Playa del Carmen attractions - 11 tips for a visit (2023)

Contents show

Playa del Carmen is one of the most desirable vacation spots on the islandHalbinsel Yucatan. The coastline along the Mexican Caribbean is known as the Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen is the perfect base for exploring this region.

Not only does Playa del Carmen offer gorgeous white sandy beaches and amazing marine life, but it is also blessed with natural phenomena known as cenotes surrounding the city. These are pits or sinkholes that are filled with water and invite you to swim, dive and snorkel. Many are open to the public and boast sparkling limestone-filtered water and peculiar stalactites.

Archaeological Mayan sites such as World HeritageChichen Itzaor the ruins of Ek Balam andTulumare nearby and combine relaxed beach life with Mayan culture. I'm currently living here for 5 months during the winter and showing you the best things to see and do in Playa del Carmen!

Playa del Carmen attractions - 11 tips for a visit (1)

1. Dive in the caves of the Rio Secreto

Located 10 kilometers south of Playa del Carmen, Río Secreto is the largest cenote on the entire Yucatan Peninsula, with more than 12 kilometers of tunnels and underground waterways. There are 15 different entrances in total, so you'll rarely bump into other groups on your guided tour of the caves. Once equipped with wetsuits, lamps, neoprene shoes, and helmets, you will participate in a Mayan smoking ceremony, a requirement to enter this sacred site. In this surreal place, you can observe millions of years of natural history as you walk and swim through a 1 km course filled with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.

Book Rio Secreto Tour*
Playa del Carmen attractions - 11 tips for a visit (2)

2. Experience the flying dancers at Parque Fundadores

Visit the Parque Fundadores for a relaxing afternoon and enjoy the Voladores de Papantla, the flying dancers. Juego del Volador is a ceremonial dance celebrated by the indigenous Olmec and Totonac peoples in several locations in Mexico and Guatemala, believed to date back to pre-Columbian times. The men climb up a 20m high pole, from which they fall down on ropes and “dance” up and down. Each of the "voladores" symbolizes one of the four cardinal points.

The caporal, the character who plays the drum and the flute, sits on top of the pole and represents the center of the earth. The voladores' costumes refer to the plumage of the birds and the colored ribbons symbolize the rainbow that follows the rain appears. Parque Fundadores is the perfect place to enjoy an ice cream and watch this ritual.

Playa del Carmen attractions - 11 tips for a visit (3)

3. Relax on the beaches in Playacar

A good reason to travel to Mexico and especially to the Yucatán Peninsula are of course the breathtaking beaches! Playacar is exactly the right place for this. The expansive beach is south of central Playa del Carmen and is considered one of the most beautiful in the area. There are fewer tourists here, which gives you more space than the crowded beaches in the center. Relax with a book overlooking the turquoise Caribbean Sea or take a refreshing dip in Playacar's safe waters.

Playa del Carmen attractions - 11 tips for a visit (4)

4. Snorkel with Turtles in Akumal

About 40 kilometers south of Playa del Carmen is the small beach town of Akumal, which is famous for its coral reef and many sea turtles, which you can watch diving or snorkeling there. No tour is necessary – grab a pair of diving goggles, a colectivo (MXN 45) or a taxi from Playa del Carmen and explore the waters of Akumal on your own. You will find diving schools and guides in abundance on site. The reef itself may only be entered with certified guides. I can do that for youAkumal Dive Centerrecommend.

Playa del Carmen attractions - 11 tips for a visit (5)

5. Take a detour from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel

A 30 minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen (your choice ofWinjetandoverseas) away lies the islandCozumel, which is particularly popular because of its many good diving opportunities. A great way to explore the island's beautiful beaches is to rent a bike, buggy or old VW Beetle convertible. A special place on the island is the El Cielo (the sky) section, where you can spot plenty of starfish in the shallow, turquoise water. You can visit El Cielo as part of a tour since it is only accessible by boat.

Playa del Carmen attractions - 11 tips for a visit (6)

6. Have a drink at a beach club

What's better than spending a relaxing day at one of Playa del Carmen's many beach clubs? You are spoiled for choice - the selection is huge. There are some for party animals, families, those looking for peace and quiet, exclusive and cheap. Here is a selection of the beach clubs in Playa del Carmen.

  • Inti Beach– Popular beach bar and meeting place for expats and digital nomads
  • Mamitas Beach Club - A bit pricey but good food
  • Señor Frogs – bar with Ballermann flair – mostly party-loving foreigners meet here
  • Zenzi Beach Bar - Relaxed beach bar with good cocktails
  • Martina Beach Club– For 100 pesos (approx. 5€) you can get a lounger and an umbrella here. Good for families with children

7. Visit a cenote around Playa del Carmen

There are many cenotes to choose from around Playa del Carmen and a visit to the waterholes is a must on a trip to Playa del Carmen. You can snorkel, dive and even explore caves in the cenotes. For the Maya they were considered the gateway to the underworld - today they are a welcome change from the beach for travelers.

Recommended cenotes around Playa del Carmen:

Jardin del Eden

  • Opening times: 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m
  • Price: $100 pesos

Also known as the Ponderosa by locals, this stunning cenote is the second in a series of three cenotes found on this stretch of highway. It is nestled between Cenote Azul and Cristalino. Although these cenotes are all in close proximity to one another, Jardin del Eden has a charm all of its own, with cliff-like structures and good picnic spots with wooden benches and a BBQ. Cenote Eden is quite a bit deeper than its neighbors, making the rock formations there even more impressive. Huge limestone slabs form mini caves and caverns. The large rocks also form small seating and standing areas on which you can rest in between.

Blue Cenote

  • Opening hours: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m
  • Preis: $80

Even the way to Cenote Azul is magical! A small winding path takes you through a beautiful jungle, past smaller pools. Then you reach the main pool which is absolutely stunning. It is divided in the middle by a wooden walkway. The left side forms a shallow pool with smooth rocks for sitting and the right side serves as a swimming area with a depth of up to 26 meters.

How do I get to Cenote Azul?
You reach Cenote Azul from the main road towards Tulum. It will take about 20 minutes until you see the sign on your right. From there you can drive directly to the specially created parking lot. You can also reach the Cenote Azul with the public Colectivo vans. You can find them in Playa del Carman on Calle 2 and 15th Avenue.

Crystalline Cenote

  • Opening hours: 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m
  • Price: $100 pesos

If you start from Playa del Carmen, this beautiful cenote is the first in the series of three cenotes, along with Azul and Jardin del Eden. Cristalino is the best equipped of the three cenotes and has its own restrooms, snack shop, changing rooms and equipment rental. As you shimmy down the small gravel path, you will pass a smaller pool. Don't be discouraged, that's not the main attraction. Walk a few more meters and the jungle path will open up to the impressive main pool. Cristalino has its own cliff jump that is an impressive 12 meters high, native wildlife and perfect crystal clear waters.

How do I get to Cenote Cristalino?
Once you have passed Puerto Aventuras, continue for about 5 minutes and you will see the cenote sign appear on your right. You can take a taxi, car, or colectivo, which you can find at 2 Calle and 15th Avenue.

Playa del Carmen attractions - 11 tips for a visit (7)

8. Discover the world of the Maya

Around Playa del Carmen you will find a lot of evidence of the Mayan culture in the form of ruins, pyramids and other buildings. The most famous are the ruins of Tulum seafront, Coba, Ek' Balam andChichen Itza, the largest Mayan site in the Yucatán near the city of Valladolid. My favorite is Ek'Balam, because the extensively distributed ruins are still in the middle of the jungle and there is Cenote Xcache, one of the most beautiful cenotes in Yucatán, right next door.

Playa del Carmen attractions - 11 tips for a visit (8)

9. Try Mexican cuisine

It is one of the most popular kitchens ever – themexican cuisinewith its incomparable dishes is rich in aromas and flavors. Of course, you can also enjoy delicious tacos, quesadillas, tortas and more in Playa del Carmen. Here you will find a small, fine selection of my favorite restaurants.

  • the stove– A classic among the taquerias in Playa del Carmen. The place is usually full and rightly so. Delicious tacos (best try the Al Pastor or Chorizo).Address: Av. Constituyentes, Quintas del Carmen
  • The Pixan Pearl– Nestled on a pretty side street off La Quinta Avenida (Playa’s pedestrian mall) is La Perla, a gem of a restaurant that serves traditional and delicious Mayan food with live music performances nightly. You can even taste grasshoppers (chapulines) here.Address: Calle 38 Norte Between 5th and the beach
  • Chiltepin Marisquillos– If you like seafood, you should definitely eat here. Wonderful fish tacos, but also good grilled fish and octopus.Address: Calle 34 esq Av 20 Norte
  • Birria Tacos and Consome– Birria is a stew that originally comes from the Mexican state of Jalisco and is made with goat meat. Luckily you can also find a restaurant with Birria in Playa del Carmen and a good one at that. Birria with the fried Tacos Dorados is very tasty. Be sure to try it!Address: 30 Avenue between 34 and 38
Playa del Carmen attractions - 11 tips for a visit (9)

10. Visit the Frida Kahlo Museum

One of the most popular things to do in Playa del Carmen is to visit the stylish Frida Kahlo Museum. The museum is located at Calle 8, a side street off the La Quinta shopping street, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $15. Inside you'll find a number of exhibits dedicated to the life and history of Mexico's famous artist (note that unfortunately original works are usually not on display). In the center of the museum is a mini theater with a 15-minute audiovisual video presentation. The information boards are in Spanish and English.

11. Take a boat tour

Grab some friends and hit the water. Arent a boatand exploring the coast with the turquoise blue water is one of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen.

Sail along the magnificent Riviera Maya aboard a motorboat or catamaran, discover secluded bays and marvel at the soft colors of the sunset. Relax with a cocktail or be active and experience the underwater world off the beaten track from your boat.

Playa del Carmen attractions - 11 tips for a visit (10)

How to get to Playa del Carmen?

Lufthansa offers direct flights from Frankfurt to Cancún. Alternatively, you can also fly to Cancún with Air France (via Paris) or American Airlines (via the USA). Prices start at around €450 return.

From the airport in Cancún you can easily get to Playa del Carmen with the buses from the company ADO. The journey takes 55 minutes and costs MXN 216 (about €9). Alternatively, you can also take a taxi or a transfer, which can be found in large numbers on site. Here, however, you have to reckon with a higher price (from 600MXN).

A good alternative to bus and taxi isGet Transfer, where you can book a transfer from the airport to your accommodation before you leave Germany. (from approx. €25)

Is Playa del Carmen safe?

In general, the Riviera Maya is safe, especially in the tourist areas. However, as everywhere, you should not openly wear or show any valuables. When withdrawing money, always pay attention to your surroundings or whether someone is watching you. Be careful if you are out late at night.

It is always best to take a taxi to your accommodation. It is not uncommon for tourists to be stopped and robbed by the police.

Where to stay in Playa del Carmen?

Playa del Carmen offers accommodation for every budget, from simple hostels to luxury resorts with their own beach. I've been to the city several times, staying in both hostels and hotels. I can recommend the following accommodations:

$ Hotel Seloha:For travelers on a budget, the Seloha is a good choice. Located within walking distance to beaches, Quinta Avenida and various restaurants, it offers clean rooms with comfortable beds, showers and refrigerators. Prices from €35/night.

Book Seloha Hotel*

$$ Jungle and Sea Studies:Beautiful, small studios with kitchenettes in an ideal location near the 5th Avenida. The green inner courtyard and the roof terrace are particularly beautiful. Prices from €56.

Buchen Jungle and Sea Studies*

$$$ Serenity Boutique Hotel:Fairly new boutique hotel with exceptional design, good service and great facilities, 500 meters from the beach in a quiet part of Playa, Zazil-Ha.

Serenity Boutique buchen*


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Van Hayes

Last Updated: 08/01/2023

Views: 5888

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (66 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Van Hayes

Birthday: 1994-06-07

Address: 2004 Kling Rapid, New Destiny, MT 64658-2367

Phone: +512425013758

Job: National Farming Director

Hobby: Reading, Polo, Genealogy, amateur radio, Scouting, Stand-up comedy, Cryptography

Introduction: My name is Van Hayes, I am a thankful, friendly, smiling, calm, powerful, fine, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.