Heading to Playa del Carmen and trying to come up with some options for day trips and excursions during your vacation? We’ve got some fun suggestions for great things to do including tours during your time in Mexico.
While staying put in one place can be super relaxing, going on day trips can be a great way to see new places and scope out new vacation spots. We often discover hidden gems and future getaways while out on day trips. For instance, a few years ago, before Tulum was one of the hottest places in Mexico, we discovered it on an excursion from a nearby all inclusive hotel. Although it gets busier and busier each year, it’s still one of our favourite places in Quintana Roo.
We’ve put together a list of our favourite towns and attractions that you should consider doing and visiting on your next trip to Mexico.
As we just stated, Tulum is one of our absolute favourite places in Mexico. However, it can be a bit confusing when people refer to it. Tulum is both a town and a beach, plus it includes the Tulum Ruins. A person once told us they intended to never visit Tulum because they heard there is a Starbucks there, if that’s true it must be at the ruins because it certainly hasn’t infiltrated the beach or town! If you are headed to Tulum to visit the Ruins (definitely worth it) we’d also suggest including the beach and town too! Both the beach area and town are very different from one another. The beach is gorgeous and long, with beautiful turquoise water, perfect for long walks (or runs)- it’s also full of chic and trendy boutique hotels with fantastic (but perhaps overpriced) food. Town itself is much more affordable, considerably more authentic but you can also find some great hotels, restaurants and boutiques.
Tulum us about an hour from Playa del Carmen and can be reached by car, taxi, collectivo or bus.
People frequently ask us if they should visit Isla Holbox or Isla Mujeres. Our answer is always Isla Holbox (one of our absolute favourite places in the world- to find out more about it, check out our travel guide). In our opinion Isla Mujeres seems much more touristy while Holbox still feels like a hidden gem. However, this doesn’t mean it’s not great for a day trip! Surrounded by gorgeous beaches, a town with no cars (just golf carts), and more souvenir shops than you can count, it’s a perfect place to spend the day. To get here take a car, bus or Collectivo to Cancun and then a ferry from there.
To get here you’ll either have to rent a car or go on a tour, but we’d definitely say it’s worth it (if I’m missing a transportation option, please comment below!). The whole Coba Ruins complex is quite a bit bigger than the Tulum Ruins and can take quite a while to walk around. However, you’ll get your exercise in, especially if you decide to climb to the top of the main pyramid here. It’s one of the only ruins you can climb to the top of (that we know of), but it’s also not for the faint of heart. The steps are quite large and slippy, thankfully there are ropes to hold on to. Once at the top the view is absolutely incredible! However, I wouldn’t even consider myself a person that’s terribly afraid of heights but I could barely move at the top. Coming down is also not the easiest with the stairs being as tall as they are (I had to come down on my bum- but Trevor had an easier time). Still worth if for the views, but if you’re at all scared of heights, don’t do it!
An easy and convenient way to get to Coba is through an organized tour, check out availability and prices:
Visit a Cenote:
We actually combined visiting Coba and the nearby cenotes into one day trip, and conveniently you can purchase those tickets together when you arrive at Coba. Because we figured most people would head to the closest cenote first, we headed to the furthest one, and we planned correctly. There was hardly anyone there when we arrived and we had it almost to ourselves. One of the cenotes is mainly a wide open space, great for swimming whereas the other has a jump (optional), a bit more fun for the more adventurous type!
If you aren’t looking to go too far, and prefer a guided tour, doing an excursion to Cenote Chaak Tun is an amazing option. Because of the huge layout of this area, you can only do it as a tour, but it’s well worth it. Only about 10 minutes outside of Playa Del Carmen the tour takes about an hour or two and is so much fun. They take you through various cave systems, both swimming and walking, the tour is in English and Spanish and is incredibly informative, plus all equipment is provided. We ended up discovering this tour while on a family vacation, we were looking for something that wouldn’t take up our entire day and would be fun for both adults and children, this definitely hit the mark and was even more fun than we had anticipated. If you don’t have a car, pickup and dropoff can be arranged.
Although perhaps a bit far for a day trip (you’ll have to get up early!), Bacalar is a hidden gem that cannot be missed! You can get here by car or by bus. The town itself is very small and walkable (or bikeable) with some great restaurants and cafes. Most of the hotels are situated along the laguna, which is absolutely stunning. Dubbed, the lake of seven colours, you’ll be shocked it isn’t the caribbean, it’s crystal clear and various shades of turquoise. Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot of public access along the lake so you may have to go to a restaurant or hotel to have lunch in order to reach the lake from there.
Interested in heading to Laguna Bacalar, check out prices and availability of tours:
We hear these are two great options but we haven’t been (yet)!
Valladolid: This town is situated inland, and can be found on the way to Chichen Itza and Merida. Apparently there are some really interesting cenotes right in the old colonial town, it also looks like it could be a great instagram location!
Cozumel: As many times as we’ve been to Playa Del Carmen, oddly enough we’ve never visited! Just a short ferry ride from Playa, it’s really easy access to get there! You can see the sprawling island easily from the coast, and apparently it’s full of great beaches.
Akumal: Right between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, Akumal is supposed to have a great beach but is best known for its sea turtles. People come from all over to swim, snorkel and dive here. We have noticed that it occasionally gets shut down to tourists in order to preserve the turtle population so do your research before you go!
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click and book a tour listed above, we get a (very small) commission, which helps us to produce more content like this!!
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