We love these 10 memorable Playa del Carmen experiences

Playa del Carmen

Looking for some memorable experiences to try in or near the wonderful Mexican resort town of Playa del Carmen? Here are 10 must-try activities that go beyond the typical tourist attractions.

Take a traditional Mayan cuisine cooking class

Imagine cooking recipes from the Mayan tradition, using the methods of a mystical culture, evoking emotions through smells and tastes that date back centuries. The Cooking School El Pueblito, located in the heart of Mayakoba resort gives visitors the chance to do exactly that. As part of the classes, the school takes students to the main Mayan communities to learn the traditions and customs of the community. The chef teaches the Mayan cooking techniques and receipts like ‘Cochinita Pibil in Pib’, ‘black stuffing’, handmade tortillas, and the use of the traditional metate.

Swim in the Mayan underworld at a cenote

Walk into the center of the earth at the Aktun Chen cavern, which means ‘cave with a sinkhole.’ National Geographic named it as one of the top 10 best underground walks of the world.  A specialised guide will accompany you and enchant you with stories and legends of this mystic system of caves that dates back five million of years. Once you pass 600 metres of stunning rock formations, you’ll reach the dazzling crystal waters of a cenote. A shiny ceiling of stalactites and stalagmites will make you feel you are standing in an underground cathedral.

Dive in the longest underground river of the world

Diving is amazing, but diving in the longest underground river of the world, is something else. The Sac Actun System is a network of underwater caves that stretches for over 350 kilometres, making it the longest in the world. You can explore this incredible natural wonder with a certified guide and marvel at the ancient rock formations, fossils and crystal-clear water. You’ll need to have some diving experience and a good sense of adventure to enjoy this unique experience.

Visit Playa del Carmen’s Frida Kahlo Museum

If you are a fan of art and culture, you should not miss the Frida Kahlo Museum in Playa del Carmen. This museum is dedicated to the life and work of one of Mexico’s most iconic artists. You can learn about her biography, her relationship with Diego Rivera, her political views and her influence on artists from around the world. The museum features interactive exhibits, original paintings, photographs and personal objects that belonged to Frida. You can also enjoy a multimedia show that recreates some of her most famous paintings. This museum is a great way to discover the essence of this remarkable woman.

Work on your tan at some of the best beaches in the world

Okay, so maybe sitting on the beach in Playa del Carmen isn’t the most original experience, but it’s the reason most people come to this incredible corner of Mexico. You can spend all day relaxing, swimming in the clear waters and soaking up the sun’s rays, but you should at least to a section of the coast that is  less crowded than the main beach in the downtown area. Try Playa Mamitas, Playa Maroma or Playa Xcalacoco. You can also take a ferry to Cozumel island, which has some of the best snorkelling and diving spots in the Caribbean.

Discover the coast on a boat tour

Take a boat tour to explore the stunning coastline of Playa del Carmen. You’ll get a different perspective of the area and might even spot some wildlife, such as dolphins, turtles and rays. There are many options for boat tours, from catamarans to sailboats, from private charters to group excursions. You can choose a tour that suits your preferences, whether you want to snorkel, fish, party, or just relax. Some of the most popular destinations for boat tours are Isla Mujeres, Puerto Morelos and Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

Whiz through the forest on a zip line

For a bit of adventure, try ziplining through the forest canopy surrounding Playa del Carmen. You’ll feel the adrenaline rush as you soar above the trees and enjoy the views of the jungle and the ocean. There are several places where you can zipline in Playa del Carmen, such as Selvatica, Xplor and Xel-Ha. These parks also offer other activities, such as ATV rides, cenote swimming and bungee jumping.

Taste local flavours on a food tour

One of the best ways to get to know a place is through its food. Playa del Carmen has a rich and diverse culinary scene, influenced by Mayan, Mexican and Caribbean cultures. You can sample some of the local delicacies on a food tour, where you’ll visit different restaurants, street stalls and markets, and learn about the history and traditions behind each dish. Some of the foods you can try on a food tour are cochinita pibil, panuchos, salbutes, ceviche and churros. You’ll also get to taste some of the local drinks, such as horchata, hibiscus water and mezcal.

Explore the underworld at Rio Secreto

Rio Secreto is a natural reserve that protects one of the most impressive underground rivers in the world. You can join a guided tour to explore this hidden gem, where you’ll walk, swim and crawl through a series of caves and tunnels, admiring the stunning rock formations, stalactites and stalagmites. You’ll also learn about the importance of this ecosystem for the Mayan culture and the environment. Rio Secreto is a magical and unforgettable experience that will make you appreciate the beauty and mystery of nature.

Seek out local life at Parque Los Fundadores

If you want to get a glimpse of the local life and culture in Playa del Carmen, head to Parque Los Fundadores, a public park located at the end of the famous Fifth Avenue. This public park is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, where you can enjoy some free entertainment, such as live music, folk dances and street performers. You can also admire the iconic Portal Maya sculpture, a 16-meter-high arch that represents the Mayan calendar and the 2012 prophecy.

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