17+ Things to do in Playa Del Carmen Mexico

With white sandy beaches, all-inclusive resorts and a year-round tropical climate, Playa del Carmen is an attractive destination for snowbirds and tourists looking to escape the winter months elsewhere.

In addition to beaches there are lots of attractions in Playa del Carmen to keep you occupied, including watersports, cenotes, theme parks, golf courses and shopping malls. The town is known for being a bit of a party place, so there are lots of beach clubs and bars to explore too.

Here’s a full list of things to do in Playa del Carmen:

Best Things to Do in Playa Del Carmen

Playa del Carmen Sign

When researching Playa del Carmen online you may have seen photos of the colorful Playa del Carmen sign. If you want to have your photo taken with it, head down to the beach area and the famous archway, Portal Maya. When you reach Portal Maya make a right and you’ll come across the sign, called ‘Letras Playa del Carmen’ on Google Maps. It’s located right by the ferry terminal where boats depart to Cozumel.

Address: Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Portal Maya & Parque Los Fundadores

Portal Maya is an iconic archway by the beachfront that stands over 50ft high. Designed by Arturo Tavarez, this beautiful bronze archway depicts a man and woman clasping hands.

The archway frames the white sand and turquoise blue water, marking the entrance to Playa del Carmen beach.

Next to it is Parque Los Fundadores which is a small park which has become quite a gathering place for locals and visitors. It’s a great place for people watching and there are often shows here where Papantla performers fly around a 30 meter (98ft.) pole in an ancient Mayan dance.

El Fogon Tacos

El Fogon is a famous restaurant in Playa del Carmen that serves authentic, inexpensive tacos. There are a few different locations now but the main one is located at 30 Avenida Norte. In addition to tacos they also serve nachos, quesadillas and other Mexican foods, plus beers and cocktails.

Address: 30 Avenida Norte s/n, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, QR, Mexico

3D Museum of Wonders

The 3D Museum of Wonders is an interactive experience with 3D paintings. If you experience a rainy afternoon in Playa del Carmen and you’re looking for something to do indoors, this is the place to go. As you walk through the museum you’ll discover a number of different galleries with visual illusions, which make for fun photo opportunities.

Tickets: $35 per adult, children ages (4-11) $30.

Address: 10 Avenida Nte., Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, QR,

Cenotes

Cenote Azul Playa del Carmen Mexico

The Yucatan Peninsula is home to many cenotes, which are large caves or sinkholes that are found in collapsed sedimentary limestone rock. These sinkholes are filled with cool rainwater or water from underground rivers so they are usually quite chilly if you decide to take a dip! Of all the things to do in Playa del Carmen, you should definitely put a cenote on your list!

There are many cenotes in the area but these are some of the most popular ones:

Cenote Chaak Tun –

Cenote Azul – Cenote Azul, Cristalino and Jardin del Eden are actually all located fairly close to each other so you could see all of them in one day. Cenote Azul is a large cenote with several pools and fish of varying sizes. If you want to snorkel you can bring your own gear or rent the equipment on site.

Cenote Cristalino – Cenote Cristalino is an open-air cenote which is around 6 meters deep. This beautiful cenote has crystal clear aquamarine water and there’s also an area to cliff jump.

Cenote Jardin del Eden –

Sundowners at Zenzi Beach

Zenzi Beach Playa del Carmen

Zenzi Beach is a lively bar/restaurant located right next to the beach. Grab a table on the sand so you can watch sunset and listen to the daily live music which starts from 7.30pm. If you like dancing, there’s also a salsa night every Sunday.

If you’re feeling hungry, Zenzi’s menu features a selection of light bites, salads, sandwiches and hamburgers, plus daily specials.

Quinta Avenida

Quinta Avenida shopping street in Playa del Carmen

Quinta Avenida is Playa del Carmen’s bustling main street, which runs parallel to the beach. The street is lined with many bars, restaurants, street vendors and souvenir shops. It’s nice to take a stroll along here in the evening, buy some souvenirs and sit down at a bar for a cocktail or two. It’s always very lively on 5th Avenue, so it’s a great spot for people watching.

Shopping Malls

If you want to do some clothes shopping, head to one of Playa del Carmen’s shopping malls. Paseo del Carmen shopping mall is a nice open-air shopping mall with cobbled streets and a nice selection of shops, including Lacoste, Zara, Bershka, Guess, Sunglass Hut and Pull & Bear. There’s also a Starbucks, Krispy Kreme and sushi restaurant.

Located right on 5th Avenue, Quinta Alegria is a three-storey shopping plaza with a central courtyard and lush greenery. Shops here include Haagen-Dazs, Forever 21, L’Occitane, Nike, Aldo, Bebe and Levi’s.

Beaches

Beaches in Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen boasts some beautiful palm-fringed sandy beaches, which is probably what you came for, right? There are a number of beaches in the Playa del Carmen area, including:

Playacar Beach – This is perhaps the nicest beach in Playa del Carmen. The sand is powdery white, there’s less seaweed and the water is clearer. Since the beach is located in front of a gated community full of all-inclusive resorts, you can’t just walk through the resorts to get to it. The easiest way to get to it is by walking past Senior Frogs and the Cozumel ferry terminal and walking south along the beach,

Playa del Carmen Beach – This is the stretch of beach that runs in front of the Portal Maya archway and up to Zenzi Beach and the Muelle pier. This beach has lots of bars and restaurants and is generally very busy and lively with lots going on.

Mamitas Beach – Located in front of Mamitas Beach Club, this section of beach is the party beach with plenty of beach chairs, alcohol and techno music. If you’re looking for a place to see-and-be-seen, this is it.

Playa Punta Esmeralda – Playa Punta Esmeralda is popular with locals and is often referred to as the “locals beach”. This stretch of sand is backed by lush, green vegetation and has a tiny cenote that connects to the ocean.

Xcaret Park

Snorkeling lagoon in Xcaret Park in Playa del Carmen Mexico

When you fly into Cancun you’ll see billboards and advertisements for Xcaret, which is a water park, theme park and ecotourism development located about 15 minutes drive from downtown Playa del Carmen.

Built in the Mayan jungle among underground rivers and cenotes, the park has numerous natural attractions where visitors can swim.

The park also features a Coral Reef Aquarium, a Butterfly Garden, an Aviary, a Rainforest Trail, and a Living Orchid and Bromeliad Museum.

Admission to the park costs $109.99 for adults and $54.99 for children. Night time tickets cost $89.99 per adult and $44.99 per child.

Beach Clubs

Playa del Carmen has a number of beach clubs where you can lay on lounge chairs, order food and drinks and listen to music. These include:

  • Mamitas Beach Club
  • Coralina Daylight Club
  • Kool Beach Club
  • Lido Beach Club
  • Encanto Beach
  • Martina Beach Club

While you can lay a towel on the beach for free, sometimes it’s just nice to treat yourself to a day at a beach club with chairs, bathrooms and food and table service.

Coco Bongo

Coco Bongo is a Vegas-style entertainment venue with a nightly show that starts at 11pm and goes till 3.30am. Expect dancers, acrobats, confetti and dazzling costumes in a four hour long extravaganza.

If you buy a regular ticket it’s standing room only and the ticket comes with 15 national drinks. If you’d rather sit down in comfort, get the Gold Member or Front Row tickets, which come with unlimited premium drinks too.

Address: Calle 12 Norte, esquina con Av. 10 Norte, Col. Centro, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77710 Playa del Carmen, QR, Mexico

Day Trip to Cozumel

Coastline of Cozumel Mexico

Across the water from Playa del Carmen lies the island of Cozumel, which is known for its beautiful beaches and world-class diving. The ferry to Cozumel departs from the ferry terminal which is right next to Parque Los Fundadores. There are two ferry companies that operate out of here – Ultramar and Mexico Waterjets.

Cozumel is much quieter and more laid back than Playa del Carmen, so if you’re down to just chill on the beach with a book or go diving over the coral reefs, then this place may be for you. You can buy a ferry ticket at the ferry terminal, or you could book a jeep or snorkeling tour.

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

Sea turtle swimming over a reef in Playa del Carmen Mexico

Playa del Carmen is popular for watersports, particularly snorkeling and scuba diving. There are a number of reefs and cenotes in and around Playa del Carmen where you can explore underwater life. These include Cenote El Jardin del Eden, Puerto Morelos, Akumal and Puerto Aventuras.

While you can visit these places on your own, the easiest way to see them is by booking a tour. There are numerous catamaran excursions and cenote trips that include snorkeling as part of the experience. You’ll also find several diving schools in downtown Playa del Carmen, or you can book a scuba diving course online.

Check out Viator or Get Your Guide for tours.

Hacienda Tequila Museum

Hacienda Tequila Museum Playa del Carmen

Hacienda Tequila is a large souvenir shop on 5th avenue where you can purchase T-shirts, magnets, keyrings, chocolate and other gifts to take home. At the back of the shop lies the Hacienda Tequila Museum, where shoppers can sample tequila tastings and purchase bottles of tequila.

There’s a huge tequila selection and prices are in USD and pesos, so you can choose what currency you want to pay in. The museum also makes for a great photo opportunity, since there are lots of Mexican Calaca skeletons on display next to the tequila.

Address: Quinta Avenida 5, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, QR, Mexico

Rio Secreto

Rio Secreto is a 1km-long system of underground caves and rivers with stalagmites and stalactites. I’ve visited many caves but what’s unique about this tour is that you can actually swim in them. You’ll be given a wetsuit, a life jacket and a helmet with a lamp so you can hike and swim through the underground system led by an experienced guide.

A standard adult ticket without transportation costs $79, while a child’s ticket costs $39.50. With transportation from Riviera Maya included, an adult ticket costs $109.00 USD while a child’s ticket costs $54.50.

Address: Carretera Federal Libre Chetumal – Puerto Juárez Km 283.5, Ejido Sur, 77712, 77712 Playa del Carmen, QR, Mexico

Golf

If you enjoy golfing then Playa del Carmen has numerous beautifully landscaped golf courses. These include:

  • Gran Coyote Golf
  • Hard Rock Golf Club
  • Fairmont Mayakoba
  • Tee’d Off Tee Times
  • Iberostar Paraiso
  • El Cameleon

With tropical surroundings, swaying palm trees and ocean views, the golf courses in Playa del Carmen are a golfer’s dream.

Day Trips from Playa del Carmen

Chichen Itza

Tulum

Tulum, Mexico

A Final Word…

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