What to do in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Holla to all my Playas out theeeere! Playa del Carmen, located in the Riveria Maya on the Yacatan Peninsula is the perfect Carribean getaway and so much more that a “resort town”. Get out of the resort and experience what this wonderful part of the world has to offer – it’s so much more than a 5 star resort.

Playa del Carmen Beaches

Playa del Carmen is basically one big landing strip of beaches! All you have to do is choose one. Although the Playa del Carmen beach is bigger and more accessible, the Playacar beach, just a short walk south, is better maintained by the hotels along the shoreline.

Beach Sunrise Playacar Mexico North America
Playacar Beach
Beach Playa del Carmen Mexico North America
Playa del Carmen Beach

Cozumel

Just a short 45min boat ride away, Cozumel is a haven of beaches, snorkelling and of course scuba diving. There’s also plenty of fun bars and restaurants! Head on over for an extended day trip away from Playa – the last ferry returns around 10pm.

Cozumel Mexico North America
Cozumel Harbour
Cozumel beaches

Scuba Diving

Of course there is scuba diving! Matt and I levelled up in Playa del Carment with Pro Dive International. I became a Dive Master and Matt an Instructor. The area is absolutely chock full with wild life and shipwrecks, and if you get sick of Playa dive sites, just head on over to Cozumel for a change of scenery. The dives are majority drift dives, but if you head there at the right time of year, you can catch the bull sharks that migrate there to give birth in the mangroves. And don’t even get me started on the cenotes! You can organise scuba trips to all these locations with Pro Dive International. Worth checking them out.

Scuba Dive Turtle Playa del Carmen Cozumel Mexico North America
Turtle & Angelfish
Scuba Dive ProDive International Playa del Carmen Mexico North America
ProDive International
Scuba Dive PADI Playa del Carmen Cozumel Mexico North America
Cozumel
Scuba Dive Cenote Jardin del Eden Playa del Carmen Mexico North America
Cenote Jardin del Eden
Scuba Dive Bull Shark Playa del Carmen Mexico North America
Bull shark!

Xplore

Get your adrenaline pumping with a day out at Xplore adventure park! Perfect for those hot Mexican days, spend your time ziplining, 4wd-ing, and getting wet! Don’t be shy with the photo machines either – we weren’t!

Xplor Playa del Carmen Mexico North America Zipline
Ziplining!
Xplor Playa del Carmen Mexico North America Zipline Waterfall
Splashdown!
Xplor Playa del Carmen Mexico North America Waterfall
Underground adventures
Xplor Playa del Carmen Mexico North America Buggy
They see me rollin’

5th Avenue, Playa del Carmen

5th Ave is a pretty lively place to walk up and down. Sure, the restaurants as a rule aren’t very good… the shops are stock full of tourist souvenirs… and you will probably be harassed about tours, trinkets and drugs (all very kindly with a smile on their faces)… but there’s no way I wouldn’t recommended taking a stroll up and down this street every day that you’re in Playa. It’s such a fun place to be around! All you need to do is take a short walk off the main street to find a nice bar or restaurant to sit down at.

5th Avenue Playa del Carmen Quintana Roo Mexico North America
Plenty to see and do on 5th Avenue

Island Hopping

Want a day away from the crowds? Jump on a boat and do some island hopping! There’s plenty of tours to choose from, and you can even barter with the street vendors for the best deal. We decided on one with plenty of beaches, snorkeling and unlimited booze. What can I say – we know what we like! Of all the islands, Isla Contoy was my favourite.

Isla Contoy Wharf Girl Mexico North America
Isla Contoy Beach Swim Mexico North America

Cenotes

Cenotes are not just for scuba diving! With water a delicious clear blue, you’ll be diving in within seconds! The most popular in the area is Gran Cenote, but make sure you check out some of the smaller ones. Carwash Cenote was by far my favourite.

Cenote Gran Cenote Quintana Roo Mexico North America
Gran Cenote
Cenote Gran Swimming Quintana Roo Mexico North America
Gran Cenote
Cenote Carwash Quintana Roo Mexico North America
Carwash Cenote

Tulum

If you didn’t get your fix of ruins at Chichen Itza, then Tulum is your next stop. Located next to a beautiful beach, you can get hot walking the ruins and then cool down in the lovely Carribean waters. Make it a day trip by staying for lunch at one of the hip cafes in Tulum town, and then heading down the rode to Gran Cenote!

Tulum Ruins Quintana Roo Mexico North America
Tulum Ruins
Tulum Quintana Roo Mexico North America
Beachside Location!

Bars and Clubs around Playa del Carmen

Of course, just like Cancun, there are plenty of your stock standard bars and clubs around Playa del Carmen. But if you’re more like me, and prefer a quieter scene, you’ll find plenty of amazing rooftop bars, grungy pubs with bands and cheap beer and snack bars. In fact you’ll find so many, you won’t be able to visit them all! A couple of my favourites were the Cerveceria for cheap snacks and cheaper beer, and
Mariscos y Clamatos El Doctorcito for live music and big beers.

Bar Playa del Carmen Mexico North America
Huge beers!

Restaurants in Playa del Carmen

You basically can’t go wrong here, but here are a few of my favourites. Be sure you walk about and find some of your own favourites!

Delicious Mexican Food – El Fogon

Mexican seafood delights – La Bamba Jarocha

Burritos as big as your head – Ay! Salsa

The deepest dish pizza – Don Chendo

Italian like nonna makes – Salento Restaurant

Vegetarian delights – Mercado 30

Start Booking!

A hop skip and jump from Cancun International Airport, ADO buses are the easiest, most convenient way to get in and out of Playa. Matt and I stayed in an AirBnB called Palapa Suuk, which seemed to be the most cost effective for a 2 month stay. We purchased 2 bicycles to get around, and sold them back to the shop at the end of our stay. Saved HEAPS of money on taxi’s and the like. For our day trips to Tulum and the cenotes we hired a car. Everything else we bargained like crazy! Make sure you never say yes to the first price!

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