can even scuba dive there if you have your license! However, it’s important to note that you won’t be allowed to wear sunscreen and you’ll likely need to pay an entry fee. But trust us, it’s more than worth it.
There are plenty of cenotes to choose including the cavern of Cenote Hilarios and the jungle oasis of Cenote La Gloria.
2. Visit Coco Bongo for Nightlife
For those of you who have frequented Cancun, you might be thinking that Playa del Carmen comes with a pretty hefty party scene. However, it’s not as crazy as you might believe.
If you have hankering for some late-night partying though, Coco Bongo is the way to go. With thumping basslines, acrobatics, and heart-racing strobe lights, you’ll be entertained from the moment you step through the door.
Just beware that the tickets include an open bar. It’s unlikely that you’ll be thinking clearly in the morning!
Top tip: If Coco Bongo isn’t the right fit for you, try La Vaquita or Mandala instead.
3. Ocean Parasailing
Playa del Carmen is the best place for ocean parasailing. There are countless boats ready to take you up and onto Cloud Nine — even if you’ve never done it before!
We won’t lie — take-off is rather uncomfy. But, as soon as you’re up in the sky, parasailing is one of the most relaxing activities. With the clear ocean below and the blue sky above, you won’t ever want to come down.
Oh, and be prepared to get wet (potentially). Sometimes they like to dip your legs into the ocean for a bit of a laugh. So, a change of clothes (and a waterproof camera) is advisable!
4. Salsa Dancing at Zenzi
There’s no doubt about it — a day at the beach relaxes yet invigorates you. And what better way to finish off a perfect lazy day than with a bit of dancing?
Zenzi is a bar and restaurant situated on the sand. But the food and drink are not the main attraction. Instead, the salsa dancing brings the crowds!
You can join in the fun by getting up and moving your hips in time with the live salsa band. Of course, you can have some tapas waiting for you once you’re done grooving.
Top Tip: If you’ve never tried salsa before, you might want to take advantage of their free lessons on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
5. The Parque Los Fundadores
Parque Los Fundadores otherwise known as the Founding Fathers Park, this area is fantastic for kids and adults alike.
Once you have stepped off the ship from Cozumel, this park may be the first thing you see. With a children’s playground in the center and the famous Portal Maya statue in the background, you could spend an hour or so chilling in the sunshine.
If you arrive at the right time, you may well be lucky enough to see the Voladores de Papantla performance. What is this, we hear you ask? It’s an acrobatic show featuring talented people swinging from 90ft poles by their toes. Pretty impressive if you ask us!
6. Visit The Best Beaches
Admittedly, erosion has caused the loss of many beaches in Playa del Carmen. But, there are still a few that you might like to take a peek at while you’re wandering around.
Depending on where you’re staying, you might need to hail a cab to take you to a decent beach. Don’t worry, it’s ultimately worth it!
While the “best” beaches are somewhat subjective, our favorites are as follows:
- Playacar Beach — Most vacationers will tell you that this is their favorite. However, it is rather secluded and hard to reach.
- Mamitas Beach Club — For those of you who love a party, Mamitas will become your new favorite spot. Just be prepared for a constant dance beat in the background of your conversations.
7. Discover Xcaret Park
Technically, Xcaret Park is a theme park but it doesn’t focus solely on fear-inducing rides. Instead, it’s all about nature, looking after our environment, shows, museums, and everything in between! There is nothing you can’t do at this all-in-one spot of fun.
You could spend days just discovering everything this single park has to offer; it’s that good!
Make sure you bring your swimming costumes. You’ll no doubt want to experience the thrill of underground river floating. It’s certainly a unique park that you’ll struggle to find anywhere else.
8. Attend a Tequila Tasting
Whether you’re already a tequila connoisseur, attending a tasting in Playa del Carmen is simply magical.
Not only will you taste the creations of some of the best tequila makers in the world, but you will also learn how it is made, and how to choose the best bottle.
There are plenty of tequila tastings around, however, we suggest attending a private group affair at the Tequila Academy. Depending on the package you choose, they might add in food pairings as well. Not to mention that it is situated by the sea! Unforgettable views and unforgettable drinks, what more could you ask for?
9. La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue)
You didn’t go to Playa del Carmen if you miss La Quinta Avenida — it’s a must, must do.
Fifth Avenue, locally known as La Quinta Avenida, is colorful and oh-so lively. It runs from the beach and showcases everything from restaurants, to shops, to various entertainment spots. You could spend a good couple of days trawling through all the hotspots along the street.
Due to its popularity, it gets super busy. So, if you’re looking for a more relaxed jaunt down the avenue, visit at off-peak times and you’ll be fine!
Insider secret: Stay until dusk to get a glimpse of the street performers doing all sorts of weird and wonderful things.
10. Dine Underground at Alux Restaurant
There aren’t many times in life where you get the opportunity to dine in a cavern that is over 10,000 years old. So, if we were you, we’d grab it with both hands while you can!
The Alux Restaurant has been built into a mystical cave to bring you a contemporary, once-in-a-lifetime meal experience. You’ll be surrounded by some of the most breathtaking scenery in the whole of Mexico (perhaps the world).
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into an entirely different dimension when you enter this restaurant. Everything from the glorious smells to the gorgeous surroundings will have you feeling weak at the knees.
The best part is that you can ask for a cave tour after your meal to ensure you experience everything fully. You never know, you might be lucky enough to spot a bat!
11. Artistry at the Frida Kahlo Museum
For those of you who are deep inside the artist community on Instagram, you will definitely know Frida Kahlo. She’s an icon in Mexico due to her self-portraits made by combining fantastical images with realistic inspirations.
Somewhat sadly, the museum doesn’t have any original masterpieces. However, it has been built to admire and embrace the work — and the extraordinary life — of Frida Kahlo herself.
Her art was widely controversial at the time and bravery played a huge part in her ability to create the colorful pieces we know and love today.
Of course, there is a gift shop that you have to walk through at the Frida Kahlo Museum. So, we suggest you bring some spending money!
12. Gaze at the Mayan Ruins
While you can travel the three hours it takes to admire the amazing Chichen Itza Mayan ruin, you might prefer a half-day excursion to Tulum or Coba. Both of these are super impressive, despite not being one of the Seven Wonders of the world!
Tulum overlooks the gorgeous ocean and has ruins that date back to around 564 CE. If you’re a history buff, you’re bound to get a kick out of visiting these ruins.
For those of you who are looking for something more inland, Coba is the way to go. It wasn’t discovered until somewhat recently but it has quickly become one of the most popular ruins to discover in Playa del Carmen.
13. Xavage Park
Seeking adventure? You’ll definitely find it at Xavage Park. The thrill-seekers haven has been designed and constructed by Xcaret who wanted to focus less on nature and more on adrenaline with this endeavor.
Whether you are looking to tackle a 4-level obstacle course, kayak through some clam waters, or go off-road in a Jeep, you can do it all at Xavage.
This one is not for the faint of heart! Your heart will race, your blood will pump, and, most importantly, your soul will be having the time of its life.
It will certainly strengthen the bonds you have with your loved ones as you hurtle across the water or fly through the trees on a zipline!
14. Go Treetop Ziplining
Yes, you can go ziplining almost anywhere in the world. But, Xplor Park has some of the best ziplines you’ll ever hope to try. They know how to make an exciting, adrenaline-filled park!
Alongside the treetop zipline experience, you can choose from three other activities too. There is so much to do that you’ll probably want to come back for seconds. Alternatively, you can strap in for the long-haul and carry your Xplor adventure into the night with their Fuego package.
All activities offered at the park become even more thrilling when darkness descends. Just keep in mind that the menu will change based on the time of day. Plus, the raft course is slightly altered as the dusk settles to ensure everyone stays safe.
15. The Sweet Life at a Rooftop Pool
Once upon a time, people didn’t have much time for rooftop pools. But, in recent years, Generation Z has upped the ante, and rooftop pools have quickly become a sought-after experience. Luckily, there are lots in Playa del Carmen!
For some of you, it won’t seem as appealing as sunbathing on a white-sand beach. However, if you want the sun and the fun without sandy sandwiches, a rooftop pool is the way to go.
While you’re bound to have fun at any of them, here are some of our favorites:
- Purobeach Rooftop Club — You’ll need to get here quickly to secure yourself a lounger. This trendy yet chill rooftop pool is the hottest one on the block.
- Deck 5 — Its infinity style pool looks out onto ocean views so you feel as if you’re swimming in the ocean without having to deal with the seaweed! Who said you can’t have your cake and eat it too?
16. Underground Rivers at Rio Secreto
Playa del Carmen is full to the brim with underground rivers. While the ancient Mayans believe that these passages led to the Underworld, they are open to the public today. One of the best places to experience them is at Rio Secreto.
Upon entering, you’ll feel as though you’ve just been picked up and plopped into a sci-fi film set. It’s one of the most intricately “designed” underground world you can imagine — and it’s all thanks to Mother Nature.
Remember to bring a wetsuit so you can experience the full extent of the rivers. Swimming through crystal-clear freshwater lakes under thousands of stalactites is a truly unforgettable experience.
17. Try Mexican Cooking
Eating traditional Mexican food is one thing, but actually cooking it is another. You and your family can take an incredible cooking class with the one and only Chef Alejandra Kauachi.
Ale, as she is affectionately known, runs a traditional kitchen workshop and school based near the Riviera Maya. There are unlimited opportunities to get involved with Mexico’s culinary landscape here — all of which would be a real shame to miss.
Her classes last for 5 hours and 30 minutes so you have time to enjoy (and taste!) everything you’re doing. We’d suggest picking your class carefully since she offers various packages cooking various things. Make sure it’s something you’ll enjoy chowing down on later!
18. Swimming With Turtles
Almost everyone we know has this on their bucket list. Thankfully, Playa del Carmen gives you the chance to tick swimming with turtles off!
Head to Akumal Beach, located in the South to be in with a wonderful chance of realizing your dream. There’s nothing magical than glimpsing animals in their natural habitat.
Since the waters at Akumal Beach are shallow, you will likely see Loggerhead turtles, Green turtles, and Hawksbill turtles. You’ll probably never want to get out of the water.
Want to know the best part? It’s free! While some places may charge you to take a dip with these beautiful creatures, Akumal Beach offers the experience at zero cost.
19. Playa del Carmen Street Food
Nothing screams “immersing yourself in the culture” quite like street food. When in Mexico, eat street food! We suggest you taste the gorgeous Elote or Esquite while you’re at it.
Elote is similar to corn-on-the-cob except it is dusted with salt, butter, chili powder, lime juice, mayo, and cotija cheese. Then, it’s cooked on an open grill. Seriously, you have to try it.
Esquite is almost the same. However, the corn kernels have been removed from the cob and placed into a cup. This one is perfect if you don’t want to gnaw like a beaver in public.
20. Escape to Xpu Ha
If you aren’t a fan of large crowds, escaping to Xpu Ha might be the best thing to do.
This beach is situated about 20 minutes away from the hustle-bustle. All you’ll be surrounded with is white sand and the crystal clear ocean.
They have tried to control the crowds here so there is an entry fee of 50 pesos. However, that’s an incredibly small price to pay for some peace and quiet, right?
If you fancy it, you can pay a bit more to rent a deckchair, umbrella, kayak, or snorkeling gear.
21. Head to Gaston Charo Art Gallery
Gastón Charó Art Gallery is the perfect place for those of you who want to immerse themselves in the creative side of Mexico. The building is packed full of traditional, locally-made masterpieces for you to feast your eyes on.
At the moment, 30 of Playa del Carmen’s best artists have submitted their paintings, jewelry, sculptures, and more to the gallery. This makes for a wonderful display of vibrancy, color, and unlimited imagination.
The art is for sale. However, the employees are fully aware that you may just want to admire without splashing the cash. So, they leave you alone to enjoy your experience.
22. Experience Live Glass Blowing
Finally, we’ll end on a truly unique experience. While there are plenty of other things to do in Playa del Carmen, visiting a live glass blowing shop is one of the best.
We suggest taking a trip to Vidrio Soplado Mexicano. Why? Because not only do they show live glass blowing demonstrations, but you will also get a chance to touch and buy the finished items. Regardless of your style, you’re sure to find something that fits the bill here.
Now, you’re all set to enjoy your Playa del Carmen trip! But if you still have a few questions, take a peek below to see if we can answer them.
Playa del Carmen FAQ
To tell you the truth, walking around Playa del Carmen at night is no safer than walking around any tourist spot at night. While it isn’t particularly dangerous, it’s better to be in a group if you’re wandering the streets after dark.
Having said that, it is just a case of being aware of your surroundings. However, we do suggest taking a taxi back to your hotel if you’re going to be in a small group or by yourself.
The answer is yes and no. Generally speaking, Playa Del Carmen is an expensive city, more expensive than what you have come to expect of Mexican cities. This is attributed to the fact that leases in the town area are expensive and that most products are imported. You can, however, enjoy Playa for cheap, by choosing where you spend your money. For example, skip the touristy hotels and shops on 5th Avenue and eat or shop where the locals do.
Playa Del Carmen is a year-round destination. However, there are a few factors that can help you decide when you want to visit. If you don’t like crowds avoid major holidays like Christmas and Semana Santa. If you are looking for cheaper seasons, then visit right after the holidays. For clear, dry, and not so hot weather try December to April.
The journey from your cruise destination, Cozumel, to your desired location, Playa del Carmen, is thankfully, pretty seamless.
The ferry terminal on Cozumel is in the downtown area so getting there will depend on where your cruise ship is based. Unless you’re docked at Punta Langosta, you’ll need to grab a taxi down to the ferry.
You’ll be on the ferry for roughly 45 minutes before arriving at Playa del Carmen. Although, Ultramar has added some super modern boats to their fleet which drastically decreases travel time by 25 minutes!
Getting from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen
The Cozumel ferry terminal is located downtown Cozumel across Palmeras restaurant at Avenue Benito Juarez.
The means of getting to the pier will depend on your cruise ship terminal. There are three cruise terminals in Cozumel and other than Punta Langosta, you need to take a taxi from the cruise terminal to the ferry pier.
A taxi ride costs about $6 and takes seven minutes to get to the ferry terminal. On the other hand, cruisers docking at Punta Langosta can walk to the ferry pier as it’s pretty close.
Two ferry companies ferry people to Playa Del Carmen. These are Winjet and Ultramar. Normally, ferries take 45 minutes to cross the channel between the two towns. However, Ultramar has a selection of modern boats that can cross the channel in 20 minutes if the weather is right.
You can get a ferry anytime from 5:45 AM to 10:00 PM on an hourly basis. The ferry pier at Playa Del Carmen is located in downtown Playa just a block and a half from the town square. From this terminal, you can easily walk into town. Here’s another fast ferry service.
Also Read: Things to Do in Cozumel, Mexico for Cruise Passengers
Should I Know Anything Else Before I Go To Playa del Carmen?
There are a few other bits and pieces to bear in mind before going to Playa del Carmen for your adventure of a lifetime. Specifically, consider the following:
- The local currency is the Mexican Peso.
- Pack sunscreen as it’s 500 pesos otherwise!
- Visit 5th Avenue, but save money by eating elsewhere.
- Gratuity isn’t included on the bill. Tipping 15 to 20 percent is standard.