There are many opportunities for adventure in Playa del Carmen and along the Riviera Maya. From sky-diving to cenote diving, zip-lining, snorkeling with whale sharks (seasonal) and more.
There are a few adventure parks along the Riviera Maya, the main one being Xplor, which has zip-lining and underwater cave discovery tours. I haven’t been myself as it is not cheap, but I’m sure it would be a fun day out if you don’t mind paying for the ticket.
I was given a free pass to Aktun Chen nature park for a freelance job I was doing, which is a smaller version of Xplor. Tickets still aren’t cheap (around US$100 for a full day pass), so I probably would not have paid for the privilege, but I did enjoy zip-lining through the jungle (unfortunately they didn’t allow cameras on the ziplines and want you to pay for photos).
The full day tour starts with the zip-lining, then a tour of an underground cave system. After a basic but adequate lunch, you are taken on a snorkeling tour of a pristine underwater cenote. It was absolutely magnificent and probably the clearest cenote I’ve ever been in.
We went horse riding along the beach at Rancho Baaxal, about 20 minutes north of Playa del Carmen. It was a great day out, riding through the jungle and along the beach. The owners of Ranch Baaxal are dedicated to the health and well-being of their horses, which are mostly rescues from other ranches. Our tour cost around US$70 per person, and they also conduct full-moon evening rides.
Whale Shark Tours
The season for snorkeling with these giants of the deep is technically May to September, with July being the best time to go. We went in mid August and saw plenty of sharks. There is no shortage of tour companies around town who offer tours. We booked through Graham at The Snorkel Shop on Mamitas street and were happy with the service we received.
The normal price for the tour is US$165, which includes transport to the port near Cancun, snorkel gear (including life jackets), and a light lunch of ceviche and sandwiches off the coast of Isla Mujeres.
We received a group discount, so if you can get a few people together you may be able to do the same.
And yes, it is absolutely worth it for this once in a lifetime experience.
If you are prone to sea-sickness, come prepared for a long boat ride out to the whale’s feeding ground (about 1 1/2 hours). A few on our boat got very ill.
Divers will love diving these caverns filled with fresh water. Most dive centers around town offer cenote dives, and a popular spot is Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) cenote, located 51 KM south of Playa del Carmen, just north of Tulum (I’m not a diver so that’s about all the info I know!).
We both did a tandem skydive with Skydive Playa, who are at this stage the only company in town. It’s not a cheap endeavour, particularly if you want video footage, like we did.
Tandem jumps are US$250, and the video is $150. Not cheap, but my, oh my, the views! It’s a beautiful place to do it, and I’m so glad my first jump was over the beautiful Caribbean coast of Mexico which I love so much.
We found the service quite professional. They have a good reputation and have been operating in Playa for over 17 years. Check out my video here!