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Top 20 Best Things To Do in Playa del Carmen

Top 20 Best Things To Do in Playa del Carmen

One of the main reasons we love this place is that there are so many great things to do in Playa del Carmen. There’s so much more than just a beach: ancient ruins, mysterious cenotes, great food and nightlife, diving, and so much more.

We fell in love with this Mexican beach town on our first visit and actually moved to Playa del Carmen. It’s a place that we always come back to.

Playa del Carmen is the perfect Mexican beach vacation destination, but it can be so much more with all of the great activities right in town.

Let us be your guide to one of our favorite cities in the world and show you all the best Playa del Carmen activities!

If you want to see all of the best highlights near Playa del Carmen we have hand-picked our personal favorite tours that cover many of the best things to do to maximize your time. These are the tours we send our friends on when they come to visit us in Playa del Carmen, and they are always a hit.

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 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!

Top 20 Best Things to Do in Playa Del Carmen Mexico

Best Restaurants in Playa del Carmen 7

1. Shopping & Entertainment on 5th Ave

5th Avenue, or Quinta Avenida, is your one-stop shop for dining, drinks, and entertainment.

Stretching five miles down the coast of Playa del Carmen, this pedestrian-only street is the beating heart of the city and is teeming with shops, restaurants, and cafes.

You’ll find big international brands as well as smaller markets where you can haggle for handicrafts and artwork. Not only is this the best place to purchase souvenirs, but it’s also bustling with street performers, musicians, and live performances practically every hour of the day.

TIP: When buying souvenirs in Playa del Carmen from street vendors, make sure to shop around and negotiate the price. Their starting prices are often inflated by 25%+.

Step by Step – The Easiest Way From Cancun to Playa del Carmen

Plate of two tacos from a local taco place in Cancun - Must try things in Cancun Mexico

2. Eat Some of the Best Tacos of Your Life

No trip to Playa del Carmen would be complete without indulging in a few mouthwatering tacos. From our favorite Al Pastor tacos to succulent shredded pork tacos – even freshly grilled seafood tacos.

If you’re a taco fanatic consider going on a taco-tasting tour with a local, you can book such a tour here.

Where to get Tacos & What to order:

  • El Fogon: Al Pastor tacos, queso fundito con chorizo (melted savory Oaxaca cheese with chorizo), guacamole, and margaritas. Map
  • Carnitas Teresita: Their house specialty is braised pork shoulder, otherwise known as carnitas. Map
  • El Nero: The Most local-style tacos with traditional offerings in Playa Centro. Map

Read our full guide on the best tacos in Playa del Carmen. We have spent more than a year of our lives here and have eaten just about everywhere. We also put together a guide on the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen.

The beach and pool of Elements in Playa del Carmen

3. Enjoy the Beach

One of the things we love about Playa del Carmen is how the city is right on the beach. Unlike other Mexican beach destinations, the city and the beach feel like one.

Playa Del Carmen Beaches

Our favorite stretch of beach is from the Pier at Consituientes north to Calle 46, where the beach ends. Here, you’ll find a nice deep beach with plenty of places to lay your towel.

The section of the beach right on the water is public, and anyone is free to use it. Further from the water is private for the hotels located on the beach. There has been some beach erosion on the southern end of the city, and they haven’t been as nice lately.

Playacar Beach

The beaches in front of Playacar are also public, and they are arguably nicer. However, for us, they are further away and don’t have the same vibe as bars and beach clubs. If you are looking for a quiet and relaxing beach, you might want to head here.

Related: Best Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen

woman sitting on a chair in a rooftop pool at a hotel in Playa del Carmen

4. Rooftop Bars

Soak in the sun with a few tropical drinks at one of Playa del Carmen’s trendy rooftop bars. The rooftop bars have panoramic views of the city and the Caribbean Sea, and many also have pools.

With laid-back lounge music and a crystal clear infinity pool, the Purobeach Rooftop Club at The Fives Downton Hotel is an excellent option for those looking for an upscale venue.

Purobeach Rooftop Club has a minimum consumption for the use of chairs & beds. The prices can easily be met with a few drinks & snacks.

If you want something more lively, check out 3B, the Roof Club at The Palm at Playa hotel. They charge an entry fee, and you can eat & drink as much or as little as you’d like.

*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.*

Playa del Carmen travel guide - Best beach club Coralina

5. Spend a Day at one of the Playa del Carmen Beach Clubs

Enjoy a fun and relaxing experience by spending the day at a beach club. The beach clubs in Playa del Carmen have sun loungers, bathrooms, and on-site restaurants so that you can make the most of your day in the sun.

There are dozens of beach clubs to choose from, each with its distinct vibe and style. Some cater to younger visitors and have live music, dancing, and cheaper drink options. Others are more upscale and have a laid-back and trendy lounge vibe to them.

One of the most popular beach clubs in Playa del Carmen is Mamita’s Beach Club. They offer basic sun beds, lounges by the pool, and VIP  beds by the beach or pool.

The prices vary based on the type of chair/bed, but on average, two sunbeds are $800 pesos, which includes $500 pesos in food and beverage credit. VIP sunbed $2,000 pesos for two people, which includes $1,700 in credit for food and beverages.

woman sitting on the deck of Gran Cenote near Tulum Mexico - One of the top cenotes in Mexico

6. Visit Nearby Cenotes in Playa del Carmen

Head out of the city and visit one of the many cenotes in Mexico, located around Playa del Carmen. These cavernous sinkholes are usually located deep in the heart of the jungle and attract visitors looking to escape the bustle of the city.

Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted with turquoise waters and lush surroundings. Although most people go to the cenotes for swimming, some of them are also ideal for snorkeling or scuba diving.

If you’d like to visit several cenotes, consider this cenote tour, which visits a cenote and swimming with sea turtles in Akumal.

Nearby Playa del Carmen Cenotes

  • Cenote Jardin Del Eden – 22 minutes
  • Cenote Azul – 23 minutes
  • Dos Ojos – 45 minutes

Must Read: Our full guide to renting a car in Cancun

7. Visit The Jungle Street (Calle 38 from 5th Ave to the Beach)

Check out the Quiet Side of Playa del Carmen on Calle 38 or, as we unofficially call it, “the jungle street.” This is hands down our favorite street in the city. Sure, 5th Ave has it all, but this is more our kind of street.

On Calle 38 from 5th Avenue down to the beach, they have left all of the old bayan trees and natural plants intact, and restaurants and shops have popped up around them.

Some of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen can be found here, and they all just seem to blend in with nature. I wish all of the streets in Playa were this way.

A few musts on Calle 38 are Cueva del Chango (great for breakfast/brunch), Chela de Playa for a local craft brew, and Amate 38 for lunch or dinner.

8. Try Mexican Street Food

One of the best parts about being in Playa del Carmen is being able to sample the wide variety of Mexican street food. From tacos to tortas, street food is the perfect way to taste some of the authentic local flavors of the region.

One of the best places for street food in Playa del Carmen is at the corner of Calle 40 and Avenida 30 by the Super Aki grocery store. Every night, 10+ food vendors are selling all sorts of Mexican street food for you to try. Make sure to bring small bills and pesos.

Also, don’t miss the tamales from the street vendors selling a variety of tamales wrapped in corn husk from the large street-side metal steaming pots. The best place to find tamale vendors is also 30th Avenida between Calle 10 and 18. Look for the large metal pots.

aluxe cave restaurant in Playa del carmen

9. Alux Restaurant

Alux restaurant is easily one of the most unique restaurants to eat at, not just in Playa del Carmen but possibly in the entire world. Located in an underground cave, you’ll be able to dine surrounded by limestone stalactites and stalagmites.

The Mexican fusion food at Alux is also just as impressive as the unique venue itself. From the menu, choose between dishes like Duck Magret Fantasy, Luscious Beef Steak, and King Crab Devotion.

  • Average meal price: 800 – 1300 pesos per dish

Aerial drone photo of Parque Funadores park - copper statues and lively market in park - Top Playa del Carmen attractions

10. Parque Fundadores

There’s always something happening at Parque Fundadores. During the day, you’ll find souvenir stalls and street vendors selling every sort of handicraft you can imagine.

You can also stop for lunch at one of the many restaurants lining the park or grab a fresh coconut and head straight for the beach.

At night, the atmosphere of Parque Fundadores really starts to buzz. You’ll see many different street performers and even traditional Mayan dancers wearing bright, colorful costumes.

Whether you’re coming for the food, the shows, or simply to people-watch, you’ll always find something to keep you entertained at Parque Fundadores.

Cozumel Ferry Boat in Mexico

11. Take the ferry to Cozumel

The Cozumel ferry from Playa del Carmen makes it easy to visit Cozumel, one of the most picturesque islands near the Yucatan Peninsula. Boats leave every hour and take roughly 45 minutes each way.

On Cozumel, you’ll have a plethora of outdoor activities to participate in. Swim with dolphins, explore ancient ruins, or simply relax on the white-sand beaches.

The coral reefs surrounding the island are teeming with tropical fish, which makes snorkeling and diving a few of the most popular activities in Cozumel.

Once there we highly suggest renting a car in Cozumel for the day. The island is bigger than you think, and to make the most of your trip, you’ll need a car to drive around the island. Cars are super affordable but often sell out.

Make sure to reserve in advance. We suggest booking on they have the cheapest prices and free cancelation.

View from the water of the buildings of the Turtle Sanctuary of Playa Xcacel

12. Xcacel Beach

Playa del Carmen is home to many tropical beaches, but Xcacel Beach might be one of the most stunning. Not only will you have miles of untouched coastline, but you’ll also get to see some of Mexico’s most adorable residents – sea turtles!

From April to October, hundreds of turtles arrive at Xcacel to breed and nest. If you’re lucky, you might be able to see the babies crawling toward the ocean.

There’s also a hidden cenote tucked away just steps from the beach. The lush, jungle-like atmosphere and cool refreshing waters are a welcome break from the ocean on a hot day.

  • Highway 307 Between Chemuyil and Xel-Ha, Cancun Mexico

The most popular beach to swim with sea turtles is Akumal Beach. Which is another great spot. Every time we’ve been, we’ve always been able to swim with sea turtles

Boat in Negril Parasailing with a colorful parachute

13. Parasailing

Parasail high above the sparkling ocean for one of the best views in all of Playa del Carmen. With a speedboat pulling your parasail and the warm breeze blowing through your hair, you’ll feel like you’re flying over one of the most beautiful places in the world!

There are plenty of parasailing companies and boats to choose from, and many of them allow you to fly into the air without touching the water. You can either go by yourself or in tandem with another friend or family member.

  • Book here (Better price than the beach and no haggling)

Bahamas Half Moon Cay Cruise Jetski 3

14. Jet Ski

The high-powered thrill of riding a jet ski through the Caribbean Sea is a must-do activity for any adventure lover. Get your heart rate pumping as you blast through the waves at 60 miles per hour!

There are plenty of options in Playa del Carmen in terms of jet ski rentals. If you’re just hopping on a jet ski for the first time, you can choose a short 30-minute or one-hour rental.

There are also several jet ski tours where you can combine an exciting jet ski ride with a snorkeling excursion.

  • Average price: 900 – 3,000 pesos per person

Don’t forget your insurance! You never know when you’ll need it. We suggest getting travel insurance with Safety Wing. Which coverage includes medical, trip interruption, lost luggage, and more. Often rates are as low as $12 a week. 

Inle Lake winery bike ride Myanmar Itinerary 2

15. Rent a bike

One of the best ways to explore the city streets of Playa del Carmen is by bike. Weave up and down the streets of Playa del Carmen and discover some of the city’s off-the-beaten-path attractions while getting a bit of exercise in, too!

With a bike, you can also cruise down to the beach while soaking in the unparalleled ocean views of the Caribbean Sea.

Remember, it’s always important to lock up your bike when you’re not using it. Bike theft can be a significant issue in Playa del Carmen, so make sure to rent from a company that includes the use of a lock.

Note: Bike Riding is not allowed on the beach, nor would it be a great beach to ride since the sand is rather loose.

Three divers swimming at a dive site in cozumel Mexico - Top tourist attractions in Cozumel Mexico

16. Diving in Playa del Carmen

Diving is one of the most popular activities to do in Playa del Carmen. Depending on your interests, there are dozens of dive sites to choose from.

Whether you’re diving to the bottom of a dark cenote or exploring the colorful coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea, you’ll easily find something that sparks your interest.

One of our favorite cenotes to dive is El Pit. Often, you can dive in two different cenotes in a day, visit a dive shop and see where they are going next, or tell them which cenotes you’d like to dive. I would suggest adding Cenote Angelita.

It’s also possible to visit the dive sites around Cancun. For something more unique, dive into the El Museo Subaquatico de Arte (or MUSA for short). This fascinating underwater museum is filled with over 500 life-sized art installations.

xcaret playa del carmen mexico 1

17. Xcaret/Xel Ha etc.

For an action-packed day of fun in the sun, head to one of Playa del Carmen’s thrilling water parks. Xel Ha is one of Mexico’s most famous parks and boasts some of the best family-fun activities, like snorkeling, zip-lining, and swimming.

If you want to experience the best of Mexico’s natural attractions, visit Xcaret. Not only do they have three underground rivers and a relaxing beach, but they also have a coral reef garden, an on-site aviary, and a butterfly pavilion.

18. Rio Secreto

Take a magical journey through the intricate limestone cave system at Rio Secreto – or Secret River. Decked out in a life jacket and helmet, you’ll be able to swim through miles of underground rivers, where you’ll be surrounded by thousands of protruding stalactites and stalagmites.

The sparkling turquoise water is contrasted against the light brown rock formations inside the cave, which makes it a spectacular sight. You might even spot the occasional bat hanging or flying through the caves.

19. Frida Kahlo Museum

If you can’t make it to Mexico City, then Playa del Carmen is the second-best place where you can explore Frida Kahlo’s controversial history.

At the Frida Kahlo Museum, you’ll be able to learn more about her life and how her art influenced an entire culture.

The museum is presented in chronological order. As you walk through the rooms of her photos and diagrams, you’ll gain a better understanding of how she worked as an artist.

While there are no original Frida pieces on display, the museum focuses on her impact on society and other budding artists instead.

exterior of the famous night club Coco Bingo in Cancun - Best Night life - Things to do in Cancun

20. Party at Coco Bongo

For a memorable night out on the town, stop by the famous Coco Bongo Show and Disco.

Coco Bongo is a non-stop festive party filled with free-flowing alcohol, jaw-dropping acrobatics, and extravagant live performances from the city’s top singers and dancers.

Described as a cross between a Las Vegas nightclub and a Cirque du Soleil show, Coco Bongo is ideal for anyone who wants to party until the early hours of the morning.

woman standing next to a rental car in Cancun after picking it up from the airport

Rent a Car

If you’d like to cover a little more ground than you can on a bike, consider renting a car in Playa del Carmen. We’ve rented a car 20+ times and always rent a car in Playa del Carmen. The freedom you have with a set of wheels is amazing.

Renting a car is one of the best ways to see some of the best things to do in the Riviera Maya. You’ll be able to drive yourself on day trips from Playa del Carmen.

Renting a car will save you a ton of money over purchasing several tours.

To get the best prices, you must book online on They have the cheapest rental car prices and offer free cancellations. You’ll only be charged if you pick up your rental car, so there is no harm in renting.

Hotel Shuttle Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen people with signs

Getting from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is 35 miles/55 km from the Cancun airport. It roughly takes 55 minutes. There are several ways to get from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen, make sure to click here for our complete guide.

  • Private Driver  – 60 minutes, Direct door to door, Book Online in advance for the cheapest price here
  • Cancun Shared Airport Shuttle – 75 minutes + (varies on waiting for a full van and the number of stops), Stops multiple places, price per person 
  • Rent a car – 60 minutes, Direct, Click here for our renting a car in Cancun guide
  • ADO Bus – 75+ minutes (varies on when the next bus is, and the number of stops), Goes to the ADO bus station in Playa del Carmen. You’ll need to taxi from here, Average $10 + Taxi Fare

Are you looking for the best tacos in Playa del Carmen or the best day trips from Playa del Carmen? We’ve got you covered and much more detailed info in our Playa del Carmen guide!

Playa del Carmen is one of the best places in Mexico to visit and our personal favorite! Looking for more destinations to visit? Where to next?

How about Tulum? Just down the road from Playa del Carmen is Tulum, with fantastic beaches, some of the best Mayan Ruins in Mexico, and a bunch of Tulum cenotes to explore!

Or maybe head inland with a trip to Valloidid and the nearby Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins and some of the most epic cenotes in all of Mexico!