Welcome to Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen, now the third-largest city in Quintana Roo, ranks up there with Tulum as the Riviera's trendiest cities. Sitting coolly on the lee side of Cozumel, the town’s beaches are jammed with super-fit Europeans. The waters aren’t as clear as those of Cancún or Cozumel, and the beach sands aren’t quite as champagne-powder-perfect as they are further north, but still Playa (as it’s locally known) grows and... Read More
Top experiences in Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen activities
Viator Exclusive: Early Access to Chichen Itza
Start your day trip with early morning pickup from your Playa del Carmen hotel, making sure you don’t miss the chance to be one of the first visitors of the day to explore the wonders of Chichen Itza, the ancient capital of the Mayan Empire. With essential background knowledge provided by a specialized archeologist guide just for you and your group, you’ll easily imagine how the Mayans once inhabited this city. As you wander through the well-preserved ruins in relative peace and quiet, learn how Chichen Itza played a pivotal role in Mayan society from around 600 to 1200 AD and endured as a base of worship and pilgrimage until the Spanish landed. The Maya people of the Yucatan Peninsula today still regard Chichen Itza, named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, as a sacred place. Listen to your guide about how archeologists unearthed the abandoned site, buried over time by the jungle, and how their discoveries provided Chichen Itza with UNESCO status. With your guide’s presentation of Mayan mythology, philosophy and cosmology, gain a deep understanding of the meaning behind the stone carvings, platforms, ball courts and staircases. Then see the famous ruins with a new perspective.Make your way through the observatory and the Temple of the Warriors. You’ll of course visit the legendary Kukulcan Pyramid, also referred to as El Castillo, a four-sided structure constructed with a keen knowledge of astronomy. Your guide will explain that during equinox on a clear day, a snake slithers down the pyramid stairs, which is actually a shadow created by the setting sun. As you peer into the sacred cenote, your guide explains how archeologists delved into this pilgrimage site and pulled out wood, shells, cloth, jewelry and the skeletons of men and children, confirming that the natural sinkhole indeed was once used as a human sacrifice site.Stand on one of the platforms at the colossal ball court where Mayans played sports, and have another person from your group whisper from 150 feet (46 meters) away. You’ll be surprised to hear every word. This acoustical engineering feat of the Mayans is not entirely understood even today.After your tour, grab a box lunch for the ride back to Playa del Carmen and return to your hotel mid-afternoon. With this Viator Exclusive, your early morning visit to Chichen Itza allows you to explore the site before the crowds so you can enjoy the rest of your day on the beach.
Cancun Super Saver: Tulum and Coba Ruins
Tulum Ruins Tour (7 hours)Following morning pickup from your hotel in Cancun or Playa del Carmen, travel two hours by air-conditioned minivan to the southern tip of the Riviera Maya, where the archaeological site of Tulum awaits. An ancient walled city perched high on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Tulum was built by the Mayans and dates back to the pre-Columbian era. The city thrived during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, but fell following attack from the Spanish conquistadors. Today it’s among the best-preserved of all coastal Mayan sites.Take a 45-minute guided tour of the site to learn about ancient Mayan civilization and hear how the walled fortress of Tulum served as a gateway to the heart of the Mayan Empire. Follow your tour with an hour of free time to explore independently.Cool off from the sun at your next stop, a cenote — a cavernous sinkhole created by the erosion of limestone bedrock. Take a dip in the waters of this incredible subterranean world, and then head to a local restaurant for a buffet lunch of Yucatán Peninsula specialities such as pork, chicken or beef quesadillas with salad, served with beer, soda or water. Follow lunch with a late-afternoon drive to Coba.Coba Ruins Tour (4.5 hours)An hour from Tulum lies the ancient Mayan village of Coba, surrounded by lush vegetation and large lagoons. It was once a busy commercial center and traded extensively with other Mayan settlements in the Quintana Roo area, and today boasts many impressive archaeological wonders. During your 1-hour guided tour, climb the tallest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan region, the Nohoch Mul Pyramid, and enjoy panoramic views over the rainforest canopy from 140 feet (42 meters) high. Admire the engraved-stone buildings in the Mayan Ball Court and learn of the beliefs and lifestyles of the ancient Mayan people. Explore on your own for another hour after your tour.After a long day of exploring ancient Mayan ruins, relax on the 2-hour drive back to your Cancun or Playa del Carmen hotel.
Chichen Itza from Riviera Maya
This famous archaeological sites is one of the most impressive examples of the Maya-Toltec civilizations. The site is dominated by the large central pyramid called El Castillo and the surrounding buildings include the Temple of the Warriors or 1,000 Columns, the Ball-court and the well or cenote from which Chichen Itza takes its name. The archaeological site is surrounded by underground rivers, natural wells and limestone that the Mayans used to construct their magnificent buildings. Discover entire cities that are only just beginning to reveal the secrets of their founders' glorious past! A guided visit to the site usually lasts about 90 minutes followed by 45 minutes of free time to explore on your own or to give the more energetic the opportunity to bargain with the locals for some of the handicraft items for sale.
Playa del Carmen Jungle Tour: Tulum, Cenote
Enjoy convenient morning pickup from your hotel in Playa del Carmen, and travel with your guide to Tulum, the Walled City that boasts an enviable location. Mounted on the edge of a bluff, Tulum towers above the Caribbean Sea and a flawless white sandy beach. At the ruins, learn about the now-abandoned city that was only inhabited by Maya nobles, high priests and prominent citizens, and then enjoy free time on the nearby beach. Afterward, visit Rancho San Felipe, a Maya community of 30 residents; part of your tour proceeds goes to the sustainable development of local Maya communities. Meet a shaman during a traditional purification ceremony. Afterward, take a short trek into the jungle and enter Sac Actun ("White Cave") and Nohoch Nah Chich ("Giant Bird Cage"), the Yucatán region’s second and third longest cave systems.Follow your guide’s lead inside the caves, and learn about the discovery and ongoing exploration of the extensive underground river network that included passageways to Tulum. Arrive at a cenote (natural underground pool) and snorkel in clear waters, surrounded by dramatic rock formations like stalactites and stalagmites.Next, travel within the lush forest aboard a Mercedes-Benz Unimog, a massive 4x4 vehicle. You'll stop to rappel your way down 40 feet (12 meters) to Yaxmuul, another cenote. Enjoy thrills through the treetop canopy along three ziplines; be prepared for a splashy ending. Wrap up your day with a satisfying buffet lunch of homemade classic Maya fare. Then board your air-conditioned transport and relax during the ride back to Playa del Carmen. Your full-day tour concludes with drop-off at your hotel in the evening.
Costa Maya Shore Excursion: Chacchoben Day Trip
Start your shore excursion with pickup from the Costa Maya cruise port and head to the ancient ruins of Chacchoben, located in the jungle about 45 minutes from the coast. Upon arrival at the ruins, your experienced guide will lead your group on a circular path through this important archaeological site, explaining the significance of several excavated and restored temple pyramids, as well as the many walls and staircases that comprise the ancient city. Hear insights into the mysteries of the Mayan civilization that inhabited the site, which lay buried in vegetation and was known only to local farmers until the 1970s. You’ll learn how the Mexican Institute of Archaeology and History (INAH) excavated and restored the site in 1994 and eventually opened it to the public nearly a decade later. Be sure to look for traces of red pigment that originally coated the structures, and try to decipher the hieroglyphic inscription at the base of the largest pyramid.Chacchoben, meaning ‘red corn,’ was most likely settled by the first inhabitants of the Costa Maya region during the late pre-classic period around 200 BC. However, it wasn't until the early classic period (200-600 AD) that the monuments and main governmental buildings were built, only to be abandoned and then partially repopulated during the post-classic period (900-1519 AD).Your guide will share knowledge of the area’s flora and fauna, including a wide variety of tropical plants, such as the magnificent Coroso palm trees, which are common to many Mayan sites. Keep an eye and ear out for toucans, spider and howler monkeys, deer, gray fox and armadillos that inhabit the tropical forest around Chacchoben, and learn about the jaguars, ocelots, pumas and tapirs that can be found deeper in the jungle. After your tour, you’ll have an opportunity to visit the gift shop before your driver returns you by air-conditioned transport directly to the port. Worry-free Shore Excursion:We will ensure your timely return to the Costa Maya cruise port for this activity. In the rare event your ship has departed, we will arrange for transportation to the next port-of-call. If your ship is delayed and you are unable to attend this activity, your money will be refunded. See our terms and conditions for full details.
Cirque du Soleil® JOYÀ at Vidanta Riviera Maya
After pickup from a central meeting point in Cancun's hotel zone, head to Cirque du Soleil’s theater, located in the Riviera Maya tropical forest north of Playa del Carmen. Enter the custom-built semi-amphitheater with a thatched roof, exclusively built for JOYÀ, opening in November 2014, the first permanent Cirque show outside of the US. The different seating packages are outlined in the Itinerary below. If you opted for seating with dinner, please note the dinner service begins an hour before the performance. As the lights dim, settle in and prepare to lose yourself in a surreal wonderland that only Cirque du Soleil can bring. Inspired by the migratory journey of the monarch butterfly in which life is passed from one generation to the next, JOYÀ reveals a world inhabited by entrancing characters who work hand in hand to perpetuate the love of life. Follow the adventures of rebellious teenage girl Joyà, who is whisked away to a mysterious jungle by her alchemist grandfather. They uncover a hidden gem in the mangroves, after which Joyà must face a series of outlandish challenges that her mischievous grandfather has secretly set out for her in his fantastical world.After the 75-minute show ends, blink your eyes back into reality and then enjoy return transport to Cancun. To view the seating chart select View Additional Info.