The Top 5 Playa del Carmen Day Trips

The next best thing to staying in Playa del Carmen? Playa del Carmen Day trips.

The Mexican Caribbean is blessed with stunning towns, cities, and natural landmarks that mesmerize and enchant.

If you’re planning to stay in Playa del Carmen (or any nearby town for that matter) our list of the best Playa del Carmen day trips will keep you doing what any good traveler would do: Dream. Explore. Discover.

Here are our favorites.

5 Best Playa Del Carmen Day Trips

We’re going to break this down the easy way.

For each destination, we’ll give you a little background information about why you should visit, and then provide a suggested itinerary of what to see and do as well as how to get there.

#1 Cozumel

Cozumel Island by plane

We couldn’t make a list about Playa del Carmen day trips and not start with Cozumel.

Located just across the pond, ehm, Caribbean Sea, Cozumel Island is somewhat of a hidden treasure.

Why’s that you ask?

Because most people in these here parts see Cozumel as a place for cruise ship passengers.

As a result, they think it is more expensive and less authentic.

As someone who lives on the island, let me tell you this: wrong they are.

Sure, there are a few major streets where prices tags can get pretty hefty, but that’s mostly just along the boardwalk.

Is it really any different anywhere in that sense?

You won’t be able to do everything in one day (that goes for all destinations) so choose how to spend your time wisely.

What to do in Cozumel

• Visit the Cozumel Pearl Farm
• Spend the afternoon at a beach club
• Rent a bicycle or car and travel around the island
• Learn to spearfish
• Visit the San Gervasio ruins

We recommend:

• Have some breakfast at Corazon Contento
• Rent a car and visit the San Gervasio ruins and the island’s “Wild Side”
• Try a mojito at the Liquor Box, a.k.a. the Coconut Shack.
• In the afternoon, take a stroll around downtown Cozumel (known as San Miguel de Cozumel)
• Make sure you’re at the boardwalk for sunset!

Getting to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen

The ferry terminal in Playa del Carmen is located one block from 5th Avenue just to the south of Parque Fundadores (Founders’ Park).

There are three different ferry companies all departing from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel at the top of the hour. We recommend you take the Ultramar ferry.

The cost is $300 MXN round-trip and the journey takes about 45 minutes.

#2 Merida

In 2017, Merida received the honor of being named the American Capital of Culture for the second time this century. And for good reason.

With an estimated population of around one million inhabitants, Merida is a big, bustling, and beautiful city.

Moreover, each night local authorities organize free cultural activities for locals and visitors alike. From movies and theater to regional dance and live music, there is always something fun going on in Merida’s thriving colonial center.

Be ready to walk around and make sure you drink plenty of water. If there is anything negative about Merida is that it can be extremely hot.

What to Do in Merida

▪ Go on a free guided walking tour of downtown Merida
▪ Visit the Lucas de Galvez market
▪ Take a stroll down the beautiful Paseo de Montejo
▪ Go on a fascinating tour of local cantinas
▪ Get on the Turibus and see the all the iconic sites of Merida

We recommend:

• Get there early and start off the day with some scrumptious Wayan’e (pronounced why-ahn-eh) tacos.
• Go on a walking tour with Pink Cactus Merida
• Have lunch at La Chaya Maya
• Take a ride on the Turibus around Merida
• Hit the cantinas and experience the more spirited side of Merida

Getting to Merida from Playa del Carmen

You have to be really committed to a day trip to Merida from Playa del Carmen for this to be worth it.

That’s because you’ll either want to rent a car or take a Playa del Carmen charter to get there.

You can go by bus with ADO, however, you’ll be traveling five hours one way, which kind of takes away the idea of a day trip. By car, it’s a three-hour drive.

On our Merida charter you can get there in just under an hour flying over the Yucatan jungle.

#3 Holbox

Holbox is a spectacularly beautiful island located within the Yum Balam nature reserve. This small but growing island is a true tropical paradise.

Colorful houses line the white sand streets, and the calm, green turquoise coastal waters are as calm as they are mesmerizing.

Holbox Island is the place to relax and unwind.

Still, if you’re looking to stay active and explore you can do that too.

What to Do in Holbox

• Go on the Three Island Tour and visit the Yalahau natural spring
• Learn to kitesurf or show off your skills
• Rent a bicycle or golf cart and explore the island
• Take a long walk along the beach; at low tide, you can even walk along a sandbank in the middle of the ocean
• Absolutely nothing and enjoy it

We recommend:

• Go on the Three Island tour
• Rent a golf cart and drive around exploring the island
• Have a ceviche and some cold beers at Raices Slow Food restaurant
• Take a walk along the beach and take in the beautiful sights
• If you have time to catch sunset, do so because they’re spectacular

Getting to Holbox from Playa del Carmen

There are several options to get to Holbox from Playa del Carmen.

If you go by bus with ADO to Holbox, you’ll need to purchase your tickets in advance ($246 MXN). The bus leaves at 9:25 and arrives in the port of Chiquila at approximately 11:35. You’ll then take the 30-minute ferry over to Holbox at 12:00 p.m.

The problem is, the bus back leaves at 4:15 p.m., meaning you would need to take the ferry back to Chiquila at 3:00 or 3:30 p.m. That doesn’t leave much day in a day trip.

If you do plan to go by land and only spend the day, however, you’re better off renting a car. That way you’ll be much more flexible with your times and can both leave earlier and return later. Moreover, if you take the toll road you’ll save yourself about 30 minutes travel time.

Of course, there is another, more scenic way to get to Holbox from Playa del Carmen: by plane.

Our Holbox day trip will take you to the island early in the morning and bring you back at an agreed upon time (before sunset). Even better, the flight time is just 25 minutes and offers spectacular views of the underlying jungle, cenotes, and ocean.

#4 Bacalar Lagoon

Photo credit: Amir AdvenTours

Bacalar, known as the Lagoon of Seven Colors, is one of the region’s most breathtaking attractions.

This beautiful and tranquil town surrounding a stunning lagoon by the same name is a vacationer’s paradise.

Water activities and relaxing around the lagoon are the two biggest attractions here, but they are well worth it.

A trip to Bacalar is a picture-perfect day trip.

And, if you time it right, you may even have time to visit the nearby Kohunlich ruins.

What to Do in Bacalar

▪ Go on a boat tour of the Lagoon of Seven Colors
▪ Pay a visit to the restaurant, bookstore & gift shop El Manati in downtown Bacalar
▪ Have lunch at La Playita and take in the cool, laid-back vibes
▪ Visit the Kohunlich ruins

We recommend: doing all of the above.

Getting to Bacalar from Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen to Bacalar is a bit of a road trip, as it takes four hours by bus or three hours by car. To really make this a day trip, the only way to visit Bacalar and enjoy it in one day is by plane with Fly Playa.

Our Playa del Carmen charters offer customized itineraries that allow you to travel early and return at dusk.

Flights to Bacalar take approximately 85 minutes and allow you to fly over the Tulum ruins as well as the Sian Ka’an nature reserve.

Send us a message via our contact page or social media with your travel details and a Fly Playa representative will contact you with a proposed itinerary and price quote.

#5 Valladolid

A day trip to Valladolid offers tons of great experiences.

In fact, it’s a lot to do in one day so you’ll want to make sure you plan your trip carefully to take in everything you’d like to see and do.

Valladolid is a charming town located in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The town’s colonial center is worth taking the time to explore.

Highlights include the Casa de los Venados museum, the largest private collection of Mexican folk art in the country, a series of murals in the municipal building, and the Calzada de los Frailes, a charming colonial street that leads to the town’s historic monetary.

Moreover, just outside of town, you’ll find some of the region’s most spectacular cenotes (sinkholes).

What to Do in Valladolid

• Take a tour of the Casa de los Venados museum
• Visit the murals on the second floor of the municipal building (right next to the Tourism Office)
• Have lunch at El Amigo Casiano located in the market next to the main plaza
• Go for a walk down the Calzada de los Frailes, visit the monastery, and stop for a drink at the nearby Taberna de los Frailes (Monk’s Tavern)
• Cool off from the Valladolid heat in the adjacent X’keken and Samula cenotes
• If you have a car, head to the nearby town of Temozon and try out their world-famous smoked meats

We recommend: all of the above.

Getting to Valladolid from Playa del Carmen

You can take an early morning ADO bus in Playa del Carmen and arrive about three hours later at the downtown Valladolid bus station, which is located about three blocks from the central plaza.

Taking a car, of course, will allow you for more flexibility and you can take the toll-road and make it to Valladolid in about two hours.

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Warren Allan


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