Best things to do on your vacation to Playa del Carmen
1. Playa del Carmen Beach
Playa del Carmen is just remote enough that the beach – really the only one there is – doesn’t have a proper name. Still, it’s the highlight of most vacationers’ time in the area, and makes for a delightful way to spend your afternoons.
Most vacationers will have direct access to the beachfront, lounge chairs and sometimes even water sports equipment at the hotel they’re staying in; the majority of the area’s top resorts and hotels are stationed along this prime stretch of clean, soft sand. When you tire of lounging on the beach, busy La Quinta Avenida runs parallel to the sand, so you can walk over to explore the area’s stores or restaurants. The beach is free to access, but lounge chair or equipment rentals will cost you extra.
2. La Quinta Avenida
Playa del Carmen’s main street, La Quinta Avenida, runs parallel to the shore and serves as a pedestrian walkway for travelers and locals. The avenue is lined with an assortment of restaurants, hotels, hostels, condominiums and bars, making it one of the best nightlife spots in the city. High-class restaurants and local bars dominate the nightlife scene of La Quinta. There are plenty of souvenir shops as well selling trinkets and mementos. Some visitors do caution that street vendors can heckle you as you walk by, but the best way to deal with the situation is to ignore them and continue on your way. Should you need amenities beyond a quick meal or a kitschy souvenir, check out the intersecting Avenida Juárez, the commercial district’s main thoroughfare equipped with banks, grocery stores and gas stations.
La Quinta Avenida begins at the intersection with Avenida Juárez and runs north about 4 miles north to the edge of the Grand Riviera Maya Golf Club. It’s free to walk along the street, but plan to bring some cash with you in case a souvenir catches your eye or you decide to stop for a quick bite to eat. Individual shops and eateries operate on various schedules.
3. Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Playa del Carmen offers access to some of the best diving spots in the Western Hemisphere, especially just offshore near Isla Cozumel. Travelers say you can’t come to Playa del Carmen without taking a dip under the sea to explore its colorful population of fish. Many diving companies have set up shop in Playa: One of the most popular is the Playa-based Reef Quest Divers, which caters to amateurs and experts alike. Reef Quest has a variety of dive charters including reef dives and local cenote dives. Playa Scuba Dive Center is another well-liked company that organizes scuba tours. The variety of options and staff members at both companies received praise from previous divers. Meanwhile, those looking to snorkel can borrow equipment from their hotel, buy equipment in town or try an excursion with Tour Advantages.
4. Rio Secreto
Often lauded as one of the best-kept secrets on the Yucatan Peninsula, Rio Secreto (or Secret River) is an underground river and collection of caves. The bright turquoise water contrasts with the caramel- and mocha-colored rock formations within the caves, which include stalactites and stalagmites. Visitors can swim in the river, climb through the caves and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Recent travelers said this adventure was the highlight of their trip to Playa del Carmen, noting that the tour was fascinating and that they learned a lot about the Mayans and the land’s natural history. Many also said this is a great rainy day activity since most of the exploration occurs underground.
Tours are available directly through the attraction’s website and through other vendors like Viator and Playa del Carmen Tours; prices vary by company. Rio Secreto is located about 6 miles southwest of Playa del Carmen. Some packages include transportation. For additional on how to book a Tour, see the Tour Advantages main page.
5. Golfing by the beach
The area’s golf courses are picturesque and challenging – in addition to drawing Playa del Carmen travelers, many Cancún vacationers venture south to play a round on the links. The most popular courses are the Golf Club Playacar, the Grand Coral Golf Riviera Maya and El Camaleón Mayakoba Golf Club. Golf Club Playacar is praised for its well-kept grounds and exemplary service (plus its tough layout); Grand Coral wins favor with golfers thanks to its fair rates and beautiful design, though some say the greens could use a bit of improvement; and El Camaelón Mayakoba is heralded as a “gem” of a PGA course with well-manicured greens.
Green fees vary by course, but some offer twilight specials and golf packages for vacationers to save on rates. You’ll find Golf Club Playacar in southern Playa del Carmen, Grand Coral Golf Riviera Maya in the center of town and El Camaleón Mayakoba at the northern end.
6. Xcaret Nature Park
Both experts and travelers say that Xcaret is a sort of Yucatán-style Disneyland, a large outdoor “eco-park” filled with an aviary, a dolphin aquarium, a turtle sanctuary and a beach perfect for swimming, diving or snorkeling. The park also offers various excursions like dolphin interactions, stingray encounters, shark swims, snuba tours and speedboat rides. Stay the day at Xcaret then enjoy the evening events, which include performances exploring the area’s Mayan past. Xcaret is home to a few dining venues as well.
Past visitors were big fans of Xcaret, noting that the park was filled with attractions, things to explore and activities to enjoy. Some do note Xcaret’s admission fees are expensive but most say it’s worth it, calling out the well-maintained exhibits and beach and the pleasant staff. Travelers also note you can save money by purchasing your tickets in advance online.
Prices for admission vary depending on the ticket you purchase and the number of days you want to spend at Xcaret. There are build-your-own package options available and discounts if you book combo packages with photos, add-on activities or admission to its sister attractions. The park is located about 6 miles south of from Playa del Carmen. To book tickets to the park see the Tour Advantages main website.
7. Coralina Daylight Club
Drawing on inspiration from Las Vegas pool parties and Ibiza beach ragers, Coralina Daylight Club offers party-hungry travelers a chance to dance, listen to music and day drink in the heart of Playa del Carmen. Coralina features several pools, direct beach access, private cabana areas and a restaurant with seating – and it’s the place to see and be seen in this resort town. Travelers loved the party vibe and club atmosphere here, adding that the service staff is top-notch, too. Some do note that prices for cabanas and drinks can be steep.
The Coralina Daylight Club is located next to the Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. There are entrances to the club from the beach and on 26th Street. Depending on the day of the week, there may be a cover charge. For more information, head to the day club’s website.