Visiting this corner of the world goes beyond simply enjoying its breathtaking beaches. Playa del Carmen has so many attractions and draws for tourists given its abundant history, landscape and culture. The Mayans left an indelible mark on the area, and just to arouse your curiosity we will highlight a few characteristics that you surely did not know about this civilization. Read on for a guide of the top attractions in Playa del Carmen.
Mayan Cities You Have To Explore
Today we continue discovering Mayan cities and buildings. For example, in March archaeologists discovered Balamku or “God Jaguar,” a system of caves that are located under the city of Chichen Itza. Second, this civilization liked to drink chocolate combined with spices.
The opportunity to explore and discover more about the Mayan civilization is right at your fingertips when you decide to visit Playa del Carmen, as well as the typical colors, sounds, flavors and customs that are quintessentially Mexican. In addition, to help you plan your vacation to the fullest, you will find our carefully curated selection of the very best and most unforgettable attractions the area has to offer.
What better way to kickstart your vacation than by impressing yourself and climbing the 130 steps to the peak of the highest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula. The ruins of Coba combine history, culture and nature, and there are so many fascinating things to learn about this site, such as the elevated roads that once connected this great and powerful city with other groups of residential areas were called sacbeob, which means white road. Keep in mind that this excursion can be done through a tour operator or you can also rent a bicycle and embark on a unique adventure to learn about the mysteries of this ancient city with friends and family.
You can’t talk about the best attractions in Playa del Carmen without mentioning the one that has been listed among the 7 wonders of the world: the Chichen Itza pyramid. This experience is unlike any other, and you will be stunned by the advanced scientific and architectural knowledge of the Mayan culture and what they were able to achieve. This archaeological site shows how this civilization integrated astronomy in its buildings and how they, in turn, aligned with its agricultural calendar. Extraordinary to say the least. To make the most of your visit, we advise you to wear a cap, very comfortable shoes and bring a bottle of water with you. You can also choose to visit this archeological area at night; however, you can only see the shadow of the feathered serpent, better known as Kukulcan, during the day.
Get yourself a co-pilot and rent a buggy to tour Playa del Carmen. Various tourist agencies offer this fun and autonomous experience. You can drive through the jungle and have the opportunity to bathe and/or dive on the surface of a cenote, and you can even visit a Mayan town. If you are with your family, you can request the 4-seat buggy. I bet you can’t imagine a better experience than this one! This is an adventure that must be lived. Nature, adrenaline, culture, crystal clear waters, and tradition are just some of the reasons to not miss this special opportunity while you’re in the area.
The other attraction that will change your life is the one that National Geographic has classified as “the perfect destination to live great adventures.” Rio Secreto is a system of rivers and underground caves that have recorded the passage of time and tell the story of the world since the Pleistocene era. The Mayans considered it the entrance to the underworld, but that is not the most incredible thing about this site; what is most astonishing about it is that it was just discovered 15 years ago (in 2006), which adds an indisputable air of enigma and mystery to it all. A visit here is strongly encouraged. This nature reserve is still under exploration by experts around the world, so we still haven’t unearthed all of its secrets.
We also recommend visiting “where the sky is born,” known as Sian Ka’an in the Mayan language. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve includes beaches, cenotes, coral reefs, jungle, dunes and an important biodiversity of birds, plants and animals, as well as archaeological sites from the 5th century A.D. The best known is Muyil, and you will be pleasantly surprised by its lush jungle and crystalline lagoon of Chunyaxche. And if you dare, we advise you to take a boat trip from one of the most important commercial ports for the Mayan culture. And if that’s not enough, here you can also find the lagoon of seven colors or Laguna Bacalar, where you will be in awe by the different shades of blue. This Reserve was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1987. But the best part is that you can camp here. Can you imagine what that must be like?! If you like camping, this is an ideal place to do it. And of course, we remind you of the importance of respecting the environment and trying to minimize your footprint and pollution during your visit as the wonder of these sites must be respected.
Top Parks To Adventure
Kantun-Chi Ecopark is an ecological park composed of grottos and cenotes. Kantun-Chi translates to “Yellow Stone Mouth.” You can swim or dive in four cenotes of crystalline waters or cross the underground cavern that connects two cenotes. You will have the chance to make the route by bicycle or horse carriage across a railroad track, besides enjoying a most scenic walk. Please note that this park does not allow the use of oils or lotions in order to preserve and protect the natural flora and fauna.
If we are talking about parks, you have to visit Xcaret, which received the notable distinction of Best Park in the World in 2018. The beauty of this park is you will have plenty to choose when it comes to things to do, and Xcaret Parks Group offers 5 other parks which you can visit as well. Each one exemplifies a wholly Mexican unique experience, but with different draws and approaches. For example, Xel-ha (which means where the water is born) is a water park where you can explore cenotes. The cenotes were sacred places where the Mayans communicated with the gods of the underworld and you will not find them anywhere else on the planet. So, you can choose between an aquatic experience, a jungle or an underground world, depending on how adventurous you are. Which one will you choose?
Take A Walk Through History
Go and spend the day learning all about the ruins of Ek Balam or “Black Jaguar,” the colonial city of Valladolid and the cenotes of X`keken as well as the Samulá in Dzinup. Valladolid is a magical town where cultural and historical wealth abounds, which you can appreciate in its colorful buildings, the Museum of the House of the Deer and the Cathedral of San Gervasio. Ek Balam is one of the recent Mayan discoveries and where it is worth visiting the Acropolis and its Hieroglyphic Snakes. Finish your excursion by bathing in the cenotes of Dzinip. You can experience this magical route in one day.
If you want an activity near the hotel, but equally as cultural and unique, you can immerse yourself in the world of Frida Kahlo, by visiting the Frida Kahlo Museum located on Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen. The museum’s location allows you to also visit the famous Fifth Avenue, which is one of Playa del Carmen’s gems. La Quinta, as it is known, is the busiest area as it offers a wide assortment of restaurants, stores, artisanal boutiques, bars and cafes, among many other enticing spots. So, after being inspired and lost in Frida Kahlo’s world, wander over to La Quinta and enjoy a stroll.
Best Beaches and Water Sports
The main attraction of Playa del Carmen is its spectacular white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. Seas that are reminiscent of swimming pools for their transparency and calmness, these waters are a feast for your eyes. Here you can sunbathe, do water sports – from kayaking to surface diving to paragliding. If you are lucky you can swim with turtles, or if you prefer a little bit of adrenaline, you can even swim with sharks. Whether you are looking to rest on hammocks or embark on adventures with your family, you cannot go wrong in choosing Playa del Carmen as your next vacation destination. Another advantage is that Playa is a short ferry ride from Cozumel, one of the diving capitals of the world, as well as a boat ride away from Isla Mujeres, and a short bus ride away from Cancun.
Finally, we want to highlight and give special recognition to all the incredible Mexican cuisine that is available in Playa del Carmen. The variety and superb quality of culinary delights that are unique to the region will be an unexpected and delectable complement to your travel experience.
Playa del Carmen is a little slice of paradise for spending a beautiful holiday. Hilton Hotels offer you the comfort and luxury you deserve when visiting Playa del Carmen, as well as all the attention and service to ensure you have the best vacation while taking advantage to visit all the must-see sites and attractions unique to this area. With so much to choose from, there’s no question an unforgettable vacation awaits you here.