The Riviera Maya and the cosmopolitan city of Playa del Carmen have been top summertime destinations for American travelers for years, not surprising given the region’s spectacular history, landscapes, cuisine, and nightlife. And while the Riviera Maya is often considered an inexpensive hub for those seeking boozy fun in the sun, there has been a growing trend in travelers who are opting to leave the cushy confines of all-inclusive resorts and explore the more authentic, enriching, and unique areas of the region.
We’ve combed through the real-life experiences of thousands of travelers to find their recommendations about the best day trips and short excursions from Playa del Carmen. From ancient ruins to virgin beaches and over-water ziplines, here is the list of the top nine:
1. Sian Ka’an – Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve ( UNESCO World Heritage Site) is one of the Riviera Maya’s most enchanting destinations. The reserve has a variety of ecosystems like dunes, jungles, and mangroves, and is a popular nesting area for sea turtles and other marine life. One of the most popular excursions is taking a short boat ride to one of the the coast’s natural swimming pools, shallow crystal-clear areas of ocean perfect for a refreshing swim. You can not miss this experience.
2. Chichen Itza – No trip to the Yucatan Peninsula would be complete without a visit to Chichen Itza ruins, the most popular and best-preserved Mayan city in all the country. The highlights are undoubtedly the massive Temple of Kukulkan and the observatory, although archaeologists are constantly uncovering previously-unknown parts of the city. Amazing ancient history.
3. Isla Holbox – There are few places as roundly described as “paradise” as Isla Holbox, a peaceful haven of mangroves and white-sand beaches far from the bustling tourist centers on the mainland. Aside from relaxing on the tranquil beaches, you should take a boat trip to see the majestic whale sharks in the surrounding waters. Boats regularly leave from the port-village of Chiquilá located a few hours northwest of Cancún. Great nature experience.
4. Diving in Cozumel – You should know that the waters around the island of Cozumel are home to the world’s second-largest coral reef and that’s the reason this is one of the best diving to be had in the Western Hemisphere. You can get there via regular ferries from Playa del Carmen and spend the day exploring the reefs whose rich marine life has attracted illustrious visitors like Jacques Cousteau so many years ago
5. Bacalar Lagoon – Visitors can find one of Mexico’s most magical marine landscapes: Lago Bacalar, otherwise known as “The Lake of the Seven Colors.” This lagoon is the result of various cenotes that overflowed over the years, resulting in a peaceful lagoon which, as the name suggests, offers visitors seven distinct shades of blue. While a bit farther away than some of the other excursions, the chance to swim, relax, and dine alongside the lagoon’s shimmering waters is certainly worth the trip.
Once in a life time experience.
6. Tulum – While Chichen Itza is the region’s most popular Mayan ruins, the most picturesque are definitely those of Tulum, a popular set of ruins perched atop a cliff over the turquoise Caribbean. The only ruins next to the caribbean ocean. Aside from visiting the sprawling and well-preserved ruins, travelers can also relax on the area’s scenic beaches, delight at the iguanas that call the ruins home, and explore the local wetlands full of pelicans and flamingos.
Do you have a favorite spot in Playa del Carmen or anywhere in Riviera Maya? If you are comming for vacation or looking the home of your dreams, we can help.