Whether you’re looking to relax by the beach, soak up the beautiful scenery or learn more about the Mexican and Maya culture, you will be no short of options for excursions from Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
The city of Playa Del Carmen is located in the province of Quintana Roo and lies between Cancun and Tulum, making it the ideal base to discover what the area has to offer, including the wonders of the Yucatan.
Having personally visited the area in February 2017, I’d like to share with you what would be my top 5 excursions to consider when visiting Playa Del Carmen.
#1 – Chichen Itza
This will not come as a surprise but you can’t visit Mexico and not go to one of the new seven wonders of the world, the beautiful archaeological site of Chichen Itza.
I decided to do the one day trip from Playa Del Carmen and yes it is quite a journey but it is so worth it! Chichen Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and by listening to the local guide explaining how the Mayas founded the town, you’ll just get emerged into the past right away.
The highlight of the site is the pyramid of Kukulkan which I have learnt is in fact a Mayan calendar – just breathtaking! There are also many other ruins to visit so I would recommend spending at least two hours to make sure you truly understand how wonderful this site is.
#2 – Tulum & Coba
Tulum is the only Maya archaeological site which is located by the sea making it the perfect spot to take amazing postal-card like photographs. The amazing coastline makes Tulum one of the best beach spot in Mexico!
Coba, in the contrary, is one of the newest site which is proving more and more popular with tourists. It also has the only Maya pyramid which you can actually climb where you will enjoy a lovely view over the jungle. One for the bucket list!
#3 – Xcaret Park
The eco-archaelogical park of Xcaret is one of the best in the Riviera Maya. If you’re looking for the perfect mix between culture, adventure and nature, then Xcaret is the best option in the area.
- Water activities: swim in their underground rivers, take on a snorkelling tour and even swim with dolphins
- Nature lovers: the Butterfly pavilion, the aviary, the coral reef aquarium and the paradise river
- Culture lovers: the impressive Xcaret Mexico Espectacular, the flying men spectacle, pre-hispanic dances, Mayan village and archaeological sites
I have to admit that it is on the expensive side but considering you get a great mix of experiences, I’d definitely recommend visiting the park.
#4 – Cozumel
The isle of Cozumel is perfect if you’re looking to escape the tourist areas and find a relaxed island with genuine authenticity.
Diving and snorkelling are the main reasons why you would visit Cozumel but you could easily rent a car and wander around the town and discover some small Maya ruins along with amazing coastal scenery.
#5 – Swim with turtles & dolphins
Finally, Mexico has a huge marine diversity so it’s not a surprise that you could see all sort of marine animals while visiting the area.
For turtles spotting, I would advise visiting the bay of Akumal which means ‘The Place of the Turtle’ in Mayan language. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll be able to swim alongside these amazing animals and if you’re not, you will still be able to enjoy crystal clear water and beautiful fishes and corals.
For the best dolphin experience, there are tonnes of parks offering you the opportunity to approach, touch and swim with these amazing animals. I’ve chosen to go on the Trainer for a Day program with Dolphinaris Riviera Maya and it was absolutely life changing. I had the chance to have one member of staff with me for the whole day answering all my questions and looking after me. You also get the chance to do six activities with the dolphins: foot push, belly ride, painting, diving, boogie push and interaction. At the end of the day you receive a tee shirt which was painted by one of the dolphin along with a certificate and two photographs – this was just the perfect day with my favourite animal (minus the sunburns! You cannot use sun cream whilst in the water because the dolphins would suffer).
So here you have it, my top 5 excursions from Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Of course, there are many other things you could do but if like me, your time is limited, then these are the day trips I would consider doing to have the best experience in the Quitana Roo / Yucatan peninsula of Mexico.