While the Riviera Maya is a year-round destination, it does get affected by hurricane and seaweed. This guide will show you the best time to visit Playa del Carmen.
Poised midway between Cancun and Tulum, Playa del Carmen has grown from a tiny fishing village into one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico. The beach town is a big hit with digital nomads, as it’s highly walkable, beaches are public and there are tons of coworking spaces, cafes and yoga studios.
I’ve been living in Playa del Carmen since 2021 and love the sunny, tropical climate, as well as the big expat community and great infrastructure. There are just SO many things to do in Playa del Carmen, from scuba diving to swimming in cenotes and visiting Mayan ruins.
While it’s hot all year round, Playa del Carmen is affected by tropical storms, hurricanes and sargasso (seaweed) during certain times of the year. In this post, we’ll break down Playa del Carmen weather by month and list all the events that take place here throughout the year to help you decide the best time to go to Playa del Carmen.
Table of Contents
- Best Time to visit Playa del Carmen
- Playa del Carmen Weather by Month
- Playa del Carmen in January
- Playa del Carmen in February
- Playa del Carmen in March
- Playa del Carmen in April
- Playa del Carmen in May
- Playa del Carmen in June
- Playa del Carmen in July
- Playa del Carmen in August
- Playa del Carmen in September
- Playa del Carmen in October
- Playa del Carmen in November
- Playa del Carmen in December
- Playa del Carmen Travel Guide
Best Time to visit Playa del Carmen
Best Weather in Playa del Carmen
Overall, the best time to visit Playa del Carmen is during the dry season between December and April, when there is virtually no rain. It’s also the coolest time of the year in Playa del Carmen when temperatures average around 21 to 25°C (70 to 77°F). This is a great time to visit if you’re not used to the heat.
The wet season begins in the south in May and lasts until October. The Caribbean coast is also affected by the hurricane season, which runs from June to November. Try to avoid visiting during Mexican holidays as prices go up during Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter.
The hottest season in Playa del Carmen is from May to July, when temperatures average around 26°C (79°F). It can get really sticky, hot and stifling at this time of the year. This is also the rainy season, and you’ll have an increased chance of having a rainy day in Playa del Carmen. The good news is that it only rains for a couple hours at a time.
Best Time to Visit Playa del Carmen without Seaweed
Playa del Carmen is a beautiful destination in Mexico, but it’s been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. Sargassum or sargasso, a type of seaweed, has been washing up on the beaches of the Caribbean and the Riviera Maya in record numbers.
The sargasso season can be unpredictable: some months will see the beach completely covered in foul-smelling seaweed and the water turn a shade of brown; but some months the water returns to its original crystal clear condition. But in reality, the situation is not as bad as it seems. Local authorities work hard to clean up the beaches, having brigades of cleaners clearing the beaches every day.
The best time of year to visit Playa del Carmen without seaweed is from November to January, when chances of having sargasso cover the beach are lower. This seaweed grows the most during the hottest months (June, July, and August).
If you do choose to visit Playa del Carmen during the sargassum season, there are a few things you can do to minimize your exposure:
- Check the Sargassum forecast before you go. This Facebook page shows daily updates of sargasso levels in the Riviera Maya.
- Choose a beach that is known for its good sargassum management. Most beach clubs in Playa del Carmen have teams that work to remove the seaweed on a regular basis.
- Be prepared to adjust your plans. If the sargassum is bad, you can swim in the cenotes in Playa del Carmen instead or explore the nearby Mayan ruins such as Ek Balam and Cobá.
Best Time to Visit Playa del Carmen on a Budget
If you’re looking to save money, the best time to visit Playa del Carmen is during the off-season, which runs from June to October. During these months, hotel rates are the lowest, especially during September and October, the two wettest months in Playa del Carmen.
Although the humidity is high every day and it’s likely to rain every two days, the storms typically only last an hour or two. After the storm, the sun and heat return.
From April to June, after the high season and the pre-hurricane season, there are also occasional good deals, although prices tend to vary more widely.
Best Time to Visit Playa del Carmen to Avoid Crowds
Playa del Carmen can be crowded during the high season, which runs from December to April. The low season, which runs from June to October, is also the time when Playa del Carmen is at its quietest.
The crowds are smallest in late summer/early fall, especially during September and October when the rain, heat, and humidity are at their highest. From June to August, the crowds gradually decrease, while October is the least crowded month, especially in the early first half.
Hurricane Season in Playa del Carmen
The hurricane season in Playa del Carmen runs from May to October. During this time, the weather is more humid and there is a higher chance of rain. Don’t be put off by the weather forecast though (it’s never accurate); even if it rains, it never lasts too long and chances are the sun will come out right after the rain. This fall for instance has been mostly sunny with very few rainy days.
If you do decide to visit Playa del Carmen during the rainy season, there are plenty of things to do in Playa del Carmen that don’t involve going to the beach. You can hit the shops in town, chill in the many vegan cafes or visit the ruins and cenotes (where there’s shade).
Playa del Carmen Weather by Month
The best time of the year to visit Playa del Carmen really depends on whether you’re looking to visit during a festival or certain event. Each month offers different things, from weather variations to holidays and celebrations, so here’s a list of what you can expect from each month in Playa del Carmen.
Playa del Carmen in January
January is one of the coldest months of the year in Playa del Carmen: temperatures can go from 21°C (69°F) to 28°C (82°F). But that also means lower chances of finding sargasso seaweed by the shore. It’s going to be very rare to have a rainy day in this season.
- New Year – The first day of the year can be a slow day for tourism and events since Mexican families prefer to spend the day together and many businesses are closed on this day.
- Día de Reyes – This is celebrated on January 6th and signifies the end of Christmas in Mexico. Most kids will receive candy and presents. You can also taste the “Rosca de Reyes”, a special dessert served to celebrate this day (there are small figures inside the cake, and if you get one, you’ll have to bring tamales to the next party).
- Arena Fest – The 5-day gay and lesbian dance festival is held in Playa del Carmen each year.
Playa del Carmen in February
Winter feels very different in Playa del Carmen than in other parts of Mexico. In February, winter is about to end and it’s the perfect weather to enjoy the beach. Temperatures go from 21°C (69°F) to 29°C (84°F), and it is not very likely to rain.
- Carnival – Carnival is celebrated in Playa and the parades are getting bigger and better each year. The parade usually takes place along 5th Avenue. There is a stage in the Municipal Park on 20th Avenue between 8th Street and 10th Street where there are shows and dancing.
- Día de la Candelaria – This is a Mexican holiday where families gather to have tamales. You’ll see more families than usual gathering at the Parque Municipal.
- Día de la Constitución – On the first Monday of February, workers have this day off throughout Mexico. Banks and government offices are closed. But as Playa is a tourist town, most businesses will still be open.
Playa del Carmen in March
With an average temperature of 30°C (86°F), March offers great weather for enjoying aquatic activities and even tours (especially in the mornings). This is one of the best months to visit Playa del Carmen but it’s also high season.
- Spring Break – This is high season in Playa del Carmen, and one of the busiest times as most Mexicans and many American college students travel during this period.
- Spring Equinox – This is the day to go to Chichen Itza to see the shadow line up with the main pyramid and form the snake shadow. Read how to get to Chichen Itza.
Playa del Carmen in April
April is the last “cold” month in Playa del Carmen, and it is also the last month of the high season, so if you want to enjoy this weather and get some good offers in hotels, restaurants, and tours, try to time your Playa del Carmen trip for the end of this month. Temperatures in April go from 24°C (75°F) to 31°C (88°F).
- Semana Santa — A series of events lead up to Easter, which is the most important festival in the Catholic calendar. It’s one of the biggest Mexican holidays, but there aren’t many traditional celebrations in Playa del Carmen.
- Riviera Maya Film Festival — This week-long festival showcases numerous films around town and the area. Many of them are international award winners and best of all, it is all free!
- Día del Niño – If you’re traveling with kids, this is a good time to visit Playa del Carmen as there’ll be plenty of activities for children.
Playa del Carmen in May
This marks the start of Playa del Carmen’s most humid season, but most days will be sunny. It can be very hot during this time of the year, make sure you don’t stay out in the sun for too long. The temperature will be from 28°C (82°F) to 34°C (89°F).
- Cinco De Mayo — This holiday tends to be celebrated more in the US than in Mexico; it’s a commemoration of a battle in Puebla, so only Puebla celebrates Cinco de Mayo. However, most bars in Playa del Carmen will have drinks specials for the occasion.
- Mothers Day — Mexicans do a great job of celebrating their mothers on this day; most restaurants have Mothers Day specials and you’ll see a lot of big families getting together.
- Travesia Sagrada Maya — This annual celebration recreates a journey from Xcaret Adventure Park to Cozumel island to honor a Mayan goddess, and hundreds of people cross the ocean in canoes. It’s a spectacle and one that is extra special for the Mayan people here.
Playa del Carmen in June
June is the first rainy month in Playa del Carmen, with strong showers that may last up to two hours. June may be a hot month, but it’s definitely cooler than May, with an average temperature of 31°C (88°F).
- La Fete de la Musique – This is a French celebration that shares its activities with 100 countries, and it features music, dancing and other cultural events.
- Pride Month – Playa del Carmen is a very international and tolerant destination, so expect many LGBTQ-themed activities this month.
Playa del Carmen in July
July in Playa del Carmen may be hot and rainy but not as much as June. This month offers the perfect water temperature for aquatic activities like swimming and diving, or to visit a cenote. As summer vacation begins, you’ll notice more and more tourists from all over the world flooding in.
- Festival of Virgin of Carmen – In honor of the patron saint of Playa del Carmen, there is usually a parade somewhere in town (usually Juarez Avenue) as well as a fair and performances at the Palacio Municipal.
Playa del Carmen in August
August is the hottest month of the year in Playa del Carmen, reaching 34°C (93°F). It is also at its highest humidity level, so heat can feel stronger these days. It’s a great month to avoid crowds and to enjoy the cenotes nearby. Some of my favorite cenotes include Cenote Azul and Cenote Eden.
- Wildlife – This is the best month to swim with whale sharks or scuba dive with bull sharks and sea turtles as they are enjoying the warmer water temperatures too.
- ZoukMX – This is a 10-day music festival that happens in Playa del Carmen.
Playa del Carmen in September
September is the rainiest month of the year in Playa del Carmen. If you visit this month, there are chances of it raining during your trip. However, the rain usually lasts just a few hours and the sun often reappears after the rain. This is still a hot month but it’s cooler than August with an average temperature of 31°C (88°F).
- Día de la Independencia — Independence day is one of the most important Mexican holidays. This celebration takes place on the night of September 15th. You’ll find a stage and street food stands at the Palacio Municipal, where el Grito will be performed.
- Fall Equinox – This is one of the best times to visit Chichen Itza, one of the most famous Mayan ruins in Mexico, as the sunset reveals the shadow of the ancient feathered serpent god, Kukulcan, on the steps of the castle pyramid.
- Xplor Bravest Race – Each year, the Xplor adventure park just outside of Playa Del Carmen organizes races for the brave with brutal obstacle courses. The caves, tunnels, forest and natural surroundings make it perfect for a challenge.
Playa del Carmen in October
Unpopular opinion: Low season is the best month to visit Playa del Carmen as the crowds are gone and the weather is good most days. October offers beautiful weather for the beach, especially during the second half of the month, once the rainy days are gone. You can have cooler days but the temperature of the water stays the same. The average max temperature for this month is 30°C (86°F).
- Sea Turtle Festival – This is an ecology-focused event organized by the Akumal Ecology Center in collaboration with Tulum’s Hotel’s Association that is centered in creating awareness about protecting sea turtles and their habitat. You can participate as a volunteer and learn and even help take care of these beautiful creatures.
Playa del Carmen in November
Humidity is gone in November, and temperature oscillates around 25°C (77°F). With clear and sunny days and cool nights, this month offers the best weather to visit Playa del Carmen’s beaches, jungles and ruins.
- Día de Muertos – Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout Mexico with elaborate altars, decorations and cemetery vigils. The celebrations in Playa del Carmen are smaller in comparison to Oaxaca or Mexico City, but Xcaret Eco Park offers a special event with food, dance, music and theater called the Festival of Life and Death.
- Día de la Revolución – This Mexican holiday is celebrated on the third Monday of November. It’s a nationwide holiday so many Mexicans will make use of the long weekend to relax at Playa del Carmen.
- Rivera Maya Jazz Festival – This is a free event held in Playa del Carmen, with professional jazz acts from around the world performing on the beach by Mamitas Beach Club.
Playa del Carmen in December
With clear skies and sunny days. December still offers great weather to enjoy the jungles and tours, but also to swim in the ocean. The average temperature is 23°C (73°F) and the sunniest days are the last ones of the month. The end of the year is of course high season in Playa del Carmen, so expect crowds and festive specials.
- Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe – Leading up to this holiday, there will be lots of locals running and biking on the highways with statues of the Virgin of Guadalupe. People make pilgrimages all over Mexico during this time. Also expect to hear fireworks in communities around Playa Del Carmen.
- Christmas/New Year – Christmas celebrations tend to be private as locals prefer to spend those nights with family, but if you decide to celebrate them in Playa del Carmen, there are many restaurants and venues that host special events. Read my guide to celebrating Christmas in Mexico.
Playa del Carmen Travel Guide
Whether you’re traveling in Playa del Carmen for a year or a week, I always recommend travelers to buy travel insurance. You never know what can happen. Having insurance will happen incidents such as flight delay, loss of luggage, theft or accidents.
Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan, which covers COVID-19 as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date. Refer to my travel insurance guide for more details.
How to Get to Playa del Carmen
The closest airport to Playa del Carmen is Cancun International Airport (CUN), which is just 1 hour away. Find out how to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen.
Flying into Cancun from the US is really affordable. You can fly from New York to Cancun for as little as $300 return (4.5-hour flight). Flights from Los Angeles to Cancun are slightly more expensive around US$350 return (4.5-hour flight).
Flying from Europe to Mexico is also affordable, especially from London and Madrid. We took direct return flights from London to Cancun once for $400.
Cancun to Playa del Carmen Transport
If you want to be free of the stress of getting a cab, I recommend booking a private transfer from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen. I always book with Cancun Airport Transportations, as they are reliable, responsive, and provide door-to-door service from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen. It usually costs around US$70 one-way or US$125round-trip.
Shared shuttle services to Playa del Carmen are a good transport option for solo travelers and budget travelers, who don’t want to spend a lot yet seek a comfortable and convenient service. You can pre-book your ride from Cancun to Playa del Carmen in a shared shuttle vehicle online for 600 MXN (US$30) per person one-way. Whenever I travel alone, I always book a seat in a shared shuttle with Cancun Shuttles.
Taking a bus is the cheapest option. ADO has regular departures from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen throughout the day. I’ve traveled in ADO buses many times and can safely say the bus company is top notch. Their buses are clean, safe, and air-conditioned. Book your bus tickets here for 340 MXN (US$17) each way.
How to Get Around Playa del Carmen
If you’re staying in the center of town, you’ll be able to walk everywhere. That’s the best thing about Playa del Carmen, it’s a small city and most of the best things to do in Playa del Carmen are within walking distance.
If you want to explore the cenotes and Mayan ruins nearby, I recommend hiring a compact car. It’s easy to drive here and drivers with foreign licenses are allowed to drive. You’ll also get to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of exploring at your own pace.
I always book my car rental from Discover Cars as they offer the best prices and excellent customer service. An economy rental car in Mexico average just $100 for a whole week, which is less than $20 a day. The current price for gas is 16.50 pesos per liter (about $2.50 per gallon), though this varies throughout the country.
Colectivos (shared minibus or minivan-like vehicles) run all around Playa del Carmen. The colectivo fares are cheap, and you just need to flag them down along when you see one. Be sure to have Mexican pesos in hand to pay the fares. The colectivo station is on 25 Av. Sur next to Chedraui Centro and McDonalds. Click here for the address.
Uber is supposed to be working in Playa del Carmen, but the taxi mafias have made it very difficult. Taxi drivers tend to jack up the price with foreigners. Make sure you negotiate and agree on a rate before starting the ride. Also taking a taxi further away from the beach and Quinta Avenida will get you MUCH better prices.
Is Playa del carmen Expensive?
Yes and no. Playa del Carmen is one of the most expensive places in Mexico. Thanks to the throngs of tourists that descend upon the Riviera Maya each year, prices have skyrocketed in recent years. Beach clubs usually charge a minimum consumption of 400 MXN (US$20) per person but that can go towards food and drinks. Some popular beach clubs like Mamitas charge almost 1000 MXN (US$50), so be careful to check before you go in.
Thankfully Playa del Carmen is still cheaper than Tulum and you can get reasonably-priced hotels and Airbnbs for $80-200 per night. There are still cheap taco stands that serve authentic tacos for just 15 MXN ($0.75), vegan burritos for $4-8, and seafood restaurants with get ceviche or grilled octopus for $10-15.
Cash is still king in Mexico, so I suggest withdrawing cash at the airport or the many ATMs along the main road. While US Dollars are accepted, you won’t get the best exchange rate and will be overpaying.
Is Playa del Carmen Safe to Visit?
Playa del Carmen is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico and is generally safe for tourists. Most crimes don’t involve tourists; and they are usually drug-related. As long as you steer clear of drug cartels and drugs in general, you should be fine.
That said, there have been a few shootings in 2022 and 2023 in bars along the popular Quinta Avenida. I highly recommend avoiding going out late at night and steering clear of dodgy company.
A common scam targeting visitors is money switching, particularly at gas stations. You may hand over a 500 peso note and the attendant swiftly changes it for a 50 peso note, insisting you need to pay more. Make sure when you hand over the correct amount, keep your eyes on them and don’t leave until you have the correct change.
Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen
Budget: Ahava Hotel
With a prime location in the centre of Playa del Carmen, Ahava Hotel has simple but clean and affordable rooms within walking distance from everything. Check rates.
Mid Range: Playa Maya by MIJ – Beachfront Hotel
A small but well-priced hotel right on the beach and just steps from most Playa del Carmen attractions. You’ll be in the heart of town, so be prepared for some noise. Check rates here.
Luxury: The Fives Downtown hotel
With an excellent central location, this Hilton hotel has comfy suites, a host of cafes and bars, and a rooftop pool with glorious ocean views. Check rates here.
All-Inclusive: Barcelo Maya Palace
If you’re looking for a large all-inclusive, this is the best in Playa del Carmen. But note that the upscale resort is a 20-minute drive away, right near Cenote Azul and Cenote Jardin del Eden. Check rates here.
Further Reading on Mexico
I hope you’ve found this guide has helped you decide when the best time to visit Playa del Carmen is for you! Let me know in the comments field below if you have any questions.
For those who are planning to travel more of Mexico, check out other articles I’ve written on Mexico:
- 30 Cool Things to Do in Playa del Carmen
- 10-Day Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary
- 30 Cool Things to Do in Tulum
- 30 Fun Things to Do in Cancun
- 30 Best Things to Do in Merida
- 20 Fun Things to Do in Valladolid, Mexico
- 15 Cool Things to Do in Cozumel, Mexico
- Isla Holbox Travel Guide
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!
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