If you are staying around Cancun or Playa del Carmen and want something other than laying around your Resort all day then Xperiencias Xcaret has the answer. And we want to show you why you should visit their awesome Xel Ha Water Park.
Xel-Há is a Mayan word which translates to “the mixing of waters” which gives you a pretty clear guide as to what to expect from this pristine piece of coastline. The place where the ocean greets the crystal clear waters of the Yucatan underground river system.
According to legend, Mayan gods joined together their wisdom, illusions and love for beauty to create a place that would bring together the best of nature, and that place was called Xel-Há.
Once created, the gods were so pleased with this heavenly place that they decided to permit the entry of all mortals. To take care of it and the elements that surround it, the gods appointed three guardians: Huh, the Iguana, Guardian of the Land, Chuc Kay, the Pelican, Guardian of the Air, and Kay Op, the Parrotfish, Guardian of the Water.
It is said that these guardians still protect and care for the Park and everyone who comes to visit.
What can you do at Xel-Há?
There is more than enough to keep you entertained for an entire day no matter how active or relaxed you prefer to be. Let’s do a run through on some of the activities, all of which are included in the price of your ticket.
Snorkeling at Xel-Há
The waters of Xel-Há are a natural aquarium and home to over 90 species of fish such as angelfish, surgeonfish, damselfish, snapper, parrotfish, grouper, sergeant major, a family of rays, pufferfish, some barracudas and more.
Fins, masks and life jacket hire is included in your ticket price and there are many areas throughout the park to enter the water and explore.
And the best thing is you do not need to carry the gear with you all day as they have a number of hire stations to collect equipment from whenever you feel the need to swim.
The Xel-Há River Tour
Without doubt the world’s most amazing”Lazy River” ride. Allow the natural currents of the rivers slowly propel you toward the ocean.
Choose whether you want to snorkel your way along or take the more relaxed approach and float on an inflatable tube. Either way it is relaxing, entertaining and the scenery is stunning.
There are a number of places to exit the river to take on some of the other activities but you can always come back and continue, or head back and start again.
The Xel-Há Cave
The cave is considered a sacred place, and once you will enter you will appreciate why. Here is a unique opportunity to swim inside an uncollapsed cenote.
A combination of the beams of natural lights dancing on the water and the incredible acoustics of the cave make this one of the most serene places you will ever visit.
The Cliff of Courage
One of the exit points of the River Tour will lead you to this spot for the more adventurous visitor. How does a jump from a five meter cliff sound to you?
Take it to the next level and climb back up the cliff face if just jumping wan’t enough to get your adrenaline pumping.
Another of the river exits takes you to the Trepachanga where you can test your balance as you attempt to cross the river using only a series of ropes.
It’s a great spot to compete with your friends or even strangers to gain the bragging rights over who is the true King of the River.
If balance and agility sounds like a bit much hard work then maybe the Salpichanga is more your style. All you have to do is hang on!
Either grab on to one of the hand bars or take a seat in a mini hammock as you prepare to zipline down to the river. Get ready to make a splash.
Chuc Kay’s Flight
The Ixchel Grotto is a beautiful part of the park which is pretty special even without any extras. But it wasn’t enough for Xel-Há and so the added a tribute to the Mayan Guardian of the Air, Chuc Kay the Pelican.
More than your average rope swing, take flight from the perch high on the cliff and mimick the flight of the Guardian before entering the cool waters of the Grotto.
This is the true Xel Ha, the spot where the incoming ocean currents meet with a number of outlets of the world’s largest underground river system. So you should expect something special.
This small area is home to over 400 species of plants, animals and fish of all shapes and sizes. Don’t be surprised to see Sea Turtles and even Manatees going about their daily lives in the Inlet.
Home River Mangroves
Mexico has one of the largest areas of mangrove forests in the world and the section at Xel-Há provides sanctuary to many types of birds, mammals and crustaceans.
Float or snorkel your way through this strange habitat to get a new perspective on the importance of mangroves to the ecosystem.
While almost everything at the park is family friendly sometimes the little ones just want something that is all about them. So if junior is getting a bit restless then head over to Children’s World for a while.
Let them go crazy with a wading pool, playground, water slide, rope climb, seesaw, crocodile tunnel, hanging games, water lilies and turtles for photos. And just a few steps away is a relaxing hammock garden for parents to rebuild their energy levels.
While Xel-Há is by definition a theme park it is built with the intention or true immersion into the Mayan culture. In fact Xel-Há was an important Mayan trading port right up until it was destroyed by the Spanish.
Some of the city ruins can still be found in the park including a section of the city wall which was built in the 12th century. It is always a bonus when you can combine history, learning and fun.
The park has a number of walking trails that wind their way through the Jungle and are the perfect way to find some solitude in a magnificent natural setting.
Walking along the paths of this natural reserve, you will find a selection of phrases and printed reflections along the way. Inspiring messages designed to build an understanding and respect for conservation of nature.
There are hundreds of these beautiful and mystical water holes spread across the Yucatan Peninsula and two of the are right here at Xel-Há.
The Cenotes, Paradise and Adventure, are protected areas, and swimming is not allowed but it is still well worth taking the time to view these natural wonders. Without a doubt, this is a great place for you to connect with nature.
Land of Huh
As an alternative to walking to the beginning of the river why not grab a free bike and take an easy one kilometer ride? Bikes are available for adults and kids and you can also take advantage of carry bags to help with your belongings.
In this peaceful ride through the Land of Huh you can encounter coatis, porcupines, and agoutis approaching the path to feed, some shy and others not so much.
Queen Conch Sanctuary
Sadly the queen conch is an endangered species due to excessive commercial consumption by humans. But here at Xel-Há they are working to reverse that.
The Sanctuary began work in 2001 and over the next ten years they managed an impressive population increase in the Queen Conch of 79%. Take a few minutes to see these strange creatures and appreciate the work done here.
Optional activities at Xel-Há (additional payment required)
While you can see that there is plenty of fun and adventure to be had in the price of the basic ticket Xel-Há has a few impressive optional activities for you to consider.
Have you ever yearned to Scuba dive but the thought of the air tanks and other gear freaked you out? Then maybe Sea Trek is the answer.
Take a walk on the ocean floor with using the specially designed helmets that give you a more open feeling and does away with the need to carry the imposing tanks on your back.
A totally unique experience, immerse yourself into the ocean and admire the underwater world, even without knowing how to swim!
Xel-Há is the only place in the Riviera Maya and Cancun where you can go diving in a cenote without a certification thanks to the comfort and security of Snuba.
This unique combination of snorkeling and scuba affords you this rare opportunity to explore the mysterious depths of a Cenote.
Xel-Há houses a permanent rescue and rehabilitation center for these gentle giants of the water and you can experience being part of the team.
Learn about the importance of this endangered species before joining two Manatees in the water for a 40 minute encounter like nothing you have experienced before.
Swim with Dolphins
While some people strongly oppose these types of activities others feel that places like Xel-Há have a respect and love of their animals and that they will be interacting with well treated dolphins.
Xel-Há offers two levels of interaction, Primax and Interax, and choosing which is right for you depends on you budget, time and wants. Swimming with dolphins has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Zip Bike Xel-Há
How would you like to take a leisurely bike ride through the jungle, gliding over cenotes, through caves and in the tree tops? Let me tell you, it was my favorite activity at Xel-Há.
The Zip Bike is a self propelled ride along zip lines which creates an experience unique to Xel-Há. Suitable for all ages the ride is quite easy, very scenic and not too scary even for those of us for a fear of heights.
A unique experience that will connect you with all four elements of nature, earth, water, air and fire. A true spiritual journey.
Unlike any spa treatment you have ever had, Temaxcal adds a modern twist to the ancient rituals of the Maya to create the perfect cleansing of body and spirit.
Food and refreshments
With 8 different bars and restaurants throughout the park there will be no problem finding something for any taste or budget.
From light snacks to full sit down meals, water and soft drinks to beer and more, your needs are fully taken care of. And all with views that are hard to beat anywhere in the world.
Most visitors to Xel-Há will be based in either Cancun or Playa del Carmen which means it will be possible to reach the park on public transport using the ADO busline.
It is quite an easy drive if you want a bit more independence and want to hire a car. Most Resorts can assist you with that or you should have no problem finding a car rental office close to wherever you are staying.
The best option without doubt is to include transport in your ticket on one of the many package options available. Mexico Bites and Sights is an official sales affiliate and we would appreciate the support if you make you ticket purchases using our links.
The package options
While packages are subject to change there are a number of options available at the time of writing.
On top of the standard entry ticket giving you access to all of the free activities this ticket also allows you to eat and drink all you want with buffet and domestic open bar during your visit.
Total All Inclusive
This package includes everything in the All Inclusive bundle plus your choice of one of a selection of optional activities.
Build Your Own Package
Pick and choose the options you need to make the perfect adventure for you and your travel party. You can even add visits to Xel-Há’s sister parks and save even more money.
Other things you should know
- The park is open 365 day of the year from 8.30am to 6pm. They will start to request patrons begin to leave at 5.30pm.
You may find many people will descend on the restaurants around 5pm in the hope of getting a last meal on their all inclusive ticket.
- You should only use biodegradable sunscreen to assist with the protection of the marine environment at Xel-Há. It only takes a little effort to make a contribution.
- If you are making your own way to Xel-Há it is advisable to arrive as close to opening time as possible to beat the crowds coming as part of an organized tour.
- Almost everything is included with your All Inclusive ticket but please remember that tips are always welcome and with low wages a few extra pesos for great service makes a difference to some people’s lives.
Souvenirs and optional activities are an additional expense.
- Make sure you take an underwater camera on your day at Xel-Há. While the scenery above the water is quite amazing you are only going to document half of your memories if you can’t capture the magic below the water.
If you don’t own an underwater camera you should seriously consider buying one of the disposable options available at many stores.
Where to next?
If you are ready to buy your tickets for an amazing day at Xel-Há then we would appreciate you doing so through our links. We do earn a small commission on any sales but you will still get the best deal available.
Keep an eye out for our posts on the other parks on offer as part of the Xperiencias Xcaret group for even more incredible cultural and adventure experiences.