If you watch our Instagram Feed, you may remember seeing glimpses of our trip to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico several weeks ago. Today we’re sharing our photos, experiences, and tips on Things to Do in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
While most Americans were feasting on turkey and checking out Black Friday deals, we had the opportunity to spend a week in Mexico. So we ate our turkey and dressing early, then packed our bags for a family vacation in the sun and sand.
I spent a couple days in Playa Del Carmen in the spring of 2014, when I went to Cancun for a tourism convention. I was struck by how different the atmosphere was just 40 minutes south of Cancun.
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico is a wonderful place to take a relaxing family vacation… or to go on an outdoor adventure exploring the underwater and inland terrain. Or to do both!
We discovered Playa Del Carmen offers countless activities for families on the move. Yet if you want to sit in the sand, with a tiki drink in hand, and watch the little ones play in the gentle waves… it’s perfect for that too.
So here’s our list of things you need to check out with your family when you go to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Personal tidbits included.
Things to Do in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Lay on the Beach. The beaches in Playa Del Carmen are wide, white, and soft on the toes.
In most places the natural grade is very subtle, so you can feel comfortable letting your little guys splash in the waves without (too much) worry.
We also noticed, most of the beaches are relatively quiet. This of course would depend on the resort you choose, and the time of year you visit. But you can expect to find a spot in the sand without any trouble. Playa Del Carmen, Mexico is the perfect place to rest in the sun.
Snorkel/Scuba. Right on the edge of the second largest barrier reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef, Playa Del Carmen is a great place to snorkel or learn to scuba dive.
Most resorts offer scuba lesson, generally through a local scuba company, that will train you then take you to the best scuba spots in the area.
Due the the natural Cenotes (sea caves and tunnels) you can snorkel and scuba dive inland, under ground. If you’ve snorkeled in the ocean lots of times, it’s a unique experience to dive in the dark with a lantern!
Water Sports. Any water sport you can think of can be enjoyed in Playa Del Carmen. Parasailing, Stand Up Paddling, Boating, Deep Sea Fishing, Wind Surfing, Surfing (beginner surfing, that is), Kiteboarding, you name it. Rest assured, the concierge at your resort will be able to hook you up.
Kiting. Because the beach is so wide in Playa Del Carmen, we noticed lots of families were flying large kites along the beach. Kites are available all through town for purchase.
Resort Activities. Choose your resort wisely. If you select a good one, the resort itself will have endless activities available to you, from spa services, games, performances, kid’s clubs, water parks and lavish pools, cultural experiences, and more.
On days you choose to linger around the resort instead of heading out on an adventure, you will still find happy distractions. (We stayed at Sandos Caracol Eco Resort, a marvelous place to vacation with the kids.)
Visit Mayan Ruins. There are Mayan Ruins speckled all along the Yucatan coast. You can find smaller Mayan Ruins in and close to Playa Del Carmen, or take a day trip south to Coba and Tulum.
Go to a Festival. Love a lively festival on the beach? Playa Del Carmen hosts some fabulous festivals each year, including the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, which took place while we were in Playa. It was a thrill to sway to the beat, right on the beach, with thousands of music lovers.
Get into the Culture. There are dozens of ways to take in Mayan and Mexican culture. One of our favorites was XCaret Eco-Archaeological Park.
Imagine a Disney-quality theme park (without the rides) that focuses on the culture, history, geography, and wildlife of Mexico. That’s what you experience at XCaret.
Amazing ocean life exhibits and aquariums, exciting shows, regional animal exhibits, beaches, Cenotes, snorkeling, and diving all in one place.
We were overwhelmed by the attention to detail and educational focus found all over the park.
You can swim with dolphins, interact with sharks (small ones) discover the sea turtle protection program, and more. Personally, we loved the Butterfly Exhibit and the Evening Dinner Show with traditional Mexican dancing.
Take a Wild Ride. One of our most memorable days in Mexico was spent with AllTourNative an adventure tour company focused on blending exhilarating excitement with cultural experiences.
We went on the Mayan Jungle Tour which included a ride on an all-terrain vehicle through the rain forest, rappelling down into a Cenote cavern, zip lining, and snorkeling in the longest underground river in the world.
It was an amazing experience for all of us… There were a couple moments when I needed to close my eyes and say a prayer as my babies rappelled through the ceiling of a massive cavern, or zip-lined off a swaying jungle watch tower. Yet, doing this provided right-of-passage moments for my little guys that they will never forget. #WorthIt
Encounter Native Animals. There are lots places to see Mexican wildlife and marine life all over Playa Del Carmen. We felt XCaret had wonderful viewing exhibits and interactive exhibits, yet there are animals everywhere you look.
Even at our resort, we found regional animals on display. Sandos Caracol has veterinarians on staff to take care of the animals and even supplement the wildlife that wonders onto the property.
Go to a Show. Guess what?! Cirque du Soliel just open their first-ever show with a culinary experience in Playa Del Carmen!!
JOYA is a vibrant fusion of colorful artistry and athleticism, matched with a theatrical dinner prepared by one of Mexico’s most sought after chefs.
Even the dinner has that element of magic we’ve come to expect from Cirque du Soliel.
Many of the theme parks and resorts have exciting shows for you to experience as well, but do not miss JOYA!
Shop. Downtown Playa Del Carmen is filled with fun shops and restaurants to explore. Take an afternoon to peruse 5th Avenue, where most of the action takes place. But make sure to explore the side streets to get the best deals.
Eat. From fresh-caught seafood to authentic street eats, Play Del Carmen is a thrilling place to dine. Do your research before you leave, so you don’t get stuck eating at over-priced tourist traps.
Make sure to sample the chilequiles, ceviche, and jugo verde.
If you are looking for a warm place to escape this winter, Playa Del Carmen may be just what you’re looking for. We loved it and will definitely vacation in Playa Del Carmen again!
Disclosure: We were hosted by the Mayan Riviera Tourism Board. All opinions are my own.