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Comparison Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel – Which One Is Better Vacation in Riviera Maya

Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel - Best Vacation in Riviera Maya

Comparison Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel – Playa del Carmen and Cozumel are two areas of Riviera Maya. Both Cozumel and Playa del Carmen are known for their white-sand beaches and clear, turquoise ocean.

What is the main difference between Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel?

Playa del Carmen is the place you need to visit for more activities and parties in the Riviera Maya, while for a more quiet and laid back beach trip, Cozumel is the good one for you.

Read here Tulum vs Playa del Carmen, Cozumel vs Cancun and Cozumel vs Tulum


A total of $20 USD would be the range of your budget for accommodation in Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel. There are hotels mid-budget for $50-70 USD and you can find luxury accommodations starting from $120 USD.


BOOK YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

You can read Heymondo Vs Safetwing cheapest travel Insurance. You can get for $135 USD your Heymondo Travel Insurance with Heymondo discount code valid for 90 days. Read our full comparison of Genki vs Safetywing Travel Insurance Review and the comparison Heymondo vs Genki

Top Sights in Playa del Carmen / Things to Do in Playa Del Carmen – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

1. Parque Los Fundadores / Founders Park – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

Parque Los Fundadores or the Founders Park, Playa del Carmen in Quintanaroo, Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel
Parque Los Fundadores or the Founders Park, Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

Parque Los Fundadores or the Founders Park is found in Playa del Carmen’s City Center and is free for access to the public. You’ll easily see this arriving in Playa del Carmen, as it’s one of the first sights to see, just outside ADO Bus Station.

In Parque Lost Fundadores, you’ll see the Portal Maya Statue, a beautiful statue of two figures high up in the air, reaching to touch each other.

2. Xcaret Park

Xcaret Park, Playa del Carmen, Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel - Best Vacation in Riviera Maya

Xcaret Park is best when you want to visit a private-themed park and resort. Inside Xcaret Park, you’ll see Jaguar Island, Coral Reef Aquarium, and Monkey Island. It’s an eco archelological park in Playa del Carmen.

Xenses Park is also part of Xcaret.

3. 3D Museum of Wonders – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

Something fun to do with kids or kids at heart, the 3D Museum of Wonders has a lot of the illusional artwork created by Michaelangelo, DaVinci and other famous artists.

4. Cenote Chaak Tun / Cavernas Chaaktun

The Cavernas Chaaktun are small cavernas that you will love swimming in and discovering in Playa del Carmen. Not to miss if you love nature and would love to do some exploring while in Playa del Carme. More things to compare in Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel things to do.

5. 5 Avenida Norte / Quinta Avenida / 5th Avenue – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

5 Avenida Norte / Quinta Avenida / 5th Avenue Playa del Carmen, Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel - Best Vacation in Riviera Maya
5th Avenue – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

The 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen also known as Quinta Avenida is one of the popular streets in Playa del Carmen that is frequented by tourists. It’s a street where everything is happening, and where the local sellers can speak English, so if you’re trying to find a comfortable way to start your trip in Playa del Carmen, and want to talk to English speakers, you might like this place.

6. Chikin Ha

Chikin Ha is another Cenote in Playa del Carmen that is worth your time if you’re looking to experience more nature. It’s a 30 minute drive from Playa del Carmen, and a cenote good for swimming.

7. Xplor

Xplor is another all inclusive park in Playa del Carmen. Perfect for fmailies and friends and froups.

8. Playacar / Sandos Playacar – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

Playacar – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

Playacar beach is a bit of an exclusive resort experience, if that’s what you’re after.

Exclusive resorts, higher priced accomodation and food is here. All-inclusive is that you can get in Sandos.

9. Cenote Cristalino

Cenote Cristalino or Crystal Clear Cenote
Cenote Cristalino, Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

Cenote Cristalino or Crystal Clear Cenote is one of the top beautiful cenotes to visit in Playa del Carmen less that 30 minutes from Playa del Carmen. This cenote has an entrance fee of $200 pesos (Mexican) for adults and $150 for children. Mexicans get some discount, with $170 for Mexican adults and $120 pesos for children.

10. Rio Secreto – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

Rio Secreto, Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen has an underground river, the Rio Secreto. This reminds us of the beautiful and Palawan underground river in the Philippines, a UNESCO town itself.

Because it is one of Playa del Carmen’s main thing to do, you can’t go to Rio Secreto without an official tour to the reserve.

Tickets cost $79 (Mexican pesos) for adults and $39.50 for kids from ages 4 to 12 years old.

Rio Secreto is definitely not one to miss as it is one of Riviera Maya’s most fascinating things to witness.

Click here to book activities in Playa del Carmen

Top Sights and Things to do in Cozumel – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

There is so much to do in Cozumel! From diving and snorkeling to jeep tours and beach lounging, it’s really easy to make each day in Cozumel a special experience. Here are just some of the activities you can enjoy on the island!

1. Visit The Wild East Side – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

The “wild” east side of the island is absolutely worth a visit. While the west side is primarily hotels and beach clubs, the east side of Cozumel is a paradise of remote beaches interspersed with fantastic local beach bars.

There are also a few great places to grab a lounger, eat some fresh fish tacos and take a dip in the water such as Chen Rio and Punta Morena, but the real highlight of the east side is the wonderful natural emptiness of it all. Be sure to stop for a fresh handmade beach cocktail at RastasWelcome to Miami or Mezcalitos (or all three!), and let the sea breeze wash over you. Hammocks included.

Note: Since 2008, Sargassum (seaweed) has regularly arrived on east coast beaches from May to August. It can pile up on the sand and be a little smelly. If the east coast has too much seaweed when you arrive, we recommend visiting Punta Sur (see below) or one of the excellent west coast Beach Clubs instead.

2. Go Diving

Cozumel is world-renowned for its scuba diving and proximity to numerous top dive sites. The Mesoamerican reef system is the second-largest reef system in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef), and there is extensive coral and sea life with incredible visibility.

From beginner’s discovery dives to advanced drift dives, there’s something for everyone around Cozumel.

3. Spend the Day at a Beach Club

Holbox vs Cozumel - Which Island Should You Visit

The west side of Cozumel has incredible sparkling, turquoise waters and numerous beautiful beaches. When visiting the island, there are several fantastic beach clubs where visitors have access to sandy beaches, swimming pools, oceanfront restaurants, beach bars, sun loungers, water activities, and more.

They typically range in cost from $10 USD to $65 USD per person with the pricier options being all-inclusive with drinks and food.

4. Take A Tour With A Local

Take your vacation in Cozumel to the next level by taking a tour with a local! There is nothing quite like getting an insider experience with people who live here and love all that the island has to offer. Curious about Cozumel’s green interior?

Take a jeep tour to Cozumel’s original capital town, Cedral, a quaint community surrounded by forest on all sides. While there, take a jungle off-road visit to caves, trails, and even a cenote where you can take a swim. If you are more interested in a water experience, head out from the local’s marina (not the tour boat marina) for some fishing, snorkeling, and exploring on the way up to Passion Island.

Once there, swim in the clear waters and enjoy a bbq on the beach, local family style! It doesn’t get much better than that. For arranging tours with a local, we recommend contacting Arturo at Smiggie’s Excursion Concierge, and start planning your unique private experience.

Smiggie’s Excursion Concierge is now offering an exclusive tour that has you visiting a private hacienda with caves to explore, a plunge pool and a delicious asadero (open fire bbq). By the end of the day, you will have enjoyed an authentic piece of Cozumel, just like a local.

5. Experience Buccanos

Hidden away on a quiet sandy cove, Buccanos is a complete island retreat. With a stunning beach club, spa and renowned gourmet restaurant, one can easily spend a full day and night at Buccanos Beach Club & Buccanos At Night Restaurant.

Guests are greeted at the beach club amidst beautifully manicured grounds for relaxing breakfasts or lunch by the sea. A large swimming pool, palapas and an idyllic sandy beach allow guests to fully engage in the plentiful amenities throughout the day.

Explore the underwater wonderland by snorkeling and indulge in a relaxing treatment at the seaside spa. Throughout your day, the attentive wait staff serves a fresh menu of food and drinks by the pool, in the open-air restaurant, or on the beach.

After a day of tropical bliss, be sure to book your reservation for the highly acclaimed Buccanos At Night gourmet restaurant, renowned for the chefs’ creative seafood and Caribbean-inspired plates. With incredible ocean and sunset views, tantalizing culinary concoctions, and excellent beach access, the Buccanos experience will have you returning time and time again.

6. Go Snorkeling – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

The water off the coasts of Cozumel is world-famous, so jump in! There are numerous snorkeling locations where you can simply enter from the shore, or you could take a boat tour out to the incredible reefs. If time is short, a shallow reef snorkel tour may be the perfect way for you to experience the underwater world.

Feel like a full-day snorkel excursion? Check out some of the many longer tours to the deeper sections of the reefs to try and spot some of the larger species that call this water home. Whatever you choose, you will be smiling the whole time.

7. Book An Island Photo Shoot

Cozumel is a stunning island with endless activities, adventures, and ways to simply unwind. Like any visitor to such a beautiful locale, you will be snapping images on your phone all day every day. However, who is taking your picture? Nobody should survive on selfies alone!

Let us recommend a new activity here on the island, Salty Studio photography sessions. Book a personal, group, family, or wedding session with this talented team and take home a memory that will last a lifetime. Their experienced photography crew can capture you on the beach, in the jungle, underwater, or even from the sky with their fantastic drone photographer.

Looking for a full-day adventure? After your personalized session the team can arrange to take you snorkeling, swimming, sightseeing, or simply to a beautiful beach to relax.

8. Try Sport Fishing

Deep sea and bottom fishing are fast becoming very popular activities here in Cozumel. Stunningly clear water and excellent weather create an enticing environment for this thrilling sport. If you are one of the many visitors to the island who are passionate about fishing, we recommend booking a private boat for the adventure of a lifetime.

The waters around Cozumel are famous for a reason, they are teeming with gorgeous fish. Sailfish, Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Kingfish, Barracuda and so many more swim through these waters daily. Whether you are an experienced mariner or have never been sea fishing before, don’t worry, the award-winning team at Aquadventures will guide you through every troll and reel.

Bring some friends, bring your family, and come enjoy a day on either the beautiful Grand Slam or Why Not boat stocked with everything you need to have a fun and exciting day on the water.

9. Go Shopping – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

No vacation to Mexico would be complete without at least a little shopping, and Cozumel is the perfect place to do just that. With dozens of shops ranging from high-end silver jewelry to beach bag vendors, whatever your heart desires can be easily found.

Although most people naturally flock to the town center or the Royal Village Mall by the cruise ship port, we recommend taking the time to explore a little further afield to find some true treasures. You may just end up buying your hammock from a local who has just finished stitching it on his front stoop!

Also, whether you have one day for shopping or many days, you must be sure to visit Los Cinco Soles. Located at the north end of the waterfront, this is an exceptionally well-appointed shop. Filled to the brim with stunning art, souvenirs, jewelry, clothing, traditional handicrafts, and more, Los Cinco Soles has something for everyone. It even has a tequila-tasting bar! All were created by Mexican artisans, farmers, and families. You will be so happy you visited.

10. Visit Punta Sur Ecological Park

The entire southern point of Cozumel island is a sprawling nature preserve known as Punta Sur. It is one of the best places to see the island’s vast natural habitat. With some of the most beautiful beaches on the island (bring your swimsuit!) and incredible mangrove marshlands (a free boat ride to see wild crocodiles and birds is included), Punta Sur is a nature lovers dream.

Be sure to stop at the lighthouse and climb to the top for epic 360-degree views. There is so much to explore at Punta Sur, be sure to get there early!

Click here to book activities in Cozumel

The Best Time to Visit – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

Aerial View of Playa Del Carmen scaled

Since both these islands are in the Yucatan Peninsula, they have the same tropical weather year-round.

Without much of a temperature difference throughout the year (the average temperature lingers around 83 degrees F), it’s the rainy hurricane season that most travelers need to pay attention to.

Check here for the weather in Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel, Quintana Roo

January – April: Weather in Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

Perfect weather-wise, but sees the highest influx of tourists. If you are not a people person, consider this.

May – October

The hottest and most rainy month of the year but still plenty of sunshine and fantastic warm water for snorkeling & diving. Also, the hurricane season peaks in September and October so keep an eye on the forecasts and definitely get travel insurance just in case. Fewer tourists mean you can typically expect lower rates at hotels, resorts, and tour companies during this time.

November – December

The autumn-winter months are considered by many to be the best times to visit Cozumel. The hurricane season has passed by this time and the humidity is low. Can be a little “chilly” in the evenings.

Final Thoughts on Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

Our favorite in our comparison of Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel is Cozumel because we are looking for more relaxed and quiet places and at the same time activities like snorkeling and diving apart from relaxing in the beach.

Playa del Carmen will be a perfect choice for travelers looking for a party and based in a great area to explore around cenotes and organize day trips. If you are thinking of relaxing on the beach we will recommend you go to Cozumel.

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Happy Travels!

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