Playa del Carmen is a diving destination very popular from Mexico. "Playa" does not have the most beautiful dives in the Caribbean, but with the advantage of being very well located for access to all best Yucatan sites. You have Cozumel just opposite, one of best diving destination in the Caribbean, and the famous Mexican Cenotes 45 min drive. In season you have the dives with some bull sharks and eagle rays. Finally, you can go snorkeling with some whale sharks summer (July - August) or maybe have the chance to see and swim with swordfish during the winter. The atmosphere on site is very American, lots of people, shops, parties, beautiful beaches ... and many diving club speaking French await you, the best known of which Phocea. Enter here diving in Playa del Carmen or Cozumel, you choose based on the items below.

Context : I took a 2 month trip to Mexico and I dived on all the destinations of Yucatan: Cozumel, the cenotes, Playa del Carmen Isla MujeresMahahual, Banco Chinchorro and Xcalak.

> Overview
> Presentation
> Diving with
> Playa del Carmen or Cozumel?
> Bulldogs sharks, cenotes, Whale sharks, Sailfish, Eagle Ray
> Seasons and conditions
> Dive sites
> Diving clubs and schools
> Price
> Diving course
> Accommodation
> How to get there
> My diving review


  • Best diving season Playa del Carmen : December to September.
  • Best dive sites Playa del Carmen : shark point, wreck of the C-56 wreck, Sabalos, Barracuda reef, wrecks of the Mama vina wreck.
  • Bulldog shark season Playa del carmen : November to February.
  • Eagle ray season Playa del carmen : November to February.
  • Swordfish season Playa del carmen : January to February.
  • Whale shark season Playa del carmen : June to September.
  • Common Marine Life : classic Caribbean fish.
  • Visibility : 20 to 30 m.
  • Diving nearby: Cenotes and Cozumel.
  • French-speaking diving club Playa del Carmen : numerous, the best known being Phocea.
  • Access : Cancun airport + 1h bus.

Recommendations by category of divers:

> New diver : good for a baptism or spend your open water.
> Confirmed : perfect rental to do all the dives of Yucatan.
> Experienced : dives at Cozumel are much more beautiful.



Where is Playa del Carmen in Mexico?

  • Playa del Carmen is located in Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula 1h below Cancun.
  • Well then Playa del Carmen, you have to like ... It's very « Americanized », That buildings, shops, restaurants and bars along the beach. There are people everywhere !!
  • If you want to party, it's perfect, if you want calm, you will have to go elsewhere!
carte peninsule yucatan riviera maya mexique

Moreover, for those wishing to discover the Riviera Maya in activities, I recommend you to take a look at these organized excursions to Playa Del Carmen. It's a travel blog dedicated to Mexico that I like a lot.


For a confirmed diver

plongee cozumel mexique
  • If you are more of an experienced diver, we will be honest right away, to choose there is no photo, go diving in Cozumel !
  • After having toured all my instructor friends on site, it's always the same speech that comes back, the best dives of Playa del carmen are at the level of the least beautiful of Cozumel !
  • So after diving 16 times at Cozumel (the full article here), I did not want to spend money and be disappointed, so I did not make "normal" dives in Playa (I only went scuba diving with bulldog sharks, see below).

For a beginner diver

  • If you are more of a beginner diver, you will not be disappointed with Playa, you will be enchanted by the flora and fauna and you will not really see the difference with Cozumel.
  • Playa has all the Caribbean fish, a lot of sea turtles, the visibility is good and the easily accessible sites.

At the heart of the best dives in Yucatan

  • The big advantage of Playa del Carmen, is that it is well located: next to cenotes and in front of Cozumel + be close to rare events occurring during the year: bulldog sharks, whale sharks, swordfish and eagle rays.
  • But before arriving at Playa del Carmen we often think that we can see all these species all year round and easily from Playa, but beware, it's not all year and it's not quite in Playa del Carmen either, the detail below.


Where to dive Playa del Carmen or Cozumel?

Basically, the dives are more beautiful in Cozumel but Playa del Carmen is better located to make all the best dives in the Yucatan.


Quality of dives

The dives in Cozumel are of much better quality that in Playa del Carmen, there is no photo (see above).

Easy access to dives / trips to Yucatan

  • This is for me the major point that you must study.
  • Playa del Carmen is much better location than Cozumel to do all the other dives, outings and excursions of the Yucatan.

Route from Playa del Carmen to:

  • Cozumel : feasible, 45 min by boat + trip to the site.
  • Cenote : doable, about 1 hour of van.
  • Bull shark diving : very easy, 10 min by boat.
  • Skate diving Eagles (but not as good as Cozumel): easy, 20 min by boat.
  • Swordfish or whale shark outing : very long, 1 hour bus + 3 hours by boat.
  • Chichen Itza : doable, between 2h30 and 3h by van.

Cozumel route to:

  • Eagle rays diving : very easy, 20 min by boat.
  • Cenote : a bit complicated but doable: 45 min by boat + 1 hour drive + departure very early in the morning.
  • Swordfish or whale shark outing : very very complicated, 45 min by boat + 1h by bus + 3h by boat, I think that no center offers it.
  • Bulldog shark diving : feasible, 45 min by boat + trip to the site.
  • Chichen Itza : very complicated, 45 min by boat + 2h30 and 3h by van.

Other points

  • Accommodation : honestly, you have a wide choice of diving hotels on Cozumel and Playa del Carmen.
  • Atmosphere :
    • Playa del Carmen: beautiful beaches everywhere, lots of people, very Americanized, more choice of restaurant, shops…
    • Cozumel: quieter than Playa, but less accessible beaches.


  • One of the events the most exceptional from Playa del Carmen is of course the possibility of diving with bulldog sharks.
  • Playa is in the world's top 3 diving with bulldog sharks with Ponta do ouro in Mozambique and Beqa in Fiji ! 
  • I did not do "normal" dives in Playa (because after Cozumel, it was not worth it), but the one with bulldog sharks was mandatory !!

The full article on diving with bulldog sharks here

What is the best time?

  • Bulldog sharks are not there all year long !
  • There is clearly a season for diving with bulldog sharks in Playa del Carmen : they arrive around mid-November and stay until mid February.
  • To be sure to see them, and in larger quantity, the best period is therefore clearly december-january.

How is diving?

  • Well, it's " shark feeding », Several centers have joined forces to develop a site where bulldog sharks now gather and coordinate with each other so as not to go there at the same time.
  • We descend along a rope, we arrive on a sand plateau at 23 m where we will kneel and wait for them to arrive.
  • No opportunities to dive with them, you will stay on your knees on the sand.
  • How long does diving with bulldog sharks take? about 30-35 min.

Why are there bull sharks?

  • These are actually the pregnant females who, during this period, gather near Playa to give birth.
  • The males are not there.

How many bulldog sharks do we see?

  • The number of sharks will depend on the period you go there.
  • I went there at the beginning of the season, they are not yet used to coming to the site to be fed and there is therefore none not much yet.
  • I saw about 8 sharks around me and big stingrays.
  • Later towards the high season (late December-January), there are apparently more sharks (15-20) and they spend even more ready!
  • The stingrays have disappeared, a question of territory!

What is the price of diving with bulldog sharks in Playa del Carmen?

  • Prices vary between 100 and 150 $ depending on the centers.
  • You will surely be able negotiate or take packages if you are doing a week of dives with the same center.

Bulldog shark diving video Playa del Carmen

Bulldog shark diving pictures Playa del Carmen


How are the Cenotes dives in Playa del Carmen?

  • World famous, the best Yucatan Cenotes can be found between Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
  • If you come to Playa del Carmen, I you recommended strongly to do at least one Cenotes day, it's really exceptional! I loved it !!


The full article on diving in Cenotes here!

What are the best Yucatan Cenotes in Mexico?

  • Dream Gate and Dos Ojos: the best ones to really explore cave systems
  • The Pit: the best games of lights
  • Angelita: experimenting with the transition from fresh water to salt water with a layer of halocline
  • Car wash: spectacular light effects
  • Calavera: impressive view from the top of the Cenote
  • Tajma Ha: a beautiful cave system
  • Zapote : a unique configuration with kinds of bells under the halocline.

What is the price of cenote dives in Playa del Carmen?

Between 100 and 150$ the 2 dives depending on the centers.


Where to see whale sharks?

  • Already, let's start at the beginning, unlike bulldog sharks, whale sharks are not quite in Playa del Carmen.
  • But in fact above Isla mujeres, off Isla Contoy.
  • Departure around 6 am from Playa del Carmen, direction Punta Sam north of Cancun (1 hour by van), then take a boat and make a journey of approximately 3h to get to the search site. It's a long day!

What is the best time?

  • Whale shark season in Playa del Carmen (off Isla Contoy) is from mid-June to mid-September, the best period being July-August.
  • They come to feed on tiny translucent tuna eggs, abundant in the area during this season.
  • There is never a guarantee to see them, but in season there is a very good chance.
  • It's until today, the largest gathering of whale sharks in the world at the same location.

Dive or swim in snorkeling?

  • You can't dive with whale sharks in Playa del Carmen (Isla Contoy).
  • We can just swim with them in a palm snorkel mask (PMT, snorkeling).
  • For a confirmed diver, the exit will seem very touristy, with a lot of people, all the boats in the same place, people trying to touch the sharks…
  • But hey, when you've never seen one, I understand that the desire to go there, even in snorkeling.

The 15 essential info to know about whale sharks here


Or see the swordfish ?

  • Just like whale sharks, swordfish or the famous "Mexican sardine run", doesn't quite happen in Playa del Carmen.
  • But in fact above Isla Mujeres, off Isla Contoy.
  • Departure around 6 am from Playa del Carmen, direction Punta Sam north of Cancun (1 hour by van), then take a boat and make a journey of approximately 3h to get to the search site. It's a long day!

What is the best time?

  • The swordfish season in Playa del Carmen (off Isla Contoy) is very short: from mid-January to the end of February.
    Macro: best time being clearly at the beginning of February (that's what all the instructors have told me on site, otherwise, it's really not guaranteed to see them!).
  • The waters cool and Banks of thousands of sardines gather together, which attract the swordfish who come to feast!

Please note, the season is short, places are limited, I advise you to book well in advance!

Dive or swim in snorkeling?

  • The exit is not not diving.
  • So you can see and swim with swordfish (the fastest fish in the world) in the middle of schools of sardines snorkeling (snorkel mask, PMT).
  • It's not at all on the same level as the famous sardine run in South Africa, but it seems to be a unique show (I could not do it) !


Schools of eagle rays

  • During the winter, hundreds of young rays are found towards the coasts of Yucatan.
  • The largest gatherings are observed north of Cozumel (at Cantarel or Eagle ray wall).
  • Playa de Carmen also has a site (in Puerto Morelos): the wreck of C-56 where we are likely to see schools of eagle rays diving.

What is the best time?

The eagle ray season in Playa del Carmen starts around October and ends around March. Macro: best time being clearly from December to February (that's what all the instructors on site told me).


We can dive all year round in Playa del Carmen, but the best diving season is considered to be from December to September.


When to dive Playa del Carmen ?

  • Macro: best diving season in Playa del Carmen in terms of visibility is from November to April.
  • Avoid the rainy season in Playa del Carmen from October to November.

The diving season Bulldog shark in Playa del Carmen

  • Normally from mid-November to mid-February.
  • The best time being december and january where the chances of seeing them are much greater and especially in greater numbers.

The diving season WHALE SHARK in Playa del Carmen (Snorkeling, Isla contoy)

  • Normally from mid-June to mid-September.
  • The best time being clearly July and August where the chances of seeing them are much greater.

The snorkeling season SWORDfish (SARDINE RUN) in Playa del Carmen (Isla Contoy)

  • Normally from January to February.
  • The best time being clearly February where the chances of seeing them are much greater.

The diving season EAGLE RAY in Playa del Carmen

  • Normally from October to March.
  • The best period is clearly from December to February where the chances of seeing them are much greater.

Diving conditions Playa del Carmen :

  • Visibility to Playa del Carmen : 25-40 m all year round.
  • Water temperature at Playa del Carmen : around 25 ° C in winter and 29 ° C in summer.
  • Current Playa del Carmen : there is a lot of current in Cozumel, especially in winter.

The best month for diving in Playa del Carmen for me: February


Difficult to choose because of the seasonality of the species! But I would say that the month of February seems not bad.
In addition to the classic dives of Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and the Cenotes, during this period you can:

  • See the bulldog sharks on Playa del Carmen.
  • See the eagle rays on Cozumel.
  • Go snorkeling with swordfish off Isla Contoy.


Map of dive sites Playa del Carmen

carte sites de plongee playa del carmen mexique

What are the best dive sites in Playa del Carmen?

  • Bull shark dive (shark point) : the site for bull sharks (in season).
  • Wreck of the C-56 wreck (a transport ship of the Mexican army sunk voluntarily in 2000): the site for eagle rays (in season).
  • Sabalos : great chances of seeing tarpons.
  • Barracuda reef: great chances of seeing barracudas.
  • Wrecks of the Mama vina wreck : an old shrimp boat sunk in 1995 (max depth 27 meters / 90 feet).


The best dive centers in Playa del Carmen

  • There are really a lot of dive centers in Playa del Carmen, hard to recommend one!
  • Centers with good reputation : Dive Mike (the one with whom I dived bulldog sharks), Various phantom (recommended by instructor friends).
  • The biggest : Prodive and Dressel. As often, I advise you to dive with the biggest centers, it is often the factory ...
  • Most can offer you diving rates with a hotel in Playa del Carmen.

French diving club Playa del Carmen

  • You will have no trouble finding French diving clubs in Playa del Carmen.
  • There are so many French tourists who come to Playa del Carmen that many clubs are focused on French speakers.
  • If the website is in French, this is a good indication, if not simply send them an email in French to check that they have French-speaking staff.

Best French diving clubs in Playa del Carmen

  • The best French diving club in Playa del Carmen is without a doubt Phocea. Installed since 2004, the Phocea dive center has a very good reputation, a great quality of service and French-speaking 100% staff. It offers all kinds of diving packages for Playa del Carmen.
  • The group Dune has also been present for a few years with the center Dune Blue dream.
  • TheUCPA Playa del Carmen is also installed and offers a lot of diving packages with level crossing, hotel, snorkeling, outing, excursion ...


There is a huge choice of Dive packages and packages for a stay in Playa del Carmen, impossible to tell you how much it will cost you!

Diving price Playa del Carmen

  • Dive only price : approximately 50$ without equipment per dive.
  • Equipment rental price : about 10$.
  • Cozumel diving price from Playa del Carmen: about 150$ for 2 dives.
  • Cenote diving price from Playa del Carmen: about 150$ for 2 dives.
  • Diving price Bull shark Playa del Carmen : 100 to 150$.
  • Price swimming with whale sharks Playa del carmen (snorkeling, snorkel mask, PMT): around 180 to 200 $.
  • Price swimming with swordfish Playa del carmen (snorkeling, snorkel mask, PMT): around 180 to 200 $.

Playa del Carmen diving packages, packages and packages


All clubs offer decreasing prices depending on the number of dives, the location (Cenote, Cozumel, etc.), special outings, with or without accommodation.

  • Diving package Playa del Carmen : decreasing price for 4, 6, 10 dives…
  • Lots of offers from dive packages in Playa del Carmen:
    • Cozumel Diving + Cenote + Playa del Carmen
    • Cozumel diving + Cenote + Playa del Carmen + bulldog shark
    • Cozumel diving + Cenote + Playa del Carmen + whale shark
    • Cozumel diving + Cenote + Playa del Carmen + swordfish
  • Diving + hotel Playa del Carmen package 


Diving schools in Playa del Carmen

With all the diving schools present, you can do all kinds of PADI diving courses in French in Playa del Carmen:

  • French diving baptism Playa del Carmen: all the centers offer to do baptisms (DSD or Try scuba diving in English).
    For French speakers: Phocea, Dune blue dream and many others.
  • Open water in French in Playa del Carmen : all centers do open water (or level 1 diving).
    For French speakers: Phocea, Dune blue dream and many others.
  • Do advanced, nitrox and other specialties, divemaster : almost all clubs will offer it (may not be in French, check before).
  • Cave diving : with Cenotes at hand, many clubs can offer PADI cave diving training in Playa del Carmen.


Diving accommodation Playa del Carmen

  • Some accommodation in Playa del carmen are numerous and it changes frequently!
  • All diving clubs have agreements with hotels, the best compromise is certainly to take a diving stay in Playa del Carmen with diving + hotel package.

Independent hotel Playa del Carmen


If you want to be more free and / or more economical, you will probably take an independent hotel, I really recommend you to use, things are changing so quickly!


Getting to Playa del Carmen is easy with Cancun International Airport right next door.

Plane Playa del Carmen

  • It is very easy to get to Playa del Carmen by plane.
  • From Europe or Quebec, the easiest way is to land in Cancun, it's a huge international airport.
  • Then journey Cancun Playa del Carmen : 1 hour drive.
  • Cancun direct bus ride to Playa del Carmen (Teen bus, right out of arrivals, they arrive in the center of Playa del Carmen).
  • You don't need to go to the bus station in the center of Cancun, that would lengthen you from 30 to 40 min.

Playa del Carmen bus route

Playa del Carmen is easily accessible by bus from many cities in Mexico (Cancun, Mahahual, Mexico city…) and belize thanks to Teen bus.


Playa del Carmen that's exactly what i thought, very americanized, some beautiful beaches, bars and restaurants everywhere, everything is accessible and it's perfect for partying. Side diving, it's not not the best destination in the caribbean, but Playa del Carmen has the advantage of being good location to do everything. If I had come for a week of diving at the whale shark season and swordfish, I would probably have stayed at Playa so you can do it all (with cenotes and Cozumel). Out of season, there is no photo, if you are a diver looking for the best dives, don't dive in Playa, do a day or two of Cenotes and go for Cozumel, you will not be disappointed !



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