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Guide to Playa del Carmen for Families

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Only 90 minutes South of Cancun, Playa del Carmen is a small community of about 20 hotels surrounded by beautiful white sands, turquoise waters, and a laid-back atmosphere perfect for families with kids. Most of the hotels offer 'all-inclusive packages,' including day and night-time activities suitable for the whole family, and there's plenty of family-friendly action to enjoy outside of the resorts too.

Good for
  • Family
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Beach Goer
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Like a Local

9 Places

5 City Tips

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Map

9 Places

Xaman Ha Aviary

Nature & Wildlife Areas, Zoos

Dolphin Discovery

Other Outdoor Activities

Quinta Avenida

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Tres Rios Ecopark

Nature & Wildlife Areas, Parks

Ruins of Tulum

Ancient Ruins

El Fogon

Restaurants

Ah Cacao Chocolate Cafe

Restaurants

Xel-Ha

Nature & Wildlife Areas, Zipline & Aerial Adventure Parks, Water Parks

Cozumel

Destinations

Monica U's City Tips

  • The best way to experience Playa del Carmen is on foot; everything is so close by.
  • It is best to organize tours once you arrive. (You can usually negotiate the price in person).
  • It is customary to leave a tip of 10% at restaurants.
  • If you are going to do day trips as a family, it is cheaper to rent a car. Tourist attractions are usually well sign-posted making it easy to find them!
  • It is best to carry plenty of cash with you when visiting ruins, cenotes, and adventure parks. ATM's can be hard to find.
  • Save
    Xaman Ha Aviary
    Nature & Wildlife Areas, Zoos
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    Xaman-Ha is a wonderful aviary located a little south of Playa del Carmen, in a residential area called Playacar. It has a great collection of plants, trees, and over 200 tropical birds. The private tours take about 45 minutes and offer valuable information about the plants and animals native to the territory. Kids will marvel at the numerous iguanas, butterflies, and other small mammals that call Xaman their home. All the birds are kept in their natural habitat too, making it a really pleasant experience.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Family
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • No food or drinks are allowed inside the aviary, so arrive well-fed and hydrated.
    • The visit to the Aviary can take the whole day, but multiple entries on the same day are allowed if you'd like to break up your visit.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #65 of 122 things to do in Playa del Carmen
    • Up close and personal, Flamingos were my favorite! 28/08/2017
    • Terrible and upsetting 23/08/2017
    • Xaman Ha Aviary
    Address:
    Paseo Xaman-Ha
    Playacar
    Playa del Carmen
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 984 873 0593
    Other:
  • Save
    Dolphin Discovery
    Other Outdoor Activities
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    Swimming with dolphins is one of those 'must do' activities for the whole family, and Dolphin discovery — located only 10 minutes from Playa del Carmen, in Maroma Beach — is one of the best places to do this. Here, kids can pet the dolphins and swim with them in the same pool, while wearing a protective vest. The highlight of the day is definitely the moment when two dolphins propel you to the surface, by nudging the soles of your feet!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Pictures of your experience with the dolphins are not included in the price.
    • Make sure you arrive at least 30 minutes before your allocated time.
    • Use biodegradable sunscreen to protect the dolphins and their environment.
    • Don't forget to bring your towel and some cash for meals, souvenirs, etc.
    • If booking a space for a 'free' child (aged 0-5 years), book only for the paying adults and then send an email requesting to add the child.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #67 of 335 Outdoor Activities in Playa del Carmen
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great family encounter 24/09/2017
    • Amazing Experience Overshadowed by Price Gouging! 19/09/2017
    • Dolphin Discovery
    Address:
    Autopista Cancun - Chetumal KM 55
    Highway Chetumal- Pto Juarez km 503 + 200 Punta Maroma. Entrance Hotel & Marina El Dorado Maroma Solidaridad
    Playa del Carmen 77710
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 998 193 3360
    Other:
  • Save
    Quinta Avenida
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    No trip to Playa del Carmen would be complete without strolling along the 'Quinta Avenida.' This cobblestone street — located just a block away from the ocean — is filled with hotels, restaurants, internet cafes, souvenir shops, and trendy clothes stores. You'll also encounter street performers' mimes, and even a snake show! It is best to stroll along the avenue in the morning if you are traveling with small children. In the evening the street comes alive with music, bars, performances, and fantastic restaurants lit by candlelight.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • There is no need to make reservations at any of the restaurants, just turn up and grab a table.
    • It is perfectly acceptable to haggle on the prices with many of the street vendors, and in some of the shops too.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #10 of 122 things to do in Playa del Carmen
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A bustling avenue with something for everyone. 24/09/2017
    • Good to visit - Good food - don't expect to find deals 21/09/2017
    • Quinta Avenida
  • Save
    Tres Rios Ecopark
    Nature & Wildlife Areas, Parks
    Monica U Says:

    For a great family excursion, rent a car and head about 10 minutes' drive from Playa del Carmen to natural eco-park Tres Rios. This beautiful park consists of 123 hectares of tropical forest and features three natural rivers, 10 cenotes, and more than 90 species of animals and 120 species of plants. Here, the whole family can hire snorkeling gear (kayaks are also available) and discover fascinating coral reefs beneath its crystalline waters, plus swim in the river in the middle of the jungle and discover more about the process of reforestation at the botanical gardens. An unforgettable natural journey that will surprise and delight all your loved ones!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Hidden Gems
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The park is open every day from 9am until 5pm.
    • The entrance fee includes unlimited use of bicycles, canoes, kayaks, hammocks, life jackets, showers, and some of the park's attractions.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #28 of 156 things to do in Cancun
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • We had a wonderful time at Hacienda Tres Rios. 13/09/2017
    • the people are the best ever 30/08/2017
    • Tres Rios Ecopark
    Address:
    Carretera Cancun - Playa del Carmen Km. 40
    Cancun
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 984 877 2400
    Other:
  • Save
    Ruins of Tulum
    Ancient Ruins
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    If Chichen Itza is too far a trek or too long a day out for the kids, the whole family are sure to enjoy the ruins at Tulum instead. Located just an hour away from Playa del Carmen, Tulum is a 700-year-old Mayan city that was built late in the 13th century, during the Mayan post-classic period. These amazing ruins are right next to the ocean — so kids can have a swim here too — and one of its most popular features is 'El Castillo,' a 12 meter-high limestone cliff overlooking the Caribbean. Tulum (which means 'the wall') is the only Mayan city built on the coast and well worth a family trip.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Tulum can get crowded around midday with visitors so try to get there early.
    • There are only a few ATM's in Tulum so it is best to bring plenty of cash with you.
    • If you rent a car, Highway 307 is a direct and safe road to Tulum. It takes an hour from Playa del Carmen.
    • The bus from Playa del Carmen to Tulum is a convenient and budget-friendly way to get to the site.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 87 things to do in Tulum
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Well organized, breath-taking 24/09/2017
    • Enjoyed 24/09/2017
    • Ruins of Tulum
    Address:
    Carretera federal 307 Cancun - Chetumal Km 230
    Tulum 77780
    Mexico
    Price range:
    USD 60 - USD 60
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    08:00 - 17:00
  • Save
    El Fogon
    Restaurants (Mexican, Latin, Central American)
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    An inexpensive yet tasty restaurant for a family meal out, El Fogon is conveniently located just a little way off 'La Quinta Avenida' (30th Avenue and Constituyentes). It is a typical tacos, tortas, and 'tacos al pastor' place, and though the salsas can be a bit spicy, the servings are big and there are plenty of 'aguas frescas' (cold drinks) to keep the kids happy. Sharing is definitely encouraged and this place won't break your budget!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Family
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Occasionally, you might need to queue for a while outside on the street because this restaurant is so popular.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #39 of 1,003 restaurants in Playa del Carmen
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Consistently delicious 24/09/2017
    • Wonderful local restaurant that is mostly packed with locals. 22/09/2017
    • El Fogon
    Address:
    Avenida Constituyentes
    Playa del Carmen 12345
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 984 803 0885
    Price range:
    USD 5 - USD 10
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 23:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Ah Cacao Chocolate Cafe
    Restaurants (Mexican, Cafe)
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    For a quick chocolate treat, this beautiful cafe offers 'everything chocolate' and is a guaranteed kid-pleaser. Its cacao beans are native to Central America, where the old Mayan and Olmec civilizations first planted them around 3000 years ago. Don't miss the sipping chocolate and of course the chocolate cakes. Kids will also love the ice-chocolate served here on a hot day.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Ah Cacao also has a shop, selling great souvenir-type products to take home for family and friends.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #32 of 1,003 restaurants in Playa del Carmen
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great spot for a break 24/09/2017
    • My go to coffee spot! 23/09/2017
    • Ah Cacao Chocolate Cafe
    Address:
    5th Avenue
    Between 38th and 40th streets, Via 38 Condominium
    Playa del Carmen 77720
    Mexico
    Price range:
    USD 2 - USD 20
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    07:15 - 23:30
    Other:
  • Save
    Xel-Ha
    Nature & Wildlife Areas, Zipline & Aerial Adventure Parks, Water Parks
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    Xel-Ha is one of the best places for snorkeling with the kids. This natural aquarium park is the largest aquarium in the world and the water here is very calm. If you are traveling with smaller children, there is a special pool for them to play in, plus the 'Lazy River' attraction is the perfect spot to hop on a tube together and simply relax.

    Good for
    • Family
    • Must See
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Kids under 5 can enter for free, and kids from 5-11 pay half price. Don't forget to bring your ID.
    • Xel-Ha is very close to Tulum, so a great day trip could involve Tulum in the morning and then Xel-Ha in the afternoon.
    • The entrance price includes the use of all snorkeling equipment (however there is a refundable deposit).
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 82 Nature & Parks in Riviera Maya
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great park 24/09/2017
    • snorkel in mangle 23/09/2017
    • Xel-Ha
    Address:
    Km 240 Carretera Chetumal Puerto Juarez
    locales 1 & 2, modulo B, Solidaridad
    77780
    Mexico
    Phone:
    1-855-326-2696
    Other:
  • Save
    Cozumel
    Destinations
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    Cozumel island is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful islands in the world! Located only 45 minutes by ferry from Playa del Carmen, it has plenty of activities suitable for the whole family. It is home to the second largest coral reef in the world, and its beautiful and tranquil beaches are perfect for snorkeling, diving, playing, relaxing; and of course, enjoying some delicious food. Plus, kids' favorite theme park, 'Discover Mexico,' is here, where they can explore replicas of real archaeological sites and experience authentic Mexican culture and traditions. In short, Cozumel is guaranteed fun for the whole family!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Family
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Ferries from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel run every hour.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    • Cozumel
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