If you’re looking to plan activities in Playa del Carmen, there are plenty to choose from. The town has a lively restaurant and bar scene, beautiful diving and snorkeling, an abundance of cenotes within driving distance, and is surrounded by jungles and ancient Mayan ruins. With many of these activities an hour or two outside of Playa, opting for a tour package—as opposed to going on your own—can enrich your experience and free up more time for exploring. Read on for our list of the top tours in Playa del Carmen.
Tour of Chichen Itza
A trip to Playa del Carmen wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the second most visited site in all of Mexico: Chichen Itza. This complex of Mayan ruins is as sprawling as it is famous and includes a ball court, countless temples, a marketplace, and a pyramid that was built to represent the Mayan calendar. Visit during the spring or fall equinox to see the shadow of a serpent slithering up its stone steps, or stick around until 8pm or 7pm (in the summer and winter, respectively) to see the effect replicated in a daily light show.
Chichen Itza is situated two hours inland from Playa del Carmen, making it the perfect distance for an adventurous day trip. Check out this Chichen Itza Tour to make the most of your day away from the beach, starting with a private van picking you and your crew up at your hotel or hostel. The tour will take you to the ruins and the nearby Ik Kil (or Sacred Cenote) before making a stop in Valladolid, a nearby town full of lively markets and Spanish colonial architecture.
Private Snorkeling Tour
Prefer sticking to the coast? No problem—there’s plenty to see under the water, too! Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Cancun are known for having some of the most pristine and expansive reefs in the world. Book a private snorkeling tour to explore the reefs with an experienced guide. You can start your trip at 9am or 2pm with up to seven of your friends, and bring as much food and beverages as you like. You’ll be picked up and dropped off at your door, and treated to a private boat with an expert captain and crew.
Boat Tour / Boat Rental
If you’re interested in snorkeling but want a bit more freedom, consider renting a boat for the afternoon. Don’t worry—partying on your own private yacht can be a totally affordable vacation activity. This Boat Tour offers a completely customized experience for you and up to seven of your friends, with drinks and snorkel gear included. Navigate Playa’s coast to find your own isolated beach, or cast anchor to explore the reefs. Whether you’re looking to find the perfect beach, the perfect reef, or just a calm place to get your tan on, the tour’s captain and crew will know just the spot.
Tour of Coba
This slightly less popular alternative to Chichen Itza offers a few unique draws. Coba was once a huge Mayan city, with each site connected to the others through sacbes, or ancient white roads. Because Coba isn’t yet as popular as Chichen Itza or Tulum, visitors can still climb to the top of Coba’s tallest pyramid to see the jungle from above the tree line. Another added bonus: Coba has yet to be fully excavated and many of its structures are overgrown, so this complex feels truly tucked away. For planning your trip, consider choosing a Coba Tour that will pick you up and drop you off at your door, take you to the ruins in a private air-conditioned van, and round off your day with a swim at a nearby cenote and a stop at a traditional Mayan village.
Tour of Tulum
If you’re reluctant to stray from the beach for a day to see Mayan ruins, we can’t blame you; the Riviera Maya has some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world! Luckily, there’s no need to choose between the shore and the ruins—just head to Tulum.
The Tulum ruins are located on a seaside cliff, with some structures so near to the water that you can feel the sea spray on your face as you wander. The site is smaller than Chichen Itza and Coba, but with a significantly lower entrance fee and close proximity to beach access, it has its own unique draws. A private Tulum Tour from Playa del Carmen will pick you (and up to eleven friends) up at your hotel or hostel, and compliment a tour of the ruins with a stop at one of the area’s many cenotes. Bring food for the trip, or personalize your tour to take advantage of Tulum’s impressive restaurant scene.