Things to do in Playa del Carmen

Things to do in  Playa del Carmen

High tides and good vibes

Gorgeous beaches and vibrant reefs draw sun-seeking crowds to Playa del Carmen, but the city’s lived-in feel sets it apart from other Riviera Maya resorts. The taco stands and shops of Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida) anchor a walkable core steps from the shore, and nightlife features family-friendly shows and restaurants. Things to do in Playa del Carmen range from undersea exploring to adventure parks. At the same time, a prime mid-coast location makes this a great home base for visiting archeological sites, freshwater cenotes, and nature reserves.

Top 15 attractions in Playa del Carmen

Rio Secreto Nature Reserve

Rio Secreto, or the “Secret River,” is a series of caves carved out by the flow of an ancient underground river in Mexico. While the reserve is most famous for its large half-sunken cavern—a popular diving spot—you can also explore eerie passageways, swim in the river, and admire dripping stalactites, stalagmites, and colorful mineral formations.More

Chichen Itza

One of the New 7 Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza is among Mexico's most visited and iconic archaeological sites. Known for its main central pyramid, this impressive Maya site—once the ceremonial center of the Yucatán—also features temples, ball courts, and a cenote (freshwater sinkhole).More


Tulum, the site of a Pre-Columbian Maya walled city and a port for Coba, is one of the best preserved coastal Mayan cities in the Yucatan, in tandem with Chichen Itza and Ek Balam. Highlights of this archaeological site include the Temple of the Frescoes, which has spectacular figurines of the 'diving god.'More

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres (the “Island of Women”) is known for its rich marine life and pristine beaches. Here you can snorkel at Manchones Reef, scuba dive in the Cave of Sleeping Sharks, or stretch out on the white sands of North Beach (Playa Norte). On land you’ll find bustling nightlife, with oceanside bars and restaurants serving fresh seafood.More


Akumal is a small beach town located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Meaning “land of the turtles” in the Mayan language, Akumal is famous for its plentiful sea turtle population. Its secluded white-sand beaches and peaceful bays are also ideal for those seeking a more private experience.More

Mayan Ruins of Coba (Zona Arqueológica de Cobá)

In the heart of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula lie the ruins of Coba (Zona Arqueológica de Cobá), an ancient Maya city considered to be one of the most important settlements in Mesoamerican history. During its peak between AD 500 and 900, Coba housed 50,000 residents and was the central terminus for the complex Maya system of roadways. The jungle site is still being excavated, but visitors can experience the already discovered remains of thesesacbes, or stone causeways, as well as a number of engraved and sculpted monuments.More

Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida)

The pedestrian-only Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida) runs parallel to the ocean in downtown Playa del Carmen. This bustling tourist strip provides easy beach access and is within walking distance of shops, restaurants, bars, and clubs. Lining Fifth Avenue are shops aplenty, including those selling artisan crafts, fine jewelry, and cigars.More

CoCo Bongo Playa del Carmen

From circus performers swinging from the ceiling and dancers crowding the floor, to celebrity impersonators and Broadway-style musicals, Coco Bongo is a nightclub unlike any other. At the Playa del Carmen location, you’ll find extravagant stages, multiple bars, VIP table service, and a dance floor known to rock through the wee hours.More


With unparalleled access to the Caribbean Sea and all of its bounty, a visit to the Xcaret eco-archaeological park is a must when on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Snorkeling, ziplining, river rafting, exploring underwater rivers, and hiking tropical trails through jungle ruins are all options within this natural adventure park, which gives fast access to many of Cancun’s greatest attractions.More

Quintana Roo

One of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations, Quintana Roo is the gateway to the Mexican Caribbean. Palm-lined beaches, Mayan ruins, and family-friendly nature parks characterize this east coast state where you can snorkel coral reefs, cool off in ancient cenotes, and party in the nightclubs of Cancún and Playa del Carmen.More

Cirque du Soleil Joya

Cirque du Soleil brings its award-winning magical theater to Mexico’s Riviera Maya with Joya, the troupe’s first resident production in Latin America. From dazzling theatrics and incredible acrobatics to otherworldly costumes and death-defying stunts, this fantastical show is truly an unforgettable experience.More

Cenote Chaak Tun

At Cenote Chaak Tun, outside Playa del Carmen, venture inside hidden subterranean caves that the ancient Maya believed were sacred portals to the underworld. Follow the beam of your headlamp into an enormous cenote, where centuries-old stalactites drip from above, and swim and snorkel in its fresh water rivers and pools.More


Named after a Mayan word meaning “the place where the waters are born,” the Xel-Ha aquatic park encompasses 14 acres (5.7 hectares) of jungle and ocean just south of Playa del Carmen. A must-visit family-friendly attraction, Xel-Ha is home to cenotes, a lazy river, fish-filled lagoons, and other natural attractions.More

3D Museum of Wonders

Jump into the art at Playa del Carmen’s 3D Museum of Wonders. Created by a visionary American artist, this interactive museum is truly in a genre and mind-bending class of its own. It doesn’t take long for reality to blend with illusion, and pretty soon you’re splashing beneath a waterfall, surfing a wave, or trapped inside a bubble.More

Xplor Park

Set in the middle of the Yucatan jungle, Xplor Park allows visitors to experience Mexico’s environmental treasures firsthand. Here you can raft down a stalactite-filled underground river, swim in cenotes, ride in an amphibious vehicle, or zipline above the canopy. There’s also a nighttime option to explore after dark.More

Top activities in Playa del Carmen

Tulum Guided Tour, Magical Cenote, Lagoon Snorkeling and Beachside Lunch
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Playa del Carmen Buggy Tour with Cenote Swim and Mayan Village Visit
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VIP Chichen Itza Private Tour
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VIP Chichen Itza Private Tour

Chichen Itza Tour Options with Cenote Swim from Playa del Carmen
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Bestseller! Tulum Private Tour with Turtles and Cenote Snorkeling
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Chichen Private Experience
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Chichen Private Experience

VIP Tulum Private Tour
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VIP Tulum Private Tour

Tulum & Coba Ruins with Cenote Swim Tour from Playa del Carmen
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Swim with sea turtles

Swim with sea turtles

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All about Playa del Carmen

When to visit

The best time of year to visit Playa del Carmen is between December and April when the city usually receives the least amount of rainfall. May through November get considerably more rain, and tropical storms sometimes occur. There’s also a higher risk of running into sargassum, a type of stinky seaweed that sometimes blankets area beaches, between late spring and late fall.

Getting around

The easiest way to get around Playa del Carmen is on foot—if you have a rental car, you’re best off leaving it at your accommodation. If you want to travel further afield or be able to get from point to point quickly, renting a bike by the day or by the week is a great alternative to walking. There are public buses in Playa del Carmen, but they run to residential neighborhoods, Cancun Airport, and other towns in the Riviera Maya; you’re better off taking a taxi.

Traveler tips

If you’re as much about ambiance as you are about tasty food, don’t miss the chance to dine at Jungle GastroBar. Sit in the open-air garden surrounded by lush foliage or pull up a seat in the semi-enclosed covered area to listen to the sounds of live musicians and DJs while you sip on a margarita. The menu emphasizes tasty pub fare along with salads and freshly caught seafood.


A local’s pocket guide to Playa del Carmen

Fairuz Maggio

Fairuz is a frequent visitor to Playa del Carmen, where she fell in love with its Caribbean beaches and easygoing lifestyle. Though she is currently based in Europe, she finds herself being pulled back to the area yearly.

The first thing you should do in Playa del Carmen is...

pitch up at one of the many beach clubs. Coralina Daylight Club, Mamita’s Beach Club, and Inti Beach are just a few of the clubs where you can order good food and drinks while you soak up the sun.

A perfect Saturday in Playa del Carmen...

starts off with a Mexican breakfast (Que Huevos is a favorite) before relaxing on the white-sand beaches. End your Saturday with drinks and dancing at one of Fifth Avenue's many bars and clubs.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

a night at Coco Bongo. This high-octane show features live performances, confetti, drinks, and non-stop partying for the ultimate night out in Playa del Carmen.

To discover the "real" Playa del Carmen...

you need to get beyond Fifth Avenue. Head towards the Colosio neighborhood and Tenth Avenue for a variety of eateries and a more local vibe.

For the best view of the city...

head to one of the many rooftop bars. A few favorites include Clandestino, the rooftop of the Thompson Hotel, and The Palm at Playa.

One thing people get wrong ...

is not leaving their all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen. While the resorts are top-notch, the city has a vibrant nightlife and plenty of local eateries that will add spice to your vacation.


People Also Ask

What is Playa del Carmen known for?

Playa del Carmen is known for its soft Caribbean beaches and its dining and nightlife scene. It’s also a great base for visiting the nearby island of Cozumel and for exploring some of most popular attractions on the Riviera Maya, from jungle cenotes to the Xcaret family of theme parks.

What is there to do in Playa del Carmen during the day?

Playa del Carmen offers tons of daytime activities, from hanging out at the local white-sand beach to checking out the shops along 5th Avenue, the city's main drag. Playa del Carmen is also a great place for snorkeling, with plenty of half-day cruise options for those who want to get out to sea.

What is the best month to go to Playa del Carmen?

April is arguably the best month to visit Playa del Carmen, when the chances of rainfall are low and the temperatures are hot, but not unbearably so. April is at the tail-end of the tourist season so it tends not to get too many crowds, except during Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter).

Are the beaches in Playa del Carmen nice?

Yes, the beaches in Playa del Carmen are quite nice indeed, offering all the typical features one would expect from the Caribbean. You can expect white-sand expanses flanked by palm trees, turquoise-hued waters, and plenty of spots to stop for a drink or a seafood dinner right by the shore.

What do locals do in Playa del Carmen?

Playa del Carmen locals enjoy many of the same things tourists do, from hanging out at the beaches to enjoying meals with family and friends. You'll also find plenty of locals hanging out at shopping malls such as Centro Maya or watching films at one of the city’s many movie theaters.

Is Playa del Carmen a party town?

Playa del Carmen is certainly a party town, with tons of lively restaurants and nightclubs right in the heart of the tourist district. Many stay open well into the wee hours of the night, making this city a popular destination for spring break revelers from the US.

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