Who isn’t dreaming of their next luxurious vacation getaway in the tropics? Mexico may have crossed your mind, although the popular destinations of Cancun, Cabo, or Puerto Vallarta are likely the ones you’ve thought about first. Alternatively, I recommend that you travel to Playa del Carmen Mexico.
Are you familiar with Playa del Carmen? It’s a beautiful destination with so many activities to offer and unforgettable memories to be made. Furthermore, it’s only about an hour south of the Cancun airport and a quick boat ride from the nearby island of Cozumel. Getting there is really easy. You can get tickets from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen via the ferry. This is a very comfortable ride and you don’t have to worry about feeling crowded or cramped. Here are 10 compelling reasons to travel to Playa del Carmen for your next holiday experience.
Fantastic Snorkeling and Scuba Diving in Playa del Carmen
Any seaside destination should offer good snorkeling and scuba diving options. However, Playa del Carmen has some of the best diving and snorkeling spots in the Western Hemisphere, if not the world. You don’t even have to actually go diving to enjoy the vast array of underwater scenery. Simply put your head under the water with the proper gear and you will see schools of tropical fish unlike anything you’ve experienced before. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a sea turtle, too.
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If you do want to go diving but don’t have any experience, you can learn to dive from various companies. It’s possible to take a PADI Open Water Course in Playa del Carmen. They will train and certify you, as well as take you to the best spots to dive. If you already have scuba experience, perhaps you’d like to book a diving excursion. If you prefer snorkeling, there are lots of Playa del Carmen snorkeling tours that provide plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities. If you’re looking for what to do in Playa del Carmen, give snorkeling or scuba diving a shot!
Discover Rio Secreto
When you travel to Playa del Carmen Mexico, there’s an excursion that deserves a place high on your list. Rio Secreto (the Secret River) is, unsurprisingly, a well-kept secret. And you’ll need to go underground to get there. Rio Secreto is a 12km series of caves carved out by a subterranean river. The colors will blow you away. The river’s clear blue water is offset by impressive rock formations, stalactites and stalagmites. Walk and float through the caves and down the river.
On a tour of Rio Secreto, you’ll explore the underground caves and also learn about Mayan history in the region. They’ll provide plenty of information about the land itself as well, explaining how this hidden gem came to be. It was only discovered a short while ago, but it’s quickly become one of the top things to do in Playa del Carmen and the surrounding region.
Have an Eco Experience at Xcaret
The Yucatan Peninsula is thought to be the birthplace of ecotourism, and a lot of that is owed to Xcaret. It started as a holiday away from the major resorts of Cancun to emphasize the brilliance of Mexico’s natural surroundings. They worked with local ecological authorities to make sure the park was highly sustainable to the region. When you travel to Playa del Carmen, you can easily make a day trip to Xcaret for its outdoor activities, natural spaces, and cultural experiences.
Xcaret park has a sea turtle conservation program where they have helped hatch 100,000 sea turtles and release them into the ocean. They also have a breeding program for the endangered scarlet macaw, a native bird to Mexico. Over 900 macaws fly freely around the park, and they’ve introduced dozens into the wild. My main complaint about Xcaret? They still offer swim with the dolphin tours. Here are the reasons why you should never swim with captive dolphins. Please feel free to voice your concerns about keeping dolphins in captivity to their management while you’re there.
The park also introduces Mayan cultures and traditions to many of its guests, including the ritual ceremony of the Voladores (also known as the flying men), and the Day of the Dead festival. Be sure to check out the glorious beach at Xcaret to relax for a few hours during your stay. Take a trip to its bars and restaurants for food and drink. Book your tour to Xcaret from Playa del Carmen as a wonderful day trip.
Visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
Sian Ka’an is a protected biosphere reserve located along Mexico’s Caribbean coast. The reserve spans over one thousand square miles and is home to an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve was established as a protected region in 1986 and then subsequently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 due to its remarkable biodiversity. Visitors can tour the reserve and witness this extraordinary ecosystem for themselves. In addition to the biodiversity, Sian Ka’an also contains some of the bluest waters in all of the Caribbean as most of the region is composed of wetlands and mangrove forests.
The entrance to Sian Ka’an is two hours south of Cancun, one hour south of Playa del Carmen, and five minutes south of Tulum. It’s the perfect day trip from Playa del Carmen and other numerous areas on the Yucatan Peninsula. You can take a tour to Sian Ka’an with pick up and drop off from your hotel in Playa del Carmen or Tulum. The opportunity to explore such a unique biosphere reserve is a fantastic reason to travel to Playa del Carmen.
Playa del Carmen is Very Vegan Friendly
Feeling hungry? The vegan scene in Playa del Carmen is blossoming as it has so many vegan and vegetarian restaurants. This attracts both locals and visitors alike. We found many traditional Mexican dishes prepared without the meat (but has all the yumminess). Some of our favorite restaurants were La Senda Restaurante (one of the oldest vegan restaurants in Playa), Fresco Habito, Comet 984 (a 1950s diner), and Clorofila Green and Vegan. Eating all of the yummy vegan food is one of the best reasons to travel to Playa del Carmen Mexico. Check out our entire vegan guide to Playa del Carmen.
Spend an Entire Day Exploring the Town
When you visit Playa del Carmen, you’ll want at least a day to explore this lively little town. It’s a fantastic home base for exploring the region because there’s just so much to do right outside your hotel. La Quinta Avenida, or Fifth Avenue, is the main attraction of Playa del Carmen. It’s a long shopping street with stores, cafes, restaurants, and little stalls. You really must visit Fifth Avenue when you travel to Playa del Carmen.
Beyond Fifth Avenue, we wandered around town to lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants. The two of us felt safe walking around Playa del Carmen during the day and at night, too. Be aware of your surroundings and stay in populated areas, as you would anywhere in the world. If you’re looking for things to do in Playa del Carmen at night, visit the Coco Bongo night club for an exciting night of entertainment. Sip beverages while watching acrobatics, a lights show, and vibrant dancers for a thrilling show. Here’s our 1 day itinerary for things to do in Playa del Carmen.
Playa del Carmen Beaches are Beautiful
Did you know that Playa del Carmen has a beautiful public beach right in town? It’s easy to access right from the street, and you don’t need to have a resort wrist band. Simply meander down to the water, put down your beach towel, and go for a swim. The public beach in Playa del Carmen wasn’t very crowded when we visited. When you travel to Playa del Carmen, you need to visit the beach at least once…or at least once every day!
However, you must be warned – copious amounts of seaweed on the beach is a concern right now. You can check this website for a map of the beaches with the least amount of seaweed. When we traveled there, there was seaweed present on the beach, but it wasn’t enough to keep us off the beach and out of the water. Playa del Carmen beaches are often free, the water is calm, and the water temperature is just perfect.
Playa del Carmen is a Great Base to Explore Mayan Ruins
There are many ancient Mayan ruins within driving distance from Playa del Carmen. Visiting these old structures is like uncovering history and stepping back in time. I highly recommend checking out the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum. The ruins are well preserved and cover a vast space, and there’s a white sandy beach on the outskirts of it. Buy your skip the line ticket to get ahead of the hoards of people. Chichen Itza is another famous Mayan site with its colossal pyramid and sacred cenotes. As Chichen Itza is one of the busier Mayan sites, I recommend booking an early access tour to explore without the crowds of tourists.
An Abundance of Luxury Resorts and Properties
There are a vast amount of spectacular hotels and resorts in Playa del Carmen. It will be difficult to choose as they’ll all promise a relaxing holiday with relaxing pools and beautiful beaches. Staying at an all-inclusive resort means that you’ll have a completely stress free vacation. You don’t have to worry about food, drink, accommodations, or activities. Here are my top tips for making the most of your all-inclusive vacation.
Cozumel is a Short Ferry Trip Away
Getting to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen is a breeze. You can take the ferry across to the island for the day. There are amazing snorkeling and scuba diving sites in Cozumel, as well as enticing restaurants and bars. Cozumel is also a popular cruise ship port and many guests choose to travel back and forth between Cozumel and Playa del Carmen for the day. When you travel to Playa del Carmen, set aside at least one day to visit the stunning island of Cozumel.
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