Xcaret pronounced “Ish-caret” is not your typical water park. This is an ecological hybrid park that offers swimming in underground rivers, snorkeling, its own private beach, exotic animal exhibits and many more underwater activities that you can add on to your general admission ticket.
This park is certainly worth a spot on your Riviera Maya itinerary. Here are a few of the things we were able to fit in our day at Xcaret.
We started off our morning visiting what I called the turtle “nursery” because they had turtles in all stages of development including babies. When I saw the babies I immediately started singing, “Good morning, baby sea turtles!” Thankfully Chris and I were the only ones there.
Sea turtle conservation is one of Riviera Maya’s ecological objectives so it makes sense that Xcaret would be a part of that effort. Our hotel has a group of turtles that frequent the sea grass on the beach so we got to snorkel with them and I can’t wait to share that later!
After I died and went to baby turtle heaven we went to swim in Xcaret’s underground rivers. We got to try out 2 of the 3 before we got water logged and the rivers got too busy. I’m talking literally packed with people and I can’t do that many people in a small space. You add the fact that we were swimming in narrow caves and I’m out. Pro tip: take the flippers they offer you even if you have Chacos or swim shoes. The flippers make for an easier swim so you’re not burning through energy and getting nowhere. I swam once with Chacos and once with flippers and I could tell an enormous difference with the flippers.
The second tip I would give about the underground rivers is that you will be swimming in pitch black caves for some lengths of the river. I had NO IDEA that was the case and may have thought about bats and rabies a couple of times. You swim through them and unavoidably bump into people all the while hoping to see the literal light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t want this to deter anyone because they are completely worth it but that was a shock for me and I had to hold on to Chris with an iron grip while we were in the caves.
Private Beach & Snorkeling
Xcaret has their own beach and their own place to snorkel with lots of brightly colored fish. *Funny story* One girl brought crackers to feed the fish while she snorkeled and they all swarmed around her. I was close enough to benefit from the feeding frenzy but at first I thought I was having this transcendent moment in nature because I didn’t see the girl with the crackers. I thought I was at peace with the universe and in touch with my inner fish spirit and I was merely in the way of food. It’s like thinking a cute boy is walking across the room to talk to you but he’s actually heading to the buffet and you’re blocking the meats and cheeses. On the plus side, I got to see some really beautiful fish up close so no emotional harm was done.
Once we had finished with our water activities my super attractive tour guide navigated us to the boat tours. Xcaret is made up of 81 acres so a man who can read a map is a God send. One who is super fit and calls you his “Mrs.” is even better.
We stumbled across the orchid garden by accident and I was glued to this spot for at least half an hour. These flowers are grown on site in a lab and are truly breathtaking in person.
Butterfly Gardens & Bird Sanctuary
Then Chris took me to the aviary and the butterfly gardens. The macaws pretty much rule the roost in Xcaret and they have perches set up all over the park for them to come and go as they please. I would like to remind everyone that macaws are not house cats and should never be touched without a handler’s permission. Putting your fingers up to touch any wild animal is a good way to get bitten.
In case you’re wondering why there aren’t any pictures of butterflies they are incredibly hard to capture with an iPhone while they’re fluttering about. I can tell you that the butterflies we saw had electric blue wings and flew all around us. I felt like I was walking in my very own fairy tale and I was waiting for them to start making me a ball gown at any minute.
We concluded our day at Xcaret by seeing the “Mexico Spectacular” show. Dinner can be served during the show at an additional price and it was a gourmet meal with 8 courses if that sways your decision at all. “Mexico Spectacular” was visually stunning but be warned some of the show has English subtitles on the screen and the majority is in Spanish. You can easily enjoy it even if you don’t completely understand the dialogue though because of the theatrical elements involved.
The show was a little over 2 hours long and chronicled Mexico’s history from the Mayans until present day. All the music for the show is played by a live band and the performers do an excellent job bringing the stories to life. Chris enjoyed the Mayan hip ball game and the fire ball lacrosse game that were demonstrated during the show. I preferred the mariachi band and the traditional Mexican dancers.
We were exhausted when we got on the bus and headed back to the hotel that night. The list of activities the park has to offer is astounding. I would definitely suggest Xcaret to friends who are visiting Mexico in the future. There are lots more options for ecological parks and adventure parks so be sure and do your research based on what you’re looking to get out of your experience. I would also suggest getting a photo pass if you go to Xcaret because that’s how some of these photos were taken. Xcaret has cameras set up throughout the park and you scan your bracelet for the camera to snap a photo of you. All your photos are saved for you and you can access them the next day online.
If anyone has any more questions feel free to ask. More adventures are on their way to the blog soon!
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