Playa del Carmen Photo Spots

 The Yucatán Peninsula is home to some of Mexico’s most beautiful and visited attractions. From the famous beaches of Cancún to the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, the region offers fabulous travel destinations. The Riviera Maya alone is replete with remarkable resort towns with some of the best beaches you can imagine. Playa del Carmen is one of them. “Playa,” as locals affectionately call it, is a hotspot in the Mexican Caribbean where you can go snorkelling and scuba diving in crystal clear waters, sightseeing through ancient archaeological sites, and dining and partying in the bustling Quinta Avenida — all in one day! 🎉 While soaking in the wonderful local vibes, you’ll also want to take a few snaps, won’t you? You absolutely should! It’s easy to find highly instagrammable spots in Playa; the hard part is knowing where to start. 😉 Not to worry! We’ve rounded up a list of the top 10 places to take photos in Playa del Carmen to help you discover this Mexican paradise. 🇲🇽

Photo: Jorge in Playa del Carmen for Flytographer. Jen and family capture memories at Playacar Beach in Playa del Carmen with a family photoshoot.

1. Playacar Beach

The Playacar gated community is home to luxurious beach houses, condos, and dream-like resorts. Are you wondering why they’re all in one place? One reason: the white sand and turquoise waters of Playacar Beach.

The water in Playacar Beach is so clear that when you spot people windsurfing at a distance, they seem to float in the air — that’s how much of a Caribbean paradise this place is.

Take a long walk along the shore and notice how the scenery changes with the currents and the wind. Some sections are wide enough for you to bask in the sun, while other spots will be much narrower.

If you’re not staying in one of the fabulous resorts, it’s a good idea to take some snacks with you. This beach is more on the pristine side and not too commercial yet, so there aren’t many restaurants around. That’s all right! With Playacar’s soft sand, gentle breeze and spectacular ocean views, it will be a picnic to remember. 🧺

Near Playacar Beach, you’ll find Xcaret Park, an eco-archaeological theme park worth a full-day exploring. You can go swimming in great underground rivers, spot local wildlife, and learn about the merge of Mayan and Spanish cultures with a replica of a Mayan village and cemetery.

Photo: Flytographer in Playa del Carmen. Corey and family capture an amazing day together at Playacar Beach in Playa del Carmen on a family photoshoot.

2. Downtown Playa 5th Avenue

 Playa del Carmen is a cosmopolitan city with the best of Mexico’s vibrant culture. The best place to see everything? Quinta Avenida, the city’s beating heart. 💗

Running parallel to the beach, Quinta Avenida, or 5th Avenue, is a pedestrian street with countless shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. After some shopping, this is a great place to taste delicious Mexican food, grab a glorious margarita, and then go bar hopping, tasting different local cervezas. Don’t be surprised if you stumble across free entertainment. Many street performers make Quinta Avenida their stage, making it even more exciting.

While in the area, don’t miss Parque Fundadores. Its Portal Maya, a bronze sculpture that has become an icon of the city, is an Instagram hit and one of the best places to take photos in . In whimsical style, the work features a man and a woman coming out of a whirlpool and forming an arch that frames the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea in the background. 

The park is also a stage for traditional Mayan dances and rituals, like Papantla Flyers. In this ancient tradition, performers are suspended on a tall pole by their ankles while swinging and rotating around it. 😮

Quinta Avenida runs over twenty blocks, so don’t hesitate to explore every corner around the avenue. Several Playa del Carmen hotels are also in the area, and if you’re planning a day trip to Cozumel, the Cozumel Ferry Pier is a stone’s throw away. On your way, if you have time, stop by the Mayan ruins near the pier for a little more history. 

Photo: Claudia in Playa del Carmen for Flytographer. Alexis and partner celebrate their anniversary in Playa del Carmen at Playa del carmen 5th ave and Panama Jack beach with a couple photoshoot.

3. Colosio Beach

 A local’s favourite for decades, Colosio Beach has the quintessential Caribbean scenario. Like Playacar Beach, it resisted commercialization efforts, remaining pristine and undeveloped. During weekdays, its chill vibes combined with white, soft sand make it the perfect place for some mindful meditation or yoga. 🧘 Colosio Beach is also an ideal spot for you to hire a professional photographer and have a beach photoshoot.

Tip: Try to visit on a weekday, as locals flock here on the weekends to enjoy their free time, so Colosio Beach gets a little busier — although you can always find a serene spot to wiggle your toes in the sand and listen to the gentle waves. 🌊

Photo: Flytographer in Playa del Carmen. Letitzia and family capture a beautiful day together at Colosio Beach in Playa del Carmen on a family photoshoot.

4. Cenote Cristalino

 A visit to the Yucatán Peninsula is not complete without exploring some of its amazing cenotes. These geological formations are sinkholes formed with the collapse of limestone bedrocks. The result is a natural wonder exposing incredible crystalline groundwater. 

Cenote Cristalino is one of Playa del Carmen’s most beautiful. Although not huge, its crystal clear waters are magnificent and a dream for snorkelling. If you’re looking for something a little more adrenaline-infused, there’s also a platform from which you can jump into the water. Just be careful: the cenote is deep enough for regular jumps, but jumping headfirst is a dangerous no-no. 🙅‍♂️

The formation also has a cave where visitors can swim through and get to the other side of a stunning natural pool. If you don’t want to get wet, there are also spots where you can sit on the edge and just dip your feet, admiring the otherworldly beauty of this unique environment.

Extra cenote tips: Very close to Cenote Cristalino is the equally stunning Cenote Azul, and a little further, you’ll find Cenote Chaak Tun. If you plan a day trip to Tulum, check Cenote Dos Ojos or Gran Cenote, where you’ll be amazed by their stalagmites and stalactites. After your first visit to a cenote, we’re sure you’ll want to keep seeing more and more of them.

Photo: Tati in Playa del Carmen for Flytographer. Gayu and partner celebrate their anniversary with their child on a custom route in Playa del Carmen with a family photoshoot.

5. Xpuha Beach

 Between Tulum Beach and Playa del Carmen, Xpuha Beach is one of those places worthy of a Caribbean postcard. The best part is that this beach is often quiet and empty, giving visitors the sensation of being in a secluded spot. In other words, the perfect conditions for getting in touch with nature, stocking up on vitamin D and one of the best places to take photos in Playa del Carmen! ☀️

Besides swimming, Xpuha Beach is perfect for several water activities, such as snorkelling, kayaking, and stand-up paddling. Believe it or not, not everything takes place in the water. Some things happen in the air, too. Sky parasailing is a big hit in Mexico, and Xpuha Beach is a popular spot to try. Are you up for it? We guarantee it’ll give you a different perspective on things. 😉

After all the adrenaline, you can explore more beautiful cenotes nearby, such as Cenote Abierto and El Jardin, or recharge your battery in one of the many beachfront restaurants with some amazing food and cold coconut water.

Photo: Ana in Playa del Carmen for Flytographer. Elisa and family capture memories of a fantastic day during their trip at Xpuha Beach in Playa del Carmen on a family photoshoot.

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6. Xcalacoco Beach

 When visiting the Riviera Maya, Xcalacoco Beach should be on your bucket list. Because of the rocks and the reef barrier surrounding it, its translucent waters are very calm and ideal for swimming. The rocky areas form delightful natural pools where you can swim among tiny fish and crabs. 🐠

Two wooden piers with thatched roofs and the majestic palm trees lining the shore make the scenery even more idyllic and photogenic. There’s even a rock between the piers, and when the tide is low, swimmers love to climb and jump from it.

Can you think of anything to make it better? We can. What about getting a massage? Xcalacoco is well known for having great massage stands where you can get re-energized while admiring the vistas of this enchanting beach. 💆

You can end your day watching a fabulous sunset and then head to one of the many restaurants, beach clubs, or bars that face the shore. In Playa, the night is always young!💃🏽

Photo: Jorge in Playa del Carmen for Flytographer. Madeline and partner enjoy time together at Xcalacoco Beach in Playa del Carmen on a couples photoshoot.

7. Playa Mamitas Beach

 Close to Quinta Avenida and with a similar cosmopolitan vibe to Playa del Carmen’s downtown, Playa Mamitas Beach is a popular gathering point for locals and tourists from all over the world. Clean, sandy, and with calm waters, this beach is perfect for swimmers of all ages and is widely considered one of the most beautiful places to take photos in Playa del Carmen.

While swimming or strolling the shoreline, you will hear the beats coming from the famous Mamitas Beach Club. Always with a cheerful vibe and featuring amazing DJs, this is a hotspot for the trendy crowds. Weekdays are much less crowded, and if you arrive early enough, you can easily rent a lounge chair and grab a delicious margarita to celebrate life — after all, you’re in paradise. 🙌

Photo: Claudia in Playa del Carmen for Flytographer. Amanda and family capture beautiful memories of their trip at Playa Mamitas Beach in Playa del Carmen on a family photoshoot.

8. Panama Jack Beach

 Despite keeping much of its original fishing village allure, Playa del Carmen became an internationally known destination for its outstanding beach resorts. In its iconic 1990s classical revival style, Panama Jack Resort is one of the most celebrated of them.

Near the heart of the city, only steps away from Quinta Avenida and great beaches, this resort is much more than a place for guests to rest after a full day of fun; it’s an attraction in itself and a fantastic spot to take pictures. 📸

Standing by the poolside, facing the beach, the resort’s beach cabanas are like spacious and luxurious loungers where you can self-indulge in a “relaxation session.”

The hotel is also an all-time favourite of couples for romantic shoots and wedding ceremonies, especially because of its outdoor pavilion with its magnificent vistas of the ocean. 💍

Panama Jack is an all-inclusive resort, so guests have free access to all attractions and facilities, such as a golf course, spa, sauna, fitness classes, unlimited food and drinks, and wine and tequila tastings.

Yes, we said tequila tastings included. 😁

Photo: Claudia in Playa del Carmen for Flytographer. Brandee and family capture beautiful memories of their trip at Panama Jack Beach in Playa del Carmen on a family photoshoot.

9. Merida

 The surrounding region of Playa Del Carmen has a little of everything. If you have the time, we highly recommend you discover more of this fascinating part of Mexico.

A three-hour drive from Playa del Carmen is the state capital of Yucatán, the charming city of Merida, one of Mexico’s most beautiful colonial cities. You might not find exuberant beaches here, but this is a place with a unique blend of Mayan traditions and Spanish costumes, and there are several other reasons you should visit Merida.

Plaza de la Independencia is a central spot in the city with museums, governmental buildings, and the Merida Cathedral, one of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas. For more photogenic architecture, head to Paseo de Montejo, a street with more historic buildings, including the city’s most photographed monument, Monumento a la Patria.

Also, take some time to explore Merida’s bustling plazas and narrow streets of colourful colonial houses and discover the city’s lovely shops, cafes and restaurants. Speaking of colonial homes, Casa Montejo is a must-go, an impressive building from 1549 with an intricate facade that blends late Gothic, Moorish and early Renaissance elements. 👌

Photo: Flytographer in Playa del Carmen. Francesca and family capture memories at Merida in Playa del Carmen on a multi-gen family photoshoot.

10. Isla Mujeres

 Isla Mujeres is a Caribbean island located just a 15-minute ferry ride from the coast of Cancún. You already know what we mean when we say Caribbean island, right? You got it … breathtaking beaches, unforgettable sunsets, and plenty of natural beauty, both above and underwater.

From Playa del Carmen, you can drive for an hour to Cancún and then take the ferry to the island — a perfect day trip! 👍

Snorkelling and scuba diving around the coral reefs are excellent opportunities to spot tropical fish and sea turtles. Garrafon Natural Reef Park is a premium location to enjoy these activities and many more, such as kayaking, zip-lining, and even relaxing in an authentic Mayan sauna.

Are you in the mood for more underwater experiences? Then visit Musa, an underwater museum with submerged sculptures by different artists. The sculptures are placed on the bottom of the sea but the water is still shallow; even if you’re not a certified diver, you can still admire them underwater.

Playa Norte and Playa del Sol are considered the best beaches on the island — true tropical havens of crystal clear and calming waters. Don’t leave before sunset! During the golden hour, the sky is tinted with different hues adding to the magic of the place.

On the southern part of the island, Punta Sur, you’ll find Mayan ruins and more opportunities to see sea turtles. 🐢

Here’s an idea: why not rent a golf cart to commute on the island? This is a popular way to go around, stopping along the way and admiring all these natural wonders of the Mexican Caribbean.

Photo: Claudia in Playa del Carmen for Flytographer. Erin and family capture memories at Isla Mujeres Beach & Town in Playa del Carmen on a family photoshoot.

Capturing memories in Playa del Carmen

 Playa del Carmen is undoubtedly one of Riviera Maya’s best destinations, and its location is also great for fantastic day trips. 

Akumal, one of the oldest and most celebrated resort areas on the Riviera Maya, and Puerto Morelos, a port town with more beautiful beaches, are both just a 30-minute drive from Playa. In 40 minutes, you can reach Xel-ha Park, another well-known attraction in the area. The small city of Coba, an off-the-beaten-path spot with surprising and unexpected Mayan ruins, is just a little more than an hour’s drive away.

For more ideas on the best things to do, check these tips from our community of travellers and read our ultimate Mexico travel guide.

A great way to make the most of your visit to Playa is to book one of our professional photographers to capture your beautiful memories in this Caribbean paradise. 🤗