Blessed with spectacular natural beauty, azure waters and the warm welcome of the Caribbean sun, the best of Cancun is found once you get out and explore the area. The siren call of the beach is hard to resist, but for those who want to mix a little adventure and adrenaline into their vacation, Cancun has several eco parks that offer aquatic, zoological, natural, cultural and even aerial fun for the whole family.
Exciting, exhilarating and exotic are all appropriate adjectives to describe three of the area’s beloved parks, all tied by a common “X.” Choosing from among Xel-Há, Xcaret and Xplor is all about deciding what kind of adventure you want to enjoy. Xcaret combines many outings into one sprawling natural park that invites you to experience all of Mexico in one place. Part Epcot and part safari, Xcaret offers a cultural and archaeological tour of the country. From a recreated Mayan village (you can barter with cocoa beans) and authentic ruins (this was once a Mayan port town known as Ppole) to a replica of a traditional 19th century hacienda that covers the unique history of the Yucatán Peninsula, the park provides a colorful cultural immersion into this region. One of the cultural highlights here is the Mexican cemetery, a colorful and almost whimsical nod to the importance of the Day of the Dead.
Once your cultural journey is complete, you can enjoy Xcaret’s natural beauty. Perched on the Caribbean Sea, the park offers a range of beaches, pools and rivers… including a spectacular underground river that carves its way through the porous limestone bedrock. The park offers a variety of aquatic excursions, including Snuba snorkeling, and swimming with nurse sharks, dolphins or rays.
Back on land, don’t miss the park’s jungle trails, which take you to animal exhibits including turtles, tapir, deer, manatees, bats, jaguars, spider monkeys, and tropical birds. And finally, try to catch a show, which range from papantla flyers (a traditional dance performed by twirling while suspended upside down from a rope tied to a pole, to the accompaniment of flute and drums) to reenactments of the famous Mayan ball game, to Xcaret’s fantastic “México Espectacular” show.
If you want to spend your day in the water, book your tickets for Xel-Há. The name is Mayan for “Where the water is born,” an apt designation for the world’s largest natural aquarium. You can practically swim your way through the best of the park’s attractions, which include lagoons, caves, cenotes (natural sinkholes filled with water), inlets and rivers. One of the pure delights at Xel-Há is snorkeling its natural aquarium, which brings you shoulder to fin with parrot fish, angel fish, rays and other colorful (and harmless) marine life. For a more indolent adventure, hop in an inner tube and float your way down a lazy river. And for something more extreme, take a leap of faith from the Cliffs of Courage into the water, zip-line your way to a river, or test your balance on the floating bridge. Xel-Há also offers swimming with dolphins and Snuba.
Xplor focuses on adventure. This ecotourism park lets you explore the jungles of Yucatán from the air with a network of 14 zip-lines; experience what’s beneath the surface by swimming or rafting an underground river; or romp over land and water in an amphibious vehicle. One of the more exciting experiences here is Xplor Fuego, a torch-lit nocturnal excursion that will have you zip-lining, driving and swimming through the park after the sun sets.
While these parks offer everything a visitor could want, X doesn’t always mark the spot when it comes to fun in Cancun. Río Secreto is a magical destination located just a few miles from Playa del Carmen. This underground river (actually a long, partially flooded cave) is a wonderland of breathtaking stalactites and stalagmites that you get to explore with an experienced guide, a miner’s helmet lighting the way, and a sense of wonder around every corner.
If you’d like to visit either of these parks or want more information, let our concierge know. We’ll be happy to arrange the details.
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Boulevard Kukulcán Km 12.5 Lt 18 Zona Hotelera, Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico, 77500, (52)(998) 891 4200
Delight in our breathtaking beachfront location on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast, where sea views combine with thoughtful service and amenities.