Perfect Days Begin With Perfect Mornings
In Playa del Carmen, locals spend as much time possible in the great outdoors. The region’s warm, tropical climate lures people from around the globe to set down roots near its silky shoreline. This year-round summer weather makes outdoor living a way of life. Offices are set up on terraces perched over the Caribbean. Hockey sticks are traded in for golf clubs. Dinners are prepared on grills, and savored on patios engulfed by lush gardens.
This Riviera Maya jewel is a natural paradise. If you’re planning an upcoming visit to Playa del Carmen, you won’t want to waste a single second indoors. Enjoy your Mexican vacation to the fullest with these 7 ways to kickstart a perfect day in Playa del Carmen.
Enjoy Coffee With A View
One memorable highlight of staying in an ocean view condo with Bric is that you can wake up to some of the most spectacular sunrises in the world. Sip your morning brew on the balcony. From this privileged position, get a front-row seat to a kaleidoscope of oranges, reds, and pinks bursting across the sky. Add the Caribbean hues from the sea below into that mix, and well, there aren’t really words to describe that kind of beauty.
Breakfast at Bajo Cafe
Shaded by the umbrella of a massive flamboyant tree, Bajo Cafe is part of Mercado 30. This quaint little conglomeration of eclectic stores and eateries is located on Calle 30 and 25th Avenue.
Local artists feature their prints and artisanal works throughout the cafe. But the remarkable decor is not the only reason to visit Bajo. You’ll discover the best coffee in town, derived from coffee bean plantations in Chiapas. Try a breakfast bagel or a warm pastry, both ideal accompaniments to their robust coffee.
Sunrise Paddle Board Session
The seasoned instructors from Aloha Paddle Club are experts at reaping the benefits of beach life in Playa del Carmen. Every morning, they offer Stand Up Paddle classes from the glorious white sands at Fusion Beach Club on Calle 6. The company, who has a loyal following of locals and expats, recently signed on to offer Stand Up Yoga classes from the stunning infinity pool at Grand Hyatt.
Join Sander and his team for a safe and remarkable 1.5-hour journey to local reefs a couple of hundred meters off the silky shores. You’ll have a blast gliding over and diving into the crystal clear waters. A sunrise paddle presents one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have on the Caribean Sea.
Birdies and Breakfast Balls
Since Playa del Carmen is lucky enough to have summer weather year-round, hitting the links is a highly recommended way to start the day off right. Nothing beats teeing off in the early morning when the air is fresh, with no distractions but the local wildlife scurrying about.
Playa del Carmen is a top golf destination due to its climate and pristine, PGA tour-worthy courses. Go for birdie at championship golf courses such as El Camaleon in Mayakoba, Gran Coyote Golf in Grand Coral, or Hard Rock Riviera Maya, which sits in the center of the gated community of Playacar.
Get Your Om On At Yogaloft
Pose and meditate your way to a magical morning with a class at Yogaloft, situated on Calle 10 and 10th Avenue. Renowned instructor Michael Gannon and other guest teachers from around North America offer a schedule of classes designed to get the blood flowing and the mind centered.
These challenging and impactful sessions will help to set the mood for an excellent day. Additionally, next door to the studio is a yoga-based store selling gear and Liquid Prana. A rejuvenating line of raw, cold-pressed juices, Liquid Prana will give you the healthful jolt of energy to power through your unforgettable day.
Who’s Up For A Roadtrip?
There are a thousand and one fantastic adventures to be had around Playa del Carmen, so get in the car and hit the road! Among the vast array of riveting sights are the Yucatan Peninsula’s longest underground river and cave system, cenote swimming holes, and ancient Mayan cities.
Tucked within the lush jungle are centuries-old pyramids and dozens of ecological parks, including Xcaret, Xplor, and Emotions Native Park. Within a couple of hours, you can drive to Magical Towns (Pueblos Magicos) such as the Yellow Town of Izamal and the colonial city of Valladolid.
In Bacalar, you’ll be amazed by the pirate history and the Fort of San Felipe, which overlooks the astounding Lagoon of 7 Colors.
Alternatively, head to a nearby island like Isla Mujeres or Holbox to experience island life at its finest. Ride along rustic roads lined with multi-colored buildings on a golf cart. Dine on fresh catches of the day. Furthermore, drop by a welcoming Caribbean beach bar. Listen to Reggae music as you enjoy the view consisting of turquoise and palm trees as you sip on a fruity cocktail. This dreamy island vibe will surely stick with you forever.
Additionally, you can jump on board a boat for some of the best snorkeling in the area in Puerto Morelos. Not so far off the shore is the second-largest barrier reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef. You’ll relish the opportunity to swim alongside turtles, parrotfish, and fascinating reef sharks.
Cozumel, just a 45-minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen, boasts a long list of unique activities. First of all, it’s a renowned diving destination due to its extraordinary underwater visibility. Consequently, exploring sea life and sunken ships via a submarine is certain to be a grand adventure. Next, climb to the top of the lighthouse and savor the divine views at Punta Sur. Be sure to taste tequila and authentic Mexican cuisine on a food tour with a local chef. Lastly on the itinerary for things to do in Cozumel is visiting a pearl farm in the picturesque waters on the island’s north end.
No matter which direction you set out on, you are sure to collect travel stories that will make a lasting impression on your heart.
Take A Sunrise Stroll
Is there anything better than the feeling of cool sand under your feet and warm, salty waves lapping your toes? Picture an early morning walk along the powdery sand toward the sun as it rises over a turquoise seascape. It’s a picture that you will want to hold in your mind forever.
Considering all of the benefits of spending time at the beach, it is no surprise that this breathtaking activity makes it on our list. However, let’s face it, if you wake up in Playa del Carmen, you already have a huge advantage for starting the day off right!
Summer in Playa del Carmen sizzles. Luckily for visitors, you can always find inviting turquoise waters or glistening pools within close range. Built upon shores of powdery soft coral, Playa borders the shimmering blue-green waters of the Caribbean. This Riviera Maya city is most popular for its picturesque coastline. However, vacations here offer far more than cocktails on the beach.
This article sheds light on five of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen during summer vacation. These sensational outings will fill your memory bank with epic Yucatan Peninsula travel stories to tell for years to come.
Discover Paradise at El Cielo
Located a few hundred meters off the southern tip of Cozumel is El Cielo, meaning ‘Heaven.’ From Playa del Carmen, a 45-minute ferry delivers you to the largest island in the Mexican Caribbean. Upon arriving in Cozumel, you will board a smaller boat to transport you on an unforgettable 4 to 5-hour journey. As you sail south along the island’s sublime coastline, you’ll anchor at two flourishing coral reefs of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. During these snorkeling sessions, you will explore some of the clearest sea waters and meet a host of breathtaking aquatic animals.
No notice from the captain is needed, as it will become crystal clear (literally) when you arrive at El Cielo. The waters in this isolated diamond in the Caribbean rough are in the ranks with those of the Maldives. Although you won’t encounter over-the-water huts, majestic manta rays, starfish, and sea turtles will surely capture your attention.
When Mother Nature designed this extraordinary, aqua bay, she created a masterpiece too spectacular to really describe in words. Of all of the Playa del Carmen day trips available, El Cielo is a must to add to a Mexico vacation itinerary.
This entrancing water excursion is available to individual travelers as well as large groups. You can search online for local tour companies or contact your Bric ambassador to help you arrange a sublime trip to El Cielo. Included in the price are snorkel gear, beverages, and a light lunch (usually ceviche, fruit, and/or sandwiches.)
Immerse Yourself in Incredible Nature at Aktun Chen Park
This surreal experience in the heart of the jungle is an amazing introduction to local wildlife. The nature reserve offers protection to spider monkeys, coatis, iguanas, boars, and vibrant green parakeets that live within it. In addition to an up-close view of the area’s jungle creatures, you will explore an awe-inspiring cave over 5 million years old. This guided trek, voted one of the top 10 Underground Walks In the World by National Geographic, is 100% worth the 30-minute drive from Playa del Carmen.
After taking flight over the lush jungle landscape on a circuit of 10 ziplines, you will be ready to dive into the cool cenote waters. The ancient Mayan civilization believed were gates to the underworld. Even today, archaeologists and divers continue to make important discoveries of centuries-old artifacts within these limestone caves.
Wear comfortable walking shoes and only biodegradable sunscreen is permitted. Although Aktun Chen is a smaller ecological park compared to others in the area such as Xcaret or Xplor, it offers plenty of activities, at a more economical price. When you reserve with an excursion company using the booking link on the Aktun Chen page, lunch and transportation are included.
Snorkel With Turtles and Sip Piña Coladas at La Buena Vida
In the seaside village of Akumal, just 25 minutes south of Playa del Carmen, sits a tranquil bay inhabited by Hawksbill and Loggerhead turtles. One-hour, guided snorkel tours present a guaranteed opportunity to observe all sorts of marine species. Along with the turtles, you’ll see exotic fish, colorful coral fans, as well as an occasional stingray gliding across the seafloor.
Afterward, continue for 5 more minutes down the winding road to La Buena Vida, a beloved local beach bar. Request a table overlooking the bay and munch on delicious burgers, carne asada, or tangy ceviche.
While the bartender prepares another round of Caribbean cocktails, find the hammock with your name on it and settle in. If you have kids, they will love the treehouse lookout tower and pool, which are surrounded by sky high coconut palms and face an endless turquoise horizon.
Skip the hoards of vendors selling snorkel tours along the road leading to Akumal Bay. Book with Akumal Dive Shop and receive certified guides who are knowledgeable in the local laws and adhere to safety standards.
Test Your Culinary Skills At El Pueblito In Mayakoba
A cooking class with one of the country’s most engaging top chefs, Karla Enciso, offers a savory escape from the midday heat. In the air-conditioned commercial kitchen, you will learn time-honored recipes and taste unique regional ingredients. From robust salsas such as mole to guanabana (soursop) margaritas, you will be swooning over your authentic creations.
Chef Karla is an expert at blending the warmth of the Mexican culture into every dish. Her passion is infectious as she introduces visitors to an impressive array of regional flavors. This outing also makes an ideal group activity and kids are welcome! For more information, visit El Pueblito on Facebook for a schedule of cooking classes.
If you are traveling with a group, contact Chef Karla for a customized class. She is fluent in several languages and is a master at a variety of international cuisines.
Witness The Bioluminescence Phenomenon In Holbox
People from around the world flock to the Yucatan Peninsula to swim with the magnificent whale sharks. The sheer size of these spotted fish makes them intimidating. However, you have nothing to fear. Whale sharks are about as dangerous as the microscopic plankton they feed upon. Each year, these gentle giants migrate to areas off the coasts of Isla Mujeres and Holbox, an enchanting near Playa del Carmen.
Come nightfall on this sleepy island, a magical, natural phenomenon known as bioluminescence presents itself. As the water is near the shoreline is stirred, a domino effect of glowing blue light illuminates the surface. This surreal scene occurs only in the summer months from June to mid-September, when the whale sharks are in the area. Since Holbox is so close to Playa del Carmen, this once-in-a-lifetime summer outing should not be missed!
Kayak and paddle board tours are available after dark. To witness the full splendor of this sea of sparkling stars, try to plan your trip around the new moon.
That rounds out our top 5 list of best summertime activities in Playa del Carmen. Together with its lush jungle tours, ecological parks, and pristine cenotes, the Riviera Maya appeals to travelers of all ages. Not to mention the limitless day trip options to magical towns and divine islands. In addition to its superb dining scene, year-round tropical climate, and luxury accommodations. It’s no wonder Playa del Carmen remains a fixture on TripAdvisor’s Best Destinations in the World.
Through Sustainable Tourism, Passionate Guides at Cenote Chikin-Ha Park Introduce Us To Some Of The Most Spectacular Nature On The Planet
One of the top Riviera Maya activities, especially when the heat turns up from May to September, is taking a dip in the cool waters of a cenote. These extraordinary sinkholes have been around for thousands of years and enhance the already extraordinary beauty of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
What Is A Cenote?
At 8:30 a.m., in the most peaceful of jungle settings, our expedition begins at Chikin-Ha Park (20 minutes south of Playa del Carmen). After selecting a bike for the first part of the tour, we peddle alongside David, our enthusiastic guide. As we approach the first of two dry caves, the kids are glued to David’s side as he shares with us the fascinating history behind a cenote. The Yucatan Peninsula, once an expansive coral colony beneath the sea, became exposed when the water receded during the Ice Age. Unable to survive, the coral fossilized to form a limestone platform about one mile thick. Throughout the years, acidic rainwater caused the porous limestone to collapse, forming thousands of remarkable caverns. At the end of the Ice Age, the glaciers melted and flooded these caves resulting in crystal clear, turquoise-tinted pools and the world’s longest underground river system.
David goes on to explain that many of the Mayan cities were constructed around cenotes, as they provided a freshwater source for the community. Moreover, these unique wells were considered a sacred passageway to the Maya underworld. Many human sacrifices were offered to the gods, believed to reside within the dark depths of these geological phenomena. In 2001, the oldest remains in the Americas were found in Quintana Roo and date back some 13000 years.
Chikin-Ha Park’s Captivating Caves
Throughout the caves, lamps shine spotlights on the hundreds of dripping stalactite formations. As we regress back to the steps of the entrance, he points out glow-worms living within the crevices; the children are in awe.
The early tour is highly recommended as it feels as though you have the serene jungle sanctuary all to yourself. Wear natural mosquito repellent for the dry cave exploration portion of the excursion. Regular repellents and sunscreens are prohibited.
Partaking In A Time-Honored Mayan Tradition
The third stop takes us to a breathtaking pita-shaped cave. The sun’s rays pierce through the lush wilderness and paint a mystical scene. From the branches of massive Ceiba trees, we hear the calls of bright orange and turquoise Mot Mot birds. Partially concealed by flowing vines is the entrance to the cave. David pushes aside the natural curtain of flowing vines and instructs us to follow a candle-lit aisle.
At the end of the pathway, a Shaman stands at an altar with a welcoming smile. The Mayan priest motions for us to sit down. A beautiful cleansing and gratitude ceremony commences, aiming to rid us of any negative feelings we may be harboring.
Each of us takes turns placing copal incense inside the smoking chalice. As we do so, we make a silent, intention for the betterment of the universe. In Mayan, the Shaman gives thanks to the earth for all it provides and sends our blessings (from the smoking chalice) up through a small opening in the ceiling of the cave. The sacred ceremony seems to work and we are left feeling a deep sense of peace.
A View From The Top
We return the bikes, grab our towels from the lockers, and proceed to the zip lines. Traveling with an apprehensive nine-year-old, we were relieved that after a quick survey, she determines to give the modest zip line circuit a go. One by one, we soar over blue-green ponds and finally above the vast canopy of the jungle. The powder blue sky and the verdant vista from the hundred and twenty-meter long zip line are extraordinary. Everyone in our group is eager for a second round on the circuit.
You are allowed to bring your camera or smart phone to take photos. They also have a professional photographer escorting you through the park. The photo package is $65.00 USD. The park operates on a cash–only basis. So even if you skip the photo package, you will need cash for the entrance fees, refundable locker deposit ($50 pesos) and tips.
The tour concludes with a refreshing swim in two unique cenotes. With our snorkel gear and the help of David’s expert eye, we are able to spot the catfish, turtles, and divers swimming beneath us in the picturesque sinkholes. He invites us to stay and use the facilities as long as we like. But our stomachs are signaling that it is time to eat. We opt to dine at La Buena Vida in Akumal, one of our favorite seaside beach clubs in the Riviera Maya. The restaurant and bar sits facing the Caribbean and offers bean bag chairs, plenty of tables with a view, and hammocks tied to coconut palms. This laid-back little piece of heaven is the ideal end to our adventurous morning.
Without a doubt, you can expect similarly inspiring encounters at any one of the many eco-parks in Playa del Carmen. But above and beyond the awesome nature, this half-day excursion hits the bullseye for affordable, family-friendly fun. For $650 pesos ($36 USD) each, our group of five was pleasantly surprised with the personalization of the tour complete with cultural aspects, history, and thrilling elements. For these reasons, our Chikin-ha experience emphatically receives 10 thumbs up!
Book online in advance by PayPal and save 15%. There are various packages to choose from. The basic entrance fee is $350 pesos and does not include the zip lines. The full package included bikes, snorkel gear, and all activities (dry caves and rappelling, cenote swims, zip lines and Mayan ceremony.) In addition, you have the option to pay $100 pesos per person for a buffet lunch in the on-site restaurant.