Best Playa Del Carmen Excursions
Playa del Carmen and the surrounding Riviera Maya have become one of Mexico’s top vacation destinations, with more than 6 million visitors each year. It offers a wide range of activities, including scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, golfing, horseback riding, ziplining, and other water sports. Discover the top Playa del Carmen Excursions come rain or shine for an incredible holiday.
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Playa del Carmen excursions for the full-day
Quick reference guide
If you’re happy to spend a full day of your Mexico vacation on an excursion, then many great adventures await. Playa del Carmen is located between Cancun and Tulum, it is conveniently located to travel between the two, but it can make travel more extensive.
With that in mind, some of the best Playa del Carmen excursions for the full day are below:
Explore the Ancient Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is the most famous landmark in Mexico and is the most visited of all the Mayan ruins. Take a full-day tour here to learn about the fascinating history of the fall equinox and the story of the serpent inbuilt into the magnificent temple. As one of the world’s seven wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage site, a trip to Chichen Itza is worth the time.
Many different Chichen Itza tours are available, each very similar but with various stops or additions. Some of the best are below:
How far from Playa del Carmen is it? Playa del carmen is fortunate to be on the last of the pick up / first drop off before heading inland approximately 2.5 hours to Chichen Itza. This will probably be broken up with stop offs in different locations (mine included a ceramic store and tequila factory).
How much does it cost? this completely depends on which option you go for but expect to pay upwards from £35 / $50.
Navigate the historical Tulum Ruins
Several tours you can take include stops at the Tulum Ruins, which have famous views over the turquoise waters. This archeological site is the second most visited historical area in the region. Not only will you get to appreciate the ruins, but you will also spend some free time in Tulum itself and nearby Akumal. The viewpoints across the palm tree lined beach as you look out from the ruins are truly spectacular.
How far from Playa del Carmen is it? A straight drive to the Tulum ruins will take about an hour.
How much does it cost? upwards from £30 / $45 but this usually includes a trip to a cenote, time in centre and/or beach time.
Visit the Colonial Town of Valladolid
Closeby Chichen Itza on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is the colonial town of Valladolid. Learn all about the history of this town and the importance it gave to the Mayan civilization. Its colonial buildings include 16th-century Convent of San Bernardino of Siena and the beautiful San Gervasio Cathedral.
Many tours to Chichen Itza include Valladolid so you can see this charming village in a wider tour. You can also uncover stunning underground cenotes in this area, the most notorious being the Cenote Suytun, a huge cave with turquoise sinkhole dominating the center.
How far is it from Playa del Carmen? approximately 2 hours without stop offs.
How much does it cost? As it is part of many other Playa del Carmen excursions you can expect it to cost at least £35 – $50
Spend an action-packed day of adventure at Xcaret Park Eco-Park
Xcaret Eco Theme Park is a unique and impressive eco-park packed with adventurous experiences and activities. Imagine a location that half resembles a culture-rich theme park mixed with the stunning beauty of natural rivers, jungles, and cenotes.
The Xcaret Experiencias Group runs several different adventure parks that each provides day trips with something different to offer:
- Xenses Park – an unusual park that focuses your imagination to whole new territories.
- Xplor Adventure Park – an adventure park where one minute you’ll be driving an amphibious vehicle and the next you’ll be rafting on an underground river, ziplining, or trekking through the tree-tops.
- Xel-Ha Park – Riviera Maya’s amazing natural aquarium is a true paradise where you can float, swim and snorkel amongst varied sea life.
How far from Playa del Carmen is it? without stops, the drive to Xcaret park should take 10-15 minutes
How much does it cost? Prices vary depending on optional extras; however, expect to spend $99 upwards.
I recommend buying tickets in advance to avoid the crowds and queues when you arrive and have the benefit of hotel pick up and drop off.
Playa del Carmen excursions for half-day
If you’re just looking for something to do to break up your day (or perhaps escape the rain), then there are many half-day Playa del Carmen excursions to take advantage of:
Explore the subterranean world of Rio Secreto
Rio Secreto is a maze of stunning underwater rivers and cenotes. These natural wonders are so otherworldly that the ancient Mayans believed them to be portals to the netherworld.
This ecological Playa del Carmen excursion will typically take the full day, but as it is one of the most spectacular underwater caves in Mexico, it is well worth it. Different Rio Secreto tours are available; some even allow you to fully immerse in the crystal clear water and scuba dive or snorkel the tropical reefs.
How far from Playa del Carmen is it? It will take approximately 15 minutes to get to Rio Secreto by car.
Ride the waves with a jet-ski
Another great thing to do in Playa del Carmen when it rains is to go jet-skiing; you’re going to get wet anyway! Follow experienced guides as you race through the Caribbean sea before stopping off for some deep-sea snorkeling. There are many jet-skiing options you can choose from, but some take you to locations where you’re likely to see sea turtles.
How far from Playa del Carmen is it? on the doorstep. You might even be able to do this from your hotel or certainly a nearby beach
How much does it cost? You can share a jetski for approx £57 / $75 or it will cost $100 or so for your own. If you just hire one at a beach, it should be cheaper but you won’t go exploring and snorkeling.
Shop ’til you Drop on 5th Avenue.
5th Avenue is a long shopping street in the center of Playa del Carmen. There are many unique and exciting bars and restaurants and shops upon shops to buy souvenirs. Best of all, shopping here is much cheaper than it would be at your resort, so stock up on those gifts and souvenirs.
You can book a really cheap shopping tour (which I did); however, you’re obliged to spend time at a jewelry shop and tequila shop before you get a few hours of free time in the center. If you’re staying in a resort that is out of the way, this can save you a lot of money in taxis, but you will sacrifice time in travel and sales pitches.
Tips: there are only private ATM machines that massively rip you off. Most places take cards, so only use the ATM if you need to and are happy to part with an extortionate fee.
Party at Coco Bongo
Everyone who has ever been to Mexico or spoken about it to their friends will have heard of Coco Bongo. Free drinks, cabaret shows, music, and dancing await in this crazy Vegas-style showground. It certainly makes an exciting difference to the entertainment at your resort.
If you plan a night at Coco Bongo, I strongly advise you get your tickets in advance.
How far from Playa del Carmen is it: central so walkable if you’re staying in the town or a 20-minute drive from the outskirts.
How much does it cost? Standard tickets are $89, and there are options to choose silver or gold options that include balcony views or seating and premium drinks for a bit more. I did this, and the only advantage I really found was the queue jump (the queues were insane) and the table service. Don’t be fooled into thinking these options give you privacy or space until you’re willing to pay for the VIP table packages.
Take a tour to Isla Mujeres & Contoy Island
Why just visit one island when you can enjoy two. Playa del Carmen excursions to Isla Mujeres and Contoy island offers time to explore the stunning beaches on your own or guided tours to the museum, observatory, or lagoon.
On route, you will also get to snorkel at the Ixlache Reef, part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest n the world. I saw sea turtles here which was amazing, although the water was a little foggy. Choose a catamaran tour for the most fun.
How far from Playa del Carmen is it: these tours depart from Punta Sam Ferry Terminal, north of Cancun so expect to spend at least 1 hour 30 traveling to the location + 30-minute ferry to the islands.
How much does it cost? expect to pay about £82 / $108 + $15 docking fee
Fuel your adrenaline with a jungle ATV tour and zip lines
One of the things to do when it rains in Playa del Carmen is to have fun with some adventure activities. Rip up the muddy, wet Mayan jungle trails with an ATV Quad Bike. Take a double loop around the tropical terrain before taking to the trees to walk the hanging bridges and glide to the different platforms.
Learn about tequila with a tasting session that provides a knowledgeable insight into what makes an authentic tequila. Best of all though is the visit to a beautiful cenote. Choose to walk, dive or zipline into the fresh waters below.
How far is it from Player del Carmen? Expect to spend between 30minutes to an hour traveling to the location.
How much does it cost? From £53 / $70 if you share an ATV (you can swap halfway) or an additional £20 / $30 to have your own.
Playa del Carmen Excursions in Summary
If you plan to do several Playa del Carmen excursions, then be prepared to have several doses of tequila tastings throughout your trip; perfect if you’re a drinker, right? Mexico strikes a beautiful balance between exciting activities, ancient history and culture, beautiful beaches, and vibrant nightlife.
Most tours and places accept American Dollars for payment, and tipping is very much expected (but not always warranted). Expect to spend a minimum of $50 – $150 for excursions and add 1-2 hours on the advertised tour duration time to get a realistic estimation of how long you’ll be away from your resort.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the area, then check out my review of the hotel I stayed at: