22 Amazing Day Trips from Playa Del Carmen (for 2023)

by Bex

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The coastal town of Playa del Carmen is located in the luscious Caribbean Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. As well as being a popular spot for visitors due to its great nightlife and stunning white sand tropical beaches, the coral reefs and diving here are also spectacular.

There are lots of incredible things to do within Playa del Carmen itself, such as visiting the Los Fundadores park or browsing the shops on fifth avenue.

However, there are so many incredible places to discover across the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, it would be a real shame to visit the area without exploring more of what it has to offer.

In this guide to day trips from Playa Del Carmen, you’ll find a whole variety of options to suit every type of traveller. You’ll discover what to do, how to get there and everything you need to plan your day trip to enjoy every second of your adventure in Mexico. 

Table of Contents

Accommodation In Playa Del Carmen

1. Tulum

Why visit Tulum

The town of Tulum is a lot smaller and quieter than Playa Del Carmen, but it is packed with charm. 

The streets of the main town are lined with healthy juice bars, yoga studios and shops selling handmade crafts. 

The town has evolved to become a bohemian paradise. It’s easy to relax, and really learn how to slow down once you reach Tulum.

There are many fantastic reasons to take a day trip to Tulum, one of which is the famous beachside ruins of Tulum. These Mayan ruins are perched on a cliff top overlooking the sweeping white sand beach below.

These well-preserved ruins are open daily, between 8 am and 5 pm, to visitors looking to experience Mexico’s fantastic history. 

As well as the ruins, Tulum has a beach that is also well worth a visit for those looking to relax. 

Along the beachfront, you will find various beach bars offering great places to sit, have a drink, and let the world go by. 

On the outskirts of Tulum, you will also find some cenotes just waiting to be explored. Throughout the Yucatan peninsula, there are thousands of these freshwater sinkholes offering clear water, caves and fantastic scenery. 

Here are some of the best cenotes near Tulum, how much entrance costs and how to get there. 

Day trips from Playa Del Carmen Mexico

How to get to Tulum 

From Playa Del Carmen, it is easy to get to Tulum. You can take the ADO bus from Playa Del Carmen to Tulum, which will cost roughly 70 pesos each way. 

These buses are comfortable, often play movies and have much-needed air conditioning. These buses depart roughly every half an hour, but make sure to check the ADO website for updated information and stops. 

A more affordable transport option is Colectivos. Colectivos are a form of public transport used in Mexico. 

They are basically just stripped-down minivans that you call down from the side of the road. It will cost around 40 pesos per person to get a Collectivo to Tulum. To catch a collectivo to Tulum, you will need to go to Calle 2 between 15th and 20th Avenues. 

Once you get on, make sure you let the driver know where you are going as these buses make various stops along the way. 

2. Chichen Itza

Why visit Chichen Itza

If you take one tour whilst in Mexico, Chichen Itza should be top of your list. Chichen Itza is a Mayan Ruin complex located in the Yucatan peninsula. 

The main temple, known as El Castillo, is instantly recognisable, as it has somewhat become a symbol of Mexico. Here at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will discover 1,000 years of history. 

As one of the New 7th Wonders Of The World, seeing the ruins of Chichen Itza is prominent on many a visitor to Mexico’s bucket list.

 The good thing for you is the site is easily accessible from Playa Del Carmen. You can also choose whether you’d rather go it alone or take a tour of Chichen Itza from Playa Del Carmen.

Play Del Carmen Day Trips

How to get to Chichen Itza

To get to Chichen Itza from Playa Del Carmen, there is one ADO bus a day. It leaves at 8 am and takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes to get there – so it is a rather slow option. 

The one return bus a day then leaves Chichen Itza at 4:30 pm. The cost of the bus varies, but each way, expect to pay about 150-250 pesos. It is worth buying your ticket in advance, which you can do at any bus station, or here on the ADO website. 

Entrance to Chichen Itza costs 242 pesos per person.

In my opinion, the best way to visit Chichen Itza from Playa Del Carmen is with a tour. 

Not only will you get more for your money, but taking a tour is also more time efficient and convenient. Taking a tour also gives you the opportunity to add a visit to another nearby site. 

 

 

3. Swim in Cenotes In The Rivera Maya

Throughout the Rivera Maya, there are thousands of cenotes waiting to be explored. 

A cenote is a natural sinkhole, the exposes the groundwater underneath. Cenotes are beautiful, and each one looks different. 

Some are wide open and set in lush green jungle landscapes, overs are buried deep down within mysterious caves. Some even have super fun looking swings.

Here is a great blog post all about different cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, with even more information on what to expect from each location and how to get there. 

Best Cenotes yucatan

Best cenotes to visit from Playa Del Carmen 

There are many cenotes near Playa del Carmen, but here are some of the best cenotes in the area:

  1. Dos Ojos: One of the most famous cenotes in the Riviera Maya, known for its crystal clear water and unique rock formations. It’s located about 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen.
  2. Gran Cenote: A beautiful cenote with clear water, underwater caves, and a variety of fish and turtles. It’s located about 20 minutes outside of Tulum.
  3. Cenote Azul: A large cenote with clear water, a sandy bottom, and a variety of fish. It’s located about 15 minutes south of Playa del Carmen.
  4. Cenote Cristalino: A small cenote with crystal clear water and beautiful rock formations. It’s located about 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen.
  5. Suytun Cenote: A stunning cenote with clear water, stalactites, and a unique light beam effect. It’s located about 10 minutes outside of Valladolid.
  6. Ik Kil Cenote: A large cenote with clear water, a sandy bottom, and a beautiful waterfall. It’s located about 30 minutes outside of Chichen Itza.
  7. Cenote Tak Be Ha: A secluded cenote with clear water and beautiful underwater caves. It’s located about 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen.
  8. Cenote Jardin del Eden: A beautiful cenote with clear water, a sandy bottom, and a variety of fish. It’s located about 10 minutes outside of Puerto Aventuras.
  9. Cenote Xunaan-Ha: A small cenote with clear water and beautiful rock formations. It’s located about 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen.
  10. Casa Cenote: A long and narrow cenote with clear water and a variety of marine life. It’s located about 15 minutes south of Playa del Carmen.

cenotes near tulum and cenotes near playa del carmen. Cenotes in the yucatan mexico

4. Isla Mujeres 

Why Visit Isal Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is one of my favourite locations in the Yucatan peninsula and well worth a visit when in Playa Del Carnen. 

This vibrant Caribbean island is located off the coast of Cancun and is easily accessible by ferry.

Once on Isla Mujeres, there are some fantastic places to visit. My two highlights include the Tortugranja Turtle Sanctuary and the island’s best beach, Playa Norte. 

On a visit to Torujana Turtle Sanctuary, expect to see adorable baby turtles, as well as majestic adults. 

At the sanctuary, the conservation of sea turtles is paramount, and each year thousands of turtles are bred and released back into the world. (UPDATE: Sadly the turtle sanctuary is now closed.)

Playa Norte was by far one of my favourite beaches in Mexico. The stunning white sand, tropical palm trees and laid-back atmosphere made this a delightful place to relax and cool off after a long day of sightseeing. 

The beach is a lot less packed than the beaches you will find within Cancun.

There is a fantastic tour available from Playa Del Carmen, to Isla Mujeres. 

How to get to Isla Murjeres

Two ferries go to Isla Mujeres from Cancun. One option is the fast, but slightly more expensive ferry. 

This ferry departs from the Gran Puerto Cancun dock in Puerto Juarez. These ferries leave every 30 minutes, between 5m and 9:30 pm. 

The journey only takes 15 minutes and costs 160 pesos for a one-way ticket, or 300 pesos for a return. 

The other ferry option takes longer but is a lot cheaper. This is the car ferry that leaves from Punta Sam. The journey on this ferry takes roughly 45 minutes but costs 40 pesos.

5. Cancun

Why Visit Cancun

Cancun is a destination with a plethora of activities and attractions that will captivate you. If you enjoy the beach, you’ll be blown away by the powdery white sands and turquoise waters that stretch along the coastline. 

In the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, you can also participate in water sports such as parasailing, snorkelling, and scuba diving.

Playa Delfines is Cancun’s largest and most popular public beach. It’s easy to see why, with its gleaming blue water and blindingly white sand.

The city also has a wide range of culinary delights, from street food to high-end restaurants serving world-class cuisine. 

When the sun sets, Cancun comes alive with a thriving nightlife scene that includes everything from beach bars to nightclubs.

I stayed at the Nomads Boutique Hotel & Hostel in Cancun, and the atmosphere came alive at night! They also provided nightlife excursions to the well-known Cancun Party Zone.

Things to do in yucatan mexico

How to get to Cancun

It is relatively easy to get to Cancun from Playa del Carmen, and there are several transportation options available.

One of the most popular and cost-effective options is to take a bus from the ADO bus station in Playa del Carmen to Cancun. 

The trip takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, and the buses are comfortable, air-conditioned, and have free Wi-Fi.

You can also hire a private taxi or shuttle service, which is slightly more expensive but provides greater convenience and flexibility.

If you prefer to drive, you can rent a car here and drive the 68 km to Cancun.

 

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Discover the best day trips from Playa Del Carmen in Mexico, from ancient ruins to beautiful cenotes, this post covers everything you need to plan your best trip possible to the Yucatan, Mexico!

 

6. Cozumel

Why Visit Cozumel

The island of Cozumel is a fantastic day trip from Playa Del Carmen, partly due to its proximity to the city and how easy it is to get to. 

With its crystal-clear waters and colourful coral reefs, it’s like swimming in a real-life aquarium!

And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a friendly sea turtle or two. But that’s not all Cozumel has to offer.

Did you know that the island is home to a tequila factory where you can taste-test all kinds of tequila flavours?

The island is also home to a vibrant local culture with a rich history and tradition, which can be seen in the colourful architecture, local markets, and traditional food.

You can explore the island on a bicycle, but If you can I recommend you rent a car and drive around to discover its hidden gems, such as the Mayan ruins of San Gervasio, which offer a glimpse into the island’s ancient history.

Hire a Car on Cozumel

During my time in Playa Del Carmen, I made friends with a great bunch of fellow solo travellers in my hostel. 

We all chipped in and rented a car together, and took an epic road trip around Cozumel. Along the way, we stopped for fresh fish Tacos and swims in the crystal blue waters.

The island also has some beautiful beaches, such as Playa Palancar and Playa Mia, where you can relax and soak up the sun. 

Playa Mia is a beach park full of fantastic water activities, including a floating inflatable course. 

If you hire a car and explore the island, make sure you pay a visit to the Mayan ruins on the island, such as El Cedral, which was a temple to the fertility goddess. You can also relax at one of the island’s many beach clubs.

It’s easy to get a bad deal when hiring a car for Cozumel, so my advice is to shop around and book online in advance. I prefer to use the Rental Cars website to compare offers from different agencies. 

How To Get To Cozumel

From the centre of Playa Del Carmen, two ferries depart for the island of Cozumel regularly. The Winjet ferry takes 40 minutes. There is now also a luxury ferry run by Ultramar too. This ferry costs more, but it only takes 20 minutes.

6. Coba

Why visit Coba

Get lost in time visiting the Mayan ruins of Coba. Surrounded by a thick green jungle, this is one of the best archaeological sited throughout Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. 

What’s great about Coba is it is much less touristy than other archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza, which means you get such an authentic and incredible experience. 

Unlike at other Mayan sites, here you can even climb to the top of the largest pyramid, named Ixmoja. Once you reach the top you’ll be greeted with incredible jungle views stretching for miles and miles. 

In its heyday, the civilisation at Coba had a population of over 50,000. The city was eventually abanded after the Spanish conquered the Yucatan in roughly 1550 AD.

How to get to Coba 

Coba is about 90 minutes from Playa del Carmen and is accessible by the ADO bus. Once you arrive, I recommend renting an old bicycle for 45 pesos, which is a fantastic way to get around the site.

You can also take a guided tour of Coba from Playa del Carmen. 

7. Xcaret Park

Why Visit Xcaret Park

Embrace the natural beauty of the Rivera Maya area of Mexico at Xcaret Park. Here you can swim in underground rivers, view the stunning coral reef aquarium and refuel by eating some tasty Mexican cuisine. 

A highlight of your day will surely be zip-lining through the treetops of the Mayan jungle. 

You can book tickets to Xcaret Park here. 

There are over 40 attractions and activities at Xcaret Park, meaning a fun day out is almost guaranteed. Embrace the natural beauty of the Rivera Maya area of Mexico at Xcaret Park. 

Here you can swim in underground rivers, view the stunning coral reef aquarium and refuel by eating some tasty Mexican cuisine. There’s even an evening horse show spectacular. 

Things to do near playa del carmen

How to get to Xcaret Park

The park is only 4 miles from Playa del Carmen, making it easy to get to. From Playa del Carmen’s main bus station (5th Avenue) there is a bus to the park.

Check out this post from Travelling Canucks filled with helpful information about visiting Xcaret Park. 

8. Isla Holbox

Why Visit Isla Holbox

This one may be a little far out for to just spend a day, but It wouldn’t feel right not including it in this post. 

Isla Holbox was one of my favourite places I visited in the Yucatan. A tropical island with no cars, but plenty of white sand beaches. 

Ain’t that just the ticket to a good time!

On the island, you will have a chance to swim with incredible bioluminescent plankton, a truly wonderous experience.

There are also some great wildlife spotting areas on the island, perfect for fellow nature lovers out there. If you want to feel a bit more secluded and go somewhere a little more off the beaten path then Isla Holbox is for you. 

 

Day trips from Playa Del Carmen Mexico

How to get to Isla Holbox

Getting to Isla Holbox from Playa del Carmen is a bit of an adventure, but it’s well worth the effort! Saying that, If you can spend more time on Isla Holbox I recommend doing that.

First, you’ll need to take a bus or taxi to the town of Chiquila, which is the main departure point for the ferry to Isla Holbox. The journey takes approximately 2.5 hours, and again these ADO buses are comfortable, air-conditioned, and equipped with free Wi-Fi.

Alternatively, you can hire a private taxi or shuttle service, which is more convenient but also more expensive.

Once you reach Chiquila, you’ll need to take a ferry to Isla Holbox, which departs every half an hour or so.

The ferry ride takes approximately 20-30 minutes and offers stunning views of the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. The ferry costs around 220 Peso (approximately £10 or $12)

Once you arrive on Isla Holbox, you’ll find yourself in a paradise of white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a laid-back island vibe. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey to Isla Holbox!

You can also take a day tour to Isla Holbox which you can book here.

9. Puerto Morelos

Visit Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos is a lovely coastal town halfway between Playa del Carmen and Cancun.

It’s a hidden gem that combines natural beauty, cultural experiences, and tranquillity.

The town’s main draw is the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the world’s second-largest coral reef, which provides excellent snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities.

You can also visit the town’s traditional markets, sample delectable local cuisine, and walk along the beachfront promenade.

Puerto Morelos has managed to retain its authentic Mexican charm and is the ideal destination for visitors looking to escape the crowds and experience the Yucatan Peninsula at its most relaxed.

Day trips from Playa Del Carmen

How to get to Puerto Morelos

The trip from Playa del Carmen to Puerto Morelos is quick and straightforward. You can take a colectivo, which is a shared minibus that connects the two cities.

Colectivos are inexpensive and convenient, running every 15-20 minutes.

You can also take a taxi, which is more expensive but may be more handy. Depending on traffic, the journey takes between 30 and 40 minutes.

When you get in Puerto Morelos, you may walk around the town, rent a bicycle, or take a taxi to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef for some world-class snorkelling and diving.

10. Akumal

Why Visit Akumal

Ah, Akumal! This charming coastal town just south of Playa del Carmen is a hidden treasure that will steal your heart.

Akumal is well-known for its turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and abundance of marine life. In fact, the town’s name in Mayan means “place of the turtles,” and for good reason!

Visitors can snorkel and swim with these gentle giants in their natural habitat at several sea turtle nesting sites in Akumal.

It’s a one-of-a-kind and unforgettable experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

But that isn’t all Akumal has to offer. In addition, the town has some of the best snorkelling and diving spots on the Yucatan Peninsula.

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the world’s second-largest coral reef, is only a short distance from the shore and is home to a diverse array of marine life.

Akumal has something for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned diver or just starting out.

When you’re ready to get out of the water, the town’s restaurants and bars serve up delectable seafood and refreshing cocktails that will have you feeling like a true beach bum in no time.

Turtles Akumal Mexico

How to Get to Akumal From Playa Del Carmen

It is very simple and quick to go to Akumal from Playa del Carmen. Simply board a colectivo (shared minibus) travelling south towards Tulum and request that the driver drop you off at Akumal.

The trip takes about 30 minutes and only costs a few dollars. As you arrive at Akumal, you will be greeted by crystal-clear waters and soft sandy beaches, which are ideal for swimming and snorkelling with sea turtles.

So, grab your sunscreen and swimsuit and prepare for an exciting day in Akumal!

11. Rio Secreto

Why Visit Rio Secreto

If you enjoy nature, Rio Secreto is the ideal day trip for you. This underground river system, located just outside of Playa del Carmen, is a hidden treasure that will easily capture your heart.

You’ll be transported to another universe as you explore the meandering passageways and crystal-clear lakes, along with gorgeous rock formations and exotic animals.

It’s straight out of a fairy tale!

And the best part? Río Secreto is an eco-friendly attraction dedicated to conserving the area’s natural beauty. So you’ll not only be amazed by the scenery, but you’ll also be helping a good cause.

How to Get to Rio Secreto from Playa del Carmen

Getting to Rio Secreto from Playa del Carmen is easy and hassle-free.

You can book a tour with one of the area’s many tour companies, which will typically include transportation to and from the attraction as well as a guided tour of the underground river system.

For a more flexible schedule, you can hire a taxi or rent a car. Depending on traffic, the journey takes between 20 and 30 minutes.

And believe me, it’s well worth the trip! Rio Secreto is a true hidden treasure that will undoubtedly be the highlight of your visit to Mexico.

12. Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Why Visit Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

With over one million acres of protected territory and an astounding variety of flora and animals, Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a true natural wonderland.

If you’re searching for an off-the-beaten-path day adventure, Sian Ka’an is the place to go. Explore the huge marshes, mangroves, and ancient Mayan ruins that distinguish this reserve.

You might even see a jaguar or a manatee if you’re lucky! Sian Ka’an is a must-see for nature enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and anybody interested in experiencing Mexico’s natural splendour.

Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve Mexico

How to Get to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve from Playa del Carmen

The journey to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve from Playa del Carmen is a little more difficult than some of the other day trips on this list, but it’s well worth it.

Because the reserve is roughly two hours south of Playa del Carmen, you’ll need to schedule a trip or rent a car for the day.

The drive itself is breathtaking, taking you through tiny fishing communities and along the Caribbean Sea’s shoreline.

You can choose from a range of activities once you arrive, such as kayaking, snorkelling, or touring old Mayan ruins. Bring plenty of sunblock and bug repellent, as the reserve is truly wilderness.

Overall, Sian Ka’an is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not to be missed.

13. Ek Balam

Why Visit Ek Balam

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure that’s sure to leave a lasting impression, then a day trip to Ek Balam is an absolute must.

Ek Balam is an ancient Mayan city that was once home to thousands of people.

Today, visitors can explore the stunning ruins and learn about the fascinating history of this once-great civilization. But what really sets Ek Balam apart is its incredible art and architecture.

From the intricate carvings on the buildings to the stunning views from the top of the acropolis, Ek Balam is a true feast for the senses. If you’re looking for a day trip that’s equal parts adventure and education, then don’t miss Ek Balam.

How to Get to Ek Balam from Playa del Carmen

Traveling to Ek Balam from Playa del Carmen is relatively simple, however it does require some preparation.

The drive takes about two hours, and you have the option of renting a car or taking a guided tour.

If you take a tour, you will have the expertise of an experienced guide who will help you navigate the ruins and explain its historical and cultural significance.

If you decide to drive yourself, bring plenty of water and snacks because there aren’t many services along the way.

When you arrive, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views and an unparalleled insight into the Mayan civilization. So take your camera and prepare for an adventure you’ll never forget!

Or you can book a tour that includes Ek Balam here.

14. Xel-Ha

Why Visit Xel-Ha

From Playa del Carmen, a day trip to Xel-Ha is a must for any water enthusiast. Marine species as diverse as tropical fish, stingrays, and sea turtles call this natural aquarium home.

Park guests can spend the day in the water, either swimming, snorkelling, floating down the lazy river, or exploring the surrounding jungle.

Yet what really makes Xel-Ha stand out is the thrill of discovery and exploration it provides. Xel-Ha is the place to go if you need a shot of adrenaline because of all the exciting things you can do there, such as cliff leaping and ziplining.

Whether you’re visiting Xel-Ha by yourself, with friends, or a significant other, you’re in for an unforgettable experience. 

You can buy your Xel-Ha day pass here.

Xel-Ha Mexico things to do near playa del carmen

How to Get to Xel-Ha from Playa del Carmen

Several different modes of transportation make the trip from Playa del Carmen to Xel-Ha quick, simple, and stress-free.

A direct bus runs between the city and the park, or you may arrange a private shuttle. Another option is to rent a car and take a road trip along the stunning coastline.

As you get to Xel-Ha, you’ll see a breathtaking landscape that will take your breath away. Xel-Ha is an ideal day excursion from Playa del Carmen due to its beautiful seas, rich greenery, and thrilling activities.

Go in the water and prepare for a once-in-a-lifetime experience at one of Mexico’s most stunning and thrilling natural landmarks!

15. Playa Paraiso

Why Visit Playa Paraiso

Playa Paraiso is the place to go if you want to spend a day relaxing in paradise.

It should come as no surprise that this beach is a favourite of both locals and tourists alike given that it features crystal-clear turquoise waves and untouched white sand. Playa Paraiso is a beach that caters to everyone’s needs, so whether you’re in the mood to soak up some rays, go for a swim, or just take a stroll along the water’s edge, you’ll find enough to do there.

How to Get to Playa Paraiso 

Playa Paraiso is in Tulum, so add this on to your day trip to the area!

As mentioned previously in this post, the best way to get from Playa Del Carmen to Tulum is by taking the ADO bus.

This will take you to Tulum Centro, the central urbanised area of the town. From there you can either take a collective to the beach or hire a bike for the day and cycle.

I’ve done the bike ride from the centre of Tulum to the Beach. It was a lot of fun and the route is really easy and flat.

You also have the option of hiring a vehicle and driving down from Playa Del Carmen to Playa Paraiso.

As soon as you arrive, you will see that there is an abundance of beach chairs and umbrellas that can be rented, in addition to a choice of restaurants and bars that serve tasty food and drinks that are so refreshing.

16. Punta Laguna Nature Reserve

Why Visit Punta Laguna Nature Reserve

If you love nature and enjoy learning about wildlife, then Punta Laguna Natural Reserve is the perfect place to visit on a day trip from Playa Del Carmen.

This conservation area is home to a wide variety of animals, such as spider monkeys, howler monkeys, pumas, and jaguars. In addition, there is a breathtaking lagoon in the reserve that serves as a habitat for a number of different bird species.

It is the ideal location for getting away from the commotion of Playa del Carmen and losing oneself in the peace and quiet of the surrounding natural environment. 

The reserve is more off the beaten path than other tourist destinations in the area, making it even more special. 

If you want to explore the reserve, you will need to hire a local guide because the reserve is not open to the public without one. 

Why not combine a visit to Punta Laguna, Coba and a cenote swim all in one awesome day trip? 

Nature trip from Playa Del Carmen

 

 

Spider monkeys – picture from Punta Laguna Monkey Reserve

How to Get to Punta Laguna Nature Reserve from Playa del Carmen

The journey to the Punta Laguna Natural Reserve from Playa del Carmen can be a little bit difficult at times, but the rewards more than make up for the effort.

Because the reserve is situated around 50 miles (80 kilometres) to the south of Playa del Carmen, the most convenient method to get there is via your own vehicle.

17. Xpu-Ha Beach 

Why Visit Xpu-Ha Beach

If you’re searching for a remote and unspoiled beach away from the noise and bustle of tourist throngs, look no further than Xpu-Ha Beach. 

Xpu-Ha Beach, with its crystal-clear turquoise seas and white sandy beaches flanked by swaying palm palms, provides a serene sanctuary for those looking for a peaceful retreat.

The beach also offers a variety of water activities such as snorkelling, diving, and kayaking, making it a perfect destination for thrill seekers.

If relaxing is more your thing, there are a variety of beach clubs where you can grab a frozen margarita, rent a bed and let the stresses of everyday life float away.

The entrance fee for Playa Xpu Ha is $60 pesos about £2.50, or $3 USD per person, and the beach iis open from 10:00 AM–6:00 PM daily

day trip to Xpu-Ha Beach

How to Get to Xpu-Ha Beach from Playa del Carmen

Xpu-Ha Beach is about 30 minutes from Playa Del Carmen. Hiring a car and driving is probably the easiest way to get to Xpu-Ha Beach, but there are other options too.

For a great budget option, You can get to Playa Xpu Ha by taking a colectivo from Playa del Carmen.

This leaves from Avenida Juarez near the Chedraui grocery store in the centre of the town. This journey will cost around £2, or $2.50 each way.

18. Isla Contoy

Why Go to Isla Contoy

Seeking the perfect island getaway? Isla Contoy is the place to go on your day trip from Playa Del Carmen. Both beachgoers and lovers of nature must visit this tiny, unspoiled island.

In fact, the island is strictly limited to just 200 visitors a day to ensure the environment is preserved.

Isla Contoy is the ideal location to enjoy the beauty and serenity of nature. There is a splendid assortment of unusual fauna to spot, as well as sea turtles and birds – all just peacefully doing their thing.

Whilst on Isla Contoy you can spend the day just soaking up the sun, swimming in the clear waters, or for the more adventurous it’s the perfect opportunity to go hiking in nature.

isla contoy day trip

How to Get from Playa del Carmen to Isla Contoy

There is no way of reaching the island on your own, so to visit you will need to book a tour.

Here is a great tour that includes both Isla Contoy and Isla Murjeres 

19. Valladolid

Why go to Valladolid

Valladolid is a quaint colonial town that is frequently disregarded by visitors in favour of the close-by beaches, but it is worthwhile going because of its rich history and genuine Mexican culture.

Beautiful architecture, vivid street art, and delectable cuisine that highlight the flavours of the Yucatan Peninsula can all be found during your day in Valladolid.

Whether you’re strolling around the vibrant streets or seeing the magnificent San Gervasio Cathedral, it’s a terrific way to spend a day exploring.

The neighbouring cenotes, some of the most stunning in the area, should not be disregarded.

Valladolid Mexico Yucatan penisular

How to travel from Playa del Carmen to Valladolid

There are a few different methods to go from Playa del Carmen to Valladolid.

Take a bus or rent car, which will take about 2-3 hours, if you want a quick and direct choice.

Joining a guided tour, which frequently makes stops at additional attractions along the way, is another well-liked choice. Or, you may hire a car and take a leisurely drive across the countryside. It’s crucial to drive carefully and slowly because the roads might be congested and twisty.

20. Swimming Whale Sharks

Why Dive with whale sharks

From early June to mid-September whale sharks can be found in the temperate Caribbean waters surrounding the Yucatan penisular. One unforgettable day trip you can take from Playa Del Carmen is an excursion to swim with These majestic creatures. 

What is important to remember when it comes to any activities that involve animals is that you must research the companies to make sure they participate in ethical practices that do not harm the animals or the environments that they live in. 

yucatan peninsular whale shark swim

Tour 1: Swim with Whale Sharks from Playa del Carmen or Cancun

You can take an amazing Whale Shark tour from Playa Del Carmen, like this one here. This tour lasts between 8 and 9 hours and includes pick up from your hotel, lunch and snacks. During this day tour, you will have the opportunity to swim with whale sharks and you may even spot some dolphins, manta rays or turtles too. 

Tour 2: Whale Shark Tour Riviera Maya

This tour lasts 6-hours and also includes pick up from your hotel. Lunch and snacks are also included, and you will; eat on the lovely Playa Norte beach on Isla Mujeres. During the day you will snorkel with whale sharks in clear blue water. 

21. Have a jungle adventure

Escape the beach and city vibes for a day and get out into the wilds of the Mexican jungle. There are so many awesome tours on offer, each with different activities that are sure to appeal to nature lovers, adrenaline junkies and anyone adventurous.

I love this jungle zip-lining and horseback riding adventure, allowing you to explore the wilderness from the sky and by horseback. The day ends with a cooling swim in a cenote. 

If like me you are a bit of an adrenaline junkie, definitely check out this epic ATV, Zipline, & Cenote Combo Tour!

22. Get Qualified as a Scuba Diver 

Consider being certified as a scuba diver in Playa del Carmen if you’re searching for a fresh challenge to liven up your holiday.

You’ll not only have the chance to visit the renowned Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, but you’ll also learn a skill that you can use for the rest of your life. Nothing compares to the experience of breathing underwater and exploring a whole new world of marine life, I assure you!

Fortunately, there are many scuba diving schools close to Playa del Carmen that provide instruction for both beginning and experienced divers. The top choices include Phantom Divers, Dive Mike, and Scuba Playa.

From a one-day Explore Scuba Diving experience to a comprehensive PADI Open Water Diver certification, these schools offer a variety of courses.

You’ll also have the ideal training ground to learn the ins and outs of scuba diving with the magnificent Caribbean Sea right on your doorstep!

Diving in Yucatan Mexico

10 Budget-Friendly Tips for Your Playa Del Carmen Day Trip

Here are 10 of my top tips if you want to make your Playa Del Carmen Day Trips as budget-friendly as possible:

  1. Plan in advance: Research and plan your day trips ahead of time to take advantage of early booking discounts and promotions.

  2. Opt for public transportation: Instead of hiring private transportation, consider using public buses or colectivos (shared vans) to reach your day trip destinations. They are much more affordable than taxis or tours.

  3. Pack your own food and drinks: Save money by packing your own snacks, lunch, and beverages for the day. This way, you can avoid buying expensive meals at touristy locations.

  4. Choose free or low-cost attractions: Look for day trip destinations that offer free or low-cost entry fees, such as public beaches, parks, or natural attractions. 

  5. Share expenses with others: If you’re traveling with friends or other travelers, consider sharing the costs of transportation, food, and activities. This can significantly reduce your expenses.

  6. Take advantage of local deals and discounts: Keep an eye out for local promotions, discounts, or coupons available for day trips. Check online travel forums, social media groups, or local tourism websites for special offers.

  7. Look for combo packages: Some tour operators or attractions offer combo packages that include multiple activities or destinations at a discounted price. Look for these bundled deals to save money on day trips while maximising your experiences.

  8. Visit during off-peak seasons: Prices for accommodations, transportation, and activities tend to be lower during off-peak seasons. Plan your day trips accordingly to take advantage of the reduced rates.

  9. Take advantage of local markets: Instead of purchasing souvenirs or snacks at touristy areas, explore local markets in the destination you’re visiting during your day trip. These markets often offer more affordable prices, allowing you to experience the local culture and find unique items at a fraction of the cost.

  10. Explore nearby free attractions: Playa del Carmen itself offers several free attractions and points of interest. Take the opportunity to explore the local beaches, parks, street art, and cultural sites without spending extra money.

22 Amazing Day Trips from Playa Del Carmen (for 2023)

Thus, my dear travellers, that brings us to the end of our voyage through some of the top day excursions from Playa del Carmen in Mexico! 

This region has something for everyone, from the magnificent beaches of Tulum to the magical cenotes of Río Secreto. 

The alternatives are infinite, whether you want an adrenaline rush or a day of leisure. 

Not to mention the excellent food and drinks you’ll come across along the journey – your taste buds will thank you! 

So, take your sunscreen, and your camera, and prepare for an incredible journey in the stunning Riviera Maya. Travel safely!

Travel Planning Resources

Book A Flight

Ready to fly? This is what I use to find the cheapest flights. You can also join Jacks Flight Club to get the latest flight deals sent straight to your inbox.

Treat yourself to an Airport Lounge with Priority Pass

Rent A Car

Rental Car is a great site for comparing car prices to find a deal

Book Accommodation

Compare prices and book online with Booking.com

If you are on a budget, book hostels around the world here

Book Buses and Trains

Compare prices and book tickets easily with Bus Bud.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance. Protect yourself from possible injury and theft abroad.

Book Bucketlist Experiences

Use Get Your Guide to find and book the best experiences!

*Affiliate Link Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or book a service through these links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help support the blog and its content.

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