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The Best Playa del Carmen Day Trips

If you are planning your vacation in Playa del Carmen then you are probably looking for some inspiration for things you can do in the Riviera Maya area.

To help you out, we have created a list of our top Playa del Carmen day trips to help you make the most of your vacation here.

Whale shark day tour from Playa del Carmen
One of our favorite day tours from Playa del Carmen is swimming with the Whale Sharks

Best Playa del Carmen Day Trips

Swim with Whale Sharks in Isla Mujeres

Swimming with Whale Sharks is a real bucket list things for so many people. This has to be one of the ultimate snorkeling trips from Playa del Carmen! Sadly you aren’t able to do this year long, only during Whale Shark season in Mexico which starts mid May and ends in mid September each year.

There are two places where you can swim with the Whale Sharks in Mexico: Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox.

From Playa del Carmen the easiest site to swim with Whale Sharks is Isla Mujeres which is a small island just off the coast of Cancun. As far as day trips from Playa del Carmen go you can't get better than swimming with Whale Sharks.

We are taking bookings for this year, for more information on this once in a lifetime experience click here.

Visit Puerto Morelos

Snorkeling in Puerto Morelos
Snorkeling in Puerto Morelos

One of our favorite places to chill for the day is Puerto Morelos. So much so we wrote a whole blog post about it which you can read here.

But to summarize, what we love about Puerto Morelos is the laid back atmosphere, excellent snorkeling, white sand beaches, and of course the Ruta de los Cenotes. It really is a great day out for the whole family and one of the easiest day trips from Playa del Carmen. You have a few options, you can travel to Puerto Morelos as part of an organized tour, or you can simply hop on a ADO bus or collective if you prefer to go alone.

Explore Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is a small island just off the coast of Cancun. As well as it’s laid back Caribbean vibes is has some excellent snorkeling and one of the top 10 beaches in the world according to Travellers Choice, and we can’t help agreeing! Playa Norte has pure white sand and water the perfect shade of turquoise, you really do need to see it for yourself.

If you want to visit Isla Mujeres on your own as a day trip, you will need to make your way to the port in Cancun and then take the public ferry over to the Island.

But why not skip the public ferry and see Isla Mujeres in style on one of our snorkeling trips from Playa del Carmen? We can pick you up from your hotel in Playa and transport you in an air-conditioned minibus to your private boat for a day of snorkeling fun around the Island. Click here for more information.

Discover one of the seven wonders of the world - Chichen Itza

This is quite possibly the most popular of all day tours from Playa del Carmen. I mean you can’t come to Playa del Carmen and not make the trip to visit Mexico's very own world wonder now, can you?!

There are several ways to get to Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen and we wrote all about it here to help you decide if a group tour, private tour, or do it yourself tour is the best option for you.

In our opinion, the best way to see Chichen Itza is to leave Playa del Carmen very early so you can beat the crowds and then to team it up with visiting a cenote so you can cool off after. Or for those who want to make the most of your time you can also include a trip to Chichen Itza with visiting El Balam another ancient Mayan site close by.

For more details on our Chichen Itza tour click here.

Get out into nature in Sian Ka’an

If you want to see the best of the Riviera Maya in its most natural form then a visit to Sian Ka’an is a must. It is one of our most popular tours and for good reason. It is simply out of this world and like nothing you have ever seen before.

The only catch is that it can be difficult to access without a tour. It is deep in the jungle and the roads really aren’t great, especially if it has been raining. You will need a 4 wheel drive to get there and then once there you will need to negotiate with a local to take you out on a boat.

So, if you don’t have access to a 4 wheel drive and your Spanish isn’t great then it is probably best to take a tour here. Plus it is very easy to miss out on the best bits unless you go there with someone who knows their way around. When booking your tour do issue caution though as not all tours are equal and you do not want to be uncomfortable on this particular tour, it’s a very long day.

If you want to have an ethical animal encounter with dolphins, you are very likely to see some here, as well as a lot of other animals.

For more details on our Sian Ka’an full day tour click here.

Chill out in Tulum

Tulum is just under an hour away from Playa del Carmen and it is where you will find beautiful beaches, some of the best restaurants in the Riviera Maya, and a yoga studio on every corner.

Tulum highlights include some of the most beautiful Cenotes in the Riviera Maya and of course the magical Tulum Ruins.

Visiting Tulum from Playa del Carmen really couldn’t be easier. Your options are:

Do like the locals do and hop in a Colectivo on Calle 2 heading for Tulum. It really is very easy and a lot less scary than many think it will be. The only issue is there is no AC and not a lot of room, so be prepared for a slightly uncomfortable hour.

For a few pesos more you can take the ADO bus from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. The ADO buses are punctual, well maintained, and most importantly have AC!

Or if you are a firm believer in vacations being all about avoiding stress and prefer to let someone else do the organizing for you we have a tour to Tulum that includes visiting the Ruins and doing a Cenote tour after. We are also able to accommodate a stop in Tulum for Shopping.

If you do go to Tulum on your own we recommend hiring bikes to get around and stopping off at Playa Paraiso for a Coco Frio!

Explore the Great Mayan Reef off Isla Cozumel

If you love to explore the deep blue sea then consider taking a day trip to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen. Cozumel has the best Scuba Diving in the Riviera Maya so it should be on every divers radar. Although we don’t offer scuba diving we work closely with an excellent company over in Cozumel and we are able to arrange everything for you.

Not a diver?

No worries because of the incredible visibility in Cozumel is excellent for Snorkeling too. You can take the public ferry then and then book a tour when you get there or we would be happy to take you from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel on our private Cozumel tour.

It is easy to get to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen on the ferry and it takes just 40 minutes to get there. While on the island you will be a bit limited without transport so we recommend hiring a car and exploring the island.

There is a small Mayan Ruin site, a tequila tour, a couple of surf schools, and of course a number of beach clubs all best accessed by car.

Alternatively, you could hire a bike in Playa del Carmen and take it over on the ferry for free and bike to one of the closer beach clubs. If you want one closest to the ferry then Buccanos is a great option with a minimum consumption of just 150 pesos. If you want a beach club further south then we recommend Paradise Beach Club as it has a huge pool and is very family friendly.

Los Colorados

Did you know Mexico has pink lakes that you can see on a day tour from Playa del Carmen? Well, it does and it is pretty special. The only issue is its distance from Playa del Carmen. It’s a pretty long drive and although the lake is incredible to see, most people just want the Instagram picture!

To get there without a tour can be very difficult on public transport due to its remote location and you would need to stay overnight. You could also hire a car to drive yourself their easily but not everyone is comfortable driving in Mexico while on vacation.

On our private day tours to Los Colorados, we like to team it up with a trip to Ek Balam to make the most of your travel time, click to learn more.

Visit Isla Holbox from Playa del Carmen

Okay, this is actually a tricky one. We don’t recommend going to Isla Holbox as a day tour from Playa del Carmen, no matter how short you are on time. We know that a lot of tour companies will offer you this as a day trip from Playa del Carmen but we tried it and believe you need longer than a day.

Holbox is a beautiful car-free Caribbean Island to the north of the Yucatan Peninsula. Like all good Caribbean islands life on the Island moves slow. So not only is it a bit of an epic journey to get there, once you are there you are not going to want to rush. So please, go to Holbox, but not with a day tour.

Take the ADO bus or shuttle from Playa del Carmen to Chiquila and then hop on the ferry over to the island and spend the night. Like Isla Mujeres, you can rent a golf buggy or a bike to get you around or use one of the Islands golf cart taxis.

Final Thoughts

So that’s our list of must-do day tours from Playa del Carmen. I’m sure there are at least one of two that you will want to do while vacationing here in Playa del Carmen. If you have any questions at all remember we are always here to help so feel free to get in touch with us via the chat box or email.

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