Situated in the heart of Mexico’s Riviera Maya just south of Cancun on the Caribbean Sea, downtown Playa del Carmen is a growing, vibrant city with a distinct international feel that serves as a hub of activity in the region. Travelers can choose from a seemingly endless array of exciting tours and activities, including a variety of eco-friendly excursions designed to bring you closer to nature and help all travelers develop a deeper understanding of the fragile natural beauty that has made the Riviera Maya coastline one of the world’s top vacation destinations.
Here are a few of the best eco-tours in Playa del Carmen right now to help you make the most of your time in paradise! Please note that almost all tours require minimal travel throughout the Riviera Maya region, but we made sure all of the following are readily available as full and half-day trips from downtown Playa del Carmen.
Swimming with Whale Sharks
Each year between early June and mid-September, whale shark season comes to the Riviera Maya, offering the chance to swim and snorkel alongside these massive creatures in the clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. As the largest fish in the world, they can grow up to 65 feet in length and are guaranteed to take your breath away! Although at first glance it looks like they could (easily!) swallow a human whole, fortunately whale sharks are filter feeders who subsist entirely on plankton and the occasional fish.
Temazcal Sweat Lodge
If you appreciate traditional medicine and are looking for new ways to connect your mind, body and spirit, a Mayan temazcal sweat lodge offers an incredible experience. These small circular stone structures are built around a fire pit lined with hot stones and have been used in sacred ceremonies throughout the Riviera Maya region since ancient times. During the ritual, a Mayan shaman performs a cleansing ceremony and infuses the air with local herbs as participants relax while sweating out toxins and stress.
Mayan Cultural Encounter
Often available as an add-on to other tours and excursions, a traditional Mayan encounter is a great way to learn about the local culture and support sustainable tourism in the Riviera Maya region. Visitors get to interact with real Mayan families and guides in area villages, learning about the ancient empire that once dominated Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and seeing how their unique culture survives today. These community-based tours not only help preserve the Mayan culture and its knowledge for future generations, but are also designed to bring travelers together who are looking for a deeper and more meaningful experience.
Sea Turtle Conservation
During the sea turtle nesting season each year between May and September, you can volunteer to participate in conservation efforts on beaches in the Riviera Maya. This gives you a chance to get up close and personal with the turtles while learning more about the threats they face and how to make a difference. Initiatives are in place to tackle everything from safeguarding and cleaning existing nests, to tagging females, collecting scientific data, relocating eggs and helping to ensure the maximum number of baby turtles make it to the water.
Do you have questions about Mexico’s Riviera Maya? Share them in the comments!
Looking for more travel ideas? See 7 Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen Mexico Right Now and explore additional activities and excursions to suit most travelers