I had heard of Xcaret before our trip to Mexico but I didn’t really know what to expect. Sometimes surprises aren’t good when you travel and other times they are great! This is a time when the surprise is great. This is a natural waterpark. That means no chlorine water. What it also means is you can swim with the fish, turtles, rays, and sharks! If you want to that is. I opted out of that one.
This is how we spent our day exploring and enjoying the park. Along with some tips, musts, and don’t for visiting Xcaret in Mexico.
Activities at Xcaret
When I say there is a lot to do, I’m not joking. The park is laid out by area. Each area has a different color associated with it and has that color tile laid into the trail along the walking paths around the park. The color tiles really help to navigate you to the different areas of the park. There are six areas of different attractions.
The brown area has a museum of Mexican Folk Art along with the Guadalupe Chapel. The stables, as well as the horse maternity ward, are also in this area. And lastly, in this area is the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular where the evening’s amazing show is performed. You shouldn’t miss the show. We all loved it.
The black area has changing rooms and lockers. It’s also the place to pick up your life vest and flippers for paradise river, Xcaret’s lazy river. Children’s world along with several animal viewing locations are all located along the black trail.
The white area has the stained-glass plaza, butterfly pavilion, ball game court, and Mexican cemetery. The white area also has 2 not to miss stops, the chocolate workshop, and the jaguar and puma exhibitions.
The blue area has the coral reef aquarium, the sea turtles as well as swimming with a shark or dolphin areas.
The green area has the snorkeling inlet, the natural beach, and the sea trek as well as several restaurants.
The red area has a natural pool and many of the extra activities such as snorkeling tour and dream activities.
Planning Your Day
Just like any theme park if you want to get the most of your day you need to plan out what is important for you to see. There are Mayan temples and places of artifacts throughout the entire park so don’t fret about seeing those. Several things you should plan into your day are seeing the jaguars and puma, the sea turtle, manatees, and sharks. Along with doing the paradise river, and the snorkeling inlet. If you have younger kids, go over to the children’s world area. However, whatever you do, do not miss the Mexico Espectacular at the end of your day.
How We Spent Our Day
Once we had stashed our backpacks, clothes, and towels we picked up lifevests and flippers, (get the flippers) and headed to paradise river. **Notice Clint’s and the girl’s feet. Get the flippers! We went back because Evelyn was having a difficult time in the river. Lazy rivers are Evelyn’s favorite so we thought we’d do that first. It is quite remarkable. I have never been in a natural river like this before. Part of the river is a tunnel with shafts up to the surface for light and air. You are never in complete darkness so not to worry there. There were also bats flying within the tunnels which was really amazing.
After paradise river, we made our way through the coral reef aquarium to the sea turtle, sharks, stingrays, and manatees. We were lucky enough to walk past the shark enclosure while guests were swimming with them. It was really fun to see. There are so many turtles, I was really amazed. Next, we went snorkeling in the inlet. This was really amazing. There are all different fish but also we saw a sea turtle – I was shocked – and a stingray. Clint even ran his hand down the stingray’s back and it turned around to look at him like he thought he would get fed. Sorry, no food.
We go a recommendation to eat at the Caribbean buffet. I have to say the food is amazing. The variety of different dishes was great and everyone could get different things. Ainsley, no surprise went for some mac-n-cheese. My carb kid. However, she found they have a station for ‘cook to order’ seafood. My lover of mussels had a wonderful plate of mussels solo which put a huge smile on her face. We spoke to the server who put us in touch with the chef to confirm what Evelyn could eat. She had the BBQ ribs as well as a plate they made special just for her of chicken, mashed potatoes and grilled veggies. Clint and I tied so many of the dishes and were thrilled with them all. There were many desserts as well as soft service ice cream and Mexican candies to enjoy.
After lunch, we made our way over to see the jaguars and puma. WOW! is all I can say. They are beautiful animals. There are 2 jaguars and while we were there, they chanced each other around which was fun to watch.
Since there are slides in the children’s area and the girls wanted to play on those we headed there. The girls love slides and climbing structures which children’s world has. Afterward, we changed and headed to the evening show.
The show is called Mexico Espectacular and it’s amazing. In one of the skits, the men, dressed in Mayan costumes played field hockey with a ball that was on FIRE! Yes, you read that right! The show continues on for two hours and fifteen minutes highlighting the different regions of Mexico. Dancing, singing, horse exhibitions, you name it, they have it in the show. A few of my favorite skits had the dancing horses and the mariachi bands in them.
Like any other ‘theme’ park the tickets to Xcaret are not cheap. You should buy your tickets ahead of time, either online here or from your hotel’s concierge. There are a few options when buying your ticket. The straight admission ticket but you will probably want to add one meal during your time at the park at one of there 5 restaurant buffets. Or you can just buy the Xcaret Plus, which gives you the one meal included in the price plus lockers to leave your belongings in. With either ticket, you will still need transportation to the park. Transportation options are from Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Riviera Maya. You can also add Photopass or at the end of your day buy photos individually.
Tips When Buying Your Tickets
You need to buy tickets for a specific day and will incur an administration fee if you try and change that date. Plan ahead, this is a full day of adventure. Like any water park activity, it is tiring. Do not plan to go the day after you arrive in Mexico, or after a busy day traveling to Chichen Itza or the like. Go the day after you’ve had a quiet relaxing day at your hotel’s pool. This way you are nice and rested. You will thank me later.
The transportation from your hotel to Xcaret is on a motorcoach. Since the drive from Cancun is one hour and fifteen minutes you will need to leave your hotel around 7 am and return around 11 pm. The drive from Playa del Carmen is twenty minutes and from Riviera Maya one-half hour. Since we were staying in Cancun at the Westin Resort & Spa, read my review, it was going to be a long day. We bought our tickets through our hotel’s concierge and were told it was cheaper to add the transportation on. My husband and I weren’t fully jazzed about the length of the day. For this reason, we opted to rent a car and leave when we were ready. This worked very well for our family.
To save money on your tickets buy ahead of time. On the Xcaret website, you can save 10% off your tickets if you buy between 7-20 days in advance of your trip. If you buy more than 21 days in advance you can save 15% off your tickets. Any savings to me is worth it, especially if you know you want to go. And I say go. It was a great day for my family.
What to Bring to Xcaret
Well, it’s a water park so a bathing suit is obvious. But there are a few other items you should have as well. First, WATER SHOES!!!!! We managed with Teva’s and Ainsley’s slip-on crocs but honestly wear water shoes. Since you can keep the water shoes on with the flippers its just all-around easiest. This is a natural park which means there is some algae in the water and the rocks can be slippery. Having your feet protected is best.
Second, a JOTO waterproof phone case. The great thing about the JOTO waterproof phone case is that you can take pictures with your phone and not worry about losing it. It’s around your neck.
If you don’t already have these 2 items -invest in them -you will thank me later.
Third, natural sunscreen. I read on the park’s website they check your bags to see if you have brought in regular sunscreen or reef safe. For this reason, I brought my own. We also wear rashguards more often than not so we don’t need to wear sunscreen on our upper body.
Fourth, natural bug repellent with Picaridin in it. We used this Skin-so-soft bug repellent and were very happy with the results. I highly recommend it.
You will also want to bring a change of clothes and a towel. Do yourself a favor and don’t bring a full-size towel. The lockers aren’t huge and the extra space towels take up isn’t really worth it.
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I’m sure you will enjoy your day. For us, seeing the show was important so we came later in the morning hoping the kids wouldn’t be too tired by the time we left. They were still and I was grateful to have the rental car. We can go back to see more on our next visit to Mexico.