Day Trips From Playa del Carmen
So you’ve been enjoying your beautiful beachfront condo in Playa del Carmen. Your vacation has been utterly relaxing. But now, do you feel like venturing out a little? You’d be amazed at the variety of sights you can see within easy distance of Playa! Here are some of my favorite day trips:
An easy day and always a crowd-pleaser is Akumal! It’s only about 25 minutes south of Playa. Snorkel with sea turtles & sting rays right off the beach! Even closer, the community of Puerto Aventuras is centered around an outdoor marine park and a 9-hole golf course. Pay to swim with the dolphins and manatees or just walk around the marina and enjoy the sights for free! Book an excursion on one of the yachts or catamarans! Be sure to grab some gelato while you explore the marina, or enjoy the live music at dusk. Mingle with the lively ex-pat scene at the fruit market on Wednesdays & Saturdays.
Puerto Morelos has some of the best SCUBA diving around (comparable to Akumal & Cozumel). The protected reserve ensures that the reef is in great condition. Enjoy quaint, premium-quality restaurants featuring fresh seafood, Eggs Benedict, Asian fusion, Argentinian & Mexican fare. This quiet, charming fishing village has retained its character despite the growth around it! *(30 minutes north of Playa)
Ready for a day that’s part adventure, part relaxation? I recommend visiting the Grand Cenote in the morning and then Tulum beach in the afternoon! Stunning shades of crystalline blue and sugary soft sand will melt your troubles away. (Click here to learn more about cenotes.)
Near Tulum, Casa Cenote is great for water activities—you can kayak, swim, and snorkel. It is one of the largest open cenotes in the area—as opposed to underground cenotes.
Xcacel or XpuHa beach makes for a memorable beach day! You’ll be blown away by the unbelievably perfect blue water and soft sand beach with sloping palms. Follow the jungle boardwalk to a small cenote (at Xcacel) for a cool freshwater dip! Both beaches provide big waves and beautiful vistas *(These are all less than 1 hour’s drive from Playa)
Feel like stepping back in time and visiting out a charming colonial city? Beautiful Valladolid is only 1 1/2 hours west of Playa. (This shorter travel time is thanks to the new highway. The old highway is scenic but you’ll have to slow down as you drive through several Mayan villages.) Dominating the main square, flanked by stately palm trees, is an enormous 16th-century cathedral. It’s absolutely picture perfect. Shop for local art and handicrafts at the market, have lunch at a quaint centuries-old inn, or check out some of the hundreds of surrounding freshwater cenotes.
Each archaeological site has its own highlights! Visitors can climb and explore all the structures in Ek Balam and Coba. Chichen Itza may seem cliché but its main pyramid is iconic for good reason! (It was recently recognized as a modern Wonder of the World.) Definitely hire a guide—it will make your visit that much more interesting. Try a refreshing dip in the gorgeous Ikkil Cenote nearby. It is easily the most impressive cenote I’ve ever seen! *(On the new highway, Chichen Itza is about 1½ hours from Playa)
Ride to most of these destinations in the comfort of an air-conditioned ADO bus. The station is on Juarez & 5th Ave; in the heart of downtown. Faster and more frequent vans (called Colectivos or Combis) can also take you where you want to go for just a few dollars!
Mix it up and try a little sightseeing beyond the city limits of Playa del Carmen. You’re staying in the perfect place!
Written by Kelly G.