Beyond the pristine beaches and stunning theme parks, Playa del Carmen is a tourist destination where many people live unique experiences that stay with them forever. Here are 15 such experiences you can enjoy on your visit.
Living a Mayan Adventure
Wanting to immerse yourself in a world of fantasy for a couple hours and live a Mayan adventure in Playa del Carmen? There’s a theme park that makes it possible: Anomalia. Play a live interactive escape game where you have to go through different rooms trying to find hidden clues and solving puzzles to find the way to escape. The rooms are amazingly decorated with a realistic design. When you arrive, the staff give you instructions and rules of the game, keeping an eye on you and your friends to check that everything is going well. The puzzles are difficult enough to challenge you, but at the same time, aren’t too complicated in a way that frustrates you. Fun is guaranteed.
Imagine cooking recipes from the Mayan tradition, using the methods of a mystical culture, evoking emotions through smells and tastes that date back centuries. The Cooking School El Pueblito, located in the heart of Mayakoba resort gives visitors the chance to do exactly that. As part of the classes, the school takes students to the main Mayan communities to learn the traditions and customs of the community. The chef teaches the Mayan cooking techniques and receipts like ‘Cochinita Pibil in Pib’, ‘black stuffing’, handmade tortillas, and the use of the traditional metate.
Just a few minutes from downtown, there’s a place in the jungle home to stunning sinkholes, what Mayans thought, was the way to the underworld. Unlike the creepy scenery we could imagine, these sinkholes are beautiful and peaceful wonders of crystal clear water. Descending the cenote by rappel or stairs if you feel more comfortable, is part of the experience. Snorkel or dive, watching the stalactites and stalagmites through the clear waters.
The Aktun Chen cavern, which means ‘cave with a sinkhole’, is in the top 10 best underground walks of the world, by National Geographic. Walk through a system of caves dating back five million of years. A specialised guide will accompany you and enchant you with stories and legends of this mystic place. Once you pass tho 600m of rock formations, you’ll reach the dazzling crystal waters of a cenote. A shiny ceiling of stalactites and stalagmites will make you feel you are standing in an underground cathedral. Make sure you are not claustrophobic, as the walk takes one and a half hours. These caves are located in an eco-park that bears the same name and in addition to this amazing experience, you can admire the 15 species rescued from extinction and fly in one of the 10 zip lines through the jungle.
Dive in the longest underground river of the world
Diving is amazing, but diving in the longest underground river of the world, is something else. Under the land of the state of Quintana Roo there’s a water system formed by underground rivers and sinkholes. Sac Actun river is 155km long, and was discovered only 10 years ago. Since then, it has been the favorite destination for cave diving aficionados. More treasures and discoveries are expected by specialists, so diving here involves the excitement of knowing you can discover something new and could change history. If you are not a diver but still would like to know the place, take a swimming or snorkeling tour.
When visiting cenotes, swimming is not the only thing you can do. With a jungle adventure, you have the opportunity to put a bit more fun in and not only admire the turquoise waters. Some cenotes have zip lines, letting you have a breathtaking overview of the Mayan jungle. The flight ends up with a jump into the fresh waters of the cenote, locals call it “Verde Lucero”.
Learn Latin Spanish while visiting the Riviera Maya
In a stunning territory like Playa del Carmen, learning becomes as fun as every other activity you do. Some resorts will offer basic Spanish lessons in the pool or the snack area, teaching slang expressions that will help you during your holiday in Mexico, like ordering your meal, asking for a beer, locations, etc. But there’s another option, the perfect excuse for a trip to the Mexican Caribbean: Language schools. Playalingua is one school offering short courses and tours to the different tourist spots in Playa del Carmen, including ocean diving. They also organize salsa dancing and Mexican cooking classes, Mayan Art and culture lectures of Mexican History. Another school is International House, offering intensive courses, combining classes with recreational activities like Mexican cooking, latin dances, Mexican Culture, scuba diving, and even specialized Spanish for business and doctors.
This is another way to get to know the nightlife in Playa del Carmen. Take a ‘beercicleta’ (beer-bike) tour and pedal around the nightclubs while drinking a Mexican beer. When tourists go on bar tours, they normally have to walk, but here, you pedal instead, and continue drinking and having lots of laughs with music and animation. The ride takes you to three bars and restaurants, a good way to support ecology and make new friends on your first night.
Ride in a colectivo
The ‘colectivo’ is a Van you share with other unknown people who are trying to travel to the same place or a point before. Unlike other countries, where the bus leaves at a specific time, the colectivo will leave when it is full (every five or 15 minutes), and the passengers can go out wherever they need to. This is a good, inexpensive option to get to Tulum. To pick one up head for Street 2 North and the Avenue 20.
VIP Nightclubs tour
Dance the night away at three of Playa del Carmen’s swankiest bars and clubs on a VIP nightclub tour of the town. Enjoy an exclusive experience of Playa del Carmen’s famous nightlife as you sip unlimited drinks in bustling beach bars and cosmopolitan clubs with a lively guide. Slink past velvet ropes as you skip long lines, allowing more time for drinking and dancing to prominent Mexican DJs.
Walking culinary tour in downtown playa del Carmen
Get beyond the tourist restaurants on a three-hour culinary walking tour of Playa del Carmen. From panuchos to cochinita pibil, food from Yucatán has arrived on the international scene in recent years, and you’ll try food and drinks that highlight local flavors. Taste a variety of sauces—Yucatec chefs top their cuisine with refreshing, mild flavor to fiercely hot salsa made with habaneros—and find out which ones you prefer.
Enjoy trolling or bottom fishing off the coast of the Riviera Maya in Mexico from Puerto Aventuras marina. You can see sailfish, blue marlin, white marlin, dorado, wahoo and tuna only half a mile from shore. If trolling is slow you can bottom fish for snapper and grouper. You’ll be accompanied by an experienced crew and all equipment and licenses are included. You can choose from full day to half day tours and soft drinks are provided. Lunch is included on the full day trip.
Private Luxury Boat Tour
Spend some hours relaxing, swimming and snorkeling in the beautiful waters of Puerto Aventuras. Drinks and a light meal will be served on board. You will cruise out of the Puerto Aventuras Marina and head north for about an hour to the sheltered In Ha reef where calm, crystal clear water offers you a great spot to snorkel with turtles and colorful, tropical fish while your on board bartender serves snacks, Mexican beer, bottled water, and other refreshments. Or you can ask for a refreshingly cold margarita! At this point you may opt to enjoy a delicious and freshly made shrimp and fish ceviche in the flybridge lounge area.
Salsa dancing and mojito drinking at "la bodeguita del medio"
Salsa dancing and mojito drinking at “la bodeguita del medio”
A branch of a popular Cuban restaurant which was founded in 1942, La Bodeguita del Medio is small, simple and a hit with anyone who visits. The bar is a special draw with lively waiters pushing signature mojitos along free salsa lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8pm. Graffiti is encouraged so that you can “leave your mark” before moving on to the buzzing dancefloor.
Bric Spa specializes in using ancient techniques straight from the Mayan culture, and have created a truly unique massage menu. Indulge in a Mayan herbal massage, rejuvenate with a Shirodhara head massage or work out all those stubborn knots with a traditional deep tissue massage. All their products are 100% natural and they even infuse the oil with fresh herbs picked from their very own herb garden.