You'll find plenty of things to do in Playa del Carmen. As well as beautiful beaches and great nightlife, you're close to Mayan ruins, laid-back islands and underwater caves. The only challenge is tearing yourself away from those gorgeous beaches to go exploring.
Places to go
Cozumel's an easy day trip by ferry, and you'll find lots of choices if you want a change from the beach. You'll be able to rent a scooter and explore, maybe going to the ruins at San Gervasio. Cozumel's a mecca for scuba divers and snorkellers too, with some of the most famous reefs in the world. An hour to the south is Tulum, a pretty seaside town that's popular for its laid-back feel. Cycle through the national park to visit the Tulum ruins. These are from the 13th century and are the only Mayan ruins built on the coast. There are sweeping golden beaches below, and it's a perfect place to spend a day.
Parque Fundadores is one of the most amazing things to do in Playa del Carmen itself. There are sculptures that celebrate the Mayan calendar, and this is a great place to watch the sunrise. If you're here later in the day you'll see a traditional dance performance, Voladores de Papantla, a ritual of song, dance, and pole climbing. It's a real spectacle and great fun to watch while you're relaxing with an ice cream. Rio Secreto is just 20 minutes' drive away and one of the most magical Playa del Carmen things to do. It's the longest semi-sunken river in Yucatan and has 1km of turquoise water with stalactites and stalagmites lining the route. There are various tours that'll take you through this Mayan underworld, some which include transport from Playa del Carmen.
Places to visit
UNESCO world heritage site Chichen Itza is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and is a must-see as part of your visit. The main Mayan pyramid is justifiably described as jaw-dropping, and there's many other ruins and pyramids to see too. It's no surprise that Chichen Itza is popular, and the best way to avoid the crowds is to come early and avoid weekends. It opens at 8am.
A visit to Valladolid is one of the more unusual things to do in Playa del Carmen. It's about 90 minutes away and has a pretty central plaza that really comes alive in the evening. You can combine your day trip with a visit to some cenotes too. Cenote Zaci is in the centre, and has zip lines and steps to enter the water, or Cenote Suytun has magical shafts of light that give you a perfect photo opportunity.