Playa del Carmen has a multitude of activities to offer visitors, from its long, white-sand beaches, to its unbeatable nightlife. You can spend weeks here enjoying everything the city has to offer, but if you do decide to venture further afield, here are some ideas of the best day trips from Playa del Carmen.
Take the ferry to Cozumel
When you look out at the ocean from Playa del Carmen, you’ll see a large island – this is Cozumel. The 30-mile-long island has plenty to offer day-trippers, including some fantastic beach clubs, the charming town of San Miguel, and – of course – diving aplenty off the world’s second-largest coral reef.
An Ultramar ferry service operates between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel several times each day making it ideal for a day of exploration, where you can be back in time for dinner.
Swim with turtles at Akumal
A short hop south from Playa del Carmen is the beach town of Akumal. This destination has long been popular with visitors, due to the sea turtles that swim just offshore.
In order to protect these majestic creatures and their natural habitat, tourists must only visit as part of a tour. But there are plenty available, like this one which includes snorkel gear and a guide who will share information about the gentle waters of the bay which is protected by the nearby coral reef.
Swim in a crystal clear cenote
The Yucatan Peninsula is famous for cenotes and there are a large number of these limestone sinkholes ready to explore on a day trip from Playa del Carmen. Some are open and accessible from above ground, while others are closed, making it feel like you’re in a secret underground cave.
Some of the best cenotes near Playa del Carmen are:
- Cristalino – an open cenote perfect for beginners who want to enjoy the water, fish, and tropical plants without going underground.
- Dos Ojos – meaning ‘two eyes’ this cenote is actually two pools connected by springs that can be explored by snorkeling or diving. Some parts are entirely underground, creating a slightly scary, but very cool atmosphere.
- Chaak Tun – this impressive underground cenote has shafts of light beaming down through its closed top, illuminating the stalactites and the deep waters beneath.
Visit the Mayan ruins at Tulum
An hour south of Playa del Carmen is Tulum, another popular destination with a great food scene, and picture-perfect beaches. But one of the most enticing elements of Tulum are the clifftop Mayan ruins. They’re the only ruins positioned in this way, making Tulum a unique experience that can be enjoyed alone or with a guide.
Not only will you learn more about the Mayan civilization at this 1,500-year-old site, but you’ll also leave armed with some spectacular photos to adorn your Insta feed.
Visit Xcaret or Xel-Há parks
There are a number of adventure parks within easy day-trip distance of Playa del Carmen. Many give you the opportunity to connect with the natural world of Mexico, as well as providing you with action and adventure. Two of the best parks are:
- Xcaret: The original of the Xcaret Parks group, Xcaret boasts over 50 attractions in its oceanfront location. It has its own cenote, a beautiful cove for swimming, and all kinds of tropical plants and animals. There is also a fascinating entertainment show called Xcaret Mexico Espectacular which shares the history and magic of Mexican culture through dance, fire, and art.
- Xel-Há: This park is perfect for water babies, offering a huge range of water-based activities from its location 40-minutes south of Playa del Carmen. At Xel-Há, you can snorkel to your heart’s content, climb the lighthouse steps for stunning views, explore the jungle trails or have a go on the thrilling water zip-lines.
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Monday 25th of April 2022
I understand the beach is closed due to seaweed invasion. Wil it still be closed by Mat 21 2022?? We will arrive on the 21th of May!!!
Mr AF Alvarez
Monday 18th of April 2022
If you knew why the turtles find Akumal Bay attractive, you would not advertise that place as being in safe water... Get a water test or ask CEA.