Things to Do in Playa del Carmen
Rio Secreto, or the “Secret River,” is a series of caves carved out by the flow of an ancient underground river in Mexico. While the reserve is most famous for its large half-sunken cavern—a popular diving spot—you can also explore eerie passageways, swim in the river, and admire dripping stalactites, stalagmites, and colorful mineral formations.
The pedestrian-only Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida) runs parallel to the ocean in downtown Playa del Carmen. This bustling tourist strip provides easy beach access and is within walking distance of shops, restaurants, bars, and clubs. Lining Fifth Avenue are shops aplenty, including those selling artisan crafts, fine jewelry, and cigars.
From circus performers swinging from the ceiling and dancers crowding the floor, to celebrity impersonators and Broadway-style musicals, Coco Bongo is a nightclub unlike any other. At the Playa del Carmen location, you’ll find extravagant stages, multiple bars, VIP table service, and a dance floor known to rock through the wee hours.
At Cenote Chaak Tun, outside Playa del Carmen, venture inside hidden subterranean caves that the ancient Maya believed were sacred portals to the underworld. Follow the beam of your headlamp into an enormous cenote, where centuries-old stalactites drip from above, and swim and snorkel in its fresh water rivers and pools.
Built around the cenotes and jungle of the Riviera Maya, the Kantun Chi Ecopark is a subterranean playground of cenotes, underground caves, and grottoes. Filled with stalactites, stalagmites, and ancient columns, it offers a unique way to explore the dramatic natural scenery and learn about the region’s long Maya history.
Explore the life—and contextualize the legacy—of Mexican surrealist artist and feminist icon Frida Kahlo at Playa del Carmen’s Frida Kahlo Museum (Museo Frida Kahlo). At one of the city’s first cultural spaces, learn about Kahlo’s work, illness, and tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera by way of interactive and sensory exhibits.
Jump into the art at Playa del Carmen’s 3D Museum of Wonders. Created by a visionary American artist, this interactive museum is truly in a genre and mind-bending class of its own. It doesn’t take long for reality to blend with illusion, and pretty soon you’re splashing beneath a waterfall, surfing a wave, or trapped inside a bubble.
Located just off the ferry dock, Fundadores Park (El Zócalo) is the center of Playa del Carmen. This beachside park sits along Playa del Carmen’s famous Fifth Avenue, and it’s the main square from which the rest of the tourist area branches out. From El Zócalo you’ll have a gorgeous view of the ocean and easy access to the beaches.
Cirque du Soleil has brought its award-winning magical theater to Mexico’s Riviera Maya with Joya, the troupe’s first resident production in Latin America. From dazzling theatrics and incredible acrobatics to otherworldly costumes and death-defying stunts, this fantastical show is truly an unforgettable experience.
Playacar is a gated community just south of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, which is known for its all-inclusive resorts and private beachfront villas. It's ideal for those who want to stay right on the sand and still be close to the excitement of Fifth Avenue. Playacar’s wide and not-too-crowded beaches are some of the nicest in Playa.
More Things to Do in Playa del Carmen
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef stretches just off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula all the way down to Honduras. It's the largest coral reef in the western hemisphere and half the length of the Great Barrier Reef (the world's largest). Also commonly referred to as the Great Maya Reef, it’s a must-see for nature and wildlife lovers.
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