Playa del Carmen Sightseeing
…this place is overwhelming on the eyes…
Sometimes I get too carried away with the sun and sea and forget about the other ‘S’ in Playa del Carmen – not sand, but sightseeing.
What a fool!
Playa Del Carmen is right in the center of the Mayan Riviera so there are so many different sights to enjoy.
Some of the sights start on the sand.
Like the big mermaid statue at the end of the beach.
Or Turtle Bay, where you can snorkel with…turtles of course.
But get away from the beach and a whole new world of wonder appears.
With a mix of Mayan and modern, Playa Del Carmen offers some great sightseeing.
Where Can I Start My Sightseeing In Playa Del Carmen?
If you don’t want to stray too far from the sand then your sightseeing can start straight from the beach.
Quinta Avenida, or 5th Avenue, is a cobblestoned street that stretches over 20 blocks.
It’s full of hidden treasures.
At night the street has a charming and magical feel, with cute lights guiding the path and many little doorways leading to bars and restaurants.
In this quaint area there are a whole bunch of high-end boutiques, and there is something reminiscent about being in the South of France.
Everything leads off from Quinta Avenida.
Including the stunning Nuestra Senora del Carmen Catholic Church.
If not, you can check out some drunk Mexicans around the city (like the one below). I always find it entertaining.
That’s Not Really Sightseeing. I Thought There Were Some Maya Ruins.
Playa del Carmen is surrounded by famous Mayan ruins.
A trip to some of them is an essential part of anyone’s itinerary.
The ruins at Tulum are some of the best in the world.
It was one of the last cities that the Mayans lived in and the third most visited archaeological site in Mexico.
Dominating Tulum is the Pyramid El Castillo.
Take a photo of this and everyone will believe you had a very cultural vacation.
Its compact size makes Tulum a great half-day trip from Playa Del Carmen.
You can also combine it with nearby Aktun Chen, an incredible cavern with crazy rock formations.
Are There Any More Maya Ruins Near Playa Del Carmen?
Of course you can also visit the most famous Maya ruins at Chichen Itza.
But remember that these are three hours drive away from Playa Del Carmen.
However, they are magnificent and date back 1400 years.
You could spend a full day here exploring all the different ruins.
There are temples, columns, pyramids, and a never ending supply of things to point your camera at.
Especially El Castillo. (Yes, there is an “El Castillo” in both Chichen Itza and Tulum. It simply means “The Castle” in Spanish.)
Without a photo of this nobody will believe you went to Chichen Itza.
Forget The Ruins. I Want To See Nature.
Sian Kaan biosphere is a UNESCO world heritage site.
It’s home to over 350 species of birds and over 100 species of mammals.
Some of them are quite dangerous.
Like crocodiles and jaguars.
You don’t want to mess with them.
But most are more playful for tourists.
Like dolphins, manatees, turtles, and sea stars.
I know what you’re thinking.
Birds aren’t really that much fun, unless you’re an Englishman and that’s what Americans call chicks in bikinis.
But the ibis, spoonbills, hawks, and cormorants, are very impressive.
And they won’t get embarrassed if you point a camera at them.
At Sian Kaam you can take a boat trip through the Mangroves, snorkel on untouched coral reefs, and visit the ecological wonderland of Caya Culebras.
What Other Sightseeing Options Are There Around Playa Del Carmen?
At the north of the peninsula is Isla Holbox, a place that few tourists visit.
It’s part of a nature reserve and home to manta rays, pink flamingos, and pelicans.
But on the way you can also discover Solferino, the oldest Mayan village in the northern Yucatan.
Take a boat ride along the lagoon and then visit some Ceiba trees that are over 1000 years old.
Another option is to visit one of the many cenotes, the secret pits of water hidden in the jungle.
But I Spent The Day On The Beach. Can I Go Sightseeing At Night?
At night the best of Playa del Carmen is on the quaint streets around 5th Avenue.
Rather than listen to recommendations from me.
The best way to explore is to walk around and dip into any doors and places that look appealing.
At Chichen Itza there is a light and sound show at night.
The whole ruins come alive and turn into some kind of magical Disneyland for sightseeing enthusiasts.
So Which Sightseeing Is Best For Me?
Playa del Carmen offers a mix of attractions.
Some are walkable and a good way to break up or finish your day enjoying the beach.
With the other attractions you’ll need some private transport and a half or full day.
But they’re well worth the effort.
It’s nice to see an old piece of Mexico as well as the turquoise ocean.
And the nature around Playa Del Carmen is some of the most unique on the planet.
So don’t miss it.
There will always be another day to top up on the tan.
See you soon…
Lots of love,
It’s your turn. What are your favorite sightseeing places in and around the area? Please tell us about them in the comments section below!