The Top Things to Do in Playa del Carmen (2022)

NORTH AMERICA

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CENTRAL AMERICA

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MEXICO

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YUCATAN PENINSULA

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ESTADO DE QUINTANA ROO

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RIVIERA MAYA

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PLAYA DEL CARMEN

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Things to Do

The Top Things to Do in Playa del Carmen (1)

The Top Things to Do in Playa del Carmen (2)

Richard Collett

21 September 2021

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Mexico’s luxurious Caribbean beach resort, Playa del Carmen is brimming with things to do for every type of traveler.

Overlooking the white sands and coral reefs of Mexico’s Caribbean coastline, Playa del Carmen is the place to be if you love to adventure during the day and return to the luxury comforts of a resort for the evening. You’ll find freshwater cenotes for swimming and snorkeling, Mayan-themed eco-adventure parks and of course, who could forget the beaches?

Xcaret Park

Amusement Park

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The Top Things to Do in Playa del Carmen (3)

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If you’re a big fan of theme parks but are determined to spend more time in the midst of nature, then Playa del Carmen’s Xcaret Park is the solution you never knew you needed. This massive adventure play park is like Disneyland for thrillseekers, because at Xcaret Park you can zipline through trees, snorkel above coral reefs and ride powerboats along the coast. Xcaret Park also promotes the local Mayan culture and you’ll find Mayan ruins to explore, pre-Hispanic food to try and cultural shows to absorb.

Xenses

Amusement Park

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The Top Things to Do in Playa del Carmen (4)

Courtesy of Xenses Park

Take your senses for a ride with a trip to Playa del Carmen’s Xenses theme park. A quirky day out for all, this place is all about subverting your sensory expectations. At Xenses, you’ll find yourself lost in a labyrinth of mirrors before being mesmerized by colorful kaleidoscopes. Pathways through the park lead you through a curious town of oversized or undersized houses, where the streets seem to descend but actually ascend. There’s a cave of perpetual darkness where you must rely on senses other than sight, lazy rivers where time floats away and zip lines where you’ll be pumped full of adrenaline.

Río Secreto

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The Top Things to Do in Playa del Carmen (5)

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Enter the underground caverns of Rio Secreto to discover the hidden subterranean world that lies beneath the surface of Playa del Carmen. The Secret River is a vast network of flooded limestone caves, underground lagoons and stalactites and stalagmites that extends for as much as 38km (23mi). You can explore a small fraction of this vast cave system on a guided tour, but get ready to snorkel or scuba dive to see the underwater rock formations and marine life at their best.

Cenote Cristalino

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The Top Things to Do in Playa del Carmen (6)

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Wear your swimmers when you visit Cenote Cristalino because you’ll want to jump right in as soon as you see the crystal-clear water that awaits you. You can swim all day in the water or jumping off the surrounding rocks here if you wish. Cenote Cristalino is located around half an hour south of Playa del Carmen, just off the main highway.

Cenote Chaak Tun

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The Top Things to Do in Playa del Carmen (7)

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Cenote Chaak Tun is one for the underwater adventurers because this freshwater cenote is best explored on a snorkeling tour. Cenote Chaak Tun is a 15-minute drive inland from Playa del Carmen and you’ll need two hours to tour through this complex underground cave system with a local guide. They’ll provide the wetsuits, lifejackets, masks, snorkels and waterproof torches when you arrive. Be prepared for an excursion into a claustrophobic yet otherworldly subterranean network of flooded caves and underground lagoons.

Playacar Beach

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The Top Things to Do in Playa del Carmen (8)

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Escape Playa del Carmen’s busier beaches by taking a stroll all the way down to the southern end of the city’s coastline, where you’ll eventually reach Playacar Beach. Lacking the denser developments of the beaches to the north, there’s just one spacious all-inclusive resort overlooking the sandy shores of Playacar Beach. The beach is public and the further south you walk, the quieter it gets. In the dry season, the Caribbean is cool and calm, so bring along a mask and snorkel to explore the coral reefs just off the coast.

Museo Frida Kahlo Playa del Carmen

Museum

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The Top Things to Do in Playa del Carmen (9)

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At the Museo Frida Kahlo Playa del Carmen you’ll find a delightful gallery and exhibition dedicated to the life and works of Mexico’s beloved Frida Kahlo. This is one for the cultural traveler because a guided tour of the museum will reveal not only reproductions of Frida Kahlo’s most famous works – the original works mostly remain at the Frida Kahlo Museum Mexico City – but offer a unique insight into the curious life and loves of the surrealist, 20th-century painter. If you’re in a hurry, then purchase a skip-the-line ticket – queues can be extensive in peak season.

Playa Punta Esmeralda

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The Top Things to Do in Playa del Carmen (10)

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If you’re visiting Playa del Carmen for both the beaches and the cenotes, then make your way to Playa Punta Esmeralda, where you’ll find both of these natural attractions seamlessly woven together. Located towards the northern end of the seafront, at Playa Punta Esmeralda a large cenote opens out into the ocean. The water is incredibly clear, calm and shallow in the dry season and, after a refreshing dip, you can enjoy a lunch of fresh ceviche and a cold beer on the white sandy beach.

Parque Los Fundadores

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The Top Things to Do in Playa del Carmen (11)

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Stroll to the southern end of Playa del Carmen’s Quinta Avenida – the main tourist street adjacent to the beaches – and you’ll reach Parque Los Fundadores. One of the city’s original public plazas, it remains a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike. In the plaza, you’ll find the humble Capilla de Nuestra Señora del Carmen church, alongside vendors selling ice creams, drinks and grilled sweet corn. The plaza leads onto the beach, where you’ll walk under the elegant arches of the Portal Maya, a large sculpture that represents the entrance to the Mayan world, to reach the seafront.

3D Museum of Wonders

Museum

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Have you ever wanted to surf big waves, climb the world’s highest mountains or win a Formula-1 race? Well, at Playa del Carmen’s unusual 3D Museum of Wonders, you can take the photographs to convince your friends that you have. The 3D Museum of Wonders is full of life-size and in many cases larger than life murals, paintings and artworks that are designed to look three-dimensional. This one’s a real laugh; not just for the kids, but for fun-loving adults too.

Looking for somewhere to stay? Book into one of the top resorts in Playa del Carmen, or opt instead for one of the best hotels for every traveler. Don’t miss the most beautiful beaches nearby. And if you’re feeling peckish, make sure you try the top restaurants in Playa del Carmen, too.

These recommendations were updated on September 21, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel – and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way.That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories:Epic Trips,Mini TripsandSailing Trips.Our Trips are suitable for both solo travellers and friends who want to explore the world together.

Epic Tripsare deeply immersive 8 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and enough down time to really relax and soak it all in. OurMini Tripsare small and mighty - they squeeze all the excitement and authenticity of our longerEpic Tripsinto a manageable 3-5 day window. OurSailing Tripsinvite you to spend a week experiencing the best of the sea and land in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm – and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

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