What To Do In Playa del Carmen When Not Snorkelling Or Diving
Playa del Carmen is renowned for its underground water-filled caves and crystal clear waters where you can snorkel and dive to your hearts content. But this popular tourist destination has so much more to offer – from the picturesque golf courses to the large outdoor eco-parks – here are some things to do in Playa del Carmen when not snorkelling or diving…
There are lots of different beaches along the front – and all of them are free. The beach in front of Parque Fundadores has great access from the centre with small restaurants and beach bars nearby and a wide beach suitable for volley ball or football. The centre beach has clubs, beach beds, and services, and there are beautiful sands on the harder to access Canibal Royal – stretching north of 48h St. you’ll need to bring your own refreshments as the beach in front of the club is almost washed away.
The Playacar is a public beach which provides rare shade – this beach is located in front of a private development. The water is great for swimming and the beach provides a place for sports including kite surfing. There aren’t any facilities so you need to bring your own food and drink. The number one beach is Mamitas located at Calle 28 – this beach has two large beach clubs, services, and restaurants. You can rent jet skis, catamarans, banana boats and go parasailing.
La Quinta also known as 5th Avenue is the main walking street – lined with shops, beach bars, and restaurants. The streets of cobble stones are home to craft shops, jewellery stores, and gift and clothing shops. Boutiques, tobacco shops, and the Dive Shop Mexico are also located here. Shopping malls provide other options for clothes and entertainment on a rainy day.
There are also many local stores with local owners who produce their own creations – you’ll find unique designs with Mexican motifs suitable for souvenirs. Local art walks found every Thursday evening have small stands set up in the middle of the pedestrian walkway giving you the opportunity to buy works, paintings, and photographs.
Mexican food in the Yucatan is both cheap and delicious – authentic tacos are served in El Fogon alongside massive margaritas. Alux is a restaurant built inside an underground cavern more than 10,000 years old – with Mexican contemporary and International cuisine served in stunning scenery, and a wide range of original entertainment.
The Secret River
Located on the Yucatan peninsula is an underground secret river with a collection of caves – visitors can swim in the bright turquoise water and enjoy the natural beauty of the rock formations which feature stalactites and stalagmites. Rio Secreto is about six miles south of Playa del Carmen – and is noted as being one of the great world wonders with its myriad geological formations.
You can take a 45 minute ferry ride to Cozumel – a small island off the coast. You’ll be able to rent a scooter and drive around the island – or try hitchhiking instead. The last ferry back is around sunset. You can snorkel and swim at the beach here as well as making the most of popular tours available on this beautiful island.
When you’re looking for what to do in Playa del Carmen why not ride a Colectivo? These group taxis cruise down the streets picking up locals for really cheap fares. The destinations are written on the windscreen – and you need to tell the driver where you’re going, so make a plan before you get on board!
The golf courses are not only picturesque they’re very challenging – the most popular courses being Golf Club Playacar, the Grand Coral Golf Riviera Maya, and El Camaleon Mayakoba Golf Club. Green fees vary but specials and packages will save on rates.
Golf Club Playacar has well-maintained grounds, a tough layout, and exemplary service. Grand Coral is beautifully designed but needs a bit of improvement – shown in the fair fees, and the gem of a PGA course with well-manicured greens is El Camaleon Mayakoba.
Parque Fundadores or Founding Fathers Park has added entertaining attractions – in the afternoon and evenings Mayan dancers put on a free show under the Portal Maya statue. Paplanta dancers perform around the tall pole in the centre of the park – and there’s a children’s play area.
Xcaret water based activity park is a great option for all the family just an hour away. A day out includes zip-lining through the trees, crossing rope bridges, floating through underwater caves, and rock formation studies. Look out for the aviary, dolphin aquarium, turtle sanctuary, and excursions offering stingray encounters and shark swims.
Coralina Daylight Club draws on inspiration from Las Vegas pool parties and Ibiza beach ragers – an opportunity for travellers who want to party to listen to music and day drink in the heart of the town. There are several pools here, and direct beach access – as well as private cabana areas and a restaurant with seating. There are entrances from the beach and 26th Street, and depending when you go there may be a cover charge.
Coco Bongo Nightclub in Cancun is well worth a visit – you’ll get to see flying acrobats and blockbuster movie characters as well as rock star impersonators taking the stage throughout the night. Every ticket purchased includes full open bar all night.
The ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum are located south of Playa del Carmen – a reminder of the people who lived here before. There are two areas where you can find them right in the centre of Playa del Carmen – they’re actually hidden from view. There are multiple small Mayan structures along the beachfront area where you can simply ask the security officer if you can drive in., or you can just walk to see the first ruins that have a stunning beach view.
The next set is just a three minute drive down the main road across the street from the Fisherman’s Village Hotel. In the town centre there’s a small building between the beach and 5th Avenue – this ruin is tucked in the middle of the block. If you prefer to take a day tour you can explore the magical ruins of Chichen Itza where an expert tour guide will unlock the mysteries of the ancient Mayan world – and after your tour you can go for a refreshing swim in a cenote.
Snorkelling and Scuba Diving
Scuba diving in Playa del Carmen is a must! Renowned as offering some of the best diving spots in the Western hemisphere you can’t leave without taking a dip under the sea to explore. One of the best cenotes is Cenote Dos Ojos reached by car or taxi. You’ll be able to hire diving gear to be able to see the marine life clearly.
If you prefer to snorkel in Playa del Carmen you can try out the crystal clear waters of the Cenote Cristalino which has a rock overhang from which you can jump into the waters below. If you need to get skills required to safely enjoy exploring the underwater universe, then instructors from Koox Diving will guide you through.