If you are wondering about the Things to do in and around Playa del Carmen with Kids, you’ve come to the right place. Besides relaxing on the beach (the main reason why one comes here, no?), we listed some of the activities that you can enjoy as a family on the Riviera Maya. At the end of the article you’ll also find very useful tips to avoid being scammed, like it happened to us!
Playa del Carmen with Kids – Quinta Avenida or 5th Avenue
Quinta Avenida is is the main street in Playa del Carmen. Here you’ll find everything from shops and bars to restaurants. You name it, they have it! If you are looking for souvenirs, the avenue is lined with an array of shops. Some street vendors can be bothering, just ignore them and continue your way. Same goes for the taxis waiting at the intersections of the streets.
Playa del Carmen with Kids – Tulum Mayan Ruins with Kids
When you park the car, some guys will tell you to pick up a map of the ruins. Be aware that this is just an excuse to sell you an overpriced boat tour and has nothing to do with the actual ruins. Just lock your car and make your way to the archeological site, skip the hut!
There’s a small train that can take you from the parking lot to the ticket office. Although it is not expensive, we found it faster taking the shaded walk to the ticket office. To visit the ruins, we paid 65 Pesos per adult and the kids were free. We also bought the picture pass but this wasn’t necessary as nobody was checking. So, save yourself 45 Pesos and skip the pass.
Oh boy, it is hot- so HOT. Also there’s almost no shade on the actual site of the ruins. Bring a lot of water (you can’t buy any on site) and if you want, your bathing suite because there’s a beautiful beach right under the ruins. That is, if it’s not crowded. So arrive very early if you want to avoid an overpopulated beach.
TIP: Also visit the archeological sites of Coba and Chichen Itza!
Playa del Carmen with Kids – Cenotes Dos Ojos with Kids
Snorkeling or swimming in a Cenote (freshwater pool) is a must do when visiting Riviera Maya. What we liked in Dos Ojos is that once you pay the entrance fee, you are free to go where you want. You don’t need a guide who shows you around like in some other Cenotes. At Dos Ojos, there are 6 different Cenotes that you can visit. A life vest is included in the ticket price. There are lovely areas with hammocks where you can have a picnic.
Playa del Carmen with Kids – Akumal Beach Turtle Swimming with Kids
You need to arrive early in order to avoid the tour groups which will invade the waters of Akumal. If you arrive by car, park opposite the Akumal Dive Center, which is the closest parking to the beach. It will cost you 20 Pesos per hour. Cheaper parking is available at 50 Pesos flat rate at the entrance of Akumal.
After parking, don’t be fooled by the people who intercept you! You don’t need a guide to snorkel in Akumal! Bring or rent a snorkel equipment and a life vest and you are good to go! We can recommend the Akumal Dive Shop. We paid 60 Pesos per life jacket and 120 Pesos for a locker. This was way less than what they asked for at the beach. Of course, observe the rules of not touching the turtles and put sunscreen at least 1,5h before the dive and you will have the most amazing time in Akumal.
A magical experience
Swimming with turtles is a dream come true. We’ve been to the Maldives, Mauritius and the Seychelles but seeing turtles while snorkeling right from the beach is the best water experience ever!
After the swim treat yourself to a drink at Buena Vida in North Akumal. It is a restaurant/ bar in a beautiful setting by the sea, however we found the food to be disappointing.
We skipped on purpose…
Of course there is a lot more to do in Playa del Carmen with kids. Maybe you are wondering about theme parks like Xcaret, Xplor, Xel-ha and Aktun Chen. Well, although it might be a fun activity, there are mainly two reasons why we skipped it. First, it is all superficial and second, it literally costs an arm and a leg. Why would you go there when you have the Cenotes or the same activities but in a natural setting only a few miles away? Sorry, but we can only urge you to skip these horrendously expensive tourist traps and save some money!
Tips to avoid being scammed on Playa del Carmen
• When you arrive at Cancun airport, we can recommend SuperShuttle. We had a private van that took us to our hotel on Playa del Carmen. For the return you just call a number (at least a day before!) and tell them what day and time you want to be picked up. The drivers were very friendly and on time!
• If you happen to rent a car, be careful when at the gas station. We paid with a 500 peso note and the attendant switched it quickly in his hand and showed a 50 peso note. This happened so fast that we thought we actually gave a 50 and we needed to pay more. Both notes look very similar, so it’s easy to trick the tourists. But actually, we were convinced that we had been scammed, so on the way home we stopped again at the gas station to claim the money back. It took some very basic explanation in Spanish about what happened and a 500 note was returned to us immediately. So as a general rule, be aware and alert because they know very well how to trick you!
• Don’t rent a car with NÜ Car Rentals! We wasted 1 hour when picking up the car and then they still needed to clean it. Icing on the cake, the gas tank was empty! Very bad experience!