Playa del Carmen
Day Trips from Playa del Carmen
Meeting place of turtles in the Riviera Maya, the bays and lagoons of Akumal south of Playa del Carmen become a nesting ground for loggerhead and green sea turtles every May to November. You can snorkel in Yal-ku lagoon, join the conservation effort by monitoring nesting sites, or just explore this up and coming resort town.
While this brashly Americanized city is dominated by mega-chain resorts and young (often drunk) spring break crowds, there's something to be said for Cancún – one of the world’s top tourist destinations. There are always countless new restaurants, clubs, activities, shops, and spas opening up, plus there’s the gorgeous silky sand beach. See our Cancún Travel Guide.
Mexico's largest, most impressive, and most heavily visited Mayan ruins are a common day trip from Playa del Carmen. The vast complex, surrounded by lush green jungle, holds pyramids, palaces, a ball court, and an observatory. Travel Yucatan operates buses from Playa del Carmen.
This barely-explored lakeside archaeological zone comprised one of the largest Mayan cities. From the pyramid’s tower you can see across miles of flat peninsula to other ruined towers in the distance. Travel Yucatan operates buses from Cancún and Playa del Carmen.
Just a 25 minute ferry ride away, the island of Cozumel awaits. It has loads of shops, buzzing restaurants, and bars, but the real draw are the Technicolor coral reefs that ring the island and make it a scuba-diver’s dream (it’s great for snorkeling too)! It’s lost some of its appeal thanks to the constant cruise traffic, but it’s a fine way to enjoy a day, especially if you time it when there isn’t a ship at port. See our Cozumel Travel Guide.
Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
The largest protected natural marine area in Mexico encompasses 1.3 million acres that have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whether you’re staying in a rustic cabin, kayaking through the mangroves, floating on inner tubes on Mayan built canals, or fly-fishing, you’ll come across rich bird life, crocodiles, and more than 100 mammal species.
Just an hour south of Playa del Carmen sits Tulum, one of Mexico's most famous ancient monuments. Set on a 40-foot cliff overlooking the Caribbean, the 60 or so well-preserved Mayan constructions date back more than a millennium. Travel Yucatan operates buses to/from Playa del Carmen.
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If you have an early flight, choose a hotel close to the airport the night before. Starting a trip on too little sleep is never fun.
Karen Dion Freelance Editor
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