Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Outside of the United States, a trip to beautiful Playa del Carmen, Mexico could be one of the most action packed or relaxing vacations possible.


Outside of the United States, a trip to beautiful Playa del Carmen, Mexico could be one of the most action packed or relaxing vacations possible. With a number of cultural and historical locations nearby, the sightseer will be thrilled. Shopping and spas make for a great place to relax and spoil yourself. The beach allows for swimming, taking in some rays or take part in some amazing watersports like snorkeling or waterskiing. Golf courses located in the most beautiful settings allow you to sightsee and play a round all at the same time. A great place for the foodie, this area was recently ranked as one of the top ten best vacations for a food lover. If you are looking for an exotic location and an amazing vacation, Playa del Carmen may be the place for you!

Things to Do in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

  • Xcaret Eco Theme Park -
    You might be thinking, "okay, I didn't come all the way out to Mexico to go to a theme park!" But before you judge, listen to this, Xcaret (pronounced eesh - carette ) is an eco-archaeological park that offers more than 40 attractions! Enjoy a Mayan Ball game, visit Jaguar Island to have a close encounter with the largest cat on the American continent or their majestic Butterfly Pavilion.  They also have snorkeling tours, underground rivers to swim and dolphin, shark or stingray interactions to experience the Caribbean Sea.
  • Mayan Village -
    Learn about the rich history of the Mayans at Coba Mayan Village, where you'll discover fascinating archaeological ruins.  The highlight of any visit is ascending the gigantic, pyramid temple of Nohoch Mul!  This is the only Mayan temple safe to climb after years of weather damage to the structures.  You'll witness two courts where the Mayans used to play their "Ball game," although no one is quite sure how it was played.  Your guide will then take you to a rain forest to see the beautiful vegetation and animals and after you'll have lunch at a local restaurant. The guides are very informative and excited to explore with you!
  • Outdoor Activities -
    For an adventure-filled day, book a trip with Aventuras Mayas.  They have different tour packages available to experience hands-on animal attractions as well as sports. Options include snorkeling, zip-lining, swimming with dolphins and snorkeling with sea turtles!  Or you could take a tour on an ATV through the Mayan jungle trails with Alltournative- Go Native's Park! Many travelers also love Local Quickies, who offer excursion packages to snorkel with turtles, zip-lining, and more.
  • Aquatic Activities -
    Try your hand at some aquatic activities in Mexico with professionally guided lessons. PDC Kiteboarding and Stand Up Paddle Adventure Tours offers kiteboarding and stand-up paddleboarding for beginners. Or you could swim with thirty-foot whale sharks on your Whale Shark Experience by Cancun Adventures.  If you were looking to snorkel, experience the Mesoamerican Coral Reef at Rivera Adventours.
  • Fishing -
    Playa del Carmen was originally a fishing village and there are many options for hitting the seas for a day.  Roberto, one of the best fishermen around, will take you out where the Amberjack, Barracuda and Tuna are swimming!  If you're very lucky, you might even have a shot at reeling in a Sailfish while Fishing with Roberto Navarro.
  • Quinta Avenida -
    This is the "main drag" in Playa del Carmen, where tourists and locals mingle while shopping, dining and partying! There's even spa services on this strip too. This is where you can pick up the best souvenirs and jewelry, on Fifth Avenue.
  • Cirque du Soleil JOYA -
    For some high-end entertainment, check out Cirque du Soleil's production — a jaw-dropping spectacle you can't miss!  JOYA is performance about a rebellious girl who is sent on a quest by her mischievous grandfather.  The intimate atmosphere around the stage creates an up close experience with the actors.  You can book a VIP package, a dinner with the show, a champagne package or just drop by for the performance.
  • Coco Bongo -
    For some outrageous nightlife, check out Playa del Carmen's outpost of this Cancun favorite and get ready for a party like you've never seen before!  Coco Bongo has live entertainment and it's the perfect place to go dancing, have some drinks and enjoy your night.
Where to eat
what to pack

As you can see by the average temperatures above, it's always pretty warm in this part of Mexico.  In addition to the usual shorts and light, cool clothes, don't forget to bring the sun protection (lotion, lip balm, aloe, hat, sunglasses). Biodegradable sunscreen is required if you plan on visiting an eco park, because regular sunscreen contains chemicals that harm the ecosystem. Many visitors like to bring their own insulated mugs for drinks at the beach, which bar staff are more than happy to fill for you. A Spanish phrase book or smart phone app will come in handy, as some of the locals might not speak much English - plus, trying a few conversations in Spanish is a lot of fun! If you are looking for some helpful travel apps, be sure to read this article on the Sundance Vacations Travel Blog: "10 Best Travel Apps for 2015" or @Travelsundance Also, remember to have a pen in your carry-on, as there are immigration forms distributed in-flight that have to be filled out before you can clear customs. Some travelers suggest not even bringing a tie or suit for men because it's not needed. If you have a waterproof camera, this is the perfect place to use it with all the aquatic interactions. For more packing tips, watch our Sundance Vacations Packing Tips video.


Driving on your own is not recommended in Mexico, but there are a number of options to get from the airport to your resort. A great option is USA Transfers, which feature private vans for you and your party and top-notch drivers to get you there.  Hit the tiki bar at the airport's exit, find your driver and leave the rest to them!

Notable Navigation

Transportation to Destination

  • Drive to San Isidro
  • Drive to Tulum
  • Drive to Cancun
  • Drive to Cozumel
  • Drive to Chemax
  • Drive to Quintana Roo

Amount of Time

  • 27 Minutes
  • 50 Minutes
  • 52 Minutes
  • 1 Hour 11 Minutes
  • 2 Hours 14 Minutes
  • 2 Hours 49 Minutes
Fun Facts
  1. The locals in Playa del Carmen have taken great care to retain the region's reputation and charm as a small fishing village and artist's colony, without it becoming as large and metropolitan as Cancun, Mexico. Learn more about Sundance vacations @Travelsundance
  2. Planning ordinances have restricted building heights to five stories, ensuring that high-rises don't overwhelm the area.
  3. On your trip to Mexico, you might see a whale shark, the biggest fish in the world!
  4. The Ancient Mayans of Cancun cultivated tree sap to make chewing gum.
  5. Children in Mexico don't receive their gifts on Christmas Day. Instead, they celebrate on January 6, the day the three wise men arrived to give Jesus his presents.