Day Trips from Playa del Carmen & Riviera Maya Excursions

If you’re looking for the best day trips from Playa del Carmen you’ve come to the right place!

Playa del Carmen, Mexico is a top beach vacation destination for good reason. It offers a lively and beautiful beach, an incredible array of dining choices, a ton of fun bars and pubs, plenty of places to dance the night away and the opportunity to shop till you drop. But sometimes, you may need a break from all the excitement.

Luckily, Playa del Carmen also makes a great base for exploring all the amazing things there are to see and do in the Yucatan.

Are you craving a quiet paradise of silky white sand and turquoise seas? Or maybe you want to get your blood pumping with a day of adventure? Does the idea of swimming with tropical fish and sea turtles make you happy? Maybe stepping back in time to the land of the ancient Mayans excites you?

Whatever your thing, the Yucatan and Riviera Maya is sure to have it. Well, except for a big, busy city but that’s probably what you are escaping in the first place.

Day Trips from Playa del Carmen

We have spent several months living in, playing in and exploring this beautiful part of Mexico and have compiled a list of our favorite day trips and excursions from Playa del Carmen. Most of them can be done with public transit but we will also provide options for self-drive or tour if you prefer.

Akumal & Yal-Ku Lagoon

Excursions from Playa del Carmen AkumalPicture laying on a quiet, pristine, white sand beach while watching pelicans dive for fish in the turquoise sea. Then imagine walking into that warm water to go snorkeling with turtles. This is Akumal. If snorkeling in a lagoon teeming with colorful fish, stingrays and barracudas sounds like heaven to you then just a few minutes further down the road you will find Yal-Ku. Both make for a great choice of day trips from Playa del Carmen.

How to get there:

Akumal is 35km south of Playa del Carmen and can be easily reached by car or collectivo. You can find the collectivo vans lined up on Calle 2 between Avenidas 15 and 20. Just tell the driver to drop you at Akumal and you will then have to cross the overpass and walk about 10 minutes to the beach.


Sailing the Caribbean Sea

Excursions from Playa del Carmen catamaran tourIs there anything more relaxing than sailing on the Caribbean Sea? Imagine laying back on the deck of a luxury Catamaran with the sea spray to cool you, the wind in your hair and a margarita in hand. Does it get much better than that? Well if you enjoy snorkeling over coral reefs before eating a delicious meal it does. There are several sailing excursions from Playa del Carmen that include all you need for a rejuvenating day on the water. Definitely one of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen.

How to get there:

You can book a sailing trip through any travel agency in town but be sure you go with a reputable company as opposed to the many middle men lining 5th Avenue. We suggest PlayadelCarmen.com because they are local and have exceptional customer service meaning that they will be there for you should you need assistance with anything pre, during and post tour. They are also a full-service travel agency so they can even customize vacation details for you.


Tulum

Excursions from Playa del Carmen Tulum beachAlthough Tulum is no longer a secret it is still much quieter and far less developed than Playa del Carmen. The long stretch of picture-perfect beach still offers plenty of quiet spots to lay your blanket and hear nothing but the surf. There’s also plenty of wonderful places to eat and drink with a more relaxed vibe and noise level than the vibrant scene in Playa.

How to get there:

It’s easy to get to Tulum from Playa del Carmen by car, bus or collectivo.


Cenotes

Excursions from Playa del Carmen Car wash cenoteThe Yucatan Peninsula is full of water filled sink holes called cenotes, almost 3,000 in fact. Many of these natural swimming holes are easily reachable from Playa del Carmen and they make for a cooling and calming respite from the busy beaches. Each one is unique and beautiful so it’s worth visiting a few. Some are deep underground and are entered through caves, some have an opening at the top allowing sunlight to stream in and others you can step right into like a pond. Some of our favorite cenotes in Tulum and near Playa del Carmen are:

  • Car Wash
  • Azul
  • Dos Ojos

How to get there:

The best way to explore is with your own car as this allows you to go to some of the less visited, off the beaten path cenotes. However, if this isn’t possible there are tours that will take you to see 3 or 4 in a day.


Xpu-Ha

Excursions from Playa del Carmen Xpu-HaAlthough not quite the local secret it once was, Xpu-Ha (pronounced Shpoo-Ha) is still worlds away from the often crowded beaches of Playa del Carmen. You will not find large resorts and trendy restaurants here. Instead you will find the chilled out Playa Beach Club with chairs, hammocks and simple, good food and drink. Or just wander down the beach and find your own sandy sanctuary to throw down your blanket for the day.

How to get there:

You can take a collectivo from town and they will drop you near the entrance to Xpu-Ha which is just 3 minutes past Puerto Aventuras.


Isla Mujeres

Excursions from Playa del Carmen Isla MujeresJust eight miles across the Bahia de Mujeres from Cancun lies the small, dreamy Isla Mujeres. The influx of tourism has definitely changed this little fishing village but it still remains a charming and peaceful escape from busy Playa del Carmen. Rent a golf cart and tour the island or just relax on the beach and explore the nearby colorful streets.

How to get there:

You can take a taxi or bus to Cancun followed by a 20-minute ferry ride to the island or go by organized tour on a catamaran.


Xel-Ha

Excursions from Playa del Carmen Xel HaThis beautiful eco-rich aquatic theme park is one of the popular Xcaret parks and makes for a perfect day trip from Playa del Carmen. Xel-Ha is essentially a massive natural aquarium where fresh, crystal clear water from the underground rivers mixes with the warm, turquoise Caribbean Sea. This beautiful aquatic network of cool rivers and grottos, mystical cenotes and idyllic blue lagoons is brimming with sea life and has a multitude of water activities. The watery paradise is also surrounded by lush jungle containing nature and bike paths, adventure parks and children’s playgrounds plus plenty of hammocks and beach chairs to enjoy the wonderful array of food and drink.

To learn more about these adventure eco-parks you can click through to our Xcaret Review and Xel-Ha Review

How to get there:

Xel-Ha is an easy trip by car, bus or taxi but plan to get there early and spend all day. There is also the option to add transportation when you purchase tickets in advance.

Tip: Save money by booking online in advance and receive a discount

Xel-Há Park a great place for Snorkel, all you can eat & drink. A wonder of the world at Tulum, Riviera Maya.


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Cenotes in Yucatan

cenote dive

A road trip to exploring cenotes makes a great day or two away from busy Playa del Carmen. Read about Cenote Dzitnup and other beautiful cenotes on the Art of Scuba Diving.

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