Playa Del Carmen is located on the eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, a region that’s extremely rich in culture, history, and teeming with marine life. Unforgettable ruins, adrenaline-pumping activities, amazing gastronomy, and biodiversity that you have to see with your own two eyes are all a hop and a skip away.
Explore ancient ruins, swim in a cenote, hop on a catamaran cruise, visit tropical islands, go zip lining— take your pick! The list of things to do in Playa Del Carmen is never-ending!
But when exactly is the best time to visit Playa Del Carmen?
If you’re looking into taking a trip to Playa Del Carmen in the future, you’ll want to consider a few things. You’ll want a good understanding of the weather, hotel/flight deals, crowds and more to find the very best time to visit.
To learn more about when you should visit Playa Del Carmen, determine which factor below is most important to you. We hope this post helps you make more sense of when you should visit Playa Del Carmen, Mexico!
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Where Is Playa Del Carmen Located?
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico is located in southeastern Mexico, on the eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. This coastal city is situated right next to the Caribbean Sea and forms a part of Mexico’s easternmost state, Quintana Roo.
Located in the heart of the Riviera Maya coastal area, Playa del Carmen is almost exactly in between the popular cities of Cancun and Tulum (approximately 35 miles from each city).
South of Playa Del Carmen, you’ll find wonderful visit-worthy towns like Akumal and Tulum. To the east of Playa Del Carmen is Isla Cozumel, an island famous for its magnificent coral reefs and snorkeling/diving experiences.
North of Playa Del Carmen sits the popular Mexican destination of Cancun as well as a beautiful, laid-back island named Isla Mujeres.
Given its proximity to the Caribbean Sea and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (the second-longest coral reef system in the world), it’s no wonder travelers flock to this region of Mexico to get a taste of island living, warm waters, marine life, and sunny tropical paradise.
What is Playa Del Carmen Known For?
So much! Travelers visit Playa Del Carmen for all sorts of reasons, but most commonly, they come for the gorgeous white sand beaches, warm turquoise blue waters, all-inclusive resorts, a more laid-back vacation compared to Cancun, and coral reefs teeming with life.
If you thought Playa Del Carmen was nothing but laying on the beach at some all-inclusive resort, you’re totally mistaken!
There are tons of things to do in Playa Del Carmen, including shopping ’til you drop, doing an endless amount of water sports, swimming in iconic cenotes nearby, visiting Mayan ruins, and feasting on delicious Mexican food.
There’s something in Playa Del Carmen to delight nearly every type of traveler!
What Are Playa Del Carmen’s Travel Seasons?
There are three distinct travel seasons for Playa Del Carmen: high season, low season, and shoulder season. Before we dive into Playa Del Carmen’s travel seasons, here’s a quick breakdown of how the weather fluctuates throughout the year in Playa Del Carmen.
- WET SEASON: The wet season runs from May to October and tends to be actually hotter than the dry season.
- HURRICANE SEASON: Hurricane season spans June to November, with a higher likelihood of storms from August to October. Actual hurricanes are rare though, so it’s still a decent time to visit if you don’t mind periodic rain showers here and there throughout the day. (The area has seen only two hurricanes in the past 30 years.)
- DRY SEASON: The dry season is from December to April. Travelers will find cooler, more pleasant temperatures.
High Season In Playa Del Carmen
Playa Del Carmen’s high season typically stretches from late December to April.
This is peak season across the world’s sunbelt—especially in Mexico! From Christmas onward, expect Playa Del Carmen and the rest of Mexico to be very busy. Playa Del Carmen’s pristine white sands will be covered with flocks of tourists ranging from kids on their winter break, party-goers flocking in for Cancun’s infamous Spring Break events, and more.
Because of the increase in tourism during the high season, you can expect a similar spike in airfares, hotel rates, and all-inclusive resort costs as well. Especially around Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Spring Break!
Pro Tip: To get around this, visit Mexico in early December, before all the mayhem begins!
Low Season In Playa Del Carmen
Playa Del Carmen’s low season runs from May through October because this time period coincides with Mexico’s main rainy season. You can expect super hot, sticky, and sweltering days with frequent downpours and unpredictable weather. Playa Del Carmen’s hurricane season also falls within the low season.
While it is the rainy season, rest assured you likely won’t be rained in during your entire vacation. The rain typically comes in short bursts–a downpour for a few days followed by sunny skies the next.
Also during the summer months, the shorelines of Mexico tend to draw in a lot of seaweed (sargasso). Hotels and resorts do their best to clean up the seaweed but do expect to see more seaweed than normal during the low season.
Since tourists tend to avoid Cancun and Playa Del Carmen during this time, you can often find the best hotel deals in the low season. You’ll get crowd-free beaches, cheaper airfare and hotel rates, and better hospitality.
The is often considered the best time to visit Playa Del Carmen if you’re traveling on a budget.
Shoulder Season In Playa Del Carmen
A ‘shoulder season’ is a travel term, defined by the time between the high season and the low seasons of traveling to a specific destination.
In our opinion, the best time to go to Playa Del Carmen is during the shoulder season, during the months of April, May, November, and December.
During these months, you’ll experience lesser crowds and more mild weather conditions, and pretty reasonable rates.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Playa Del Carmen?
In our opinion, the best time to go to Playa Del Carmen is during the shoulder months of April, May, November, and December. During these months, you’ll experience lesser crowds and more mild weather conditions.
We especially love going towards the end of November/first week of December right after Thanksgiving. Not only are flights and accommodations cheaper, but the weather is near-perfect during this time period!
Overall, you can visit Playa Del Carmen at nearly any time and expect to have a great time. But some times of the year are better than others.
If you’re planning on visiting Playa Del Carmen in the future, be sure to review the details below first to figure out the best time for you to visit based on what you’d like to do when you get there, and you’re guaranteed to have a great time.
Best Time To Visit Playa Del Carmen For Perfect Weather
Playa Del Carmen has great weather for much of the year, but for the best weather, you should visit between the months of December and April. The average temperature stays around the mid-80’s, with little to no rain on most days.
It’s important to keep in mind around March and April the spring breakers will start to visit the Cancun and Playa Del Carmen areas, which can lead to larger crowds and busier areas across the entire peninsula.
So while the weather might be amazing, if you’re looking to avoid these groups of rowdy travelers, you’ll want to travel closer to the December, January or February months.
This time is great as the temperature is extremely comfortable, without having to worry about hurricanes or too much rain in general. It’s ideal weather for spending time on the beach, while not feeling too hot or too cool.
Best Time To Visit Playa Del Carmen For The Best Deals
The Yucatan Peninsula definitely has a peak tourist season, as well as a low tourist season during the year. Due to the great weather during the drier seasons, December through April are typically the busiest months in Playa Del Carmen.
Beyond the weather, though, these months are most popular due to the holidays. Lots of people go on vacations to Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, and Cozumel in December and January for holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
On top of that, it is also particularly common for people who live in cooler areas to visit and escape the cold winter weather.
The popularity of these times of the year generally leads to a more expensive trip overall, with higher flight prices, hotel rates, and resort costs.
So, if you’re looking to snag a deal on your Playa Del Carmen vacation, you’ll want to look into visiting between May and November.
This time of year brings fewer tourists due to the higher likelihood of rain and some inclement weather. Hotels, all-inclusive resorts, and airlines will usually lower their prices to attract tourists.
However, if you wait until the sweet spot between October and November, you can enjoy some of the more comfortable temperatures with a lower likelihood of bad weather (and still take advantage of those great deals).
Best Time To Visit Playa Del Carmen For Avoiding Crowds
If you’re looking to avoid crowds, you’ll want to keep a few details in mind while planning your visit to Playa Del Carmen.
As we discussed before, the holidays are a popular time for people to visit Playa Del Carmen–specifically in December and January, and March and April for spring break. If you’re looking to avoid massive crowds, you’ll want to make sure you visit outside these months at the very least.
For the least amount of tourists visiting while you’re on your trip, you’ll want to look into visiting sometime in September or October.
There is a sizable amount of people who will flock to Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, and Cozumel for their summer vacations throughout June, July and August, but still there are lower crowds than the holidays.
The months of September and October lie in the sweet spot where you’re just out of the summer, but the holidays haven’t come up yet.
Best Time To Visit Playa Del Carmen For Swimming, Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Playa Del Carmen is probably one of the best places to visit if you’re looking to spend some serious time in the water! There are a lot of opportunities to swim, snorkel, go diving and engage in other activities during your vacation.
Nearby places such as Akumal and Cozumel are also wonderful spots for viewing marine life.
If you want to do any of these things while in Playa Del Carmen, you’ll want to visit during a month where the water is warm, and the weather is beautiful.
To have the best time on the beaches while in Playa Del Carmen, you’ll want to go during the summer or early fall months. July, August, September and even October guarantee the warmest water of the year, allowing you to enjoy long periods of time swimming and snorkeling.
Not to mention, the visibility underwater at the dive sites for snorkeling and deep-sea divers is consistently better during these summer months.
For the lowest likelihood of rain and bad weather, you can avoid hurricane and rain season by going closer to June and July. This is also a great time to see the most amount of marine life, including a wide array of fish and even sea turtles.
Best Time To Visit Playa Del Carmen For Nightlife
Beyond visiting Playa Del Carmen to enjoy the beautiful beaches and world-class snorkeling and diving, did you know Playa Del Carmen has a nightlife scene of its own? Sure, Cancun is infamous for its party life and lively nighttime entertainment, but you can get down in Playa Del Carmen too! We’ll admit, it definitely does not get as crazy as it does in Cancun.
With tons of restaurants, bars, and clubs in Playa Del Carmen, you’re guaranteed a fantastic time. If you’re looking for the likes of Cancun’s Coco Bongo, no need to worry, Playa Del Carmen has its own Coco Bongo! Other spots with dancing, partying, and clubbing include Palazzo Disco, Mandala, and Senor Frogs.
If partying is one of your vacation priorities, you will want to visit Playa Del Carmen either during March and April, or during the summer months.
March and April are when many young people flock to Mexico during spring break–you can find lots of beach parties during the day, and energetic lounges/clubs later on in the evenings.
The summer is another popular time for the younger crowd to come out to party, as the weather is at its best and it stays warm late into the night.
If you’re looking for a lively crowd to party with, but don’t exactly want to deal with the increased crowds of the spring break season, you can also visit Playa Del Carmen during October, November or December.
Best Time To Visit Playa Del Carmen: Month by Month Breakdown
Each month offers different pros and cons when it comes to planning your vacation to Playa Del Carmen. To figure out which month is the best time for you to make your visit, consider these details:
January in Playa Del Carmen
You can kick off the new year in Playa Del Carmen with warm weather and calm crowds. During this month, you can expect warm days reaching in the mid-80’s, with a dip to the low 60’s during the nighttime. It’s comfortably warm, and past the tourist season during the holidays.
This is a great time to visit if you’re looking for a more relaxed vacation where you can spend some time on the beach, snorkel, relax, and enjoy Playa Del Carmen at your leisure.
February in Playa Del Carmen
The heat starts to kick up in February, getting slightly warmer than in January.
This is still a relatively uncommon time for tourists, though, so you still get to enjoy the warm weather without having to worry about crazy crowds.
Playa Del Carmen is also a great time for snorkeling, as the water is particularly clear and you can see everything you’re looking for.
March in Playa Del Carmen
Playa Del Carmen continues to get warmer into March, where the daytime and nighttime temperature begin to match each other around the mid to high-80’s. It’s a great time to visit for comfortable beach weather and little to no rain!
March is also when spring break begins for some colleges, and students start to flood into the Cancun/Playa area for beach parties and club hopping. You can expect to find lots of parties and events around the Yucatan region.
If this energy is what you’re looking for, consider visiting in March to enjoy the company of other tourists.
Aside from the obvious Spring Break partiers, many other tourists are looking to escape their cold homes, so expect more crowds and higher hotel rates. March is also the last month of the year where you’ll get near-perfect weather.
April in Playa Del Carmen
April is the driest month of the year for Playa Del Carmen–you can expect rain maybe one to two days out of the month. It’s humid but still comfortable, and you can enjoy various outdoor activities as well as swimming and diving on the beach.
It’s important to call out that April is one of Playa Del Carmen’s shoulder season months, which means now is your chance to visit before the hot, humid, and rainy months begin.
While there will be spring breakers and party-goers in this part of Mexico in April, the crowds do start thinning throughout the month. It’s nothing as crazy as what you’d encounter in March.
May in Playa Del Carmen
Once May hits, the days start to heat up and it gets hot during the afternoon. May is a great time to visit if you’re looking to spend your days in the water, and your mornings and nights engaging in other activities.
By this time you could spend nights outdoors and be fine without a jacket! You can expect the high daytime temperatures to reach the 90’s and above.
Aside from the weather, the main benefit of visiting Playa Del Carmen in May is your increased chances of encountering wildlife! The sea turtles begin to nest on the beaches and the whale sharks begin arriving in the ocean areas of Cancun (mostly around Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres). There’s a lot of on-land wildlife activity that you really must experience for yourself.
For ideal hiking/outdoor exercising conditions, May is not recommended. Instead, you should go earlier in the year if you want a little cooler weather during the afternoon.
June in Playa Del Carmen
June is the start of some of the warmest months of the year in Playa Del Carmen, with high temperatures reaching into the high 90’s during the daytime.
It’s a great time to visit if you’re looking to relax during your vacation, get a good tan, and spend some time out in the water!
June does mark the start of hurricane season in Playa Del Carmen and the rest of the Yucatan Peninsula, however, it is relatively unlikely you will experience hurricanes during this month. You can expect some rain throughout the month, so at worst, you should anticipate a few days spent partially indoors.
Because June is considered part of the wet season, this means accommodation rates and flight prices are usually very affordable during this month.
While the warmer weather may be good for swimming, diving, and snorkeling, it does make more inland activities (exploring ruins, jungle excursions) a bit harder to bare. We recommend prioritizing beach/water activities closer to the coast during the month of June.
July in Playa Del Carmen
Let’s not sugarcoat it–July is one of the hottest months in Playa Del Carmen. July brings even hotter and more humid weather than June, however, there are less rainy days on average.
Even when there are heavy downpour storms in July, they tend to pass relatively quickly so you can continue to enjoy your day outdoors. Just be prepared by packing a wind-proof umbrella and/or a light rain jacket.
July is a great time to visit if you’re looking to see a lot of marine life while swimming and snorkeling, as the visibility underwater at the dive sites is consistently better during these months!
Again, we recommend sticking with water activities near the coast, but if you do venture out into the jungle or to the ruins, be sure to bring plenty of water with you to combat the semi-stifling heat!
During the quiet month of July, there is a slight uptick of tourists (compared to June) as this usually marks the start of summer vacation. However, there is still a general lack of crowds which is totally awesome for those looking for a quieter, more peaceful trip.
Accommodation rates and flight prices are still very affordable during this month.
August in Playa Del Carmen
The last official month of summer brings lots of humidity and high heat, and even though it does tend to cool down throughout the month, you won’t feel much of a difference due to the constant mugginess.
There’s a bit of rain that often takes place in August, but it really starts up towards the latter half of the month (the closer it gets to September).
While the weather may not be the most pleasant, August is a good month to visit to enjoy the last bits of the summertime and to see marine life. The turtle hatchlings that started in late July continue on in early August, and usually, the pods of whale sharks (up north) are still in the area to enjoy.
If you’re looking to primarily enjoy outdoor water activities, August is a great month to visit. Swimming, snorkeling, other beach activities, as well as spending a night out on the town are ideal activities!
September in Playa Del Carmen
Though Playa Del Carmen and the entire Yucatan Peninsula generally do not experience many hurricanes in practice, September marks the peak of hurricane season for Playa Del Carmen. What you’re more likely to experience a decent amount of rain because September is Playa Del Carmen’s wettest month.
When it’s not raining, though, you can expect warmer water temperatures compared to August, and plenty of opportunities to spend time on the beach.
Tw0 huge perks of visiting in September? The summer crowds have usually gone as the kids are back in school by then. It is also the rainiest month, meaning fewer people are visiting overall. Additionally, you can still witness many of the sea turtle babies hatching at this time!
There will be very light crowds wherever you go, so if you’re looking to travel on a budget and want to score the best travel deals Playa Del Carmen has to offer, September is a great time to visit.
October in Playa Del Carmen
October tends to bring more rain, but less overall rain compared to September. At this time, the hot/humid weather will start to drop down a little, bringing more comfortable temperatures along with less overall humidity.
October is the lull between the busy seasons of the summer and the holiday months. This is one of the lower tourist months and is a great time to visit for a more relaxed vacation.
You’ll likely find some of the best travel deals during this time!
November in Playa Del Carmen
November brings even cooler weather than October. Having said that, remember that Playa Del Carmenweather is pretty much summer all year round!
Come November, Playa Del Carmen experiences the tail end of hurricane season. The weather in November is usually warm, sunny, yet still unpredictable.
During the day you can expect the temperature to remain around the mid-80’s range. This is excellent weather for lounging on the beach, enjoying the beach clubs, as well as other activities including hiking, sightseeing and more.
There could very well be rain, especially towards the beginning of the month. Having said that, it’s rare that you will be rained in for a full day as Playa Del Carmen usually experiences passing showers that last for a few hours.
As you reach the end of November, you can expect more people starting to flock in to spend their holidays in Mexico (and to escape the cold where they live).
You can expect the general nightlife to liven up as you approach December, but with slightly older crowds than the spring break months.
December in Playa Del Carmen
Arguably the best month to visit Playa Del Carmen, December offers a bit of everything for vacationers.
The weather continues to stay in that comfortable mid-80’s range during the day, with slightly cooler temperatures at night.
You can still enjoy wonderful beaching conditions during the day, but won’t break too much of a sweat when you’re out exploring! Very rarely will you need a long sleeve at night.
At night, you can expect more tourists at the various bars and restaurants, with many people visiting for the holiday season.
When Is Playa Del Carmen’s Wet Season?
The wet season runs from May to October. This is when tropical storms usually hit the Yucatan Peninsula. While you may think a wet season will be cold, it actually tends to be hotter than the dry season.
Hurricane season in Playa Del Carmen spans June to November, with a higher likelihood of storms from August to October. Actual hurricanes are rare though, so it’s still a decent time to visit if you don’t mind periodic rain showers here and there throughout the day.
(The area has seen only two hurricanes in the past 30 years.)
When Is Playa Del Carmen’s Dry Season?
The dry season is from December to April. Travelers will find cooler, more pleasant temperatures.
If you don’t do well with rain or wind, we would recommend visiting during the dry season.
When Is Playa Del Carmen Most Humid?
There is always a moderate level of humidity in the Yucatan Peninsula. However, if you’re looking to avoid high humidity weather, try to avoid the months of June through September.
June, July and August are the hottest and most sweltering months with high humidity, high rainfall and high temperatures. September is the wettest month, and increased rains usually means increased humidity.
In terms of humidity, this season is the most unwelcoming.
Is Playa Del Carmen Cold in December?
While it might be cold in December for many other cities/destinations in the world, Playa Del Carmen is not one of those places. In fact, December is arguably the best time to visit Playa!
Days are warm, nights are cool and comfortable, and skies are almost always sunny and clear. Average highs are around 82°F (27°C). Average temperatures rarely fall below 76°F.
Get ready for some near-perfect weather in December!
Does It Rain All Day in Playa Del Carmen During the Rainy Season?
Yes and no. While there is a possibility it could rain all day, there’s also the possibility that it could rain for 30 minutes during the day with nothing but sunlight the rest of the time. It could also rain overnight with no rain in sight in the daytime.
The rain can be heavy at times in Playa Del Carmen, but it is unlikely to rain for the whole of your trip. Usually, if it does rain, it will only last for 1-3 days.
Rest assured, if you do vacation during the rainy season, you will not be rained in during your entire vacation!
Essential Travel Tips For Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
- There’s been sort of a seaweed problem in the Cancun/Playa Del Carmen area. Want to make sure you’re going to be getting crystal clear waters? Check the latest seaweed conditions report before heading to the beaches in/nearby Playa Del Carmen. If you’re keen to avoid sargassum seaweed on your Mexico visit, make sure to stay in a hotel that has staff constantly monitoring the issue.
- The most popular times to visit Playa Del Carmen range from November to April (high season). If you’re looking for a quieter experience, plan your trip for May to October.
- Hurricane season runs from June through November. While hurricanes are unlikely, most weather experts recommend purchasing travel insurance if you plan on visiting during hurricane season.
- Bring pesos with you just in case you need to pay with cash. Pick up pesos from an ATM wherever you depart from before heading to Playa Del Carmen. Not all places accept credit cards on the island (small shopfronts, food vendors, etc.), and ATMs are few and far between.
- When using a credit card, choose to pay in the local currency instead of your home currency. You’ll get a better exchange rate and will be paying less than the home currency option. (In my case, I would pay in $MXN instead of in $USD.)
- The tap water in Mexico is not safe to drink. Instead of spending your money on plastic water bottles, bring a reusable water bottle and a rechargeable Steri-Pen (the way more environmentally friendly option).
- Playa Del Carmen is extremely tourist-friendly. If you can’t speak a lick of Spanish, you’ll be okay. This region (Yucatan Peninsula) largely caters to English-speaking visitors, and you’ll find that English is spoken by most locals, hotel/restaurant staff, and tour guides.
- Playa Del Carmen is safe, but always practice self-awareness and caution. Certain areas of Mexico have long held a reputation for being unsafe due to cartel violence, but resort areas and tourists are not targeted. Just exercise increased caution as you would anywhere–avoid being flashy, don’t walk around alone at night, be wary of your surroundings, and you should be just fine.
- No matter what you’re budget is, you’ll find tons of accommodation options in Playa Del Carmen. Most budget accommodations and hostels are located in downtown Playa Del Carmen, while luxury and resort options are largely found in the more remote areas nearby such as Puerto Morelos.
- Taxis in Playa Del Carmen are costly, and buses are cheap. Taxis in Cancun/PDC follow a set price (Ex: ~$45 from Playa del Carmen to Cancun’s Hotel Zone; ~$26 from Cancun International Airport to the Hotel Zone). Many travelers opt for local bus transportation, which is reliable, frequent, and inexpensive (under $1/ride).
- Looking for something in the middle? A private transfer booked ahead will be your best bet. We try to opt for private transfer whenever we can! We use USA Transfers for airport transfers and hotel to hotel transfers.
Essential Packing List For Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
- Lightweight Packable Day Bag | Inside my larger travel backpack, I always bring a lightweight, packable backpack to use for day-to-day exploration. The Fjallraven Kanken Mini is perfect for carrying a few snacks, a lightweight jacket, cameras, phones, a water bottle, and whatever else I need for the day.
- Packing Cubes | Start packing smarter. The key to smart packing is going to be compartmentalization, aka packing cubes. This set comes with a bunch of different sizes, so you can create a separate compartment for undies and socks, for clothing, for toiletries, and for anything else you may want to organize. By using packing cubes, it’s so much easier to pull out only what you need, rather than dig through all of your luggage to find that one thing you’re looking for.
- Laundry Bag | Tropical weather = lots of sweaty, smelly worn clothes. Don’t soil your entire bag by mixing worn clothes with your unworn clothes! Definitely bring a laundry bag to separate your clean clothes from your dirty clothes to maintain the utmost freshness.
- Clothing | Pack your usual summer clothes for your Mexico vacation, as well as a few layers for unexpected cooler temperatures. This includes tanks, shorts, swimsuits, and swim coverups!
- Light Rain Jacket | Traveling to tropical areas does not necessarily mean there won’t be rain or wind. Packing a light rain jacket will definitely come in handy in unpredictable tropical climates. This one for men and this one for women are some of the best jackets for any kind of travel. They’re ultralight, wind and water-repellent, and take up virtually no space so they’re easy to carry wherever you go.
- Adventure Sandals | Tevas and Chacos are my go-to brands for multipurpose summer sandals. If you’re planning on having an adventurous day or two, you should definitely consider getting adventure sandals — comfortable for long-distance walking, safe for submerging in water, and super durable.
- Walking Shoes | One pair of closed-toed shoes (walking shoes or running shoes) is always crucial for any trip. These ones that I’ve been traveling around with are super light and breathable. I can even walk 15+ miles in them before getting sore feet.
- Cooling Facial Mist | When you’re faced with mid-day humidity, it can be very hard to deal with. Keeping a small bottle of facial mist in your purse or backpack on a hot day will save your life. This mist takes all the cooling, soothing ingredients you can think of—aloe, cucumber, and green tea—and combines them into one refreshing spritzer for your face.
- Dry Shampoo | Bring some dry shampoo to use in between washes to instantly revitalize and freshen your semi-dirty hair.
- Leave-In Conditioner | I recommend bringing a leave-in conditioner to help nurture your hair after spending time in pools and the salty ocean. As someone with naturally frizzy hair, my hair tends to get tangled, coarse, and even more frizzy after it’s submerged in water. This leave-in conditioner is a cult favorite – just put it in your damp hair after your shower and comb it through.
- SPF 30+ Sunscreen (For Face) | COOLA sunscreen is my new go-to facial sunscreen. My face doesn’t feel sticky or goopy, which is so important for feeling comfortable when you’re out and about in humid areas. If you’re going anywhere in the tropics, you’ll be close to the equator so you really want to use a high SPF – I don’t go below SPF 30 in hot and sunny climates. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s reef-friendly!
- Sunscreen (For Body) | Applying sunscreen to your body is absolutely necessary for tropical destinations. Even if it’s overcast and cloudy, the UV index can be very high, so be sure to apply whenever you’re outdoors. If you plan on snorkeling near the reefs, choose a coral reef-safe brand like Coola or Sun Bum, as traditional sunscreen contains chemicals that damage and even kill the precious reefs.
- After Sun Cooling Spray| Let’s be real– you’re probably going to be spending the majority of your vacation outdoors under the sun. Chances are, you’re going to get a nice tan, and maybe even a sunburn or two! Even if you don’t get sunburned, you should still treat your exposed skin to some much-needed hydration with an after-sun cooling spray or after-sun lotion.
- Emergen-C packets or Liquid I.V. Hydration Packets | These are a great way to support your immune system and overall health on a trip. They are light, take up no space, and are very easy to pack!
- Hand Sanitizer | Hand sanitizer gel or wipes are a must any time you’re going to be in contact with surfaces many other people have touched. Never leave your hotel room without it! And if you do happen to forget it, remember to wash your hands often, especially before eating or touching your face.
- Body Wipes / Feminine Wipes | Feeling a bit gross but don’t have the time to shower right in that instant? Just whip out one of these body wipes for a quick refresher. The feminine wipes I like are infused with cucumber and aloe. Trust me, you will feel and smell so much better. Always good to have a few handy in your travel bag.
- Oil Blotting Sheets | On a typical day in a hot and tropical place, your makeup will slide/sweat off your face in exactly three seconds after stepping outside. Rather than layering on more makeup, first, focus on tackling your shiny, sweaty glow. The solution? Use blotting sheets whenever your face starts getting sweaty.
- Cooling Face Mask | After a long day of exploring, nothing will feel better than propping your feet up and slapping on a cooling face mask for 10-20 minutes. Lay back and relax!
- Insect Repellent Lotion | Mosquitos love hot climates, so I would definitely recommend packing insect repellent with a high DEET percentage, no matter the season you’re traveling. Sawyer makes some really great bug repellent products, and they’re travel-friendly too!
- Permethrin Insect Repellent Spray for Clothing | This clothing insect repellent spray is a game-changer. If you’re going to be outdoors in areas where mosquitos are prevalent, I’d highly recommend preparing your clothes with this fabric spray!
- How does it work? This is a treatment spray for clothes that adheres only to fabrics, leaving no smell or residue on clothes and doesn’t harm human skin. Permethrin spray lasts for up to 6 machine washes, which is more than enough for most tropical trips. Real life story– I hiked Machu Picchu after treating my hiking clothes with this, and I only got a total of 2 mosquito bites after the 4-day trip, whereas some of my friends got 20+ bites. Worth it.
- Pro Tip: Buy and use before you leave for your trip. A few days before departure, spray all of your clothes, plus anything else made of fabric that you’d like treated.
- Insect Repelling Lightweight Pullover | Too lazy to treat your clothes with insect repellent? I know, it’s a process. The ExOfficio BugsAway pullover is the next best thing– it’s super lightweight too.
- Hat, Bandana, or Buff | Keep the sun off your skin with a fancy sunhat, bandana, or a Buff. All three can be used to shield your neck or forehead from the sun. As a bonus, bandanas and Buffs can be used as headbands to keep hair and sweat off of your face. Soak your bandana or Buff then put it on your head, face, or neck for a quick cool down.
- Cooling Towel | Perfect for working out, a day at the beach, or simply sitting there baking in the sun—you’ll feel Chill Pal‘s cooling effect as soon as you take it out of the package. To activate the cooling towel, just soak it in water and wring it out, then wear it as a bandana or use it as a towel. Another hot weather game-changing travel essential.
- Travel Towel | These are light and quick-drying, which is exactly what you need in hot, humid climates. Super useful if you plan on having beach days or staying in hostels. This one is a great option.
- Travel Clothesline | This is a small and portable clothesline that allows you to hang up your wet clothes almost anywhere. I’ve found that it’s really handy whenever I have wet bathing suits or towels that need to be air-dried. I love it for its multi-purpose functionality!
- Dry Bag | Another multi-purpose item on the list! Dry bags are completely necessary for keeping your dry belongings (clothes, electronics, money, etc)… dry. Don’t set foot on a kayak, boat or canoe without putting your stuff in a dry bag. Trust me, it’s better than ending up with a phone or camera submerged in water in the case where the boat tips or something. It’s also super handy for carrying around wet bathing suits and towels. Or even doubling as your laundry bag!
- Underwater Smartphone Housing | Don’t want to invest in an underwater camera? That’s fine, just stick your phone in the AxisGo’s underwater housing! It’s designed to protect your phone from the harshest weather conditions while offering the freedom to safely capture those special moments underwater.
- Portable Power Bank | You’re probably going to be out all day, snapping away taking pictures, GPSing to all the great food spots… the last thing you want is to be stranded with no phone battery! A portable power bank is a must-have, and Anker’s ultra-light, ultra-portable power bank is tried and true by so many travelers! I never embark on a day of exploration without it.
- Soft Hydration Flask | Stay hydrated in the warm weather with a water bottle that can go anywhere with you—and fold up when not in use. I love the packability of these bottles!
- Snorkel Set | If you plan on snorkeling a lot, bring your own set to save on rental costs.
- Medicine | If you get motion sickness, consider bringing a motion sickness reliever like Dramamine for various watercraft adventures or even the ferry ride over to Isla Mujeres. If you need other meds, don’t forget your pain killers, antacids, etc.
- WayAway | This site compares flight ticket fares from hundreds of agencies. You’re going to get the best prices on the market, at least $10 lower than those on Skyscanner, Kayak, and Priceline.com. The best part is? The WayAway Plus membership. With the membership, you’ll get up to 10% cash back on airline tickets, hotel bookings, car rentals, and other travel services.
- DEAL ALERT! Use code ‘travelswithelle’ for 10% off WayAway Plus.
- Booking.com | Honestly, this is my go-to accommodation booking site. This site has free cancellation and no prepayment required on reservations which is huge for me. It also has amazing abilities to filter accommodation options by rating and price. Honestly, it’s shaved off so many hours of endless research for me and has made booking hotels and other accommodations a breeze.
- Viator | Viator is a huge online marketplace for all things tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, ATV tours, sailing trips, walking tours, hot air ballooning, and more.
- Go City | Go City offers great value-for-the-money attraction passes in various destinations around the world. Whenever I want to play tourist in a city, I always check to see if Go City operates in that city. The money you can save with this pass is unreal (as opposed to buying admission tickets for various attractions separately).
- Bookaway | This is my go-to transportation resource when I’m traveling to lesser-known destinations and need to figure out how to get from point A to point B. Bookaway is super useful when you have absolutely no idea how to get around between cities or even between countries! Just type in your starting point and destination and it’ll show you options on how to get there by train, bus, ferry & more – as well as allow you to book your transportation right then and there!
- SafetyWing | SafetyWing is by far one of the best travel medical insurance for travelers as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those heading abroad.
- World Nomads | Also a great travel insurance company if you’re looking for the most comprehensive travel insurance out there. Their coverage is very comprehensive, making it a good choice if you are more adventurous and plan on partaking in thrill-seeking activities or plan on moving around with lots of electronics and expensive gear.
We hope you found this post useful and now have a better idea of when to visit Playa Del Carmen. Happy vacationing!