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12 Things to KNOW Before Going Snorkeling in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

12 Things to KNOW Before Going Snorkeling in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

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Playa del Carmen is a true paradise for sun lovers like us, with some of the best beaches this side of Mexico! Dan and I always manage to find new adventures here, whether it’s sampling the tastiest street food, strolling down bustling 5th Avenue, or simply renting a car and driving wherever we feel.

We absolutely love scuba diving in Playa del Carmen, but honestly, if you’re looking for something easy and a little more affordable, you just can’t beat snorkeling. The good news? The snorkel spots here are just out of this world.

Before you grab a snorkel and jump in though, it helps to know a little bit about how to make the most of your time here! I definitely preferred some snorkel spots to others, and you’ll probably be wondering what you can see under the waves, and if it’s safe for kids to try out too.

Just like anywhere, there are also some snorkel tour operators who don’t have their customers’ best needs at heart, so I’ve included some of the best tours we’ve tried, as well as a couple that we’ve heard amazing things about.

The first thing I did after our trip was write out a bunch of notes on everything you’d need to know about snorkeling in Playa del Carmen. It all came together in this blog, which I hope you’ll find super useful when planning your trip. Let’s get started!

Don’t have time to read the full article? For a guaranteed sea turtle viewing, check out this half-day tour which includes snorkeling around a beautiful cenote. The price also includes round-trip transportation, gear, and snacks!

1. About snorkeling in Playa del Carmen

Bailey above the water with a snorkel on during a tour in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
I love being out on the water!

With over 300 days of sunshine per year, the warm waters of Playa del Carmen are just perfect for snorkeling. Yup, the water temperature here ranges from 75-84°F (24-29°C) year-round, so you can leave that wetsuit up on the hanger!

The visibility here is just epic, clocking in at around 80 to 115 feet (24 to 35 meters) deep – it just doesn’t get better than that. With crystal clear views of the gorgeous reefs sitting offshore, you’ll never want to go back! If you can, grabbing an underwater camera before you come is so, so worth it.

The local authorities also do an incredible job at protecting the reefs from overfishing and overtourism, so you can be sure that you’ll see the reefs in their best condition. From sea turtles and stingrays to angelfish and parrotfish, the marine life here is thriving, making a snorkeling trip oh-so-worth it!

Related Read: Fiji is another one of my all-time favorite places to snorkel (there are so many awesome things to do in Fiji), so if you’re thinking about where to go next after Mexico, I highly recommend it!

2. Why I love snorkeling in Playa del Carmen

Long thin fish swims past while snorkeling in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Now this fish was interesting!

Honestly, it’s hard to find a reason why not to love snorkeling here!

One of the biggest things that takes snorkeling here from good to GREAT is the town’s location. Since it’s pretty centrally located along the eastern coastline it’s easy to visit other snorkeling hotspots like Cancun, Tulum, and Akumal. In short, even once you’ve visited all the spots to see in town, you’ve got tons of choices to pick from just a short drive away!

But back in town, the calm and shallow reefs make Playa del Carmen the perfect spot for easy-going snorkeling. While scuba diving here opens up your experience beyond what you can see from the surface, the views you get while snorkeling are anything but “surface level”!

There are tons of great snorkel spots like Coco Beach and Playacar (more on these later), but you can also totally go full DIY and swim out from shore from pretty much any of the beaches. All you need to do is rent out some fins and a mask from a nearby rental spot or dive school, and you’re good to go!

3. When is the best time to go snorkeling in Playa del Carmen? 

Bailey snorkeling in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Visibility changes day to day but it’s mostly good!

It’s possible to go snorkeling year-round in Playa del Carmen, but the best time is during the dry season (November to April)! There’s little to no rain at this time of year, with plenty of sunshine, keeping visibility nice and high in the nearby reefs.

The dry season is also the peak tourist season, but if you want to visit when accommodation is cheaper, you can also travel in the wet season. This runs from May to October and, as the name suggests, brings more rain with it. That said, most of the rain happens in the afternoon, so my tip would be to go snorkeling in the morning when the conditions are best.

The wet season is also when gigantic whale sharks migrate to the area! If swimming with whale sharks in Playa del Carmen is on your bucket list (and it should be!), then this is the time to come. These gentle giants grow up to 59 feet long (18 meters) and are completely harmless to humans.

They are a little shy though and often hang out away from shore, so it’s usually best to take a tour like this whale shark snorkeling experience to maximize your chances of seeing one! This tour includes a boat ride to prime whale shark territory and once your captain spots them, you’ll jump in the water for up to three hours with these amazing creatures. Plus there’s lunch on the famous Playa Norte in Isla Mujeres, which is one of Mexico’s most beautiful beaches! You can book tickets for the whale shark tour here.

4. What can you see when snorkeling in Playa del Carmen? 

A sting ray while snorkeling in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
A sting ray!

More than you can even imagine – and then some more!

You can see all kinds of amazing marine creatures, cool reef structures, and even shallow caves while snorkeling here. Honestly, the list just goes on and on (and on)! One of the biggest draws is all the beautiful sea turtles around Playa del Carmen, including green turtles (Akumal Beach is a hotspot for these guys), hawksbill turtles, and loggerhead turtles.

But this really is just scratching the surface. Amongst all the colorful coral you’ll find docile and curious reef sharks, manta rays gliding on by, as well as more fish than you could possibly count. Really, you have to see it to believe it when it comes to spotting parrotfish, sailfish, barracuda, butterflyfish, angelfish, plus many, many more.

While the reefs are absolutely gorgeous, I’d highly recommend stopping by a cenote or two for some snorkeling while you’re here. If you’ve never heard of a cenote before, they’re basically a natural sinkhole full of permanent water (usually freshwater!). They’re great fun for all kinds of travelers, from families to couples, and Playa del Carmen is surrounded by loads of great ones (more on these below).

Related Read: The cenotes in Tulum are probably my favorites in the whole Yucatan Peninsula! If you have a day to spare, visiting Tulum from Playa del Carmen is a must – it’s only an hour away.

5. What are the best snorkeling spots in/near Playa del Carmen?

Group of white fish swim in Playa del Carmen, Mexico as seen while snorkeling
Cute fish!

Playacar Beach

This is an amazing spot to hang out, work on your tan, and go snorkeling, and the best part is that it’s right in town! Playacar Beach is great for beginner snorkelers, and it’s absolutely packed with marine life. You don’t need to swim very far at all to see all kinds of fish, lobsters, and even turtles. I’d suggest heading to a nearby dive shop and renting yourself out some fins and a snorkel and hopping in!

Although this is such a gorgeous spot, it doesn’t get very crowded at all, even during the high tourist season. Plus, for a post-snorkel meal, there are lots of great restaurants nearby like Casa Sofia (AMAZING Italian food) and Playacar Burger. So if you don’t fancy heading out of town to go snorkeling, Playacar Beach is a great choice.

Akumal Beach

A turtle swims past snorkelers at Akumal Beach in Mexico
Snorkeling at Akumal is well worth it!

If swimming with turtles is on your to-do list, then Akumal Beach can’t be missed! Just a 35-minute drive from Playa del Carmen, this gorgeous beach is easy to reach by car, by taxi, or in a collectivo (the cheapest option).

The beach is officially open from 9 am to 5 pm, although many people often stay for longer. Once you’re here, you can easily spend a few hours stretching out in the sun and grabbing a bite to eat from some of the local food spots. Two popular options are Lol-Ha, which has some seriously good margaritas, and La Cueva del Pescador, which has some of the best fresh seafood you could ask for!

To snorkel here, you’re required by law to go with a certified guide, as this helps to prevent damage to the ecosystem and protects marine life. These guides also help you find sea turtles underwater, which is pretty cool! You can read our review on swimming with turtles at Akumal Beach to learn more. But overall, I’d highly recommend this private snorkeling experience which is what Dan and I did and we loved it!

We learned a bunch about the turtles that call the area home and got to swim with them too. Costing just $45 USD per person, this is pretty affordable too. Just make sure to select a morning tour when you book online as the visibility in the water by lunchtime is not nearly as good once it gets busy!

Inah Reef

Just a 15- to 20-minute boat ride from Playa del Carmen, you’ll find the incredible Inah Reef, which really does showcase some of the most beautiful coral and marine life that the Riviera Maya has to offer. It’s also pretty far from all the busier beaches and snorkel spots, so you can enjoy time relaxing here in peace.

To see all of what Inah Reef has to offer, it’s best to explore with a boat – and if you’re going to do that, why not do it in style? As one of the top catamaran cruises from Playa del Carmen, this luxury snorkeling experience lasts around 4 hours and includes lunch as well as an open bar. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try stand-up paddleboarding – the water really is that calm! You can book tickets online for $139 USD per person.

Bailey dives down around a manmade coral in Playa del Carmen, Mexico while snorkeling
Off the coast of Cozumel!

Cozumel

I absolutely love snorkeling in Cozumel, which is the neighboring island to Playa del Carmen. I really wanted to include it in this blog (in fact, there’s a whole section on it coming up later!), but in short, the snorkeling here is excellent, with crystal clear water and amazing snorkel spots like Playa El Cielo. Plus, I also really recommend exploring more of what the island has to offer too!

This small-group Cozumel tour is perfect for those who want a deep dive into the best snorkeling the island has to offer. With pickup from Playa del Carmen, you’ll grab the ferry across to the island before hopping onto a speedboat to a few different and colorful reefs.

Tickets for this tour are $129 USD per person (although they often run discounted rates), and include a tasty lunch, as well as all the snorkel gear you’ll need. It’s worth keeping in mind that this doesn’t include the $30 USD ferry ticket across to the island, which will need to be purchased separately. So, to grab your spot on the tour, you can book online here!

Playa Xpu-Ha

Playa Xpu-Ha is a gorgeous and seriously underrated beach that’s also not far from Playa del Carmen, about a 25-minute drive. There’s lots of coral pretty close to the shore – just make sure to be careful not to damage it while snorkeling as it can be pretty delicate! Keep an eye out for stingrays and turtles, as they love these shallow reef areas that are sheltered from the heavier currents.

Bailey snorkeling in Cenote Dos Ojos near Tulum, Mexico
We did some snorkeling in Dos Ojos near Tulum!

Explore some cenotes

Last, but certainly not least, you’ve got to visit a cenote or two (or three) while you’re here in Playa del Carmen. The town is located close to a bunch of them, and if you’re really serious about visiting some of the best, then you’re less than an hour’s drive from Tulum, the cenote capital!

Two of my favorite cenote spots close to town are the Rio Secreto Underground River and El Jardin Del Eden. In fact, I’m surprised that Rio Secreto doesn’t get more love – this huge underground cave system has some of the most incredible stalactites and stalagmites, which you can swim right by!

On this private cenote tour, you’ll get to visit a hidden cenote that’s close to Playa del Carmen, all while learning about how these cenotes form and spending plenty of time snorkeling! The guides are super friendly and happy to answer any questions you have, and the fact that it’s a private tour means you can go at your own pace. It’s only $109 USD per person and you can upgrade for an extra $20 USD to include a local meal cooked fresh for you! Both options can be booked online here.

6. Is snorkeling in Playa del Carmen safe? 

A snorkel tour group surrounded by fish at Akumal Beach in Mexico
At Akumal!

Absolutely! Playa del Carmen is blessed with typically calm currents (especially in the dry season), which is perfect for snorkeling. And even if you’re not too confident about going swimming out in the sea, there are still plenty of great cenotes nearby where to can go snorkeling too.

Out on the reefs, there aren’t really any ocean predators – you’ll probably see reef sharks, but these are much more curious than they are potentially harmful. If you’re planning on swimming out from the beach, make sure to keep an eye out on the flag system and only swim when the conditions are safe, and you feel confident doing so.

Another great option is to book a tour with an experienced tour operator, who will take you to snorkel spots that are perfect for your skill level. Plus, if you’re heading out to the reefs, then there will be a boat staying close by, so you can always go back to the boat if you’re feeling a little tired.

Related Read: Mexico is a pretty safe country to visit, but you need to be aware! Don’t forget to check out our top safety tips when visiting Mexico before you go.

7. Can beginners snorkel in Playa del Carmen?

Group of fish swim around while snorkeling in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
School of fish swim around while snorkeling in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

You bet – Playa del Carmen is the perfect training ground to get your sea legs and learn how to snorkel. While it’s not particularly difficult, it might take a little getting used to breathing through your mouth, but you’ll quickly get the hang of it in no time!

Once you’ve had a taste of these magical underwater views, there’s no doubt in mind that you’ll be hooked. So if you’ve always wanted to try out snorkeling, then I’d say go for it – the fish don’t judge!

8. What are the best snorkeling tours in Playa del Carmen?

Whale shark swims past me with my camera off the coast of Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
During the right season, swimming with whale sharks in Playa del Carmen is a must!

Magical Cenote and Paradise Lagoon Snorkeling Adventure

No trip to Playa del Carmen would be complete without a stop by some of the amazing nearby cenotes! This half-day cenote snorkeling experience takes you to the gorgeous Yal Ku cenote, which is SO magical (as the tour name suggests!) with the light bouncing off the water onto the stalactites and cave walls. You’ll also get to feel like an explorer (or at least Indiana Jones!) while strolling through the third-longest underground river system in the world.

I think this tour is perfect for families or couples, plus you have tons of time to explore without feeling rushed. Tickets cost $99 USD which includes pickup from hotels in Playa del Carmen, so the whole experience feels super seamless! You can book your spot online here.

Riviera Maya Luxury Catamaran and Snorkeling

There’s not much that can beat a relaxing and fun catamaran ride along the gorgeous Riviera Maya coastline. This half-day sailing and snorkeling experience takes you to some super scenic spots aboard a luxury catamaran.

You’ll see the awesome Inah Reef we mentioned earlier where you can dive in and explore, or try out some paddleboarding! If you fancy a drink, there’s also an open bar on board (woo hoo!), and a gourmet lunch is included in your ticket.

This experience costs $139 USD per person which also includes snorkeling and paddleboarding equipment, and round-trip transportation from Playa del Carmen. It is really popular though, so don’t forget to check your dates and reserve your spot onboard in advance.

Whale Shark Encounter Full-Day All-Inclusive Tour

If you’re traveling in the rainy season, I REALLY recommend trying out a whale shark tour if you can. This full-day, all-inclusive whale shark experience is one of the most highly rated and my personal favorite here in Playa del Carmen. The guides seem to have this whale shark sensor in their heads and after your time swimming with whale sharks, you’ll get to enjoy a tasty lunch on Isla Mujeres and unwind at the gorgeous North Beach.

While this tour takes place off the shores of Cancun, round-trip transport from Playa del Carmen is included in your ticket, so no need to worry about getting there! Tickets are available from June-September for $190 USD per person, which includes lunch, snacks, and transport. There’s an additional $13 USD for the National Park tax, but this goes to a good cause! You can book this experience here.

A fish swims under a turtle at Akumal Beach in Mexico while on a snorkeling tour
A fish using the turtle as protection at Akumal!

Half-Day Sea Turtle and Cenote Snorkeling Tour

For the best of both worlds, this half-day sea turtle and cenote tour is an absolute blast! Over 5 hours, you’ll explore Akumal Beach (a local hotspot for sea turtles.) as well as a nearby cenote where you can take some incredible photos and jump in for a swim.

It’s actually so likely you’ll spot sea turtles, it’s guaranteed! You can bring a camera along, but there’s a professional photographer to grab pictures too (and they aren’t crazy expensive to buy after).

With pickup from Playa del Carmen included, this is an awesome experience to try out if you’ve got half a day free. Tickets for this tour are great value too, at just $99 USD. There’s also a $15 USD conservation fee which goes towards the upkeep of the national parks, so keep this in mind! You can check out dates and book your slot online here.

Full-Day Ruins and Snorkeling Tour

This full-day combo adventure tour is an amazing way to spend a day – it’s absolutely packed with fun activities like snorkeling, jungle walks, seeing ancient ruins, and more! The organizers have this itinerary down to a T, with so much to do without it feeling rushed or overcrowded.

While I loved stopping by the Mayan ruins in Tulum (these are a must while you’re here), I’d say my favorite part has to be the cenote snorkeling in Yax-Muul – it’s impossible to get a bad photo here! The tour also includes all entrance fees, a delicious buffet lunch, as well as door-to-door transport too.

At just $119 USD per person, this is pretty crazy value too (especially as it’s an all-day tour)! Like many of the other tours on this list, there is an additional $15 USD marine conservation fee, but even with this included, it’s great value for money. This is a popular one though and exclusively available on Viator, so I’d recommend booking in advance to get the best date for you!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

9. Is a trip to Cozumel worth it for the snorkeling?

A huge group of fish while snorkeling in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
A huge group of fish while snorkeling in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

If you have a day to spare, I say go for it!

The island of Cozumel is just a 45-minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen, and if you’ve got time spare to explore, it’s definitely worth it. There are a ton of fun things to do in Cozumel and there are also hotels here on the island, so you could even stay here for a couple of nights before going back to the mainland.

Cozumel is pretty famous for its snorkeling, scuba diving, and white sandy beaches. Plus it also tends to be a little quieter than Playa del Carmen in the high season.

One of my all-time favorite snorkeling spots here is Playa El Cielo, a secluded beach located on the northern coast of the island. The water here is very shallow, and the reefs are so beautiful – it’s definitely one of the best snorkeling destinations in Mexico!

For the ultimate day trip out to Cozumel, I’d suggest combining snorkeling with a few other fun activities on the island. This can be a little tricky to arrange on your own, which is why I’d recommend heading out on an experience like this guided Cozumel island tour, which includes your ferry tickets, a buggy tour, snorkeling at El Cielo, lunch, and more! It’s $139 USD for the entire trip and a really stress-free way to experience the best of Cozumel in only a day.

10. Is snorkeling in Playa del Carmen suitable for children?

Yep, as long as your kids are confident swimmers and comfortable out in the ocean, snorkeling by the reefs here in Playa del Carmen can be tons of fun for kids! The currents here are pretty gentle, and kids are also required to wear life jackets. There are also no dangerous predators here, so your kids are free to explore and have a blast out there.

If your kids are a little younger or aren’t quite such confident swimmers, then I’d suggest trying out snorkeling at a cenote or two. These are still super beautiful but have zero current and are easier for kids to navigate. You can still find loads of fish and other creatures here too!

11. Scuba diving vs snorkeling in Playa del Carmen

Daniel and Bailey swim past some corals while scuba diving in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
The scuba diving is even better!

When it comes to easy activities that are also super affordable, you really can’t beat snorkeling. And when you’re in such a beautiful spot like Playa del Carmen, it’d be a crime not to hop into the water and do some exploring! That said, I do have a special place in my heart for scuba diving in Playa del Carmen, so which one you pick will come down to your own personal preferences.

Some of the best tours in Playa del Carmen offer snorkeling and scuba diving, so you really have your pick of the litter.

With snorkeling, you don’t need to take any training classes or worry about carrying around a bunch of equipment with you – just grab your fins and a snorkel, and you’re set! It is also the safer option for less confident swimmers, as you need to be pretty physically fit to really enjoy scuba.

On the other hand, scuba diving lets you plunge down deeper and get up close to the reefs. If you’ve never tried scuba, the best way I can describe it is “total immersion” – you’re not looking down at the reefs and all the amazing creatures from above, but actually from the same level!

Personally, I think scuba diving is more exciting, although it is an extra commitment. There are plenty of scuba courses to try out if you’re serious, as well as beginner discovery dives for those looking to try scuba for the first time. Here are a couple of my favorite scuba tours in Playa del Carmen:

This full-day discovery scuba experience is perfect for anyone who’s never tried scuba before, or if you’re coming back to it after a few years! I love that the group size is limited to just 8 people, which means you’ll get loads of one-on-one time with your instructors, who do a great job at keeping you comfortable as you build up your confidence. After learning the basics, you get two shallow dives on different reefs to explore the underwater world! Tickets are available for $169 USD and include all the gear you need.

If you’re interested in getting fully certified, there are also tons of amazing dive schools here in Playa del Carmen. You’ll want to start with an open water course like this 3-day PADI open water course, where you’ll learn all the theory and skills you need to dive anywhere in the world! My favorite thing about this course is that it includes dives at reefs AND cenotes, so you can explore all that’s on offer while learning. The price for this course drops depending on how many you book for, so grab a few friends and become certified scuba divers!

12. Is snorkeling in Playa del Carmen worth it? 

Beautiful shot of a turtle at Akumal Beach in Mexico
Yes!

Snorkeling is one of the best things to do in Mexico and one of our favorite activities to do here in Playa del Carmen. It’s absolutely worth giving it a try while you’re here!

You’re really lucky here when it comes to how many incredible snorkel sites there are, both in and outside of town. Just one glimpse at the thriving reefs, and I’m sure you’ll be in the same boat as us (pun intended!).

Other Activities to do While You’re in Playa del Carmen

Bailey takes a selfie with the Playa del Carmen sign
I love Playa del Carmen!

It’s easy to spend hours exploring the beaches, reefs, and cenotes near this super-friendly resort town. So much so that you might miss out on all the other fun things to do in Playa del Carmen! Here are a few more activities that we love to help you create the perfect Playa del Carmen itinerary in no time.

  • Delve into ancient Mayan ruins – No trip to Mexico is complete without seeing some Mayan ruins, and Playa del Carmen is the perfect launchpad to do it. There are tons of great Chichen Itza tours from Playa del Carmen, like this full-day Chichen Itza experience that has over 900 5-star reviews and is amazing value for money at under $50 USD per person. That’s around $4 USD per hour!
  • Relax at Mamita’s Beach Club – Snorkeling is tons of fun, but spending time in the water can be a bit tiring! So once you’ve dried off and are thinking about what to do next, I’d recommend heading over to Mamita’s, where you can relax with a cocktail by the pool while a DJ spins some tunes. They’re open from 8:30 am to 6 pm, and are always putting on events – you can check out their website to learn more.
  • Go on a day trip to Cancun – Just over an hour’s drive from Playa del Carmen, you’ll find a TON of epic things to do in Cancun. And when I say a ton, I really mean it. This city is full to the brim with some of the best restaurants, the most incredible beaches, and loads of fun tours too. Trust me, one trip here, and you’ll be planning your next visit before you leave!

Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen

Bailey relaxes at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico near Playa del Carmen
Me relaxing at just one of the resorts I have stayed in Playa del Carmen!

Deciding where to stay is a really exciting part of any trip, and I’m happy to say that you have a ton of choice here. There are loads of amazing hotels and hostels in Playa del Carmen, no matter your budget and group size, you’ll find somewhere that suits your needs to a T.

Here are a few of my personal favorite spots to rest your head after a day of snorkeling and more:

Che Playa Hostel and Bar – $

If you’re on a budget, you definitely don’t need to break the bank to visit Playa del Carmen. One great affordable option that Dan and I discovered is Che Playa Hostel and Bar, an adults-only hostel that’s a favorite among backpackers and budget travelers! As it’s a hostel, it’s got a great social vibe and is the perfect place to make some new friends too if you’re traveling solo.

It’s located right in the heart of Playa del Carmen, and has a rooftop pool and bar, as well as super helpful and friendly staff. Dorm beds here start at just $37 USD per night, making it one of the best value accommodations around! You can check Che Playa’s current rates on Hostelworld or Booking.com.

Soho Playa Hotel – $$

For a great mid-range accommodation option that’s away from the resorts, I’d recommend taking a look at Soho Playa Hotel. This hidden gem is just steps from the beach, has its own pool, and has breakfast included in the rate too! The rooms here are modern and clean, and I’ve stayed here a few times before whenever I’ve wanted a comfortable visit without spending like crazy.

Rates here at Soho Playa start at around $104 USD per night, with room categories ranging from King rooms up to Master Suites with Jacuzzis! You see available dates and book your room online here.

The Palm at Playa – $$

For something a little more luxurious that stays in a similar price range to the Soho Playa Hotel, then The Palm at Playa might just be the stay for you! You’ll find it right next to the beach, and it has an amazing on-site restaurant that serves European-inspired dishes with a local twist.

When it gets really hot, their rooftop palm garden is the perfect retreat too. Dan and I did just this when we had a heat wave come late morning, and I couldn’t say no to a cool drink (or two!). The rooms themselves are also filled with all the amenities you could ask for, including WiFi, a TV, plenty of wardrobe space, and more.

Rates here start at around $116 USD, with double rooms, suites, and studios available. The secret is already out though, and rooms do book out here pretty far ahead of time, so don’t forget to reserve your spot ahead of time!

El Taj Oceanfront and Beachside Condo Hotel – $$$

Looking to go all out on accommodation? You’ve got to take a look at El Taj Oceanfront and Beachside Condo Hotel, which is one of the most luxurious spots here in Playa del Carmen! With its stunning infinity pools and elegant suites that are sure to pull in the likes on Instagram, I couldn’t think of a better place to stay if budget wasn’t an issue.

Their gourmet ASI restaurant serves incredibly tasty meals using locally sourced fresh ingredients, although if you don’t fancy heading out you can also request the chef to come to your suite to prepare your meals there! Speaking of suites, there are lots of room categories to choose from, including one, two, and three-bedroom suites.

A one-night stay at El Taj starts at $185 USD, which I think is actually pretty good value considering all the luxuries that come with it! To snag the best rooms, I’d suggest checking your dates and booking your stay online here.

My tip: You can get a real bargain here on accommodation if you book early enough. Using Booking.com to find a hotel in Playa del Carmen means you can often reserve a spot without a deposit and with free cancellation. So I’d suggest booking a couple of hotels, then canceling one later on!

Renting a Car in Mexico

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie while driving around Mexico
A rental car means freedom to go to the beach whenever you want!

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car. 

I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically. 

I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend. Read my honest review of Discover Cars here for more details!

The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too. 

Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit. 

Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper! 

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie in Bacalar Lagoon, Mexico
Thanks for reading!

Whether you’re traveling in a big group, with a special someone, or solo, snorkeling is something that everyone can enjoy, and Playa del Carmen is one of the best spots in Mexico to do it. I hope this blog has been super helpful to get you in the know about snorkeling in this fun and popular resort town.

Let me know in the comments below what your plans are and which snorkeling spots you want to try out! To help turn your holiday from great to epic, I’ve also included a few more blogs below that I think will be helpful for you:

Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen – 9 Things you NEED to KNOW! 

21 BEST Day Trips from Playa del Carmen

12 Things you NEED to Know about the Day of the Dead in Mexico

12 Things to KNOW Before Going Snorkeling in Isla Mujeres, Mexico