What are the “must do things” in Playa Del Carmen for vacation?

walking in Playa Del Carmen
Tourists walking on 5th Avenue at night where you can find many restaurants and shops.

Here are the must do things in Playa Del Carmen

If it is your first time visiting, here is our must do things in Playa Del Carmen for you! You don’t want to miss these things. These things are what make Playa Del Carmen so special. You will be kicking yourself if you miss these great things here. Lets start with the obvious, and move into some of the lesser known things to do.

#1 Must do things in Playa Del Carmen is the beach!

A city named after the beach (Playa – beach in English) must mean it is good. What started as a small fishing village with beautiful beaches has turned into a tourist hotspot. All of the downtown has access to the beach. The main pedestrian street parallels the beach and most of the time you are just steps away. Since most people stay in the downtown, your hotel is most likely just a few blocks from the beaches.

You can spend the day at one of the beach clubs or just take a towel and layout to soak up some sun and sights. There are also a few beachfront restaurants that you can enjoy while taking in the views.

must do things in Playa Del Carmen
The beach is definitely a must do thing in Playa Del Carmen. This is Mamitas Beach neat 28th Street.

#2 A must do things in Playa Del Carmen is walk 5th Avenue

Quinta Avenida or 5th Avenue as it is called in English is the main pedestrian street that parallels the ocean. It goes for about 24 blocks and  is lined with restaurants, shops and street entertainers. Both in the day and night, walking 5th Avenue gives you a different experience. The best time is after 5:00pm when the sun starts to go down and the energy is turned up on 5th Avenue. Restaurants get ready for the evening and shops and street performer all get ready to welcome tourists.

See our map below for details of stores and places of interest to visit.


#3 Eat Mexican food!

You are in Mexico after all, so enjoy some great Mexican food! This does not mean that all places will have a good sampling of Mexican cuisine. Many restaurants offer dumbed down versions of Mexican favorites. You can use this guide to the best Mexican restaurants though to get a true taste of Mexico while in Playa Del Carmen. You can enjoy simple tacos to higher end gourmet prepared Mexican food while in Playa Del Carmen. Best of all, due to the exchange rates, your meal will be a good value.

See also our guide to great cocktails in Playa Del Carmen. You can enjoy some great drinks including ones with Mexican spirits.

must do things Playa Del Carmen
One of the tantalizing dishes at Axiote Restaurant. This is a must do thing in Playa Del Carmen to try new foods and a true taste of Mexico.

#4 Enjoy a chic rooftop pool!

Playa Del Carmen is not just about the beach. It is a cosmopolitan city with options with a view. Get up above the city and enjoy views of the ocean all while listing to great music and having waiter service. Each rooftop pool has a little different vibe. We have this article here on the best rooftop pools to visit in Playa Del Carmen here.

These rooftop pools are open to the public and most have cocktail and food service. It can be a great way to spend a day or afternoon relaxing. No sand, just fun and relaxing in a more upscale atmosphere. The cost of most are equal to getting a chair at the beach.

must do things in playa del carmen
The rooftop pool at The Reef 28 Hotel in Playa.

#5 Visit a cenote

Cenotes are a natural formation that is pretty much unique to our part of the world. A cenote (pronounced “sea-no-teh”) is a natural water pool that has been carved out of the limestone base of the Yucatan Peninsula. Some of these are in caverns and others are open. The water is fresh water and no two are exactly alike. All of the ones mentioned in our guide are open for swimming. It is also very affordable to visit a cenote. Most cost about $5 USD to enter per person.

From Playa Del Carmen here are the best close cenotes to visit. These are close and fairly easy to get to by driving or taking the colectivos.

must do things playa del carmen
Cenote Yax Kin between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum.

#6 Spend a day at an eco park

There are some great “eco parks” that are nearby. You might wonder what is an “eco park”? These are not just natural parks. They are like a theme park which incorporate much of the nature into them. Each park is a little different and we recommend them all! Tip: See the links and articles for pre booking tickets to get the best price and save up to 15% off.

Xcaret Park

This is the largest of the parks and can be a very full day of exploration. Xcaret is a little hard to describe what it is. It has animals, an aquarium, beautiful rivers to swim in, shows, and Mexican culture. At the end of the day there is a two hour show with hundreds of performers. There is so much to do at this park that you can go several times and not see everything!

must do things playa del carmen

Xel Ha

Xel Ha is the park if you like water and snorkeling. This is an inlet connected to the ocean where you can swim in the calm waters and see a lot of tropical fish. At this park you get all you drinks and food included. For more about Xel Ha see our article and video below.


must do things playa del carmen

Xplor Park

This is the adventure and adrenaline park for the active people. There are two zip line routes to go on and more activities that will have you exploring nature and having a blast! This is a full day of adventure. Fore more about visiting Xplor and this must do thing in Playa Del Carmen, see our article and video here.

must do things playa del carmen

Xenses Park

Xenses Park is a half day visit that will play with your senses. It is all about exploring and having fun. This is a great park for kids since many things are fun for them. This can also be  good park to visit if you don’t want to be gone all day. For more about Xenses see our article and video here.

must do things playa del carmen

Xenotes Park

This eco park is great if you want to explore cenotes in a small group and have a nice experience in the jungle. This park has several cenotes that you visit and not just to swim. There are zip lines and rappelling to add to your adventure. This is nothing extreme and can be fun for all ages. See more about Xenotes here in our article.

must do things playa del carmen

#7 Take time to visit Mayan ruins in the area

For most people one of the must do things in Playa Del Carmen is a visit to a Mayan ruin. Chichen Itza is the most famous but there are a few others that are good to visit as well.

must do things playa del carmen
This is what everyone wants to see at Chichen Itza and one of the most popular day trips from Playa Del Carmen.

The main Mayan ruins that people visit from Playa Del Carmen are:

Chichen Itza. A new wonder of the world, these Mayan ruins attract thousands of people each day. You can drive here yourself or do what most people do, take a bus tour. Here are three tours that we recommend. Each article has an article and video of what to expect.

Ek Balam. These ruins are smaller but you can climb the main pyramid (temple) and there is a cenote here to visit. These ruins are just under two hours to visit from Playa Del Carmen. One tour that you might want to consider is this one.

Coba. These ruins are inland from Tulum and set in a dense forest. What makes a visit here special is the fact you can rent bikes and visit the different parts of this ancient city. Here are two tours to look at if you want to visit Coba.

Tulum. These are the iconic Mayan ruins overlooking the turquoise waters. These ruins are very easy to get to from Playa Del Carmen and points in the Riviera Maya. Walking around does not take that long since it is a smaller area of ruins. Most just come for the photo ops and views. Here is one tour to consider if you want to visit here.

We hope you have enjoyed this guide to the must do things in Playa Del Carmen. For more Playa Del Carmen guides, see our complete list here. If you have any questions or comments, let us know below. 

must do things playa del carmen

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  1. Very nice information about Playa Del Carmen. We have been twice before but always looking for things to do around the area. We love your website.

  2. All great tips! We are looking forward to our trip to Playa del Carmen and have been pouring over your website for info. Thanks for all your help.

  3. Playa del Carmen is amazing! Great tips! I really enjoyed the cenotes, especially diving in the Pit, and diving with bull Shark with DIVE-X

  4. Wonderful info. We love walking 5th Avenue in the morning s for coffee and watching people run and then at night for all the action.

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