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Day Trips From Playa del Carmen Mexico

Escape touristy Cancun and head to Playa del Carmen! Fun & sun pretty much sum up Playa del Carmen, one of the best beach towns on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Get off your all-inclusive resort and explore Mexico on a day trip from Playa del Carmen! There are so many places to go and things to see in the Riviera Maya. Here are our top day trips from Playa del Carmen.

Woman standing in front of Chichen Itza in an orange dress
#1 – Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid 
Essential Experience
There is no better way to visit Chichen Itza, a cenote, and Valladolid (one of our favorite towns).

Woman standing at the tulum ruins near Grand Palladium Riviera Maya
#2 – 3-in-1 Discovery Combo: Tulum Ruins, Snorkeling, and Cenote & Caves 
Visit Tulum Ruins, go snorkeling, includes a lunch buffet, swim in a cenote, and visit Xtun Cave. This is an action-packed day!

Sandy Corner Polaris Adventures Bear Bogging ATV Rentals Wisconsin side view motion blur
#3 – ATV Tour, Ziplines, and Cenote Swim 
Explore the Mayan jungle by ATV, then jump in a cenote for a little swim before heading off to the zipline!

Related Article: Playa del Carmen Guide

day trips from playa del carmen mexico-1

Playa del Carmen is a great place for a 7-day vacation in Mexico. We have stayed at several properties in Playa del Carmen. Our favorite is The Elements Oceanfront & Beachside Condo Hotel. On our last five visits, we stayed for an entire month at a time!

It’s located right on the beach, with its own private beach club, a massive pool, and gorgeous modern condos. Click here to check rates. It’s the perfect home away from home.

We also like the Illusion Boutique Hotel, located in the heart of Playa del Carmen, with amazing sea views, and is only a one-minute walk to the beach.

Related Article: The Best Restaurants in Playa del Carmen

Day Trips from Playa del Carmen Mexico

playa del carmen day trips tulum beach palm tree pin

We rented a car in Playa del Carmen and drove ourselves. However, tours can be arranged for each of these day trips from Playa del Carmen. Driving in the Yucatan has been easy. The roads are well marked with signs pointing to all of the below day trips from Playa del Carmen.

We have rented cars in Playa del Carmen 10+ times and have always paid $20-$35 a day on, and they have free cancelations. To get the best rate, book online in advance here.

Another option for budget day trips from Playa del Carmen is taking the colectivos (a shared taxi van). It’s easy to arrange a Colectivo for all the below-day trips from Playa del Carmen for a fraction of the price.

Personally, we prefer just to rent a car and drive ourselves, and then we are on our schedule. Here are our favorite day trips from Playa del Carmen.

*When looking for the best price and biggest selection of hotels, check prices on We’ve found they are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.*

1. Swim With Sea Turtles In Akumal

Woman swimming with sea turtles in Akumal

Swim with sea turtles for FREE! No need to pay for an overpriced snorkeling tour. Just bring your own snorkel gear or rent some on the beach. Head 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen to Akumal, and follow the signs on the highway to Akumal Beach.

There is no fee, as this is a public beach. However, we did have to pay 50 pesos ($3) for parking – or – take a Colectivo from Playa del Carmen to Akumal for 35 pesos ($2) each way. Once on the beach, strap on your mask & fins and head to the ocean!

Related Article: Grand Palladium Riviera Maya 

2. Explore The Cenotes In Mexico

woman on ladder getting out of cenote cristalino a cenote near Tulum Mexico

A cenote is basically a sinkhole that results from the collapse of a limestone cave that exposes the groundwater underneath. In the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, where Playa del Carmen is located, there are over 2,400 registered cenotes. A complete list of the best cenotes in Mexico is here. Here are some of the best cenotes to check out for day trips from Playa del Carmen:

  • Chaak Tun Cenote 15 minutes from Playa del Carmen
  • Jardin El Eden 25 minutes from Playa del Carmen
  • Dos Ojos Cenote 40 minutes from Playa del Carmen
  • Cenote Calavera  55 minutes from Playa del Carmen
  • Suytun Cenote 1 hour 50 minutes from Playa del Carmen

One of the best cenotes in Mexico for diving is El Pit Cenote, just outside Tulum. If you don’t want to rent a car but want to take a full-day trip from Playa del Carmen and visit several cenotes.

Xenotes Oasis Maya tour. We loved this tour. We got to kayak, zip line, snorkel, and even rappel down into a cave cenote. Buy your tickets online for up to 15% off here.

3. Visit Tulum Ruins

Tulum ruins Things to do near Playa del Carmen

Tulum Ruins are our personal favorite Mayan ruins in Mexico. The ruins are located right on the sea and make for some epic photos. Tulum ruins are a 45-minute drive from Playa del Carmen and are easy to add on if you are heading to Akumal to swim with the sea turtles.

If you are looking for epic day trips from Playa del Carmen, I’d suggest visiting Tulum Ruins early in the morning. This way, you’ll get there before the sun is in full effect and the crowds are lighter.

Tulum Ruins are the 3rd most visited site in all of Mexico, with good reason. It’s AMAZING! Make sure to pack your swimsuit, as you can head down and swim in the ocean to cool off. For some reason, every time we visit Tulum Ruins, it’s crazy hot!

If you want to learn the history of the ruins, make sure to hire one of the guides to take you through them. There are several options on the length of the tour and prices. Remember that tipping in Mexico is customary if you had a great time.

Related Article: Where to Stay in Tulum – Read before booking accommodation

4. Las Coloradas Yucatan aka The Pink Lake In Mexico

Woman with arms raised infront of Las Coloradas Pink Lakes
You will see this photo all over Playa del Carmen, stolen and printed on billboards to sell tours

No, don’t adjust your screen. What you are seeing is correct. Just 3 hours away lies the most colorful day trips from Playa del Carmen. Las Coloradas in the Yucatan is home to Mexico’s pink lake. Wonder why Las Coloradas is pink? It’s natural, and the pink lake gets its color from dye emitted by a crustacean called artemia salina, which is similar to a very tiny shrimp.

If you happen to be traveling to Mexico in April especially, head to Las Coloradas and go to Río Lagartos, which is right by the pink lake. The best time to see flamingoes in Rio Lagartos is April. Thousands of flamingos nest in the Río Lagartos waters.

FUN FACT: Flamingos eat the Artemia salina, giving them a pink dye dose!

Related Article: Isla Holbox Mexico’s Best Kept Secret

5. Have Lunch In Valladolid Mexico

Day trips from Playa del Carmen head to Valladolid Red building with a woman standing

To continue with colorful day trips from Playa del Carmen, head to Valladolid after visiting Las Colorados. You’ll most likely pass through Valladolid on the drive to/from Playa del Carmen. Valladolid is a great place to have lunch and just walk around Plaza Francisco Canton. If you have time, you could spend the whole day seeing all the attractions in Valladolid.

Valladolid is considered one of Mexico’s most influential towns, full of natural beauty and culture. We suggest having lunch at El Meson del Marques, located right in the Plaza Francisco Canton. Make sure to order the fresh guacamole that is made tableside.

Related Article: Don’t skip Merida Mexico

Xpu Ha Beach Club from above - White sand beach with lounge chairs

6. Xpu Ha Beach

If the beach in Playa del Carmen is too busy, head south 20 minutes to quieter Xpu Ha Beach. We fell in love with the white sandy beaches and the beach bars & restaurants. The prices are much more reasonable than Mamamita’s in Playa del Carmen.

We spent the entire day lounging in our beach chairs, sipping on margaritas.  There are a few hotels you can stay at too. We highly recommend Serenity Luxury Tented Camp. Glamping in Mexico should be on everyone’s bucket list.

7. Take The Ferry to Cozumel

Jump on the Cozumel ferry in Playa del Carmen, and you’ll be in Cozumel in around 30 minutes. We suggest spending the entire day in Cozumel and, to the most of it, renting a car in Cozumel is the best way to see the island. There are a ton of things to do in Cozumel to keep you busy all day.

Rental cars in Cozumel are often under $10 a day if booked in advance on They have the cheapest rates and free cancelation. Click here to check rates. Make sure to read our things to know before renting a car in the Cozumel article.

8. Xcaret Mexico

xcaret playa del carmen mexico-1

Just 6 kilometers outside Playa del Carmen, on the Caribbean sea, Xcaret is waiting for you. Learn about Mexican traditions and explore nature at the Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park. Take a stroll through the butterfly pavilion, Jaguar Island, swim in the underground rivers, learn the history of the Mayan ball game, and much more at Xcaret.

Head on over to the theater, where over 300 artists will entertain you by presenting “Xcaret Mexico Espectacular,” which will take you through Mexico’s history.

Discount tickets for Xcaret:

Buy your tickets online for up to 15% off here. Parking is free and makes for an easy day trip from Playa del Carmen.

Places in Mexico to Visit Before or After Playa del Carmen

If you’ve got more time to explore Mexico, there are some amazing places nearby you should check out. If you can’t make it on this trip, consider them on your next trip. Make sure to check out some of our other Mexican articles to fuel your wanderlust.

2024 Isla Holbox Ultimate Guide – Must KNOW Travel Tips

photo of three posts in the waters with text written over "Isla Holbox" - featured image for Isla Holbox Island Mexico Travel guide

Is Isla Holbox worth the trip? YES! Holbox Mexico is one of the best places in Mexico to visit. Skip Tulum! 2024 Complete Holbox guide with things to do in Holbox, best restaurants, where to stay, how to get to Holbox, and more.

5 Things To Know BEFORE Renting a Car in Cancun

Renting a car in Cancun Featured Image

Don’t rent a car in Cancun without reading this first! Cancun car rental guide: driving in Mexico tips, common scams, what to do if police pull you over, best rental car company, and more.

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playa del carmen day trips tulum beach palm tree pin

There are so many day trips from Playa del Carmen you could take. What are your favorite day trips from Playa del Carmen? Always looking to explore something new. No matter what you do in Playa del Carmen, you will surely have a great time. If it rains, just go find a happy hour!

We loved Playa del Carmen so much that we decided to move here and are now living in Playa del Carmen!


Friday 24th of May 2019

Great tips, staying in playa del carmen in 2 weeks, mon-fri, found hotel riviera del sol, and looking at different places to explore. Do you think its best to rent car or do tours ? Some tours are pricey. Which ruin do you recommend out of chichen itza, coba or tulum ? Is it possible to do 2 in a day ? Or better to do ruin with cenote or beach ?


Tuesday 25th of June 2019

Renting a car in Cancun is really the way to do it, tours are ok but expensive and you will be in big groups. Chichen Itza and Tulum are the most impressive but you have more freedom at Coba. Personally, I would one ruin in a day and mix in a cenote or beach to fill in the rest of the day. Try and go to the ruins early, they get very hot and crowded in the afternoons. If you were going to do two in one day it's easiest to do either Chichen Itza and Coba or Tulum and Coba.


Tuesday 5th of February 2019

Is there a best time of year to see the sea turtles! Heading down to Mexico in march and want to know if it is worth it to head that way that time of year


Tuesday 5th of February 2019

The Turtles are here all year long. I have seen them in every season, March should be fine.


Saturday 26th of January 2019

We are headed to the Yucatan and want flexibility. We’ve rented a car but are hesitant. Can you tell me is the daily insurance affordable?


Monday 4th of February 2019

We feel the car rental insurance rates are very reasonable in Cancun, we have generally paid in the past $15-30 USD per day for coverage. This will depend on the level of coverage and many other factors, but with the base price of the rental generally only a few dollars per day the total package is very affordable. It really is the best way to travel around Cancun and the Riviera Maya.


Monday 27th of August 2018

I'm visiting playa del Carmen soon and don't know whether to rent a car for my stay or use tours, tours seem pretty pricey, can you go into tour locations individually without a guide? such as ruins or cenotes? what would you suggest as the most cost effective and get the full experience? are directions to these locations on google?

Hannah Lukaszewicz

Monday 3rd of September 2018

Get a rental car in Mexico! Yes, you can get into all the ruins in Mexico and cenotes in Mexico by yourself with a rental car. There are only a few cenotes that you can't because the rental companies own that cenote and it's private, but we've been to those cenotes and they aren't that great anyways. Directions to everything is available on Google Maps, we just pop in the address before leaving our hotel in Playa del Carmen. Where are you staying in the Yucatan?

Adrian S

Monday 8th of May 2017

Hi, Hannah and Adam!

We were in Playa at the end of April 2017 and we followed all your advice posted here and in the Ultimate Guide to Playa... and the ones in Bangkok ... but don't want to sound like stalking at all :). Amazing!!!

We were decided to go to Dutch Antilles, but as soon as I've seen the guide back in October 2016, we immediately booked the tickets and it was the best vacation we ever had. Thank you for making it easy for us in terms of Restaurants, daily trips and .. tips and tricks.

Keep inspiring people!

P.S.: we got to Rio Lagartos on a rainy day, unfortunately, so the pink was more than an orange-brown colour, but at least we saw the FREE flamingoes....