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25 Fun Day Trips & Excursions from Playa del Carmen

Planning a trip to Playa? With its super strategic location, there are tons to do in and around! Check out these excursions from Playa del Carmen to enjoy the best of the area.

Sophisticated and vibrant, Playa del Carmen has become the heart of the Mayan Riviera. There are so many things to do in Playa del Carmen!

Playa has virtually everything you could wish for in a Yucatan city: stunning beaches, jungle, culture, nightlife, excellent gastronomy, and shopping. But on top of that, it’s set in a magnificent location that makes it an ideal getaway to explore the area.

Image of a couple on the beach in Playa del Carmen, inserted in a post about the best excursion from Playa del Carmen.

I recently went back to Playa del Carmen for a while and revisited some of my favorite attractions around Playa del Carmen, as well as went on a few day trips to places I had never visited.

There are virtually dozens of excursions from Playa del Carmen and around to keep you hooked for weeks. It’ll make you want to come back, you’ll see!

In any case, I have put together this guide with the best Playa del Carmen excursions to make it easier for you to plan your next vacation. 

All the tours I recommend here are by Viator and Get Your Guide, two companies I trust, and which have excellent cancellation policies—not a minor thing. If you book a tour with either of them and in the end you can’t make it, you’ll receive a full refund if you cancel at least 24 hours before the start of the booking. 


Take a Day Trip to Tulum 

Tulum has become an undisputed gem in the Mayan Riviera. At first, it was the powdery beaches and low-key living that attracted tourists.

Now it’s a full combo that includes a foodie scene to die for, a chic bohemian vibe, appealing beach bars, and options to fit all budgets, just to name a few. Of course, this is on top of the spectacular Tulum beaches and nature around.

The most scenic Mayan ruins in Riviera Maya are also located here: the Tulum Archeological Site.

Perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, the Tulum ruins will cast a spell on you with their breathtaking views and fascinating history.

This ancient city was built as a fortress to protect the area from invasions, so you’ll see the thick walls surrounding it on three sides, and its main pyramid was in fact a lighthouse. These Mayan ruins are irresistible, and, luckily, there are many Tulum excursions from Playa del Carmen!

➤ The 3-in-1 Discovery Combo Tour is one of the best Tulum tours from Playa del Carmen. Visit the beautiful Tulum Archeological Site, with its spectacular views over the Caribbean; go snorkeling on a coral reef; and finish the day cooling off at a cenote and taking a jungle walk. Lunch and round transportation are included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Swim in Cenotes near Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is in a strategic location to go on a cenote spree. Because let’s face it, you can never visit enough cenotes in Playa del Carmen – once you’ve tried one, you’ll want more! 

Cenote Jardin del Eden, for example, honors its name with paradise-worthy surroundings full of vegetation. It’s also only 20 minutes from Playa del Carmen and you can easily get there by colectivo. It’s an open cenote with very clear water, so it’s great for snorkeling!

Cenote Cristalino means “crystal-clear” in Spanish, so you can imagine what awaits here. This is considered one of the most beautiful cenotes around Playa del Carmen, with dreamy clear waters to swim, and not as crowded as other more popular cenotes. It’s also easy to get to, so it’s a win from every angle!

Completing the trifecta, there’s Cenote Azul, which stands out for its bright turquoise waters. This is one of the biggest cenotes in Mexico, and has both shallow and deep areas, so it’s great for the whole family. 

These 3 cenotes are all close to each other and in a very practical location between Tulum and Playa. They make for a fantastic day trip! If you’re a cenote junkie like me, these Playa del Carmen tours to see cenotes will lighten your mood for sure.

➤ This Cenotes Oasis Maya Tour is a full-day cenote adventure where you’ll get to kayak through underground caverns, snorkel in subterranean aquatic habitats, float on the azure water on inner tubes, rappel down rock walls in a semi-open cenote, and zipline over an ancient cenote. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ This Private Tour to The Best Cenotes takes you to 3 different cenotes in a day. First, you’ll get to swim in a big open cenote, followed by an excursion to snorkel on a cave cenote, and ending the day on a high note by visiting the beautiful Cenote Dos Ojos park. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Cenotes at Casa Tortuga is a half-day trip that enables you to swim in 4 different cenotes in one single place. You’ll also get to snorkel with the equipment provided, and enjoy lunch. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Go on an Adventure Tour from Playa del Carmen

With so much nature around, you can imagine that the Riviera Maya is like a theme park for adventures. From Playa del Carmen, adventure tours depart in all directions to take you deep into the jungle, exploring caves, flying above the trees, and a lot more. 

Check out these excursions near Playa del Carmen for adrenaline lovers.

➤ This Playa del Carmen jungle tour is pure adrenaline. It includes an ATV Tour, Ziplines, and a Cenote Swim. In this action-packed excursion you’ll get to ride an ATV through the Mayan rainforest, cool off at a cenote, and then fly among the tree-tops to get your blood pumping! ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ Go off-road with this Jungle Buggy Tour from Playa del Carmen, where the action starts by riding a buggy through the rainforest and to some of the most scenic parts of Playa del Carmen. Then wash off by swimming at an underground cenote, before heading to an authentic Mayan village to end your adventure. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ With the Selvatica Park Ziplines & Cenote Tour you’ll soar over the jungle on 10 different zip lines. You’ll also take a dip in a cenote, enjoy the bungee swing, ropes course, and rollercoaster. Finish the day driving your own ATV through the park. You can’t say it isn’t one of the most thrilling excursions in Playa del Carmen! ➥ BOOK IT HERE

👉 Not what you’re looking for? I’ve written two posts about the best Playa del Carmen ATV tours and the best zipline tours from Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen. Check them out!

Visit the Chichen Itza Ruins

No trip to Yucatan is complete without a visit to Chichen Itza, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, nothing less.

Chichen Itza was the most important cultural and political center for centuries before the Spaniards arrived, and the site is nothing short of breathtaking. Today, Chichen Itza receives millions of visitors every year.

Woman standing in front of the pyramid in Chichen Itza, one of the best day trip from Playa del Carmen.

Combining a visit to Chichen Itza with the experience of swimming in cenotes and a stroll around Valladolid is one of the very best day trips from Playa del Carmen.

You can get to from Playa del Carmen to Chichen Itza on your own, or you can join a tour. Your choice!

➤ The Chichen Itza, Cenote & Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour checks all the boxes by taking you on a guided tour of Chichen Itza, followed by a visit to the colonial city of Valladolid. After a busy day exploring, you’ll get to jump in the waters of a refreshing cenote and enjoy a delicious buffet meal. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ The Chichen Itza Early Access Tour allows you to visit the ruins first thing in the morning, before any other tourists arrive. You’ll also visit Ek Balam archaeological site and get to cool off in a cenote. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ This Chichen Itza Private Tour with Sacred Cenote is also a great alternative. Shake off the heat at a cenote after a historical visit to Chichen Itza, and tour around the city of Valladolid. This private tour from Playa del Carmen is a personalized experience with your own private guide and transport. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

👉 Check out more tours in this post about the best Chichen Itza tours from Playa del Carmen.

Go on a Snorkeling Tour from Playa del Carmen 

Playa del Carmen and the beautiful Riviera Maya are world-class destinations for activities such as snorkeling and diving. With coral reefs along the coast, the Caribbean Sea is teeming with the most extraordinary and varied marine life, including sea turtles, dolphins, manta rays, and even whale sharks.

From Playa del Carmen, snorkeling tours abound and take you not only to the sea but also to discover the underwater world of the cenotes, which are unique spots to explore a different type of flora and fauna in settings that you won’t find easily in other parts of the world.

➤ This Sea Turtle and Cenote Snorkeling Tour is the quintessential Yucatan water experience. First, you’ll go looking for sea turtles and tropical fish in the Caribbean Sea, and then you’ll head to an extensive underground river system in the rainforest to swim and snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of a cenote. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Magical Cenote and Paradise Lagoon is one of the greatest Playa del Carmen snorkeling excursions. It allows you to discover the underwater world of a cenote with underground rivers, and a lagoon that combines fresh and seawater. A professional guide will accompany you, and you’ll be provided with all the equipment. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Spend the Day at Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Sian Ka’an is a pristine ecosystem south of Playa del Carmen, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and covering an area of over 2007 square miles (5,200 square km) between land and sea.

This Biosphere Reserve is home to a large diversity of flora and fauna, and offers amazing attractions that will enable you to enjoy this natural gem to the fullest. I think it’s one of the ultimate attractions in the Riviera Maya, and highly recommend checking out the best tours to Sian Ka’an from Playa del Carmen to explore the region with a knowledgeable guide.

➤ This Sian Ka’an Adventure is a full-day tour from Playa del Carmen that takes you snorkeling in the Mesoamerican Reef, cruising across Boca Paila Lagoon to see the manatees, bird-spotting, and enjoying a boat tour around the reserve. You’ll also have lunch and enjoy free time in Punta Allen. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Visit One (or More!) of the Xcaret Parks

Xcaret is a set of huge adventure and nature parks along the Riviera Maya with more than 40 activities on the sea, jungle, and rivers. They make for a super fun time for everyone, no matter your age. The parks also offer shows that showcase the cultural traditions of this part of Mexico.

Xcaret has underground rivers, the Caribbean Sea, and Mexican culture all in a single park. It includes more than 50 natural and cultural activities and attractions.

You’ll get to snorkel in cenotes, follow a rainforest trail to Mayan ruins tucked deep in the jungle, and you’ll get access to some very cool shows. Especially the 2-hour night show about the history and traditions of Mexico, which is a must-see!

▶️ Xplor is a great option for adrenaline junkies. This park is all about zip lining above the treetops, rafting through caves, driving ATVs through the thick jungle, going on underground expeditions, and swimming in subterranean rivers. Xplor is sure to get your blood pumping!

▶️ Xplor Fuego is within Xplor’s grounds but with a twist: adventure here takes place at night. This means that you’ll be ziplining under the stars, rafting through dark, stalactite-filled caves, and driving amphibious vehicles in the thick darkness of the jungle guided only by your headlights.

After a night like this, you’ll surely have the best night’s sleep of your life.

▶️ Xel-Ha is all about water: waterslides, snorkeling on inlets that flow into the Caribbean Sea, jumping into the water from 5 meters high, tubing on the river, cooling off at cenotes and coves… that and more you’ll find in Xel-Ha. There are also many activities in the jungle, of course! 

The Xcaret Parks will keep you hooked for days! Luckily, there are many Xcaret excursions from Playa del Carmen. Check them out.

➤ With this Xcaret Park Entry Ticket with Night Show, you’ll have access to a ton of activities, such as swimming in cenotes and caves, visiting a coral reef aquarium, and visiting the Art Museum. You’ll also get to watch the musical show in Mexico, inspired by the country’s history and featuring over 300 artists. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ The Xplor Park All-inclusive Ticket gets you full-day access to all of the theme park’s attractions. You’ll get to fly over the treetops, drive amphibious vehicles through the jungle, and swim in underground rivers, among many other adventures. Transportation to the park is included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ For a special nature experience, check out this Xel-Há Park All-Inclusive 1-Day Pass. Xel-Há Park is dedicated to the preservation of flora and fauna, and this pass gives you access to all the activities, such as snorkeling, playing in the lazy river and water slides, cycling through the jungle, and swinging from a vine (Tarzan style) into a cenote. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ Fun at Xcaret goes on all day and part of the night too. Nighttime Xplor Fuego Adventure Park takes you to fly over the treetops, explore jungle paths and subterranean caves, and drive an amphibious vehicle through the jungle after the sun goes down. Roundtrip transport is included! ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ This Combo Tour offers priority access to two Xcaret Parks, which you’ll get to choose out of four. Transfers, food, and equipment is included, and you’ll get to enjoy all the activities at your selected parks. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Swim in an Underground River

Image of a girl smiling in an underground river at Rio Secreto, one of the best excursions from Playa del Carmen

Rio Secreto is an astounding underground river usually referred to as the crystal museum. This is due to the immense amount of stalactites and stalagmites that cover the caves, and which add a unique charm to the attraction.

Believed to have been the location of Mayan rituals back in the day, today it’s enjoyed by people from all over who marvel at the impressive site. When visiting , you’ll get to swim in the river, and meet the small animals that inhabit the cave system, which include bats and catfish.

➤ The Rio Secreto Nature Reserve is a trip that departs from Playa del Carmen, and takes you to explore this fantastic underground river. You’ll be provided with all the equipment, and afterward indulge in a buffet lunch. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Rio Secreto Plus is a half-day excursion that includes the attraction’s admission ticket, transfers, and activities. You’ll get to hike and bike in the reserve, swim in the river, and enjoy a lights show inside the cave. You’ll get to feast on a buffet lunch afterward. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Go on a Boat Tour from Playa del Carmen

One could say that of Playa del Carmen’s main attractions, fifty percent are on land, and the other half on water. It’s right on the shores of the Caribbean Sea after all, and the pristine beaches, lively coral reefs, and gorgeous islands are a very strong reason why people visit.

Playa del Carmen catamaran and boat trips, therefore, are very popular (and recommended!) They’re a fantastic way to get a new perspective on Playa’s coastline. Besides, you’ll get to snorkel in prime locations, visit the stunning islands, and swim in crystal-clear waters while spotting sea life.

➤ This Riviera Maya Luxury Catamaran takes you along the coastline on a half-day trip. It includes snorkeling stops at a reef, stand-up paddleboarding, lunch, and an open bar. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ The Private Catamaran Tour from Playa del Carmen is a 5-hour sailing trip for you and your group. You’ll enjoy an open bar onboard, snorkel along a reef, and if you’re into fishing, you’ll get to eat your catch of the day. It’s one of the only Playa del Carmen fishing trips you’ll find! ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Visit the Coba Ruins 

Yucatan is internationally known for its Mayan sites and visiting at least one of these ancient cities is a must when you’re here. The cool thing is that they’re all quite different from each other, so you can visit several at a time, and never get tired!

The Coba Ruins are one of the most impressive of the ancient Mayan cities, and they are a great alternative to the more crowded Chichen Itza. Plus here you get to climb a Mayan pyramid, which is strictly forbidden in most sites. It’s also super easy to reach Coba on a tour from Playa del Carmen!

Coba Ruins, Cho Ha Cenote, and Tulum Tour is a small-group excursion that combines a visit to the archeological sites at Coba and Tulum with a refreshing dip in a cenote. A bilingual guide will accompany you to explain everything about these mysterious Mayan cities. BOOK IT HERE

Swim Responsibly with Whale Sharks

The waters of the Mayan Riviera offer a unique opportunity to see and swim with whale sharks, the world’s largest fish. Every year from May to September, hundreds of whale sharks visit the waters of the northern Yucatan peninsula and delight tourists with their gentle personalities.

However, whale sharks are an endangered species, so it’s crucial that you pick a responsible tour operator that genuinely cares about the protection of the fish and the marine environment as a whole. 

Note: whale shark season runs from May to September, but you have better chances of spotting many of them between June and August.

➤ I wrote a whole post about the best whale shark tours, but this is one of the best tours from Playa del Carmen: an Eco-Friendly Whale Sharks Tour led by an expert guide. On this trip, you’ll get to swim with these gentle giants while also looking out for dolphins, manta rays, and turtles.

Then you’ll enjoy lunch on the boat off the coast of Isla Mujeres, on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. BOOK IT HERE

Go on a Day Trip to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen

When it comes to Playa del Carmen day tours, Cozumel is one of the top destinations. The island is gorgeous, and besides boasting white-sand beaches and being a hotspot for diving, it offers astounding snorkeling possibilities.

To get from to Cozumel, you’ll need to take the ferry. The Ferry Terminal is located in Av. Benito Juárez 239, merely two blocks from 5th Avenue. There you’ll board either an Ultramar or a Winjet ferry, both of which take around 40 minutes to complete the journey.

Tickets cost 500 Pesos ($25) at the time of writing. You can find the timetable and more info on how to get to the island in the post I wrote about getting from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel.

You can otherwise join a tour. The island is so big that, if you plan to visit on your own, you’ll need to plan in advance where you want to go and how! If you decide to go with a tour instead, below you’ll find the best options.

➤ The Private Jeep Excursion picks you up at the ferry terminal in Cozumel, and takes you on a day of exploration. You’ll learn about the Mayan history of the island, swim and snorkel at the beach, and design your tour to include other activities like shopping or horseback riding. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ This Cozumel Snorkeling Tour takes you to two different reefs, and a beach inhabited by gorgeous starfish. You’ll get to snorkel in these stunning locations, led by your guide. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ This Catamaran + Snorkel Experience takes place in El Cielo, where you’ll swim among starfish. You’ll also sail around the island, and enjoy stops at gorgeous reefs for snorkeling. Drinks, lunch, and access to a beach club are included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Rainy Day? Take a Cooking Class

Days in the Mayan Riviera are usually warm and sunny, but even paradise has rainy days. Especially in the summer, there can be some rain, mainly in the form of showers. If this happens, don’t worry. Mexico is much more than beaches and jungle.

Mexican cuisine is famous around the world for a reason! I know, you know, everyone knows that you’re going to miss those delicious tacos and quesadillas when you’re back home, are you not? Why not learn how to make them yourself so you can soothe the craving?

➤ This Mexican Cooking class and Local Markets Tour is a great plan for a rainy day. You will meet with a local to hit the shops and spice markets to get the ingredients you will need for the meal. Then take part in a hands-on cooking class, and (the best part) enjoy the dishes you’ve prepared at the end! ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Join an Isla Mujeres Tour from Playa del Carmen

Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the coast of Cancun, is the kind of place you probably think about when you think about a Caribbean vacation. The fine, white-sand beaches lined with palm trees are perfect to relax and enjoy the low-key vibe of island life

This tropical paradise has tons of opportunities for snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and hiking, and it’s full of inviting rustic bars and restaurants. With only 7 km from north to south, Isla Mujeres can be covered in one day, and many people visit it from Cancun or Playa del Carmen on day trips.

➤This Beach Escape to Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres is pure island bliss and will take you snorkeling in a coral reef, watching the birds in a nature sanctuary, and give you time to enjoy the beach and wander around the historical center of Isla Mujeres. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Go on a Local Walking Food Tour

How about letting someone else do the cooking this time? Mexican cuisine is mouth-watering, and there are some dishes you cannot leave the city without trying. Some of these include tacos (of course! If they’re Al Pastor even better), enchiladas, pozole, tostadas, and tamales.

➤ Get an insider’s glimpse into Playa’s food scene on this Local Walking Food Tour. A local guide will take you off the beaten path to get a comprehensive introduction to Mexican cuisine and discover lesser-known Mexican specialties. Eat where the locals eat and explore the city on foot to discover another side of Playa del Carmen. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Check Out a Cirque du Soleil Show 

Playa del Carmen is no stranger to fancy restaurants and amazing night shows. The city’s nightlife is one of its charms. Among some of the amazing cultural attractions around is Cirque du Soleil’s show.

➤ With these Cirque du Soleil® JOYÀ Admission Tickets you can have a fine dining experience while enjoying a show that draws on the heritage and history of Mexico, presented in an intimate dinner theater in the jungle of the Riviera Maya. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Explore Holbox for One Day

This small island off the coast of Cancun is the epitome of serenity and worry-free living. Imagine a slow-paced island with no cars or roads, white sand beaches framed by palm trees, a lagoon with flamingos, and happy days spent chilling in a hammock, drink in hand. This is Holbox.

Holbox is still one of the best-kept secrets in the Riviera Maya, and I certainly hope it stays that way, since it’s the lack of crowds and touristic developments that makes Holbox so special.

However, more and more people are visiting every year, so, just in case, I recommend you check it out right now. You can go there on a day trip, although it will be a long day. I recomemnd spending more days there if you can!

You can get from Playa del Carmen to Holbox on your own, but it will be almost impossible to do it on a day trip. If a day is all you have, I HIGHLY recommend joining a tour like this one below.

➤ This Holbox Island Day Tour is among the best Playa del Carmen boat tours. You’ll get to spend the day exploring the quiet beaches of Holbox, surrounded by amazing natural views and crystal water. You’ll also visit the pristine beaches at Isla Pasion, and swim in a natural pool. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Try Diving in Playa del Carmen 

Playa del Carmen and the Mayan Riviera are great places to try diving for the first time. The coral reef system along the coast guarantees an amazing and colorful experience to see tropical fish and marine life!

➤ With this Scuba Diving Course, you’ll learn the basics of dive theory and technique, and practice your skills in a pool before diving at two different locations on Playa del Carmen’s gorgeous coral reef system. It includes all the necessary equipment. ➥ BOOK IT HERE


How do you get from Playa del Carmen to Isla Mujeres?

Isla Mujeres is off the coast of Cancun, so to get there from Playa del Carmen you’ll first have to make your way to Cancun. From there, catch the ferry to the island.

Is a day trip to Isla Mujeres worth it?

Absolutely! Isla Mujeres is a gorgeous destination, and a day trip is the perfect amount of time to explore it and relax on its white-sand beaches.

How far is Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen?

Chichen Itza is almost 115 miles from Playa del Carmen, and the drive there takes around 2.5 hours.

How long is the boat ride from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel?

The ferry trip to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen takes around 40 minutes.

What is the best month to go to Playa del Carmen?

December through April is the best season to visit Playa del Carmen in terms of weather. If you also want to avoid the crowds, April is probably the month when there are fewer (during the high season!)

  • Stefania Guglielmi

    Stefania Guglielmi is the founder of Every Steph. Originally from Bologna, Italy, she's been traveling full-time since 2016 and has visited over 50 countries across 6 continents. She believes sustainable travel and luxury travel can go hand in hand and has been advocating for responsible tourism since 2014. Stefania's advice and travel experiences have been featured in important publications such as Business Insider, Refinery29, and Yahoo Money.

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