31 Fun Things to do in Playa del Carmen

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Whatever your reason for visiting, there are so many fun things to do in Playa del Carmen and the surrounding area that are sure to keep you busy and feed your adventurous spirit. We’re going over our top picks, plus all the information you need to help plan your trip to Mexico!

Things to Do in Playa del Carmen | Two Wandering Soles

We’re going to be totally honest with you and get right to the point: We didn’t completely love Playa del Carmen. In fact, we’d probably say it is one of our least favorite places we visited in Mexico.

That said, we spent 3 entire months in Playa del Carmen and there are a lot of reasons why it makes a good hub.

First of all, there are a lot of conveniences like pretty much any type of store you could want, a very lively restaurant scene, and a strong expat and digital nomad community. 

The best part of Playa, in our opinion, is it’s a great jumping off point for exploring the rest of the Yucatán Peninsula, which is definitely worth checking out.

However, if you’re looking to experience the real Mexico, we wouldn’t suggest this to be your only destination on a trip.

Now that we’ve gotten our honest opinions out of the way, let’s go through all the things to do in Playa del Carmen, where to eat and other helpful tips for your stay.

Playa del Carmen Travel Guide

For more tips and advice for planning your trip to Playa del Carmen, jump to the following sections (or just keep scrolling to see it all!).

Be sure to download our complete packing list for Mexico! It’s packed with good suggestions and insider tips to help plan your Mexico vacation. And it’s completely FREE, so why not!?

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Top things to do in Playa del Carmen

If you’re looking for the very best things to do in Playa del Carmen, here are our top  recommendations. 

  1. Take a dip in a cenote
  2. Go scuba diving or snorkeling
  3. Get quizzical at Tuesday Night Trivia
  4. Do a taco crawl
  5. Go salsa dancing
  6. Start your morning with stand up paddle boarding (SUP)
  7. Post up at a rooftop pool

Keep reading for more detailed information on each of these things and more ideas of fun things to do in Playa del Carmen. 

1. Take a dip in a cenote

Cenote Azul

Cenotes are natural sinkholes in the limestone bedrock layer of the earth’s surface, filled with freshwater and found all over Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

With crystal clear water, often taking on a deep blue or turquoise hue, and sometimes rocky cliffs that make perfect diving platforms, these magical places are often built up as tourist attractions.

Some cenotes will come with a large crowd, hefty entrance fee and mandatory life-jacket policy, while others remain seemingly untouched by humanity.  

We put together an entire article that breaks down the details of all the best cenotes in Mexico by area so you can decide which ones to visit and what to expect. Because this natural phenomenon is so common here, you won’t want to miss the chance to explore one (or more!) of these popular swimming holes.

Our top recommendation for first-time visitors would be making a trip to Cenote Azul, about 20 minutes south of Playa del Carmen.

2. Go scuba diving or snorkeling

Diving “The Cozumel Wreck”, aka the Felipe Xicotencatl or C-53

Playa del Carmen is uniquely situated near some of the best scuba diving in the world. For one, you have the cenotes. Another great reason is that you are within a day trip (see #20 on this list) from part of the Mesoamerican Reef which is the second largest reef system on earth after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. 

We’ve done some pretty epic dives accessible from Playa del Carmen. 

Here’s a list of dive shops in the area we’ve heard good things about or had positive experiences with:

  • Scuba 10 in Playa
  • Good Vibes Diving in Playa
  • Dive Point Mexico in Playa
  • Scuba Tony’s in Cozumel

Cenote diving

The Yucatan is littered with cenotes, each offering unique and indescribable diving experiences that vary from one sinkhole to the next. Just look at the difference between our two cenote dives below!

Diving Cenote Dos Ojos
Diving Cenote El Pit

Recommended cenote dives: 

  • for your first time: Choc Mool and Kukulkan
  • for more experienced divers: Dos Ojos and El Pit

Diving with sharks

See bull sharks up close with no barrier at Shark Point

If you’re one of those divers chasing macro species such as sharks and rays, you won’t be disappointed here. Just a short boat ride from Playa del Carmen, Shark Point is where you can safely dive with pregnant female bull sharks who gather there every year.

The season is from November through March, but each year is a bit different. The best chance to dive with the bull sharks is in the middle of the season in January, but that’s also the busiest time of year. 

If you are visiting Playa del Carmen in the summer months, you will likely catch whale shark season – the time of year when these gentle giants migrate through the warmer waters of the Caribbean Sea. The best time to dive with whale sharks is going to be from June through mid-September


Snorkeling in Mexico

If breathing underwater isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of opportunities for snorkeling in and around Playa del Carmen. 

3. Get quizzicle at Tuesday Night Trivia

Laura's Quiz Night Playa del Carmen

Laura’s Quiz Night is one of the top rated things to do in Playa del Carmen on TripAdvisor, and for good reason! We frequented her Tuesday night event at Buzo’s Restaurant-Bar to test our trivia knowledge and mingle with other English-speaking travelers, expats and locals

The quiz night happens every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. You can participate in a team of up to 6 people, but if you go with less, you can choose to either get paired up with others, or go it alone and see how you fare. 

The trivia questions are all in English and written for an international audience. The cost to enter is just 50 pesos and you’ll be entered in a raffle to win fun prizes at the end of the night. 

Hint: Follow @laurasquiznight on Instagram where she posts 3 questions each week that will come up in the next trivia round.

4. Do a taco crawl

Tacos al pastor from El Fagon Playa del Carmen
Tacos al pastor from El Fagon

Playa del Carmen is a great place to do a self-guided taco crawl. There are tons of local taco joints all over the city serving up authentic Mexican favorites like al pastorcarnitas and barbacoa

Here are some of the types of Mexican tacos you should try to find:

  • Al Pastor: This tacos consists of marinated pork cooked on a slow-turning vertical rotisserie and traditionally topped with pineapple, onion and cilantro. 
  • Carnitas: The literal translation of this word means ‘little meats’ which is a cute name for what is basically the Mexican version of pulled-pork.
  • Barbacoa: Traditionally these tacos would be prepared with goat or sheep meat that is slow cooked over an open fire, but it’s most commonly found with beef these days.  
  • Birria: Similar to barbacoa tacos, but birra includes an extra step of letting the meat simmer in a spicy guajillo-chili broth.
  • Chorizo: Influenced by the Spaniands, Mexicano chorizo is typically made with seasoned minced pork and makes an excellent taco filling. 
  • Suadero: Slow cooked beef marinated in citrus is what defines the suadero tacos, most commonly associated with street food in Mexico City. 

If you’re looking for the best tacos in Playa del Carmen, be sure to hit up the street carts. A good place to start is on Calle 14 Bis behind the Mega. Making your way down 30th Ave. you’ll find plenty more local hot spots. Here are some of our favorites:

If you don’t want to do a self-guided taco crawl, you could try joining a food tour. 

We’ve been obsessed with taking cooking classes in countries all over the world and have also had some pretty neat food tour experiences in places like Mexico City and Bangkok. Just Google “food tours in Playa” to see if there are any that look good to you.

5. Go salsa dancing

If you’ve been itching to let your hair down and swing your hips to the latin vibe, Playa del Carmen has no shortage of Salsa dancing opportunities. 

Every Monday, Thursday and Saturday the popular beach club Zenzi hosts live Salsa bands. If Cuban is more your style, La Bodeguita del Medio is located right in the center of Playa and has live salsa bands every night of the week. 

If you’d like to try a lesson first, hit up Bailamex Academy by Encubate. They hold Salsa dancing classes for beginners and intermediate dancers Monday through Thursday evenings in the palapa at the Deportivo Mario Villanueva (the stadium off 10th Avenue between Calle 32 and 34).

6. Start your morning with stand up paddle boarding

Aloha Paddle Club Playa del Carmen Mexico (website)
Image source: Aloha Paddle Club

Test your balance on the calm waters of the Caribbean Sea while taking in the most beautiful early morning sunrise. Aloha Paddle Club is located on the beach off Calle 6 and offers daily small group sunrise paddle board tours. 

The tours are open to all skill levels and instructors are available to help you get comfortable on your board if you are a newbie. 

You will spend more than an hour at sea, paddling towards the sunrise and getting a good core workout while you enjoy the views. Afterwards reward yourself with a fresh coconut at Fusion beach bar. 

Tip: They also offer late morning and sunset sessions for those of you who are not morning people.

7. Post up at a rooftop pool

The team having a “strategy meeting” at the Thompson Rooftop Pool in Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen has a surplus of luxury rooftop pools. Because of the congestion of the buildings there, it’s your best chance to get sun all day long. 

There are plenty of rooftop pools that have a beach club vibe and are open to the public for a fee. Here are a few of the best rooftop pools open to the public:

  • The Rooftop at the Thompson Hotel Playa: Located right about 5th Ave, this is an upscale spot with a party vibe.
  • The Fives Rooftop: Check out this place if you’re looking for more relaxed spa-like vibes.
  • MVNGATA Beach Club & Rooftop: A bit of a drive outside of town, you’ll find unspoiled beaches here and a rooftop with the best views.
  • Reef 28 Hotel: One of the largest rooftops in Playa, the 1st Ave. location is for adults only with trendy music and a relaxed vibe. 
  • Be Playa Rooftop Pool & Lounge: This is a less popular spot where you’re more likely to have the pool all to yourself.

8. Have dinner in a cave

Alux Cave Restaurant Playa del Carmen

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion in Playa del Carmen, or you just want to commemorate your vacation, a reservation at Alux Restaurant is quite the experience. The entire place is located underground inside a 10,000 year old cavern. 

If you’re currently picturing a dark, wet space requiring headlamps and bats flying over your head, you couldn’t be more wrong. This place is the peek of luxury and you will not see any creepy crawlers or feel claustrophobic here. 

Alux Restaurant Playa del Carmen Mexico

Instead, choose from a menu of “haute Mexican cuisine” with an international flare. Be sure to ask to see the wine cellar to hand pick your bottle and don’t skip the bathrooms — even those are part of the experience!

9. Walk Fifth Avenue (La Quinta Avenida)

Fifth Ave Playa del Carmen Mexico

Fifth Avenue is the main pedestrian walkway through downtown Playa del Carmen. Known locally as La Quinta Avenida (or “La Quinta” for short), this lively pedestrian street is full of souvenir shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. 

As the sun sets, La Quinta transforms into a dynamic nightlife hub, with an array of bars and restaurants offering tons of live music. 

While the street is mostly filled with tourist-y things (you won’t find authentic Mexican cuisine here!), it’s worth a gander, just to take it all in.

10. Relax on the beach

Playa del Carmen Mexico beach

Of course we cannot mention Playa del Carmen without mentioning the beach. While lounging on the beach in the sun isn’t exactly our favorite pastime (we get too bored!), it’s often the reason so many people flock to this part of the country for a getaway. 

The first thing you’ll notice if you check out the beaches near Playa Centro is how short and crowded they can get. The best places to head to the beach are north of Playa Centro

Playa Mamitas

Just north of Playa Centro, Playa Mamitas is still very much “in town,” but you’ll find a few nice beach clubs there. Both Mamita’s Beach Club and Coralina Daylight Club offer chairs and umbrellas for rent along with beachside service. 

Coco Beach

Following the coast line north, past The Reef Coco Beach Hotel, you’ll find Coco Beach. This is the first of the wider public beaches, just outside of the Playa Centro area and easy enough to walk to. 

You won’t find any services or restaurants along this long stretch of public beaches. However there are sometimes vendors walking around with ice cold drinks or small snacks. We find it’s best to stop at an Oxxo on your way and bring your own!

To access Coco Beach, you’ll enter the parking lot at The Reef Hotel. Walk past the hotel and at the far end of the lot, you’ll see dumpsters, behind those is a public access footpath to the beach. 

Playa del Carmen beach Mexico

Playa 72

If you keep walking north along Coco Beach you’ll run into what’s known as Playa 72. The only difference is that Playa 72 has its own entrance (another walkway) from 5th Ave. (at—you guessed it—Calle 72!) Otherwise, these beaches blend together seamlessly. 

It is in this area where you’ll find beach volleyball courts set up and you can usually find a pick-up volleyball game happening daily around 5 p.m. Plus, every Sunday afternoon year-round there is a group of expats who play and always welcome newcomers. 

Playa 88

Playa 88 is the next stop on this long stretch of beaches in Playa del Carmen. Again, the only difference is another access point at Calle 88. This one has public restrooms (5 pesos to enter) and showers, which can come in handy. 

The benefit to coming this far out of central downtown Playa to get to the beach is these beaches are often less crowded and much wider (more space to spread out on the sand!). 

Playa Punta Esmeralda

Just beyond Playa 88 is Playa Punta Esmeralda, often hailed as the best beach in Playa del Carmen for its vast white sands and turquoise waters. This is all the same stretch of coastline and you can walk the beach between all these entry points, and even further north if you want. 

Playacar Beach

On the southside of downtown is a little development known as Playacar. This area is full of resorts and condos, but they have one of the nicest (and well-kept) beaches in town known as Playacar Beach.

11. Watch live music on the beach

Fusion Beach Club Playa del Carmen Mexico

There are plenty of spots to catch live music in Playa del Carmen, whether you’re walking down 5th Ave or seeking out venues for your specific genre (you’ll find everything from Rock to Latin). 

If you want to feel the sand between your toes and listen to the waves crashing in between songs, head to Fusion Beach Bar where they have live music every night of the week. Check out their Facebook page for an up to date schedule of events.  

Tip: Fusion doesn’t take reservations and they are always packed. Get there well-before sunset to score a table or head down the beach towards Zenzi, another beach bar that offers live music most nights.

12. Catch a live show

Cirque du Soleil Joya Mexico

As we’ve already hinted at, there is no shortage of live entertainment in Playa del Carmen. If you’re looking for a show, you’ve come to the right place. 

Coco Bongo

If you’ve done any research into shows in Playa del Carmen, you’ve likely heard of the famous Coco Bongo. Billing themselves as the best live show in Playa, you can’t miss their colorful building exterior on 10th Ave, painted with characters ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Spiderman. 

While the show is quite the popular experience with tourists, at $80 per ticket, it just wasn’t worth the price in my opinion. 

Sure it’s all-you-can-drink and includes a meal, but with cheap alcohol, standing room only and meal service that doesn’t start until after 9 p.m., it wasn’t quite the experience I was hoping to get for such a steep cost. 

Still, if you want to give it a go, it’s best to get your ticket online ahead of time to secure your spot (these nightly shows do sell out often during high season). 

Cirque du Soleil: Joya

Cirque du Soleil Joya Mexico

I found a much better experience at the Riviera Maya resident Cirque du Soleil performance of Joya. If you’ve ever had the chance to attend a Cirque performance, you know how over the top and exciting they can be. The level of talent demonstrated in this show was incredible.

At about $160 per person, you can get table seating which includes a delicious multi-course meal, Champagne and an extra hour of entertainment. 

Tip: The official website has much more expensive tickets, but we got ours on Get Your Guide for a fraction of the cost!

This wasn’t my favorite Cirque performance I’ve ever seen (I’ve seen a few in my day). And you have to factor the cost of a cab to the venue (about 500 pesos one way). 

However, I found it was a much more well-rounded experience and worth the cost for a splurge night out. Plus, I brought my parents there during their last visit and they loved it!

Tip: Stick around the Vidanta outdoor lounge for live music and dancing after the show while you wait for your transportation. 

Looking for other nightlife in Playa?

Playa del Carmen night clubs

There is no shortage of nightlife in this lively vacation destination. Here are some recommendations. 

  • Fusion: A beachside hookah bar with live music every night. Very popular during sunset, but also open late. 
  • Zenzi: A casual beach bar with DJ and dance floor, hosts a live salsa band 3 nights a week
  • Fah Bar: Live rock music bar on 5th 
  • Bar Loco: Popular and cheap bar with 20-peso beers and tequila shots, plus good people watching above 5th Ave
  • Clandestino: Popular nightclub and lounge – DJ plays Mexico’s top 40 hits
  • Santino: Popular nightclub with reggaeton playing inside and EDM on the rooftop
  • Club Social Karaoke Bar: Super low key karaoke bar, great place to go with a group of friends

13. Take a Mexican cooking class

Cooking class in Playa del Carmen Mexico

Mexican food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world and there’s no better place to learn about it than from the source. 

If you’ve been following us for a while, you know we love taking cooking classes on our travels. It’s a great way to learn about a culture, get to know a local, entertain yourself for a few hours, and of course — eat! 

Our Director of Content, Amanda, took this cooking class in Playa del Carmen when her parents were in town visiting and said they had a blast! The food was delicious and Coty, the head Chef, was a delight. 

What you need to know:

  • Hours: Mondays & Wednesdays, 4 – 9 p.m; Fridays 10 – 3 p.m.
  • Price: $130 USD per person
  • Google Maps Location

14. Volunteer as a dog walker for the local animal shelter

Volunteer dog walking

Who doesn’t love cuddling with puppies?? If you are missing your furry friend back home, or maybe you just love dogs and want to do something impactful on your vacation, a great way to spend your morning is volunteering with Voluntarious Perrunos. 

This local organization works in partnership with CEBIAM, an animal welfare center in Playa. With time and dedication, they managed to get permission to enter the municipal shelter to walk the dogs there so they could improve their quality of life while in the cages. 

Dog walking hours are Monday to Friday from 8:30 -11:30 a.m. and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sign up to volunteer by reaching out on their Facebook page. They offer rides from various pick-ups in Centro to the shelter which is about a 20-minute drive out of town.

15. Shop the night market in Plaza Municipal

Night Market Playa del Carmen

This artisan market pops up every weekend in front of the Municipal building on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. A local favorite, you’ll get a much more laid back experience here compared to shopping on 5th Ave.

The market consists of artisan goods like crafts and clothing, along with limited street food such as marquesitas, elote, and tamales. 

16. Escape the heat and visit a museum

3D Museum Playa del Carmen
3D Museum of Wonders

Playa del Carmen is home to a few notable museums that can be a great way to get out of the midday heat or avoid the rain. 

3D Museum of Wonders

  • Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
  • Entrance fee: $700 MXN for adults; $600 MXN for Children ages 4 – 11; Free for children 3 and under

The 3D Museum of Wonders is more of an experience than an actual museum. You’ll get a personal guide and photographer who follows you throughout the museum showing you the best poses to get surreal 3D photographs from the 2D paintings there. 

Frida Kahlo Museum

  • Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, closed Sundays
  • Entrance fee: $20 USD for adults

The Frida Kahlo Museum is another popular attraction. The official museum and former home of the iconic Mexican artist is in Mexico City.

However, the Playa del Carmen location was set up to honor her and the story behind her work with a chronological order of photos and diagrams on the walls. Displays are in both Spanish and English and there is a 15-minute video to introduce visitors to the works and life of Frida.

17. Explore the Sian Ka’an bio reserve

Sian Ka'an Mexico

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is teeming with wildlife, and makes for an unforgettable DIY day-trip from Playa del Carmen. The diverse jungle ecosystem reserve offers one of the most unique experiences in the region.

You don’t know relaxation until you’ve floated effortlessly down clear blue channels surrounded by lush mangroves. Hire a boat to take you out into the lagoons of Sian Ka’an where you can bob along ancient waterways used by the Maya people.

There are two main areas of the massive reserve that are best for exploring: Muyil and Punta Allen. Each of these access points will provide entirely different experiences. Since they are over a 2 hour drive apart, it’s a bit challenging to see both in one trip, so we recommend choosing the side you are most interested in. 

We’ve written in detail all about how to visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve without a tour.

18. Learn Spanish

Learn Spanish

Traveling to Mexico is an excellent opportunity to learn Spanish. In fact, Mexico has the largest population of Spanish-speakers in the world. Whether you want to brush up on the basics you learned in school or are starting from scratch, there are plenty of opportunities for learning in Playa. 

There are a few Spanish schools/courses out there, so you’ll have to do your research to find out which one makes the most sense for you. 

A few things to look for:

  • Make sure the language school you choose is owned and run by Mexicans so you know you are supporting locals. 
  • Check out the schedule of learning. How many hours a day or days a week will you be in lessons?
  • Ask about their teaching methodology. Is it primarily classroom lectures? One on one tutoring? Or fully immersive in the local culture?

19. Grab happy hour at a beach club

Rooftop cocktails

There’s nothing that says vacation like kicking back on the beach with a fresh margarita in hand — tiny umbrella included! Playa has no shortage of beach clubs for those whose official vacation slogan is “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”

Some of our favorite places for a beachside cocktail: 

20. Take the ferry to Cozumel for the day

Cozumel Mexico

Cozumel is a large island located about 12 miles off the coast of Playa del Carmen. In fact, if you squint on a clear day you can make out the buildings on the horizon from Playa. The island is a much quieter and more tranquil destination than its mainland neighbors and tends to offer better beaches. 

How to get to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen

There are two ferry companies that operate the route between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel: Winjet (orange) and Ultramar (yellow). Both companies are more or less the same, so you should purchase tickets based on the time that works for you. 

You can purchase tickets for either company  on the day of from the Ferry Pier in downtown Playa. The crossing takes about 40 minutes one way and tickets cost about $11 USD for adults and $9 USD for children. 

Tip: For the sake of flexibility, it’s best to purchase one-way tickets, in case you wind up needing to take the other company on your return trip. 

Cozumel Ferry

The first ferry of the day usually leaves Playa around 8 a.m. and the last ferry of the night from Cozumel leaves around 9 p.m. Just because you have a ticket, does not guarantee you a ride. 

It’s important to get to the pier and get in line plenty early (an hour or more in advance) to make sure you get a spot on the ferry or you’ll be bumped to the next available boat (which could mean waiting for hours). I’ve learned this lesson the hard way on more than one occasion. 

Tip: Even on a beautiful clear day, the sea can be rough. Come prepared with seasickness medication if you think you might need it. 40 minutes can be a looooong ride when you’re feeling queasy.

Once you’ve made it to Cozumel, you can walk from the ferry pier into town or down along the coast. We recommend renting a scooter or topless car to explore the island on your own. However, there are also taxis available to help you get around. 

Things to do in Cozumel

Rent a scooter on Cozumel
  • Rent a scooter or topless car (not your typical convertible, these cars look like they’ve had the tops chopped right off) to explore
  • Visit Punta Sur Eco Park for beaches, snorkeling, wildlife and a lighthouse
  • Go snorkeling at el Cielo sandbar aka “heaven”, known as one of the best snorkeling spots in Cozumel and for its abundance of starfish 
  • Taste handmade chocolate and learn about the traditional process from seed to chocolate bar at the Mayan Cacao Company
  • Visit the San Gervasio Mayan ruins
  • Go scuba diving on Cozumel’s reefs (see #3 on this list)
  • Go deep with Atlantis submarines
  • Tour the family owned and operated Cozumel Pearl Farm
  • Try a new water sport such as SUP boarding, aqua biking, helmet diving or deep sea fishing

21. Go parasailing

On a sunny day in Playa del Carmen, if you look out over the water, you’re sure to see the bright and colorful parachutes trailing behind speed boats in the sky.

Parasailing is a thrilling adventure that combines the excitement of flight while gaining a bird’s eye view of the surroundings. Towed behind a boat, you can usually go solo or in pairs. There is no skill or prior knowledge necessary, you simply get harnessed in and the boat driver will skillfully guide your parasail. 

If you walk the beaches in Playa, you’re sure to run into vendors offering parasailing. However, if you prefer to, you can also book online ahead of time.

22. Test your skills at freediving

Free diving the Cozumel Wreck | Photo by Ashley Fejes

We didn’t get a chance to try out free diving during our time in Playa del Carmen, but we speak from experience when we say, it’s nothing like scuba diving. Unlike diving with an air tank, you have no bulky equipment and you feel a lot more free under water. We tried freediving in the Philippines and have been itching to do it again!

Instead of exploring your surroundings under water, the focus of freediving is more about quieting your mind and mastering your breath. It helps to think of it along the same lines as meditation. 

Playa del Carmen is a great spot to try out freediving because of its proximity to all the cenotes. It’s easier to sink in freshwater than in saltwater, which makes cenotes ideal sites for freedivers.

Whether you’re a brand new to freediving or want to explore more of your personal limits under the water, you can sign up to try out your skills at many of the dive shops in Playa. 

23. Watch the Papantla dancers at Parque Fundadores

Parque Fundadores Playa del Carmen Mexico

Parque Fundadores (Founders Park in English) is a central public park located near the beach, just off Fifth Avenue and the Cozumel ferry station. It often serves as a gathering place for locals and tourists alike.

The park features a prominent sculpture, “Portal Maya,” which depicts the ancient Mayan civilization and celebrates the Mayan calendar. There is also a large seating area, making it a suitable place for relaxation and people-watching. Or catching one of the live performances that happen daily.

The Papantla Dancers at Parque Fundadores

One reason most people drop by the park is to witness the mesmerizing performance of the Voladores de Papantla, or the Papantla Flyers. 

These skilled performers engage in a unique ritual involving a 30-meter (98ft.) pole. Four out of the five participants ascend the pole and then launch themselves into the air, tethered by ropes, descending gracefully to the ground. The remaining participant stays atop the pole, adding to the spectacle by dancing and playing a flute and drum.

Legend has it that this ritual originated as a plea to the gods to end a severe drought, and it is closely associated with the Papantla region in Veracruz, Mexico. The performance occurs throughout the day and is a must-see for those unfamiliar with the tradition. 

Note: After the show, a voluntary donation is collected from the audience, serving as crucial support for these performers and contributing to the preservation of their traditions.

24. Explore the underground caverns of Rio Secreto

Rio Secreto Playa del Carmen Mexico

In this surreal location, just a 15 minute taxi ride from downtown Playa del Carmen, you can embark on an underground river tour unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before

Popular with locals and tourists alike, Rio Secreto is one of the coolest things to do in Playa del Carmen that you won’t find anywhere else. 

You’ll navigate an underground river through a labyrinth of caves*, marveling at the stalactites and stalagmites that have evolved over thousands of years. 

The guided tour provides an educational and immersive experience, highlighting the delicate ecosystem and the geological significance of the nature preserve. Wade through waist-deep waters, sometimes swimming for short stretches, donning life vests and helmets with headlamps as you explore the cave system. 

*Note: As someone who is prone to a bit of claustrophobia, I didn’t feel it at all during this tour as the cave system is pretty large and there are no small, enclosed spaces. 

Important info

Rio Secreto Playa del Carmen Mexico (website)
Image source: Rio Secreto

Rio Secreto provides everything you need for the unique tour: wetsuits, water shoes, helmets/lights, life jackets, towels, and secure lockers to keep your stuff in. It is recommended to bring a change of clothes for after the tour. 

You will be asked to rinse off under a shower before you don your wetsuit and embark on the tour. This is to protect the delicate ecosystem of the underground river. Please also refrain from wearing sunscreen, bug repellant, lotion or perfume. 

They offer plastic “walking sticks” for those that may be a bit unsteady on their feet—we recommend taking one! Even if you are perfectly stable on solid ground, the cave floors are very uneven and having a stick to keep you upright will be helpful. 

There are no cameras allowed inside the cave, but you will have a photographer following your tour. The photo packages are $135 USD, or $30 USD for a single photo download. 

Tours start at $89 USD per adult for the classic tour. We got a 15% off discount code on their website that was given to us in the chat feature. 

We also liked to see their environmental policy: 

“A significant percentage [of the Rio Secreto tour cost] is used to help preserve the local flora and fauna, for the development of studies of water quality as well as various environmental education programs through our foundation Centinelas del Agua A.C (Water Sentinels), among other important efforts.”

How to get there

The entrance to Rio Secreto is just off the main highway through Playa del Carmen (exact location). If you’re searching on Google Maps, you will see two “Rio Secreto” pins, this is because the actual cavern is about a 20 minute drive into the jungle. 

There is a parking lot at the main entrance. The ride to the cavern is covered in your tour, so you will not need to drive yourself. 

If you are coming from Playa del Carmen in a taxi, you can expect to pay around 300-450 MXN one way. (We were charged more on the drive back than the drive there.) Most drivers will know where to take you if you ask for “Rio Secreto.”

25. Take a day trip to Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres Mexico beach

Just a short 30-minute ferry ride from Cancun, Isla Mujeres boasts pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life. The island’s highlights include Playa Norte, a stunning beach with calm turquoise waters, ideal for swimming and relaxation. 

Renting a golf cart or scooter is a popular way to explore Isla Mujeres, covering landmarks like Punta Sur and the Mayan Temple of Ixchel. Snorkeling at Garrafon Natural Reef Park offers a chance to witness colorful marine species. 

For a cultural touch, stroll through the vibrant streets of the town center and savor local cuisine. Ferries operate frequently from Cancun, and day trips are common for those looking to experience the best of Isla Mujeres without an extended stay.

26. Marvel at El Castillo at Chichén Itzá

Chichen Itza

Probably the most well known of all the Mayan ruins, Chichen Itza is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. 

The most prominent Mayan ruin of the site is the iconic El Castillo, an ancient Mesoamerican step-pyramid. Built by the Mayans and later utilized by the Toltec, the pyramid is perfectly aligned to the movements of the sun and was used as a calendar of sorts. 

Located 2.5 hours from Playa del Carmen, it’s not exactly a breeze to get to, but Chichen Itza makes for a good day trip if you are interested. Find out more information on visiting Chichen Itza and how to get there in our Yucatan article

If you don’t want to travel that far out of town but are still interested in seeing some ruins, we have a couple other suggestions for you…

Tulum Ruins

Just down the road from Playa del Carmen (about a 45 minute drive) are the Tulum Ruins. Perched on a cliffside overlooking the Caribbean, these archaeological remnants showcase what’s left of the ancient Mayan city. 

This ancient city once served as a significant Mayan port, facilitating trade across the region. The unique thing about these ruins is the breathtaking backdrop of turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. You won’t find ruins this close to the sea anywhere else. 

Coba Ruins

Things to Do in the Yucatan Peninsula | Coba Ruins
Things to Do in the Yucatan Peninsula | Coba Ruins

Situated in the dense jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula, about an hour and 40 minute drive from Playa del Carmen, are the Coba Ruins. Unlike some other sites, Coba allows visitors to climb the towering Nohoch Mul pyramid, providing a panoramic view of the surrounding jungle. 

Coba’s remote location lends an air of authenticity, providing a unique glimpse into the ancient Maya civilization. To navigate the expansive site efficiently, consider renting a bicycle (they have rentals onsite!) or hiring a tuk tuk-style ride.

21. Visit Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos, Mexico

If you’ve never heard of Puerto Morelos, we’re going to let you in on a little secret. This small fishing village in Mexico’s Riviera Maya has not been overrun by tourism and retains much of its original charm.

Just 30 minutes north of Playa del Carmen, this sleepy seaside town is a paradise for those who want to stick their toes in the sand and enjoy a good book with a margarita in hand. 

Don’t be fooled by the relaxed Caribbean vibe, there is still plenty to keep you occupied here for a day or weekend trip. 

Things to do in Puerto Morelos

  • Go snorkeling or diving with a Marine Biologist
  • Take a BBQ cooking class with a Chef’s Table Featured Chef (Netflix) 
  • Visit Mexico’s most biodiverse botanical gardens, Jardín Botánico Dr. Alfredo Barrera Marín
  • Relax at a beach club
  • Check out the shops and restaurants in town
  • Eat plenty of fresh seafood

28. Go on a dune buggy adventure

4x4 dune buggy tour Playa del Carmen Mexico (GYG)
Image source: Get Your Guide

If you’re looking for a unique adventure in Playa del Carmen, this 4WD dune buggy tour might be just the thing! 

Navigate your way through the lush jungle trails of Playa del Carmen. You’ll be equipped with the necessary safety gear, including goggles, before you head out on this small group tour. 

Feel the breeze on your face as you drive through 18 miles (29 kilometers) of pristine Riviera Maya terrain, immersing yourself in the heart of nature. Pause at a traditional ranch to absorb the stunning surroundings before cooling off with a swim in a secret cenote. 

What you need to know:

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Price: $105 USD per person
  • Meeting Location: Hotel pick up service included

What guests are saying:

“Our guides were so sweet, a hilarious brother and sister pair, very attentive and entertaining. Our favorite part was when the guides told us about Mayan spiritual history and ecological facts. Fascinating!! The cave was incredible and the ride was fun!” – Jane, December 2023

29. Check out Akumal Beach

Akumal Beach Mexico

About a 30 minute drive south, the small town of Akumal is home to some beautiful white sand beaches, as well as a robust offshore reef. Akumal Beach is a great place for snorkeling or lounging in the sunshine, away from the crowds of Playa del Carmen and Tulum. 

Read all about how to get there in our Yucatan article, including how to avoid the tourist traps and scams that are common there. 

Important note about swimming with sea turtles

You may have also heard that Akumal is famous for its populations of Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead sea turtles. There are plenty of opportunities in Akumal to swim and snorkel alongside these gentle sea creatures. 

However, we think it’s important to call out that overtime tourism has scared away many of the turtles and where there used to be hundreds, you are now able to see just a few. For this reason, we do not recommend going to Akumal to swim with the turtles

If you should decide to go on your own, it is important to do your own research first and know what you are contributing to. You can learn more about the ecosystem management and sustainability efforts from the Centro Ecological Akumal.

30. Xcaret Park

Xcaret Park (GYG)
Image source: Get Your Guide

Unlike any other theme park you’ve ever been to, Xcaret offers a diverse range of attractions, combining nature, culture, and adventure. 

Highlights of the park include a vast network of ziplines, underground rivers for snorkeling, cultural performances, and a vibrant wildlife display. Visitors can explore archaeological sites, swim in cenotes, and enjoy water activities. 

If you go, plan to spend a full day to make the most of the park’s more than 50 attractions. Entrance tickets start at around $120 USD per person depending on the package.

31. Try skydiving

Story time…

Once when I was lounging on the beach in Playa del Carmen, a person dropped out of the sky, followed by a big colorful parachute, and came to a screeching halt on the sand, just 20 feet from where my towel lay. 

I kid you not! 

It took me a minute to realize this man had just jumped out of the plane. He came out of nowhere and landed so fast I couldn’t wrap my head around it. He was clearly a professional. 

If you are an adrenaline junky and looking for your fix in Playa del Carmen, Skydive Playa is the top rated company for skydiving in the area. They have an airport right in town so you don’t have to go far, and they do tandem dives for newbies with no experience.

How many days do you need in Playa del Carmen?

Cenote Azul

How much time you decide to spend in Playa really depends on what type of traveler you are and what you want to do there. 

We recommend a week to 10 days minimum if you are going to use Playa del Carmen as your homebase to explore more of the Yucatan. If you’re on a mission to explore more and plan on moving around a lot, you really only need a day or two to see the town. 

If you are looking for a place to kick it for a while as a digital nomad, monthly rentals can save you a lot of money on accommodation, so why not test it out for a month or two. You’ll want to jump down to our digital nomad section of this article to find more advice on long term stays.

Best time to visit Playa del Carmen

Beach in Playa del Carmen

Peak tourism season in Playa del Carmen is over the Christmas and New Years holidays in December/January, and Spring Break time, particularly the week leading up to Easter (Semana Santa in Latin America). 

During these weeks you can expect the streets to be packed, tours to fill up quickly and accommodation prices to be at their all-time highest of the year.

The weather in Playa will be at its finest during the winter months—from mid-November through March you can enjoy mild daytime temperatures in the mid-70s and low 80s (F). It also tends to get cooler at night with less humidity than the hot summer months. 

Temperatures begin to rise as early as April and by June/July the humidity is high and daytime temperatures can reach triple digits! The good news is, accommodation prices plummet during these months, and you can find decent places for a fraction of the peak-season costs. 

Another major factor to keep in mind is hurricane season, which begins in June and lasts through November

In our opinion, the best time to visit Playa would be during December (pre-Christmas!) or February when the weather is at its finest and there is a short lull in between holidays.   

Psst! For an in-depth guide on the seasonal weather patterns and other factors, check out our complete guide on the best time to visit Mexico.

How to get to Playa del Carmen

Getting to Playa del Carmen from Cancun Airport

As of December 2023, there are now 2 airports in the Riviera Maya state of Quintana Roo: Cancun International Airport (CUN) and Tulum International Airport – Felipe Carrillo (TQO). Both are about 1 hour from Playa del Carmen in either direction.

The cheapest way to get to Playa from Cancun is to take the ADO bus for around $7. Buses depart from the Cancun airport every half-hour or so and take about an hour to get to Playa. The buses are large comfortable tour buses with A/C and USB plugs at every seat. 

According to the ADO website, it doesn’t look like they have a route yet between Playa del Carmen and the Tulum Airport. But check back as this is likely to change. 

We have a complete guide for traveling from Cancun to Playa del Carmen which outlines all of your options for getting from the airport and exactly how to find and book each one.

Transportation in Playa del Carmen

If you’re staying in Playa Centro, the downtown area around Fifth Avenue, you’ll find it really easy to get around on foot. The city is flat and very walkable.

Bike and scooter rentals

Bici Playa del Carmen Mexico

If walking isn’t your forte, there are also lots of bicycle rentals in the area and you can get daily, weekly or monthly rates. There is also a shared bike system called BiciPlaya that works pretty well. 

The concept of renting scooters is becoming more and more popular in Playa and you can find scooter rentals around the Centro area, too. 


Street art Playa del Carmen Mexico

Taxis in Playa del Carmen are readily available and easy to hail from just about any major street. Just keep in mind that taxi prices can be steep. 

Especially if you hail from one of the many taxi stands around town. Hailing a taxi directly off the street will get you a better price as they have to pay a fee to wait at the taxi stand and those fees go into their rates.

Be sure to negotiate your price before getting in — most taxis don’t use a meter. Uber is unfortunately not available in this area.


colectivo from Cancun to Playa del Carmen

Mexico’s version of a shared taxi bus. These run all over the country in short distances and are by far the most affordable method of transportation.

If you are going a short distance, like from Playa del Carmen to Tulum for example, a colectivo is a great way to get there for a much more reasonable price than a taxi cab. You may have to make a few stops along the way though.

Renting a car

Car rental in Mexico

Another great option if you want the freedom to explore the area more. Renting a car in central America is safe and can be really cheap when you compare costs to average US prices. 

We use Discover Cars to search for the best deals on rental cars around the world.

Search & Compare Rental Car Prices

  • Discover Cars: We personally use this aggregate site to compare rental car prices from all the big name companies and get the best price possible. 
  • Booking.comWe’ve had good experiences finding rental cars with this site (formerly RentalCars.com) in the past. 

Psst! We have an entire guide to getting a rental car in Mexico including where to find the best deals and tips for driving and safety.

Tips for visiting Playa del Carmen

Yucatan Mexico

Here are our top tips for visiting Playa del Carmen to make the most out of your stay. 

  • Pack sun protection! Playa del Carmen enjoys a tropical climate, so come prepared with sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially if you plan on spending time outdoors.
  • Carry cards and cash. While many places accept credit cards, it’s advisable to carry some Mexican pesos for small purchases, local markets, or places that may not accept cards. ATMs are widely available, but be aware of fees and always decline the conversion rate.
    • The best ATMs we’ve found with the lowest fees are ATMs associated with banks. The Banorte ATM is my go-to because it charges only 65 MXN per transaction while others charge 165 MXN. 
  • Wear comfortable footwear. Exploring Playa del Carmen often involves a lot of walking, whether along the beach or through the bustling downtown. Leave your high heels at home and wear comfortable footwear to go out. 
  • Don’t rely on taxis. The taxi business in Playa del Carmen is not exactly straight-forward. Rates are hiked the minute they see tourists climb in and ask for directions in English. There are no meters and negotiating prices is a losing battle (especially if you don’t have strong Spanish). Instead be prepared to walk everywhere and consider renting a car to get out of town. 
  • Learn some basic Spanish phrases. While English is spoken in all the tourist areas, learning a few basic Spanish phrases can enhance your experience and interactions with locals.

Where to eat in Playa del Carmen

There are tons of restaurant options in Playa del Carmen, so much so that the choice can be overwhelming and you might be tempted to pop into the first crowded patio you find. 

Our advice: stay off 5th Ave. when eating in Playa!

We rounded up the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen based on your food preferences to help you make the decisions easier. 

Mexican food

Tacos al pastor at El Fagon Playa del Carmen
  • El Fogon: These super cheap, authentic Mexican tacos are best devoured by the plate full. Order the Al Pastor with all the fixings (yes, that means pineapple on your taco!) and you will not be disappointed. They have 3 locations in Playa, all on 30th Ave. 
  • Birria Tacos y Consome: Right up there in the number one spot with El Fogon is Birria for the best tacos in Playa. What El Fagon does for al pastor, Birria does for… well Birria. If you’re unfamiliar, Birria is a traditional Mexican dish originally made with goat meat (but can be made with beef, lamb, or veal too) and served as a stew or taco filling. Do not skip the consome (the stew) and be sure to get it with all the fixings! 
  • Primo: Don’t let the small space fool you, this restaurant packs a punch with their rustic style cooking and elevated dishes (which come with a price tag!). Personal favorite: the lamb barbacoa
  • La Bamba Jarocha: A local-favorite seafood restaurant that is delicious and budget-friendly.
  • Pollo Pirata: This unassuming fast-food joint on 30 Avenida Norte is serving up some of the best (and cheapest!) chicken I have ever tasted. You can purchase ¼, ½, or a whole chicken and each order comes with a side of rice, beans and salsa. Just don’t let them rope you into a “combo deal,” they charge almost as much for the beverage as they do for the chicken!
  • Dona Paula Restaurant: Walking into this blue house is like walking into your Abuela’s kitchen. Instead of a menu, you choose from dishes set out on the counter, and everything comes with rice, beans and tortillas. 
  • La Cueva del Chango: Popular spot for breakfast or brunch, known for having many options for chilaquiles.
  • La Ceiba de la 30: The restaurant attached to the DAC produce market (a great place for grocery shopping!) serves up Mexican specialties with locally sourced ingredients. 
  • El Sangha Rito: Super affordable spot to grab a quick bite, serving up local specialties. 

International Cuisine

Foods in Mexico | Two Wandering Soles
  • Rockas Jamaican Kitchen: Head to Rockas for an authentic Jamaican culinary experience. Get there early to order the Jamaican Jerk chicken or Jerk chicken stew before they run out (and they do run out during high season sometimes) and don’t hold back on the sides – particularly the mac n’ cheese!
  • Osteria de Roma: Another Italian-run restaurant serving up homemade Italian dishes like gnocchi and my personal favorite, cacio e pepe. Call ahead to put in special requests like vegetarian or gluten-free lasagne. And save room for a desert of Nutella balls! Another notable mention: The Zucchini pizza for 2!
  • Mykonos Greek Cuisine: A Greek-run restaurant serving up flavors of the Mediterranean. If you’re looking for authentic Greek dishes, you’re sure to find them here. 
  • Luna Taverna del Mar: Super fresh seafood served right down by the beach—so close you can smell the waves!
  • Mu Burgerhouse: If you’re craving a burger and fries, you’ll want to head straight here. Personal favorite: La Garanja burger
  • Mae Thai Restaurant: This is the best place to find authentic Thai food in Playa del Carmen, with an owner who hails from Bangkok. 
  • The Lost Tiki: Asian/Mexican fusion cuisine from a cute little spot that fills up quickly, so be sure to make a reservation ahead of time. 
  • Trattoria del Centro: This Italian-owned spot in central Playa is serving up authentic Italian with handmade pasta and pizzas. Hands-down the best Italian food in Playa (tied with Osteria de Roma – very different menus though!) Personal favorites include the lamb ragu and the Neapolitan-style pizza. 
  • Yum Yum: This is a yummy Indian/Thai fusion restaurant on the corner of 10th Ave. and Calle 6 that’ll satisfy your cravings for food from the other side of the world. 
  • Oh, La, La: Voted the best restaurant in Playa del Carmen on TripAdvisor, this coveted high-end spot only has 9 tables, so reservations are necessary!
  • Alux: This restaurant inside a cave is a fun experience for a date night. Part of the cave houses their extensive wine collection and you can browse and pick out your favorite bottle to drink with your meal.

Healthy Eating/ Cafes

  • Fresco Habito: An open-air vegan cafe serving up Buddah bowls, smoothie bowls, and all the healthy drinks.
  • Bio&Natural: This small restaurant chain has 3 locations in Playa and serves delicious and healthy food next to a small shop with organic goods that can be hard to find in the supermarkets. 
  • Green & Fit: A salad bar (think Chipotle but for salads) with healthy portions and a great place for lunch.
  • Bajo Cafe: A great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The food here is cheap but delicious, and the atmosphere and service is wonderful. They are super accommodating to laptop workers and have tons of great breakfast options from Mexican favorites like Enfrijoladas to classic American bagels to smoothie bowls and avocado toasts that’ll give Bali a run for its money. Closed on Sundays. 
  • Fifty Brunch: A breakfast and lunch spot with all the healthy brunch classics like matcha waffles and smoothie bowls. 
  • La Organica: While their menu isn’t actually all organic, they do have some great salads and healthier options for breakfast too. 
  • Aloha Raw Bar: Head here for your healthy protein fix. From smoothie bowls to protein waffles, this place has you covered. 
  • Choux Choux Cafe: A french cafe serving delicious breakfast favorites like “el gringo” which is basically a breakfast sandwich meets avocado toast meets waffles. 
  • Evenezer Juice Stand: Get your juice fix at this hole-in-the-wall juice stand on 10th that serves up giant cups of green juice and other fresh juices for around 50 pesos. 

Food Delivery in Playa

  • Uber Eats
  • Rappi – This is the Uber Eats of Latin America and will have a lot more options than the Uber Eats app does for Playa. Plus, you can choose to pay in cash and not put in a credit card. The only downside is the entire app is in Spanish with no translation feature. 

Where to stay in Playa del Carmen

If you’re coming to Playa del Carmen for the first time and planning to stay in the city (as opposed to the hotel zone), you’ll likely find Centro to be the most convenient location. 

Look for a place between Av. CTM and Av. Benito Juarez, and between the beach and Hwy 307

Hint: You’ll probably want to avoid staying right on 5th if you can as the noise can easily become a negative factor there. 

Hotel recommendations

Selina Playa del Carmen

Budget hostel: Selina Playa del Carmen

With large and small dorms as well as private and double rooms, Selina has a stay for every budget. Amenities include a pool, bar and shared lounge. The added bonus of high-speed internet and coworking makes this a great spot for digital nomads coming through Playa on a shorter stay.

Be Playa Boutique Hotel

Mid-range budget option: Be Playa

This luxurious boutique hotel is in a central location just a block off 5th Avenue. The rooftop pool and bar is the perfect place for a sunset happy hour, and it’s within walking distance to many delicious restaurants, shops and the beach.

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort (Booking)

Splurge hotel: Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen

This luxurious beachside resort boasts spacious rooms with stunning ocean views, multiple dining options, a serene spa, and infinity pools overlooking the Caribbean. It’s located right in the central downtown area within walking distance to plenty of restaurants and entertainment.

Airbnbs and long term stays

If you’re looking for a vacation rental or coming to Playa del Carmen for a longer term to live and work as a digital nomad, you’ll find plenty of longer term rentals on Booking and Airbnb

A few of our tried-and-true* condo buildings in the Centro area we’d recommend are:

*Yes, we’ve either personally stayed in these buildings or know of someone who has stayed there and had a good experience.

What to pack for traveling to Playa del Carmen

Cenote Azul Mexico
  • Insulated water bottle
  • Reef-safe sunscreen
  • Wide brimmed hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Swim suit
  • Long sleeve rashguard or swim shirt (protect yourself from the elements while respecting the NO SUNSCREEN rule in the cenotes)
  • Sarong
  • Waterproof phone case
  • Dry bag
  • Comfortable sandals for walking
  • Casual wear for walking around town
  • A nice outfit or two for a night out

Be sure to download our FREE packing list for Mexico! It’s packed with good suggestions and insider tips to help plan your Mexico vacation. And it’s completely FREE, so why not!?

Info for digital nomads and expats in Playa del Carmen

With so many people turning to the remote work lifestyle, Mexico has become a hub for digital nomads, snowbirds, and vacationers alike. Digital Nomads have been flocking to Playa del Carmen in droves and remote work programs are capitalizing on the limited visa restrictions by moving their communities to Playa. 

Why Playa del Carmen?

Mexico has a lot of really interesting and unique places to visit full of culture, delicious food, and plenty of sunshine and beaches! In fact, we have lots of resources for some of Mexico’s other hotspots such as Oaxaca and Mexico City

However, if you’re looking for a place to settle down for a longer stay (1+ months) with some of the comforts of home, Playa del Carmen might be a good option. It is becoming a more popular choice amongst remote workers looking for just that. 

Before packing your bags, we’re going to let you in on the pros and cons of Playa del Carmen. And we’re getting real honest because in truth, we personally didn’t love the city, and there’s a lot we wish we would have known before deciding to spend 3 months there. 

Just because we didn’t love it doesn’t mean you won’t. Read through the pros and cons and see if it sounds like a place you’ll enjoy:

Pros of PDC

  • Somewhat inexpensive cost of living (definitely not as inexpensive as Southeast Asian hubs, but PDC is cheaper than many US cities)
  • High-speed Internet connection
  • A decent variety of cafes and places to work from. In truth, there are many other cities around the world that we believe have a much better selection of places for working, but PDC does okay in this area.
    • Note: We’re kind of picky when it comes to what we consider a “good place to work”. Typically, we look for places with comfortable seating, ample outlets, healthy food and beverage options, consistent WiFi, and most importantly — where working from a laptop is acceptable. 
  • Sunshine and beaches
    • Good to know: the best beaches are a short walk outside of the city center
  • A variety of restaurants
  • Nightlife
  • PDC is a good hub for exploring the Yucatán Peninsula.
  • There is a growing community of ex-pats and digital nomads. Truthfully, we found it more difficult to meet people and network here than we did in other cities we’ve lived in, but we know others who would disagree.

Cons of PDC

  • Depending on the time of year you’re staying, PDC can get extremely hot and humid. It’s also worth noting that this city is the most expensive place in Mexico in terms of electric costs. You will be expected to pay your apartment’s electric bill in cash (yes, even if you’re staying at an Airbnb), so be mindful about cranking that AC!
  • In our opinion, PDC is a kind of boring city. If you’re not a huge fan of sitting at the pool, it may get old after a while. We wish we would have known this before moving for 3 months because we were pretty bored!
  • Mexican food in PDC is just okay. There are definitely some good local restaurants, but if you’re a big fan of Mexican cuisine, the food is much better in other parts of the country.

Co-working spaces & Wifi cafes

Laptop and coffee

With the growing popularity of this destination for digital nomads, a few different options for co-working spaces have popped up in Playa del Carmen. 

Bunker Coworking

  • Day Pass: 250 pesos
  • Weekly Rate: 1,099 pesos
  • Monthly Rate: 2,900 pesos
  • Internet Speed: 100+ Mbps
  • Access: 24/7 member access

A newcomer to the coworking community in Playa, Bunker is a cozy space just 2 blocks from the beach. They offer shared office, private office and virtual office spaces in a well-lit building with complimentary drinking water, coffee and tea. Other amenities include a meeting/conference room, private phone stalls, mail reception, secure lockers, a copy and print center and a kitchenette. 

Nest Coworking

  • Day Pass: 200 pesos
  • Weekly Rate: 1000 pesos
  • Monthly Rate: 3000 pesos
  • Internet Speed: 15 Mbps
  • Access: 24/7

Nest is a small space nestled in between buildings on 10th Ave. There are upstairs and downstairs indoor co-working areas as well as a quiet outdoor courtyard with a picnic table. As far as decor goes, the space is pretty minimal – just a few long communal tables with plexiglass separators. Drinking water, coffee, tea and snacks are offered to guests. Other amenities include mail reception, secure lockers, a copy and print center and kitchen. 

Selina Coworking

  • Day Pass: 200 pesos
  • Weekly Rate: 1000 pesos 
  • Monthly Rate: 3000 pesos 
  • Internet Speed: 10 Mbps
  • Access: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. for non-guests

Selina is a well-known hostel chain across South and Central America that offers coworking and coliving options. Their Playa del Carmen coworking space is a comfortable natural-lit room with large communal tables, a few different seating areas, and single-stall private rooms for meetings.

Drinking water, and coffee and tea are provided. Other amenities include air conditioning, daily yoga classes (at an additional cost), and an onsite pool and cafe bar. 

Best Wifi cafes to work from

  • Mercado 30: Open-air food hall combining the menu at Bajo Cafe with Peace & Bowls. Very accomodating to laptop workers and lots of plugs. 
  • Fresco Habito: Open-air, decent internet, healthy food, some plugs
  • Bio&NaturalBoth locations on 10th and 5th are great for working, wifi speeds over 60 MBPS and plenty of plugs, even outside!
  • The Pitted Date: Vegan cafe with indoor and outdoor seating, plugs indoors
  • Ojo de Agua: Nice indoor cafe to work from with AC, some plugs (although recently they’ve taped over their plugs – unknown if this is still a thing or they are trying to send a message to laptop-toting dwellers)
  • Choux ChouxOpen-air, lots of laptop workers, no plugs, closes at 2 p.m.
  • Chez Celine: Good French bakery/cafe on 5th

Grocery shopping in Playa del Carmen

  • The DAC (located on 30th and Calle 20 Nte.) is the best produce market in Playa. They have great quality produce and a wide selection of other market staples (including a nice deli section), plus it’s super affordable! You’ll likely find produce here you won’t find anywhere else. 
  • Walmart and MEGA are the two major supermarkets in Playa and your best bet for grocery shopping similar to what you’d find in the US. 
  • Selecto Super Chedraui is the newest supermarket in Playa, which opened in 2022 in a convenient location on 10th Ave. They cater to tourists and you will find it is very similar to a US grocery store.
  • Soriana and Aki markets are also pretty large supermarkets, but will have less selection of international products.

Medical Care

  • Doctor: The best drop-in clinic is on 10th Ave between Calle 26 & 28. It’ll cost you around 700 pesos for a consultation and you can come back as many times as you need to in 1 week for the same issue, with no further charges. The doctors there speak English. 
  • Dentist: If you need a teeth cleaning, Coral Dental Center is great. It costs 850 pesos for a cleaning and you can make an appointment through their Whatsapp Number: +52 984-876-2839. They also do professional whitening for $200 USD (which includes a cleaning).


  • Evolve: Probably the most popular gym for expats in central Playa, they have day passes and weekly/monthly memberships.
  • Yoga LoftDrop in for a single class (usually in both English & Spanish), or grab a package, or monthly membership. 

Weekend trips from Playa del Carmen

Bacalar Mexico
Bacalar Lagoon in Bacalar, Mexico

There are plenty of adventures to be had in the Yucatán Peninsula surrounding Playa del Carmen. If you are staying in the area for a longer period of time and want to get out and explore, here are a few of our top weekend trip ideas.

  • Chichén Itzá/ Mérida/Valladolid: You can hit all three of these major destinations in a 3-day weekend road trip. We’d suggest hitting up Chichén Itzá on your first day, spending 2 nights in Mérida, and stopping in Valladolid on your way back. 
  • BacalarThe famous Bacalar Lagoon of Seven Colors is just a 3 hour drive south of Playa del Carmen in Bacalar. 
  • Isla HolboxSpend the weekend on the remote island in the north of the Yucatán where there are no cars and everyone moves at the pace of island life. 
Isla Holbox Mexico
Isla Holbox, Mexico

For more information on how to plan a weekend trip, check out our article all about the best things to do in the Yucatán Peninsula. You’ll find details on all of the above and many more adventures you can do within a few hours driving from Playa del Carmen.

If you’re looking for another kind of adventure and prepared for a short (and usually pretty cheap) flight from Cancun airport, we’d suggest 3 days in Mexico City or a long weekend in San Cristobal de las Cacas.

Round up of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen

Here’s a recap of all the best things to do in Playa del Carmen so you can see everything in one place.

  1. Cenotes
  2. Scuba diving or snorkeling
  3. Tuesday Night Trivia
  4. Taco crawl
  5. Salsa dancing
  6. Stand up paddle boarding (SUP)
  7. Rooftop pools
  8. Alux restaurant
  9. Fifth Avenue (La Quinta Avenida)
  10. Beaches
  11. Live music
  12. Live show
  13. Cooking class
  14. Voluntarious Perrunos
  15. Night market in Plaza Municipal
  16. Museums
  17. Sian Ka’an Bio Reserve
  18. Learn Spanish
  19. Beach clubs
  20. Cozumel
  21. Parasailing
  22. Freediving
  23. Parque Fundadores
  24. Rio Secreto
  25. Isla Mujeres
  26. Chichen Itza
  27. Puerto Morelos
  28. Dune buggy adventure
  29. Akumal Beach
  30. Xcaret Park
  31. Skydive Playa

Are you planning a trip to Mexico?

We have lots more resources on travel in Mexico and destinations throughout the country. Check out our Ultimate Mexico Travel Guide for all the important travel information, or read some of our favorite articles below.

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Things to Do in Playa del Carmen | Two Wandering Soles

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Which of these things to do in Playa del Carmen is going straight to the top of your bucket list? Are you planning a trip to Playa del Carmen and still have questions? Drop us a note in the comment section below and we’ll do our best to get you the answers you’re looking for!

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