There is so much to do and see in the Riviera Maya area of Mexico. Whether you are looking for a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere or an adrenaline-filled adventure, Xcaret by Mexico (pronounced sh-caret) has something for you. This chain of seven parks offers everything from exciting ziplines and monster trucks to therapeutic mud baths and relaxing, winding underground rivers and cenotes. When you look them up online – you know you’re gonna – you’ll see the cost of each park runs around $80.00 to just over $100 a day. Don’t go by that. There are so many ways to get discounts, or even free admission, that we can help with. Click on the links throughout this article for a video of the park. To begin, you can fly into Cancun and drive or use their transportation to get to the parks and resorts.
Xcaret opened in 1990 and since has become a landmark in the Riviera Maya, even considered my many as THE destination of this region. Its name means “small inlet.” Connecting to the sea, the Mayans used Xcaret as a merchandise port. The park is very diverse. You can float underground rivers, sun on a white-sand beach, swim the lagoon, or relax in a natural seawater pool. For the little ones, there is Children’s World, where they can swim in shallow cenotes and wading pools designed just for them. Inside the park you can visit the Coral Reef Aquarium and the Sea Turtle Center, or visit the Butterfly Garden, the Aviary, the Rainforest Trail, and the Living Orchid and Bromeliad Museum. In different sections of the park you will see jaguars, manatees, flamingos, spider monkeys, bats, deer, and tapirs. Swim with the dolphins is a must! Take a ride up to the top of the revolving tower and see the Riviera Maya from the high above the jungle. Catch a show while you are there, especially the main show in the outdoor amphitheater. There are great restaurants for dining and bars to refresh. There is so much to see and do, but be sure to wear comfy shoes. There is a lot of walking. This place is huge!
Xplor Fuego is for those that crave a little adventure….at night. Fuego utilizes the adventures of the Xplor park, but in a nighttime setting. Zipline on a seven-curcuit line over the jungle under a moonlit sky. Explore over 3 miles of jungle and caves driving an amphibious vehicle. Swim in the 437 yard talactite river, inside ancient caves. Underground river rafts of 623 yards (570 m) paddling with special hand paddles. Imagine the Hammock Splash (zipline)…at night!
Looking for a real Mexican experience? Check out XOXIMILCO (easy for you to say). This is a floating Mexican party for adults as well as kids. In my opinion, this would be much more fun if you can leave the kiddos at home, but if they are part of your package there are things for them to enjoy too. Taste real Mexican cuisine… This is not your TexMex. The party is situated on a picturesque Mexican gondola enlivened by a witty host, a mariachi, and traditional Mexican music. Enjoy all this and much more> It’s not just any ol’ party, it’s a floating party!
Xel Ha is one of the most requested Xcaret destinations. It is an all-inclusive experience that includes everything you need for fun. All food, beverages, snorkels…you name it. Visit one or all of the four restaurants and open bars. You can Zip-bike or zip line into a river splash (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like). There are rivers to float, caves to explore, cliffs to dive, and so much more. A little more of an adrenaline rush than some of the other parks. Enjoy the panoramic view from atop a 98 foot tower. Xel Ha is celebrating 25 years of adventure and fun.
Xavage was built for the real adventure seekers and not the weak of heart. If you are looking for a real adrenaline rush, this is the park for you. You can paddle a kayak along two canals either by yourself or with a partner. There is a ropes course that will challenge you as you climb to the top. Capture the full view on the zipline as you fly over the trees in a horizontal position. Hold on tight riding on the speedboat at 53 mph and doing 360 degree turns. Work as a team as you raft through the only whitewater rapids in the Riviera Maya. For a real memorable experience, get behind the wheel of an all-terrain vehicle and drive through a circuit with slopes, big steps, and other obstacles. There’s even a children’s section where kids from 5 to 11 years old will find waterslides, bridges, water jets, and a wading pool, plus new friends.
Explor is an all-inclusive extreme activity park that boasts the highest ziplines in the Riviera Maya, situated in the middle of the jungle. This is a great park for adrenaline junkies and teens. Here you can sore over the jungle canopy on one of several ziplines. You can even zip in a hammock that splashes the waters below. On the ground take a ride on an amphibious vehicle and explore the secrets of the Mayan jungle. Want to go deeper? Take a cavernous adventure far beneath the earth.
Use your all of your senses, expand your imagination, and ask yourself, "What is reality?" Visit Xenses. This is a visual wonderland with towns that test your sense of balance and appear to be more like walking in a cartoon than on a street. Be wondered with a big red Heartbeat, a waterslide, or hover in the sky in Bird Flight. You can float down the stream in Riverlaxing; and getting covered in mud from head to toe in the Sludgerie. Get a massage while you are here for the ultimate relaxing experience. There’s something to stimulate all of your senses in this half-day adventure.
Experience cenotes in four different ways at Xenotes. A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Mayans and still used as a fresh water source. You will be asked to not pollute their water with bug spray or sun screen. Experience the cold, clear waters on an assisted rappel, zip-line, or by kayaking, and swimming. It’s all here.
Xichén is a historical phenomenon. Discover the Riviera Maya’s main archeological sites and step into the Mayan world. Choose which site to visit on board comfortable units and accompanied by a certified guide. The ancient Mayan pyramids will amaze you. Take it a step further and see the Magic Town of Valladolid on the Xichén Deluxe Tour. Learn about its colonial architecture, the warmth of its people, and its rich history. There are two more amazing archeological experiences at Tulum and Coba.
You can get to the parks from most of the resorts in the Riviera Maya. Several of the park tickets include transportation, while others charge a little. Like Disney, if you want the ultimate experience, you can stay at the Xcaret or Occidental Hotels, both attached to the Xcaret park. Both are all-inclusive resorts, but they are also very different, particularly when it comes to park perks. I will compare the two hotels in another blog, but if you are going before then, call me and let me explain so you aren’t surprised.
Here is my two best pieces of advice. Go in the cooler months if you can. The parks are typically in the jungle, where it is extremely hot in the summer; I mean like sweltering hot. If you do go in the summer like we did, you will want to spend as much time as you can in the water experiences….which isn’t so bad. There are plenty to choose from. Secondly, stay at one of the hotels attached to Xcaret. Just like when you go to Disney, you can save money by staying off site and getting transportation to the park. But you lose much of the day getting there and getting home. Stay at Occidental or Hotel Xcaret makes the whole experience much more satisfying. You will be glad you did.
A special thank you to http;cancun.com for the Youtube videos.