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Summer | © Adamkontor / Pixabay
Summer | © Adamkontor / Pixabay
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The Best Day Trips from Playa del Carmen

Picture of Mónica Ramírez López
Updated: 6 July 2017
When planning your vacation to Playa del Carmen, keep in mind the other travel destinations that surround it. Carve out some time in your agenda to dedicate a couple days – at least – to exploring beyond Playa’s beaches. From scuba diving to theme parks and idyllic cenotes, there’s a day trip for all tastes. Take a gander at the following list of the best day trips you can take from Playa del Carmen.

Cancun

This is a day trip you just can’t miss, is a landmark of the Riviera Maya and a must-visit when visiting Playa del Carmen. Take a bus from the station at 5th Avenue (Quinta Avenida) and you’ll be there in 40 minutes. In Cancun, make your way to Playa Delfines, a beach with a “Cancun Spot,” so shoot a selfie and drink a refreshing piña colada on the beach or terrace; it’s an excellent way to start your day trip. There’s so much to do: take a boat tour through the mangroves of the Nichupté lagoon, enjoy the city, visit downtown, and have lunch in a market to immerse yourself in the local folklore. In the afternoon and into sunset time, enjoy a breathtaking view of Cancun from the sky in the Scenic Tower located in El Embarcadero. You might want to visit the Island Mall for a dinner at the shore of the Nichupté lagoon. At night, hit the nightclubs along Kukulcan Avenue.

Theme Parks

Make some time in the agenda for a complete day at one of the theme parks around Playa del Carmen. There’s a wide range of choices: from natural aquariums, to zoos and jungle adventures, Xel Ha and Xcaret are good options for swimming and chilling out in rivers, sinkholes, and beach, while Xplor and Selvática offer thrilling adventures in the Mayan jungle. If you want to immerse yourself in a natural landscape to snorkel and fly in a tirolesa, Xenotes Park is a good spot. As a versatile destination, even zoos have places where you can swim, so if that sounds like something you might like, try Bel Air Animal Park, it has exotic animals and more. For rainy days, Xenses is the place to go.

Xcaret, Federal Highway Chetúmal-Puerto Juárez Km 282, Solidaridad, Playa del Carmen, Q.R., México

Xel-Há, Federal Highway Chetumal Puerto Juárez Km 240, Q. R., México

Selvatica, Ruta de los cenotes Km 18, Federal Highway Puerto Morelos – Leona Vicario, Puerto Morelos, Q.R., México

Selvática, Theme Park
Selvática, Theme Park | © ~Ealasaid~ / Flickr
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Tulum

This is another must-visit place during your holidays in Playa del Carmen. Tulum, an important merchant harbor, lighthouse, and worship center, is located on the shores of a beautiful beach. You’ll love the encounter with the Mayan culture while feeling the fresh breeze of the sea. Admire the rock paintings, check out the temples, and pause for a moment to enjoy the breathtaking view. When you plan to visit Tulum, take a picnic basket, grab a couple of towels, suntan lotion, and get ready for a beach day beneath the archaeological zone. Paradise, as it’s called, describes exactly what you’ll find in the clear crystal waters of this beach.

Archaeological Zone of Tulum, Federal Highway Chetumal & Cancún, Tulum, Q.R. México, + 52 (0)1 984 802 5405

Cenotes and Underground Rivers

There are more than 2,500 cenotes (sinkholes) in Mexico’s Yucatan. Close to Playa del Carmen, you’ll find the Cenotes Route, which is a path in the jungle with both underground and open-air sinkholes (called cenotes by the locals) where you can swim, snorkel, and dive. Though they’re in the jungle, they’re safe places that sometimes include ziplines and even rappelling. Some of them also include bathrooms, restaurants, and services for your comfort. The cenotes closer to Playa del Carmen are Cenote Azul and Dos Ojos. The underground river, Río Secreto, is an incomparable experience where you’ll have to descend 25 km in caves to get to the secret amazing river.

Río Secreto, Federal Highway Chetumal–Puerto Juárez Km. 283.5, Ejido Sur, Playa del Carmen, Q.R. México

La Ruta De Los Cenotes, Leona Vicario, Puerto Morelos, Q.R., México

Cenote Majestuoso
Cenote Majestuoso | © jhovani_serralta / Pixabay
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Cozumel

Located right across from Playa del Carmen, this is the third biggest Island in Mexico. Cozumel possesses great natural wealth; its coral reefs are a paradise for scuba diving lovers. The activities you can do on a trip to such a stunning place includes snorkeling or diving in the crystal waters of the Chankanaab Park or National Park Palancar. Take a tour around the island; the main spots are the Malecón, which is downtown, where you will find the Isla Museum, restaurants, boutiques, and store to buy souvenirs. Take your date to this romantic island and walk around the silent beaches and enjoy the sunset of the Mexican Caribbean.

Chankanaab Park, Carretera Costera Sur Km. 9, Cozumel, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., México

Playa Palancar, Carretera costera sur km. 19.5, Zona Hotelera Sur, Cozumel, Q.R., México

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Mayan villages in Cobá

The tours to the archaeological site Cobá allow for a closer experience with Mayan culture: visit the archaeological site on a guided tour and follow the path to a Mayan village, where they offer typical Mayan gastronomy, theatrical performances with stories about their ancient civilization, and an artisan workshop. And if you want adventure, take time to do some rappelling, admire the jungle landscape from a zip line, or swim in the fresh waters of a cenote.

Zona Arqueológica Cobá, Carretera Federal 307 Cancún-Chetumal, Cobá, Q.R., México

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Isla Holbox

Holbox is a calm island only 42 km. long; because of its remote location, only small groups of tourists visit it, which makes possible to maintain a peaceful atmosphere. If you want to connect with nature and de-stress, this is the day trip for you. Holbox is home to flamingos, pelicans, and other exotic birds. If you go by yourself, take a bus to Chiquila and then take the ferry – in 30 minutes, you’ll be there. What type of activities can you expect? There’s a little island called Isla Pajaros, which is a bird sanctuary, only 30 min. by boat. Visit the sinkhole Yalahau and take time to go downtown to eat and check out the workshops of the musical instrument mandolin, and the handmade hammock factory. End your day with a tasty drink, chilling out on the sandy beach under the Caribbean sunshine.

Isla Holbox, Q.R., México