Taking day trips near Playa del Carmen has never been so easy for families! As an ideal destination in the Riviera Maya, this family-friendly city is smack dab in the middle of Cancún and Tulúm. If you and your family are looking for fun day trips to take from Playa del Carmen, there are lots of exciting adventures to be had within a short drive. Whether you want to explore the history of the region through Mayan ruins, get some rest at beautiful local beaches, snorkel in one of the largest barrier reefs in the world, or seek out a new adventure at one of the area’s 7,000 freshwater cenotes, they are all easily within reach! Luckily, there is so much to do that you and your kids will never be bored. Keep reading for a guide on the Best Day Trips Near Playa Del Carmen For Families!
An Island Known for Fabulous Snorkeling and Diving
Cozumel is surely one of the best day trips near Playa Del Carmen for families! Easily accessible from Playa del Carmen, it’s known as one of the best destinations for diving and snorkeling, with a plethora of coral reefs right off the coast.
How to Get to Cozumel
At the southern end of la Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) in Playa del Carmen, turn left and you will find the ferry terminal. It runs hourly from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM for the return trip. If anyone in your family suffers from motion sickness, make sure to bring Dramamine and try to get a seat outside. The trip is only 30 minutes but can be bumpy if the sea isn’t calm. There is no direct ferry from Cancun to Cozumel. If traveling from Cancun, you’ll take the same ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel.
Note: Children under 5 ride the ferry to Cozumel for free!
Things to Do in Cozumel with Kids
Wondering about the best things to do in Cozumel with kids? From snorkeling to adventure parks, there are plenty of options. Keep reading to learn more about one of the best day trips from Cancun and Playa del Carmen!
Book a Snorkeling Tour
Cozumel is known for its stunning reefs, so it’s no surprise snorkeling is one of the most family-friendly activities here. To take advantage of the sights, you should definitely book a snorkeling tour. Offered by companies such as Cozumel Cruise Excursions or Cozumel Tours, there are various excursions to choose from. One of the most popular tours includes Palancar Reef, Columbia Reef, and El Cielo Beach. Tours include a glass-bottomed boat with snorkeling at the Palancar reef, with all kinds of sea life such as stingrays and turtles, and the Columbia reef, full of fish and coral. Plus, you can see El Cielo Beach, known for its abundance of starfish.
Ride Around Town And Do-It-Yourself
Is a tour not your style? If you’re a do-it-yourself type of traveler, you can rent a car or some scooters on the island and explore Cozumel. One fun place to stop is the Money Bar Beach Club, located at Zona Hotelera Sur, Km 6.5. Here, you can find a great restaurant and bar with plenty of food and drink options for the whole family. It’s located right on the water, at a great spot for snorkeling. There are tons of fish of all sizes and colors to see if you bring your own snorkel gear!
Visit A Beach Club
If snorkeling isn’t your thing, maybe consider visiting a beach club. One particularly popular spot is Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club, located on the south side of the island just a 15-minute taxi ride from the pier. They offer a variety of packages including an all-inclusive day pass, which includes all you can eat and drink, two pools, a private beach, kayaking, hammocks, a locker, restrooms, and a beach umbrella. You can also add in access to the aquatic park for an extra fee, which includes inflatables on the water. Other activities offered are ATV rides, horseback riding, jet skis, and parasailing. Note that they are only open Monday – Saturday.
Explore an Adventure Park
If your kids are the adventurous type, you’ll definitely love Cozumel. Mostly because you have the chance to visit an adventure park! Chankanaab Adventure Beach Park, located a 10-minute taxi ride from the pier, is great for a family excursion. It includes a beach and reef area for kids to play in, plus water sports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, snuba. Animal lovers will also appreciate the chance to go swimming with dolphins and manatees, as well as aquatic shows and a range of eco archeological tours. Note that this park is only open Monday – Saturday, and closed Sundays.
Get A Taste of Local Life at the Downtown Market
If you want to get a taste of local life, there’s no better way than by sampling some authentic Mexican food. Mercado Municipal, aka the local downtown market, is one of the best places to do so in town, not to mention really fun to explore! Located at 25th Avenue and Dr. Adolfo Rosado Salas Street, it’s just a few blocks away from the ocean. Make sure to come hungry, because you’ll find many types of vendors selling food, souvenirs, and handicrafts. There is also a public bathroom available there.
A Calm Beach Where You Can Snorkel with Turtles
If your children love sea life and splashing in the water, Akumal may be the perfect day trip for you. Translated in the native Maya language as “place of the turtle” this tiny pueblo has unparalleled access to some of the most populated shores in all of Mexico! With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Akumal is one of the best day trips from Playa del Carmen!
How to Get to Akumal
Akumal is a beautiful beach that is known for being a turtle sanctuary. Located about 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen (and about 90 minutes from Cancun), it’s accessible by car, taxi, or the public buses that run south along the highway.
Things to Do in Akumal with Kids
If you are looking to see sea turtles in their natural habitat, this is a guaranteed spot. Due to damage that was caused to the turtle habitats by visitors, you will need a snorkel guide to bring you to their protected areas. You can hire a guide once you get to the beach, and they will give you snorkel gear if you don’t have your own. You will swim out a short way off the shore and your guide will lead you to the best areas for spotting turtles, stingrays, and other sea life. There’s nothing like the magic of following a sea turtle on its journey underwater! For anyone in your family who’s not a fan of snorkeling, a peaceful beach awaits with calm, shallow water. Either way, you’ll quickly discover why this is one of the best day trips from Cancun or Playa del Carmen!
Where to Eat in Akumal with Kids
If your family is hungry after snorkeling, you may be wondering where to eat in Akumal with kids. Depending on your tastes, you’ll find many options. Head north on the beach to Half Moon Bay to find restaurants such as La Buena Vida or La Lunita. Both offer fresh seafood, Mexican specialties, and international options. Parents can enjoy specialty cocktails while they listen to the soft waves and watch their kids playing in the sand. Heaven on earth!
A Historical City Set Against a Caribbean Backdrop
Tulúm has a wide range of activities to offer families, between Mayan ruins, beautiful beaches, eco-friendly restaurants, and a small downtown area. No wonder it’s one of the best day trips near Playa Del Carmen for families!
How to Get to Tulúm
Tulúm is located about 45 minutes south of Playa del Carmen (and just over 2 hours from Cancun). It is accessible by car, taxi, or public bus. If you want to explore the area, renting a car is the easiest way to explore.
Things to Do in Tulúm with Kids
Tulúm is divided into different zones: the ruins, the hotel zone, and the downtown. If you’re looking for things to do in Tulúm with kids, look no further!
See the Ruins
One of the biggest attractions in Tulúm is the historical ruins. The Tulúm Mayan Ruins are beautifully set on a hill overlooking the Caribbean sea and well-labeled, so they make for a good cultural excursion with the family. Before you go, feel free to give your kids a little context. These ruins are thought to be a religious and ceremonial center that was inhabited as long as 1700 years ago! As you explore, you’ll notice how the ruins are quite well-preserved and that there are ample local flora and fauna to see too.
Enjoy the Beach
If you want some beach time, Tulúm is a fantastic place to spend it, with so many family-friendly beaches. Paradise Beach is a beautiful white sand beach located just south of Tulúm ruins. It’s accessible via the Paradise Beach club at Hotel Paraíso Tulúm, where you can rent a chair and grab a bite to eat. In addition, another less known but highly recommended spot nearby is Caleta Tankah. Located 20 minutes north of the Tulúm ruins off the highway, it’s accessible through the Tankah Beach Club for about 8 dollars per person. This spot boasts a freshwater cenote as well as a small cove with clear fish-filled water!
Where to Eat in Tulúm with Kids
Families looking to grab a bite to eat in Tulúm won’t be disappointed. In the hotel zone, a long strip bordering the beach, you’ll find lots of hotels and world-class restaurants. Firstly, downtown Tulúm is located west of the beach zone. Tulúm Avenue is the main street, housing many traditional Mexican restaurants and other types of eateries. Try Las Hijas de la Tostada for a variety of fresh seafood. For amazing ice cream, check out Origami Gelato.
Get Refreshed in a Natural Pool of Crystal-Clear Water
There’s nothing quite like cooling down on a hot day in Mexico by jumping in a cenote! So, if you’re looking for one of the best day trips near Playa Del Carmen for families, the Cenote Cristalino is the right one for you. In fact, it is also one of the best cenotes near Playa del Carmen!
How to Get to Cenote Cristalino
Cenote Cristalino is easily accessible off the highway heading south, around a 20-minute drive from Playa del Carmen (and about 90 minutes from Cancun). It’s the first in a series of three cenotes that are next to each other (including Cenote Azul and Jardin del Eden). Families searching for cenotes near Playa del Carmen will definitely appreciate this stretch of options. Certainly, this series of cenotes are among the best day trips from Cancun and Playa del Carmen!
Things to Do in Cenote Cristalino with Kids
Cenote Cristalino is ideal because it has a covered part for cave exploring and an open part for swimming and jumping in. Life jackets are complimentary for those who want them, and there are lounge chairs available as well. You can also sign up for a free tour, in which an experienced guide will explain the fascinating history of the region’s cenotes, pointing out the fossils and stalactite and stalagmite formations. The open area is large for swimming, and if you are daring you can also jump off the 12-foot cliff into the deep cool water. It’s truly a perfect family activity! We recommend bringing a picnic and enjoying your time at the cenotes near Playa del Carmen. There is also a snack bar there that sells small snacks and cold drinks.
La Ruta de los Cenotes
A Long Strip Between Puerto Morelos and Valladolid Filled with Cenotes
One cenote not enough for your family? You should visit La Ruta de los Cenotes! Located not too far from Playa Del Carmen, this long strip is populated with multiple cenotes near Playa del Carmen for kids of all ages.
How to Get to La Ruta de los Cenotes
Reaching La Ruta de Los Cenotes requires a little prior planning. You can research in advance which cenote you’d like to visit and hire a taxi. Or, you can rent a car and go exploring yourself. The entrance to La Ruta de los Cenotes (The Route of the Cenotes) is about a 20-minute drive north of Playa del Carmen, near Puerto Morelos. Once you turn onto the route, you will see signs along the side of the road with the names of the different cenotes.
Things to Do near La Ruta De Los Cenotes with Kids
Depending on what your preference is, there are options for everyone on La Ruta de los Cenotes. Some of the cenotes, like Kin Ha, offer horseback riding or ATV rides through the jungle, in addition to swimming in the cenotes. Others offer expansive cenotes, such as Siete Bocas (Seven Mouths), which has seven different entrances to the cenote and caves you can swim through. Kids will love to see the incredible reflection of the blue water off the walls of the caves! Enjoy your time amongst these cenotes near Playa del Carmen by swimming, cliff jumping, or floating.
Where to Eat near La Ruta De Los Cenotes with Kids
There are plenty of dining options near La Ruta de los Cenotes. Some cenotes, such as Kin Ha, have full-on restaurants offering local dishes. Others have picnic areas where you can have lunch. Or, you can head into Puerto Morelos after you leave the cenotes and enjoy a meal at one of the many fantastic restaurants, such as La Sirena with fresh seafood and Greek specialties. Or, El Boquinete, also known for local seafood dishes.
Bike around the Grounds of Ancient Mayan Ruins and View the Tall Pyramids
Active or adventurous kids will have a blast visiting Cobá. Featuring historical ruins, this ancient Mayan city is one of the best day trips near Cancun and Playa del Carmen for families!
How to Get to Cobá
There are many tour agencies offering tours to Cobá, which is convenient for families traveling in large groups. You can also hire a taxi or rent a car and drive yourself. Cobá is located about a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Playa del Carmen heading south on the highway towards Tulúm, then west (and just over an hour south of Cancun).
Things to Do in Cobá with Kids
There are plenty of fun things to do in Cobá with kids. In fact, The Cobá Archaeological Site is expansive and fun to explore. It has a tall pyramid, and a few ball courts, and was an urban area that was joined by several roads. You can rent bikes, rent a rickshaw with a guide, or walk around on your own. Make sure to bring lots of water, as some of the paths are shaded and others are quite sunny.
Where to Eat in Cobá with Kids
Wondering where to eat in Cobá with kids? Just before you reach Cobá, Pischan Restaurant is great for families. Located on the grounds of a lovely hotel called Aldea Cobá, the restaurant offers regional specialties and also boasts a Starbucks on-site.
Laguna Kaan Luum
A Shallow Aqua Lagoon Set in a Jungle Paradise
Channel your inner explorer when you visit Laguna Kaan Luum. Known for its shallow lagoon, it’s one of the best day trips near Playa del Carmen for families.
How to Get There
Laguna Kaan Luum is located off the highway about an hour south of Playa del Carmen, just past Tulúm (and just over 2 hours south of Cancun).
Things to Do in Laguna Kaan Luum with Kids
Laguna Kaan Luum is a kid-friendly oasis with lots of things to do! Swim in the large lagoon, which is nice and shallow for children. It also has swings and hammocks in the water and a viewpoint tower. In the center of the lagoon, there’s a deep blue cenote. You’re not allowed to swim here, but it makes for an impressive sight! The unique color of the lagoon is a sight in itself, and the walk on a path through the jungle is fun for kids and grown-ups alike. No wonder families say this is one of the best day trips from Playa del Carmen!
Where to Eat in Laguna Kaan Luum with Kids
Bring a cooler and plan a picnic! There are several picnic areas available for families to use. You can also choose from many restaurants in nearby downtown Tulúm after your visit.
We hope you liked this list of Best Day Trips Near Playa del Carmen by our top contributor Rebecca Giguere! With ancient ruins, cenotes, beaches, lagoons, and activities like swimming, snorkeling, bike riding, and horseback riding, the Riviera Maya has something for everyone. To get the most out of your visit to the region, we hope you enjoy one of these ideas for the best day trips with your family. For more information and photos of these and many other destinations in the Riviera Maya, you can follow @touringwiththetorres on Instagram.
Looking for more local tips and personalized advice for your trip to Mexico? Connect with Suzanne from Go Ask A Local! She’s a local guide based in Oaxaca who works all over the country and offers trip planning consultations.
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision.
*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community
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