The Yucatan Peninsula is home to countless archaeological sites. Many of them close to Playa del Carmen, from modest settings to large and spectacular ancient Mayan cities. And every site has its own captivating history.
Everybody who is currently staying in Playa del Carmen can’t ignore the fact that the town’s biggest event is happening: the famous BPM Festival. Electronic beats follow you wherever you go, beach clubs, bars, even some restaurants turn into instant clubs. This is great, as long as you love electronic music. If you don’t, here’s where you can avoid the crowd and the beats.
Whatever time of the year, taking a day trip or a tour to one of the many Mayan ruins is always a good option. Exchange the ubiquitous electronic beats with Mayan dance performances and culture. If you’re looking for ruins off the beaten path, we recommend Ek-Balam, a good 2 hours drive from Playa del Carmen. Its pyramid, El Torre, is one of the largest Mayan structures on the Peninsula. For more off the beaten path trips read here.
Enjoy beautiful beaches, restaurants, bars and souvenir shopping, but without all the BPM craze. Cozumel is just a short ferry ride away from Playa del Carmen, so it’s an easy day trip. Here are the activities we most recommend on the island.
You can’t visit the Riviera Maya without having plunged into at least one cenote. These natural sinkholes, sacred to the Mayas, are magical places. Cool down in their fresh water and explore a whole new underground world! These are the top 5 cenotes around Playa del Carmen.
4 Punta Soliman
This peaceful, paradisiac beach just about 15 minutes north of Tulum, is one of the Riviera Maya’s best kept secrets. Come here to relax, avoid the masses and simply unwind your mind on the large, crescent shaped bay. Just in front of the beach entrance you find Oscar & Lalo’s restaurant, famous for its seafood. Especially their ceviche and the grilled octopus will seduce your palate.
5 Plaza Punto 115
If you still want to go out for a beer, but away from the techno kids, try Plaza Punto 115. The relatively new plaza attracts mainly a local crowd. You find restaurants like Don Sirloin where you can get some delicious tacos or the Italian restaurant La Piola. There are also several bars, for example Las Helodias, where you can try very Mexican beer. At any time of the year this plaza is a nice alternative to the always busy 12th Street.
Whatever you are looking for, just ask our concierge or our staff at the front desk of Playa Palms Beach Hotel for suggestions. We are always happy to help! By the way, on January 15, the BPM festival comes to an end and Playa del Carmen returns to normality. For the moment at least.
Despite the Riviera Maya and the Yucatan Peninsula being a famous tourist destination, there are plenty of genuine gems away from the mass tourism.
1 – Isla Blanca
Every city has its best kept secrets, for Cancun this is Isla Blanca. The isolated strip of land between the Chacmuchuc Lagoon and the Caribbean Sea is just a short drive out of Cancun. Make sure to bring your own drinks and snacks, since there are no shops, only a few fruits sellers.
What to do: relax, kite surf, spend an afternoon with friends
How to get there: Drive through Cancun and take the north out toward Punta Sam.
2 – Las Coloradas
The lagoon of this tiny fishing village on the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula seems taken out of a fairy tale with its water sparkling in the prettiest pink hue. It sure is one of the most Instagram-worthy places on the planet. The color isn’t the product of a magic spell, though; it’s naturally emitted by the red plankton and the high quantity of brine shrimp that inhabits the lagoon. The miles of pristine, secluded beaches make Las Coloradas the perfect magic get away.
What to do: Take many, many pictures, be amazed, relax.
How to get there: By car, via Valladolid and Tizimin towards Rio Lagartos or by public bus via Valladolid.
3 – Rio Lagartos
The sleepy village just a bit West of Las Coloradas is best known for having the densest concentration of pink flamingos in Mexico. The town itself is very charming too, with its colorful fishermen’s houses and the boardwalk along the waterfront. Make sure to bring enough cash, since ATM’s haven’t arrived in this corner of the world.
What to do: Watch flamingos, take a walk through the town, visit the Granja de Cocodrilos Itzamkanac
How to get there: By car via Valladolid or by tour (usually includes Ek-Balam)
4 – Ek-Balam
If you’re looking to get away from the masses Chichen Itza attracts, visit Ek Balam.This surprisingly well preserved archaeological Mayan site close to Valladolid is unlike any other, mostly because of its intricate artistic details. Only the center has been excavated, with several temples, two palaces and one large pyramid, El Torre. El Torre, one of the largest Mayan structures on the Peninsula, is both in size and architecture very impressive.
What to do: Discover ancient Mayan history and marvel at the detailed ornaments and sculptures.
How to get there: By car, public bus (via Valladolid) or with a tour.
5 – Bacalar
Picture rustic cabins instead of big tourist complexes, hammocks dangling over the Caribbean Sea, and pure tranquility. You’ve arrived in the picturesque village of Bacalar and its lagoon of 7 colors. It gets its name because of the many shades of blue of the crystal clear water, due to its sandy bottom..
What to do: Swim and relax in the lagoon and count its colors, kayak, go camping, eat fresh seafood, visit the fort and the Parroquía de San Joaquín.
How to get there: With the public bus or by car (about 3 hours drive south of Playa del Carmen, make sure to have enough fuel since the only gas station between Bacalar and Tulum is in Felipe Carillo).
6 – Isla Contoy
If you are a nature lover, you just found paradise: Isla Contoy, an absolutely breathtaking island of pristine beauty with an abundant wildlife. Daily, only a few visitors are allowed access on this secluded island north of Isla Mujeres, which makes it a very exclusive experience.
What to do: Watch animals on land and under water, snorkel in the reef, eat fresh captured seafood at the beach
How to get there: By tour.
At Playa Palms Beach Hotel we are happy to help you reserving any of the above mentioned tours. Just ask our concierge or at the front desk or send us an email.