Playa del Carmen Travel Guide

If you’re looking for a beachy Caribbean getaway at a reasonable price, consider booking a trip to Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.  As a resort town that has overtaken what was once a small fishing village, Playa has a lot to offer, no matter the type of trip you’re looking for.  I’ve put a few ideas together for different types of vacations and activities in and around Playa for anyone, from thrill-seekers to beachfront Caribbean loungers!

I made the trip during April, and let me tell ya, that is the absolute perfect time to go! It’s warm enough to wear your summer gear, but the heat and humidity aren’t sweltering. No matter when you actually decide to book your tickets, here are some recommendations to help plan your dream vacay:

The Adventurer

If you’re looking for some spectacular views, outdoor excitement, or something new to throw you out of your comfort zone, the Yucatan has what you’re looking for!  Explore the lush forests by taking a zip line tour through the Mayan Jungle. While waiting to fly through the trees from platform to platform, be sure to look around – on a sunny, clear day, you can see for miles above the ancient trees.


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The cenotes are a must-see natural wonder that are really worth taking in. Cenotes are underground, water-filled caves. With this explanation, it sounds like something out of a horror film, but as a common natural feature throughout this part of the world, Mexican tour companies have lit the caves and have transformed a terrifying idea into a beautiful adventure destination for people to enjoy. Many tour companies will allow you to repel from high above the tree tops to the water’s edge where you can climb into the crystal clear waters for a dip in the ancient and beautiful abyss.  I really wish I had a photo to share, but the ole’ GoPro battery died before I made it into the chilly water. Doh!

While we’re on the topic of water, definitely try to make some time for sailing. (The day after the cenote adventure, after a full night of charging, the GoPro was back in action and ready for a sail!) Renting a boat is very reasonably priced, so be sure to pick up a few beers, bring your sunglasses, and hold on tight, or you’ll end up filming yourself slipping off the side of the boat after hitting the perfect wave just right…..thus the shot below of my feet flying up….

It’s kinda tough to be too embarrassed in Mexico. Worth it!


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The Family-Friendly Adventure

Tulum is a site that is sure to wow travelers of all ages! The coastal Mayan ruins won’t fail to impress. And then there’s that drop off of over 40 feet to the Caribbean Sea. Beeeautiful!  The local guides will tell you all about the ancient city’s history, with a moderate amount of walking (all of the major sites are within a very short radius, with paths leading to views of the sea that extend a bit further). The site is very well preserved, has an incredible history and provides breathtaking views.  If you’re lucky, you may even see some of the huge lizards that call the cliffs home.

Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and wear those swimsuits. There are stairs from the ruins leading down to a small beach where you can cool off in the brilliant blue waters of the Caribbean.


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The Party Animal

One of my fondest memories of Playa is a day dedicated to doing nothing.  I woke up, spent the early morning lounging around in the hammock on the front porch of our villa, listening to the waves of the sea just over the trees.

As the day warmed up, we strolled down to the beachfront chairs with grass umbrellas. Soaking in the sun, I was very busy slurping down boozy frozen drinks from about 10:00am (best way to start a sunny sandy day!). As the alcohol started to kick in around lunch time, after the steel drum band kicked off their set, and after a few refreshing cool-down dips in the sea, we walked up to the food hut just behind our beach chairs. The smell of freshly grilled fish and steak kebabs were killing me, so it was finally time to indulge. And oh boy, was it good!

The rest of the day kept this tempo. Water. Sun. Sand. Delicious fresh fare. Bottomless boozy refreshments. This is the perfect way to prepare for a night out in the downtown area. Just be sure to put on plenty of sunscreen before drifting away on your nap in the sun….


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While all-inclusive resorts can be a worry-free paradise, keep in mind that you’re paying for your food, drinks, and other perks available during the stay; so if you want to take advantage of day trips and other activities around the area, an all-inclusive may not be for you. Instead, think about staying at Riviera Maya Suites. We had a fantastic experience there. You can get a very affordably priced grass-roof villa with hammocks on the porch. You’ll feel like you’re hidden deep inside of the Mayan Jungle, but you’re really only a 10 minute stroll to the beach. It’s cheaper than the all-inclusive resorts and you won’t feel as guilty taking a day trip zip-lining through the jungle, exploring ancient ruins or enjoying the city’s nightlife. And the tacos! Get out and eat some tacos people! So. Good.

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