Xcaret: What is this place and why should you go?

What is Xcaret?  This article reviews what it is like to experience Xcaret.

Xcaret is a vast nature park just South of Playa del Carmen in the Rivera Maya area of Mexico.  Xcaret is filled with underground rivers (or cenotes), Mayan culture, wildlife, and beautiful Caribbean water.  While this place has the layout and feel of an American Theme Park, nature is the star attraction at Xcaret, as this park is in the jungle.

Underground Rivers at Xcaret Park

Underground Rivers at Xcaret Park

First and foremost, you go to Xcaret to swim in the secret river: an underground river that is about 900 Meters long with places to exit the river and take a break or warm up.  Second, after a fun day exploring nature, you go to the big Xcaret Mexico Espectacular cultural show.  These are just two of the 40 plus attractions.  There is  a large entrance facility at the front with towel  pickup, massive gift ship, locker room/bathrooms, and restaurants. In the gift shop, they are people who follow you around and carry your selections in baskets for you.  I’m thinking they get some type of commission but they are not pushy.  The property is broken up into six different routes or sections: each section has different nature/water activities, entertainment, restrooms, restaurants, and concessions.  Xcaret is hot and there a plenty of places to purchase water, drinks, and beer. Please stay hydrated and bring biodegradable sunscreen.

If you purchase the Plus package, you get a snorkel and fins along with a special waterproof “bag” to store your  wallet and phone; a locker to store your dry clothes and valuables; and you’re also entitled to a towel (which I finally figured out where to pick up when we were ready to leave the park).  The Plus package also includes lunch. Priced at $29pp, the restaurants (mostly buffets) are NOT cheap.

English: Gran Tlachco stage

English: Gran Tlachco stage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

As I mentioned earlier, Xcaret features the “Xcaret México Espectacular” at the end of the day.   While the show is included in your admission price, dinner is not.  There are different dinner options for the show and there are people doing the upsell for dinner during lunch at the various restaurants.  Consider the upgraded seating and dinner like upsells for a Hawaiian Luau.

 

 

 

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Xcaret Maya Ruins

Xcaret Maya Ruins

 

Underground river aside, this park has many included activities including a beautiful beach and natural “pools.”  There’s also a snorkel inlet (gear included with the Plus package). There’s plenty of wildlife and a Mariposario (butterfly garden). You can even swim with sharks – nurse sharks, that is.  You can also climb on some small Mayan ruins.  (That’s me at the top in the photo.)

La Laguna International Buffet Xcaret

La Laguna International Buffet

 

 

 

We chose the Laguna International buffet and both the food and service were fabulous.  It was a memorable experience enjoying food deep in the jungle with live music playing.  I found these agave oat cookies which were just amazing.  This was a far higher caliber than American “Theme park” type food.  The buffet was vast with great selections.  You also get one free beer with your lunch to help defray the $29 cost.  Again, note that dinner is not included if you stay for the night  show.  There are different options for dining during the show.

 

 

 

Xcaret - Voladores de Papantla (flyers)

Xcaret – Voladores de Papantla (flyers)

Xcaret - Voladores de Papantla (flyers)

Xcaret – Voladores de Papantla (flyers)

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to visit the the ritual ceremony of the “Voladores” (flyers). It is  considered Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, which gives it a great cultural value.

 

 

 

jungle urinal Xcaret

jungle urinal Xcaret

 

While there are modern bathrooms in the main entrance facilities, as you get deeper into the Park, there are just cold water sinks and pull-chain cold water showers near the Xcaret Plus changing facilities.  I had a chance to visit the bathroom in the Mayan Village and had to take a picture of the “jungle” facilities.  The snake is not real but worthy of a picture.

 

jungle tap Xcaret

jungle tap Xcaret

 

 

Wash your hands when you’re finished please.

 

 

 

 

Bottom line: Do you like water activities? Like Nature?  Then go visit Xcaret.  Xcaret is nicely complimented by two other parks, Xel-Ha and Xplor.  Xel-Ha is all about snorkeling.  Xplor is all about zip-lines, ATVs, and underground rafting.

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