For those who can resist the temptation to spend their vacations entirely within the confines of their resort, one of the benefits to staying at a property in or around Playa del Carmen is the many activities that are a short distance away.
Whether it's in downtown Playa or in the surrounding Mayan jungle, here are five of the best activities in the Playa del Carmen area that are still relatively under the radar.• Museo Frida Kahlo Riviera Maya:
Located in downtown Playa del Carmen, this museum takes guests on an interactive, digital experience that re-creates significant events in the artist's life.
Guests will see re-creations of Kahlo's tram accident and the bedroom where she spent most of her time recovering from the tragedy and began to paint.
It will take visitors about an hour to walk through the exhibits. Guests begin at an immersion room featuring a hologram display, followed by a visit to the Ship of Dreams, where Kahlo's recovery bed is reproduced and a series of light boxes show her work.
The journey continues to a room with four mannequins depicting Kahlo at different stages of her life.
The museum opened July 30, on the 110th anniversary of the artist's birth. • Kite surfing on Xpu-Ha:
Xpu-Ha Beach is one of the most spectacular beaches on the Riviera Maya. Situated between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, this Caribbean beach is a great place for a day trip.
Xpu-Ha has a natural reef that is excellent for kite surfing; onshore winds crossing from southeast to northeast make for some great wave riding. • Coba:
Located about 60 miles east of Chichen Itza, Coba is one of the last Mayan sites left where visitors can still climb the ruins, including the Nohoch Mul pyramid, which is the tallest on the Yucatan peninsula.
Coba is also home to two lagoons, which are not open to the public and can only be seen from the top of the pyramid. • Kantun-Chi:
Eco-parks are a big draw on the Riviera Maya, but Kantun-Chi is one that is more off the beaten path. Fifteen miles south of Playa del Carmen, the park has four cenotes for swimming and snorkeling. Its remote location means there's a good chance you'll have the place to yourself.
The entrance fee is $29, and $49 will get you a guided tour of the four cenotes. Pay an additional $30 to include an expanded guided tour plus lunch. • Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve:
About 40 miles south of Playa del Carmen is 1.3 million acres of protected land. Sian Ka'an is a Unesco World Heritage site, home to 23 archaeological sites, 336 bird species, 103 animal species and two endangered marine turtle species.
There are no resorts here, save for a few ecofriendly inns and villas. Boat, kayaking and fishing tours are available.