Make This Year Your Best To Date With Bric’s Guide To Adventure in Playa del Carmen
Engaging in new activities adds a fresh element and interrupts the dullness that can infiltrate everyday life. Even something as small as eating at an off-the-beaten-path restaurant can revive a stale schedule. Indeed, out-of-the-ordinary adventures will result in a wealth of brand-new awareness. From boosts in our confidence and zest for life to broadened horizons, life is meant to be an adventure!
With this in mind, we’ve created a list of 11 ways you can inject a little adventure into a Playa del Carmen vacation. Some may require you to take a step or two out of your comfort zone. But we’re willing to bet you’ll be glad you did!
Scuba Diving With Bull Sharks
As far as adventures go, there is no greater adrenaline-pumping endeavor than a bull shark dive off Playa del Carmen’s magnificent coastline. Coming close enough to reach out and touch a shark is not on everyone’s bucket list. Whereas the exhilarating experience leaves others both fascinated and speechless.
These formidable marine animals have endured for 400 million years. In recent decades, they’ve become reality TV sensations. The accommodating predators kindly allow divers and scientists alike into their “homes” to film and see how they live. Each November, Playa del Carmen’s shallow, warm waters attract pregnant female bull sharks who come to give birth.
Although bull sharks are said to be one of the most aggressive of marine species, shark attacks in the area are a rarity. Consequently, thousands of adventurists have enjoyed the thrilling privilege of observing the majestic creatures throughout the years.
Meet Dracula’s Mexican Cousins In Rio Secreto
If traveling all the way to Transylvania to meet Dracula sounds excessive, don’t worry, Rio Secreto has the next best thing— and more! Wandering through the centuries-old caves (part of the world’s largest underground river system) seeing a bat is inevitable. The nature reserve offers guided tours with minimal impact on the environment, exemplifying responsible tourism.
Truly a scene right out of a National Geographic documentary, the enthusiastic staff leads you on an otherworldly expedition through stretches of breathtaking caves. Along with incredible wildlife, you’ll see impressive stalagmites and stalactites. The formations grow at a rate of less than an inch every 100 years. Thus giving you an idea of how ancient these picturesque caverns are. Since this Riviera Maya activity is an excellent excursion idea rain or shine, book online at least 7 days ahead and save up to 30%.
Snorkel With Turtles and Manta Rays In Akumal Bay
This snorkeling adventure is great for kids and adults. You have the opportunity to swim along sea turtles just off the shore of Akumal Bay. The green sea turtle and loggerheads come to munch on the sea grass about a hundred yards into the bay. Swimming with them in the clear, shallow waters of the reef is as if you’re in a giant aquarium. The experience is rare and magical one. The tour is about 1 hour and you can expect to see turtles, the coral reef, vibrant marine life, as well as manta rays. There is no boat required as you can walk from the shore.
Located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, the road to the bay is littered with “tour operators.” Continue on to the beach area to can find a guide to take you out. The cost averages about $200 MXN or under $10 USD per person. Plus sanitized snorkel equipment is available for rent. If you’re traveling with younger children, note that there is a mild current near the reef. Children 10 and under would benefit from a guide who is equipped with flotation devices and lifesavers.
Kite Surf At El Cuyo
This little up-and-coming diamond in the rough is in the Yucatan near the border of Quintana Roo. The beaches remain quite rustic. However more and more hotels, villas, and restaurants are being constructed to accommodate the growing number of visitors. Due to the absence of ATMs, it’s important to bring pesos to enjoy the beach town’s fresh seafood and Yucatecan fare.
Approximately 2 hours northwest of Playa del Carmen, it is becoming popular for its relatively undisturbed beauty and relaxed pace. The daily breezes off the Gulf of Mexico blow at an average of 18-23 knots. For this reason, El Cuyo and its jade waters are an ideal setting for kitesurfing and boarding.
Whether a beginner or enthusiast, the shallow waters and uncongested beaches present optimal kite surf conditions. Typically, the best time to go February through May when the thermal winds are optimal.
For decades, this sequestered fisherman’s village has persisted as a low-key, peaceful paradise. Situated within a considerable ecological reserve, it is a sanctuary for pink flamingos. El Cuyo is an excellent overnight road trip from Playa del Carmen for anyone who loves adventure and nature.
Spy On Crocodiles At Night In Rio Lagartos
Not far from El Cuyo is Rio Lagartos, a second notable point of interest belonging to the massive 603 square kilometer biosphere. This protected wetland is home to over 500 bird species including pelicans and herons. Plus, the swampy waters and mangrove forests provide a prime shelter for crab and fish, a desirable food source for crocodiles.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, there is a night tour that embarks from the Ria Maya restaurant at sunset. Begin the evening with a delightful seafood dinner as you soak in the outstanding views of the sun setting over the lagoon. At dark, their prime feeding time, you’ll set off for a once-in-a-lifetime journey in search of the Morelet and American crocodiles.
Experienced guides lure the nature reserve’s most intimidating, yet remarkable residents within a few feet of your boat. Under a blanket of stars, in the stillness of the night, you’ll be surrounded by the symphony of fascinating fauna. It’s a rare encounter with nature that few have the opportunity to witness.
Swim With Whale Sharks
While diving with bull sharks is an extraordinary thing to do in Playa del Carmen, swimming with whale sharks is let’s just say, a more family-friendly experience. The season in Quintana Roo begins at the end of May to the beginning of October.
To swim alongside the biggest creatures of the sea can be intimidating. In fact, they can weigh up to 20 tonnes or 3 and a half times the weight of an elephant! But don’t be afraid as they approach with their jaws open wide. Humans do not please their palettes. They come to the area following their main food source— plankton. It’s hard to believe the miniscule plankton are enough to feed these gentle giants of the sea.
Tours take place off the shores of Isla Mujeres (consistently on lists for the world’s best beaches) or near the enchanting island of Holbox.
Explore Underwater Cathedrals During A Cave Dive
Sure there are plenty of exceptional scuba diving locations around the world. But unlike other destinations, in the Riviera Maya you can dive in caves showcasing formations created from prehistoric coral reefs. These limestone formations appear as sentinels, which have guarded the Yucatan Peninsula’s cenotes for tens of thousands of years.
Certified instructors lead you through majestic underwater passageways. Since the underground river is fed by both rain and sea water, the sea water, being more dense, sits on the cenote floor. There you can discover many treasures including eels, fish, crabs, and fossils.
This unique diving experience is offered to those who have been certified at the Intro to Cave Diving level or who have full Cave Diving Certification. As the Mexican Caribbean bursts with extraordinary dive sites, there are a ton of dive shops in the Riviera Maya to consider. Two reputable ones in Playa del Carmen are Pro Dive Mexico and Scuba Playa.
Skydiving Over The Caribbean
Photo by Skydive Playa in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
What better way to take in the exotic beauty of the region than from a bird’s eye view? If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of leaping from a plane, Playa del Carmen is the place to do it! Skydive Playa, the highly-rated, and most established agency operating in the city, offers a highlight-of-your-life experience.
Glide amongst vast blue skies with the best jaw-dropping views one could possibly hope for. You’ll become mesmerized as you embody a seagull, soaring over the turquoise sea towards Playa’s world-famous white sands.
With over 25 years of experience, the team at Skydive Playa holds top spot for safety records in the entire country. So as the saying goes, ‘You have nothing to fear, but fear itself.’ Video or photo packages are also available at an extra cost and make for incredible keepsakes of your Playa del Carmen vacation.
Have A Photoshoot With Pancho The Crocodile
Photo by Sander, Founder of Aloha Paddle Club in Playa del Carmen
Wading into the same waters that a “friendly” croc calls home may make some a little hesitant to say the least. But passing up on this adventure would mean you’ve missed the chance to explore one of the Riviera Maya’s most beautiful cenotes.
Casa Cenote is favored for cave diving, snorkeling, paddle boarding, and swimming when a break from the heat is needed. Thousands of tourists and locals have snapped photos with Panchito the crocodile. The staff are upfront with visitors and show on a map where Pancho likes to hang out. It’s believed he’s harmless and has occupied those waters for years, since he was just a baby. So if you’re up for a memorable story to one day tell the grandkids, visit Casa Cenote. The drive is an easy one, only half an hour south of Playa del Carmen before Tulum.
Cliff Jump Into Natural Limestone Pools
While you’re not likely to come face-to-face with a crocodile, leaping off cenote cliffs is a thrill nonetheless. As every limestone cenote pool is unique, some jumping platforms are higher than others.
One of the most picturesque places to cliff jump is Cenote Ik’ kil, located just over 2 hours from Playa del Carmen. It’s one of the Yucatan Peninsula’s most photographed cenotes; yet no photo has been able to capture the magnitude of its phenomenal beauty. Another reason why Ik’ kil is the perfect day trip is its close proximity to Chichen Itza. Combining a visit to the sublime cenote with a stop at one of the New Seven Wonders of the World is a memorable day in the making.
Additional cenotes with more modest cliffs, but no shortage of remarkable scenery are the Cenote Cristalino, Azul, and Eden. You’ll discover this consecutive trio of stunning turquoise pools just 20 minutes south of Playa del Carmen along La Carretera Federal 307.
Discover The Deep As A Free Diver
Photo by Marianna Tombini with Amancay Freediving, Playa del Carmen
If you’re drawn to the water, free diving is a way to connect to the underwater world like no other. Uninhibited, you are free to move and let the life-generating force of the water become part of you. Although euphoric, this sport challenges your body and mind to new levels. Awarded TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for four years running, Amancay is a family-run business with exceptional instructors. The professional team is sensitive to each diver’s personal needs. What’s more is the entire staff embodies the good vibes that Playa del Carmen is famous for.
Regardless if you are a beginner or a professional with many dives under your belt, the cenote and local reef dives will blow your mind. The free dive center is led by two sisters who share not only their passion for the sport, but also the most surreal locations for free diving in the Riviera Maya. From Cozumel to cenote wonders, discovering the magic that lies in the deep is surely to be a high point in your life.