10 Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen

What is Playa del Carmen Most Famous For?

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    Playa del Carmen draws visitors with its expansive palm-lined beaches and year-long party vibe. This coastal town runs along the Riviera Maya, where divers and snorkelers can explore one of the world’s largest coral reef systems. The central part of Playa del Carmen is a vibrant avenue filled with quirky shops and restaurants, as well as a beachfront park that hosts traditional Mayan performances in the evenings.

    Many consider Playa del Carmen to be Cancun’s laidback sister, with most activities revolving around the beach. However, if excitement is what you’re seeking during your holiday, ancient Mayan ruins, adventure parks, and lush jungles are just a short drive away from the town centre. Check out our guide of things to do in Playa del Carmen.

    What are the best things to do in Playa del Carmen?

    1

    Start the day in Quinta Avenida

    Check out the souvenir shops along the beach strip

    Quinta Avenida is a trendy avenue that runs parallel to the main beach of Playa del Carmen. This touristy street has plenty of souvenir stalls, grocery stores, and shops selling beachwear, Cuban cigars and handicrafts. It’s also a good place for checking out street performances, such as celebrity impersonators, dancers, and musicians. Come sundown, Quinta Avenida becomes a lively hub of nightclubs and mescal bars with views of the ocean.

    מיקום: Centro, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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    צולם על ידי Giorgio Galeotti (CC BY 4.0) נערך

    2

    Playa del Carmen Beach

    Enjoy kitesurfing on the Caribbean Sea

    Playa del Carmen Beach is a long expanse of sand that’s cut into sections by the town’s many beach resorts and clubs. The widest beach here is located in front of Parque Fundadores, which is marked by the whimsical Playa del Carmen Arch. It’s often packed with tourists, thanks to its close proximity to Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), and the beach is lined with plenty of beach clubs that rent out sun loungers for a few pesos. You can enjoy some fun on the full-sized volleyball court or try your hand at kitesurfing and paddleboarding on the Caribbean Sea.

    מיקום: Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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    3

    Must-See: Xaman-Ha ruins

    See iguanas lounging on this Mayan site

    The Xaman-Ha ruins (or Playacar ruins) are a complex of 3 stone structures dating back to AD 1200. This ancient fishing village is where Mayan women departed for Cozumel Island to honour the Goddess Ixchel. Compared to the iconic Chichen Itza and El Rey, Xaman-Ha may seem miniscule, but it’s one of the few Mayan sites that’s free to explore. This archaeological site is just a 10-minute walk from Playa del Carmen Beach, but it’s relatively quiet thanks to its jungle surroundings. Look out for iguanas lounging on the stone structures.

    מיקום: Playacar, 77717 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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    צולם על ידי Bill McChesney (CC BY 2.0) נערך

    4

    Eat tlayuda

    Enjoy this street food topped with pork lard, refried beans, and salsa

    Tlayuda is considered a Mexican version of pizza as it consists of a large tortilla topped with a variety of meats and veggies. Tlayuda is a common staple in most local restaurants in Playa del Carmen. The corn tortilla is first baked on a flat griddle until slightly crispy, then covered with a spread of refried beans. Common toppings include asiento (unrefined pork lard), shredded lettuce, avocado, thin slices of pork or beef, quesillo (Oaxacan string cheese), and a good helping of salsa.

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    צולם על ידי Charlie Marchant (CC BY 2.0) נערך

    5

    Relax in Parque Fundadores

    Watch traditional Mayan performances in the evening

    Parque Fundadores is a recreational park overlooking Playa del Carmen’s main beach. It’s one of the town’s most photographed locations thanks to its 16-metre-tall bronze arch, which has a whimsical design consisting of a man and a women holding hands. There’s a playground built in the shape of a pirate ship, and a stage that hosts live shows all year round. A must-see is the the Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers), which is a Mayan performance featuring acrobatic skills and traditional music.

    מיקום: Av. Benito Juárez, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

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    צולם על ידי Falco Ermert (CC BY 2.0) נערך

    6

    Shop at Hacienda Tequila

    Sample a variety of tequilas

    Hacienda Tequila is the go-to source for Mexican liquor in Playa del Carmen. This iconic souvenir shop occupies a bright yellow building on Fifth Avenue. Inside, the unique décor makes for memorable photos, and the extensive collection of tequila, clothes, candies, and coffee are worth splashing a few dollars for. The back of this store features a small-scale Tequila Museum, which details the origins and process of making Mexico’s favourite tipple.

    מיקום: Quinta Avenida Mz. 27 Lt. 15, Centro, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

    שעות פתיחה: Daily from 8am to 11pm

    טלפון: +52 984 873 1202

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    7

    Xel-Ha Park

    Cycle along the jungle path at this theme park

    Xel-Ha Park is an all-inclusive aquatic theme park that sits around a natural inlet that’s home to many marine animals. You can enjoy a variety of nature activities throughout your visit, including bike rides, zip-lining, and encounters with manatees and stingrays. The Children’s World features a wading pool with waterslides and a playground with rope climbing. For expansive views of Xel-Ha Bay and the Caribbean Sea, climb to the top of Scenic Lighthouse, which is 40 metres tall.

    מיקום: Carretera Chetumal Puerto Juárez Km 240, locales 1 & 2, módulo B, 77780 Quintana Roo, Mexico

    שעות פתיחה: Daily from 8.30am to 6.30pm

    טלפון: +52 800 009 3542

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    צולם על ידי Kyttzy (CC BY-SA 3.0) נערך

    8

    Must-See: Rio Secreto

    Swim amid stalactites and stalagmites

    Rio Secreto is a series of semi-sunken caves interconnected with Quintana Roo’s longest underground river. This unique cenote attracts swimmers and snorkelers with its bright turquoise waters, and it’s large enough to feel as if you have the whole place to yourself. As you swim in the 600-metre-long river, you’re bound to see thousands of stalactites and stalagmites above you. Accessible within a 20-minute drive from Playa del Carmen, you can make your way to Rio Secreto on your own or join a guided tour. Admission is free.

    מיקום: Carretera Federal Libre Chetumal- Puerto Juárez Km. 283.5 Ejido Sur, 77712 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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    צולם על ידי PriceTravel pictures (CC BY 2.0) נערך

    9

    Must-See: Frida Kahlo Museum

    Learn about the life of Mexico’s most iconic artist

    The Frida Kahlo Museum commemorates the life of Mexico’s most iconic female artist with a series of photo collages and audiovisual displays. The museum has 9 exhibition rooms, one of which details her personal life and achievements through photos and diagrams in chronological order. There’s also a mini theatre, where you can watch a 15-minute video about Frida Kahlo. While there aren’t any original works on display, the Frida Kahlo Museum offers an interesting perspective of the style icon.

    מיקום: 5th Avenue esq. Calle 8, Centro, Playa del Carmen, Solidarity, Quintana Roo, Mexico

    שעות פתיחה: Daily from 9am to 11pm

    טלפון: +52 984 980 0595

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    10

    End the day at a rooftop pool

    Rent a sun lounger and enjoy views of the beach

    Playa Del Carmen’s rooftop pools attract those looking to enjoy a classy evening with expansive views of the Caribbean Sea. Most of these hotel-owned pools have a cover charge of 100 pesos, though rates may go up during major holidays and special events. Purobeach Rooftop Club offers a laidback vibe with lounge music and sun loungers overlooking Centro Playa del Carmen, while Roof Club at the Palm Hotel features an oceanfront pool with a separate Jacuzzi tub.

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