At Xcaret eco-archaeological Park, in Riviera Maya near Cancun, Mexico, visitors can experience Mexican traditions, cultures, flora, and fauna. Explore a Mayan village, float along Paradise River, browse the gift shops at the main plaza, visit the Chapel of Guadalupe, a Mexican Cemetery, St. Francis of Assisi Chapel, House of Whispers, or Hacienda Henequenera during a visit to Xcaret.
- Xcaret’s Mayan ruins, built between the late 1400’s and early 1500’s, were once used for ceremonial baths to purify Mayans before the journey to Cozumel. Visitors can explore a replica Mayan village displaying food, crafts, and tools throughout the wooden homes with palm thatched roofs .
- Visitors can also explore a replica Pok ta’Pok stadium. Here 2 teams would compete in a sacred Mayan Ballgame. The teams bounced a rubber ball, weighing between 1-15 pounds, through a stone hoop on the side of the arena without using their hands. In some legends, the losing team was sacrificed.
- After storing our belongings in lockers, we float along the underground river, part of the channels underneath the Yucatan Peninsula flowing into the ocean. The water is about 75 degrees Fahrenheit but feels cooler as we float through caves and by mangroves blocking the sunlight. Passing a Mayan village dance at the replica village, we pose for a quick picture.
- It takes most of the day to explore all of Xcaret’s areas: the Aviary, Coral Reef Aquarium, Natural Museum of Orchids and Bromeliads, Marine Turtles, Jaguar Island, Manatee Lagoon, Regional Wildlife, and the Tropical Jungle Trail. The trails connecting the areas are also an attraction running along the underground river at times with scenic waterfalls waterfalls.
- Since 2010, Xcaret has operated a Rescue and Rehabilitation Center for injured sea turtles. All turtles are returned to the sea upon meeting the necessary conditions. As part of the Turtle Conservation Program, Xcaret protects 13 nests along the Yucatan Peninsula. Teams provide a safe environment for these sea turtles during their first 15 months before releasing them into the sea, significantly increasing their chance of survival.
- Taking a break from exploring the 200 acre park, we relax in a shaded hammock area near the beach.
- Xcarat also has a relaxing aquatic paradise with bars and restaurants at the beach, natural pools, and a lagoon. After snorkeling in one of the natural pools, we relax at a restaurant on the beach and eat a quick lunch.
Traveling Gingerbread Note: Pack a day bag with a swimsuit, change of clothes, bug spray, water, and sunscreen. As the temperatures dropped with the setting sun, the bugs began to bite.
- Restaurants throughout the park serve refreshing, fruity drinks in a carved, souvenir coconut. Don’t wait until the end of the day or the coconuts may be sold out.
- Photo locations are clearly marked throughout the park with bracelet scanners. At the end of our visit, we turn in our bracelets and have an opportunity to view and/or purchase our photos taken throughout the day. We select a couple of our favorites to take home as souvenirs.
As the sun beings to set, we end our experience at Xcaret with the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular Show. Past and present Mexico, Mayan culture, and legends are illustrated through colorful dances, lights, elaborate costumes, and performances.