1: Cenote Diving/Snorkeling
What’s a cenote you ask? It’s an underground cave filled with fresh water. The Yucatan has tons of them — sinkholes that open up into underground rivers with the clearest water you’ve ever seen.
If you have your PADI license, you can go scuba diving in these caves with a guide. Because there’s daylight near the entrance a more technical cave diving license isn’t required.
Not a diver? No problem. You can also go snorkeling at most cenotes. Some good ones include Cenote Dos Ojos, Cenote Azul, Garden of Eden, Gran Cenote, and more.
2: Visit Mayan Ruins
The ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum are located South of Playa del Carmen in the town of Tulum. A must-visit if you’re in the area.
Tulum was once a small but important port city for the Mayans. Along with impressive structures on the edge of a cliff, it has a beach below where you can swim too.
Because Tulum is so popular, it can be crowded unless you arrive early in the morning. Coba is another Mayan site near Playa del Carmen which sees less visitors. You can still climb the pyramid there too.
Both sites are only a day trip away from Playa via ADO bus or colectivo taxi.
3: Coco Bongo Nightclub
Playa del Carmen’s nightlife is fun, but not quite as crazy as Cancun. It’s a smaller town. However it does have one special nightclub called Coco Bongo that I think is worth a visit.
Part Vegas show, part nightclub, and a bit cheesy — but it’s still one hell of a party.
You’ll see flying acrobats, blockbuster movie characters, and rock-star impersonators take the stage in turns throughout the night while you drink from a giant plastic cup full of alcohol.
Every ticket includes full open bar all night, so take plenty of photos because you probably won’t remember what happened the next day!
4: Swim With Sea Turtles
Who doesn’t want to swim with sea turtles? I’ve always wanted to, that’s for sure. I got my chance at Akumal beach, 30 minutes South of Playa del Carmen. The shallow blue-green water here is home to Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead sea turtles that you can swim with.
To visit Akumal, the cheapest way is to take a colectivo taxi headed for Tulum from the stand located on Calle 2 Norte between Avenida 15 and 20 in Playa del Carmen. Tell them you want to get off at Akumal.
From the highway, it’s a 5-minute walk to Akumal Bay. Bring your own snorkeling gear, life jacket (compulsory since 2017) or rent some there. Swimming with the turtles is free!
5: Boat Trip To Cozumel
Cozumel is a small island off the coast of Playa del Carmen known for it’s pristine beaches. An easy day trip is renting a scooter and driving it around the island where all the best beaches are. Or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can try hitchhiking around the island instead.
As long as there isn’t a cruise ship in port, you’ll have those white sand beaches to yourself. Plenty of stops on the way for lunch & photos. Jump on the last ferry back to Playa del Carmen around sunset.