Things to do in Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya
Get Set for an Adventure
Mahekal Beach Resort is home to 800 feet of beautiful beach, sparkling turqouise waters and beautiful resort-style pools. Still, you can't come all the way to Riviera Maya without experiencing the area's illustrious entertainment and history. Our team will be happy to tell you what to do in Playa del Carmen, but we've put together the list below so you can begin planning your trip and get excited for Playa.
Things to do in Playa del Carmen
Bask in Beachfront Bliss
The beach is one of Playa del Carmen's main draws, and for good reason. Crystalline turquoise water, soft sand, and towering groves of coconut palms create a picture-perfect setting that will please even the most discerning beach bum. The beach at Hotel Las Palapas is one of the nicest in all of Playa del Carmen, offering a wide swath of sand, palapas for shade, and plenty of chaise lounge chairs for our guests.
Experience Mayan Cuisine
Playa del Carmen is fast becoming a destination for foodies. Though restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world can be found throughout town, we especially recommend sampling some of the local delicacies while you're visiting. Why not experience a complete authentic Mayan cultural experience at our Mayan Casita? Fresh local seafood prepared according to traditional Mayan recipes (think fresh fish seasoned with the flavorful Mexican herb epazote and steamed in banana leaves) is their specialty. Read more about it on our blog here
See the Sea
Playa del Carmen is a top diving destination, and our on-site dive and snorkeling shop can help you arrange excursions for diving, snorkeling, and all other water activities. Snorkeling or scuba diving in the crystal-clear Caribbean offers an incredible chance to see living coral reefs and sea life up close. You'll be surprised at the amount of activity under the water's surface, like a hidden city of sea life. Look for rays, eels, and the famous sea turtles who make the colorful coral reef their home.
An Evening (or Day) Out
Quinta Avenida, Playa del Carmen's main corridor, is a five minute stroll away from Hotel Las Palapas, and is the place to see and be seen. Perch at one of the many open-air bars and restaurants for excellent people watching or head to one of the popular nightclubs for sets from some of the world's greatest DJs. If you're looking for daytime dancing, Playa del Carmen has a number of beachfront bars that are bustling every afternoon and evening. The most popular, Mamita's, is located on the beach right next door to Hotel Las Palapas. (Hotel Las Palapas is now closed, and will reopen in December, 2015 as part of Mahekal Beach Resort.)
Just like New York City's storied corridor of the same name, Fifth Avenue (or Quinta Avenida) is a shopper's paradise. You'll find deals on fine silver jewelry, home accessories, Mexican ceramics, and other souvenirs just a short walk away from Mahekal Beach Resort. Prices are generally in Mexican pesos but some of the larger shops also accept US dollars.
Things to do in Riviera Maya
Explore the spectacular Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, Coba, Tulum, and Ek-Balam. All are located within a one- to three-hour drive and day trips can be easily arranged from Mahekal Beach Resort. Marvels of architecture and engineering, the ruins offer breathtaking vistas and a firsthand glimpse of Maya civilization.
Xcaret is an eco-archaeological theme park offering activities and experiences that explore that natural and cultural wonders of the region. Learn about the coral reef in the aquarium, explore an ancient Mayan village, and snorkel through a natural network of underground rivers at this park with activities for the whole family.
Akumal means "place of the turtles" in the Mayan language, and the name still rings true today. In Akumal, fresh rainwater trickles into the salty Caribbean Sea, creating a nutrient-rich environment that supports a wide variety of marine life, including sea turtles! A top destination for snorkeling, Akumal is located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, making it a great stop on the way to see the ruins or a day trip in itself.
Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
An UNESCO biosphere preserve, Sian Ka'an means "Origin of the sky" in the Mayan language. Tropical forests, mangroves, and a barrier reef provide a habitat for a remarkable number of species in this hub of biodiversity. Local residents include jaguars, ocelots, spider monkeys, manatees, and over 300 species of tropical birds! Sian Ka'an is achingly beautiful and a must-see for any nature lover or animal enthusiast.
On a clear day, it's easy to spot the island of Cozumel from the beach at Mahekal Beach Resort. Located 6.2 miles from the mainland, you can catch a ferry from Playa del Carmen and take the roughly 45-minute ride out for a fun-filled day on the island.
Cenotes are deep water-filled sinkholes formed by rainwater seeping through the porous limestone of the Yucatan Peninsula. An underground network of rivers and caves has formed over the centuries, and many cenotes are easily accessible for diving and snorkeling. These magnificent places are heavily adorned with stalagmites and stalactites surrounding deep pools of crystal-clear water, creating a dramatic natural wonder. Day trips to visit these other-worldly caverns can easily be arranged through the front desk and diving excursions via the dive center.
Founded in 1543, Valladolid is a Spanish Colonial town that has played a large role in Mexico's history. Stroll through the main plaza for a good dose of colonial charm and visit the stunning cathedral.
Aktun Chen is a hidden gem of ecological wonder near Akumal. Explore an incredible cave, explore the jungle canopy via zip line, snorkel through a vast cenote, and meet native species like spider monkeys and parrots.