Playa del Carmen on the beautiful Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Caribbean coast is the perfect happy medium between the tourist mecca of Cancun and the boho hippy chic of Tulum. Situated halfway between these two vacation hotspots, it offers the best of both worlds, with beaches and nightlife to rival Cancun but with a far more laidback and relaxed vibe (and far smaller crowds!).
Its warm, shallow waters and endless sunny days make it a wonderful vacation destination for sun worshippers, families, and lovers of luxury alike, but at first glance, the golden sand and exceptional resorts might not call out to extreme sports enthusiasts.
But adrenaline junkies would be wise not to overlook this little corner of paradise. Because below the surface lies some of the most exciting extreme sports opportunities around! And there’s nothing quite like a gorgeous beach to relax on after a day of thrills, spills, and adventure, after all! So next time you cruise through the Mexican Riveria, check out these exciting opportunities for extreme sports.
When we said there was excitement below the surface, we meant it literally! Playa del Carmen is one of the best places in the world to try your hand at heading beneath the ground and taking on the underwater world of cave and cavern diving.
The reason Playa is the perfect spot for these amazing adventures is its abundance of cenotes. Cenotes are underground caverns filled with water, all interconnected beneath the surface of the earth, and particularly accessible here due to the thin surface layer of limestone on which Playa (and the entire Yucatan Peninsula) sits. They were sacred to the ancient Maya, who believed they were portals to Xibalba, the underworld.
Whether you are tempted by the vast, epic majesty of El Pit, the tight squeezes of Dos Ojos, or the mystical, everchanging colors of Cenote Carwash, an underground adventure into the world of cenote diving is guaranteed to leave you with memories you will never forget.
Although there are plenty of days when the sea is flat calm and the best thing you can do is lie back on the beach and soak up the sun, there are also days when the wind gets up and the waves get lively. There is a hurricane season in the Caribbean, after all! On windier days (not counting hurricanes!) Playa is a seriously awesome spot for kite surfing and boasts a large community of aficionados and enthusiasts.
The windy season in Playa lasts from October until the end of May, and there are usually four or five good days every week during this period! Winds of up to 22 knots mean there is decent excitement for everyone.
Kiteboarding is not allowed off the beaches in the middle of town, but Coco Beach, Playa 88, Punta Esmeralda, and Xcalacoco Beach to the north offer some fine riding. Heading south, you can kiteboard off the beaches of Playacar in front of the fancy hotels and resorts, or head a little further south to Punta Venado Bay, one of the most pristine beaches in the area and a perfect spot for beginners!
Not everyone knows this, but Playa del Carmen has its own airport! Located at the south end of town just off the end of the famous Quinta Avenida, this tiny airstrip does not have any scheduled flights and is only used by private pilots and air taxis.
The main reason anyone uses Playa del Carmen airfield (PCM) is for sky diving tours. But that seems like a pretty good reason to us! Sky diving in Playa is a pretty special experience, as the view from way up in the air is wonderful. On one side you have a gorgeous azure sea, with the lush green gem of Cozumel island adding contrast. On the other, miles and miles of deep, mysterious jungle, an emerald ocean moving gently in the breeze. Right down the middle, a band of golden sand marks the boundary between land and sea.
Plunging from 10,000 feet with all this laid out beneath you is a remarkable, unmissable experience.
The final option for thrill-seekers in Playa del Carmen is to jump on an all-terrain vehicle and head off-road! There are miles of trails and tracks crisscrossing the jungle that spreads out from the city limits, and the best way to get to grips with this wild landscape is by buggy.
There are loads of spots that offer ATV tours and buggy adventures, usually combined with a snorkeling or swimming trip to a cenote and a zipline through the jungle canopy.
As a vacation spot, Playa del Carmen offers something for everyone, so even if you are here for a luxury trip to paradise, don’t miss out on the amazing excitement that lies just beyond the city!