Xel-Ha Park is a theme park with a difference. This is a place where nature lovers can discover the wonders of the Riviera Maya. You'll be free to swim, snorkel and zip-line your way around this tropical adventure park. You can walk, cycle or take the mini-train through the jungle, passing by beautiful flora and fauna along the way. With all this and more, a trip to Xel-Ha makes a great day out for the whole family.
?Xel-Ha Park is one of the biggest water parks in the world. In Maya, ”Xel-Ha' means ”the place where water is', and from the moment you step through the gates you'll see exactly why. This is a place where the cool, fresh water of underground rivers meets the warm Caribbean Sea, and they're ready and waiting for you to splash around in. There's a huge network of grottos, caves and inlets, too; they're absolutely brimming with colourful marine life. Plus, there's wildlife and plants throughout the park for you to discover.
What activities are there?As you'd expect, aquatic activities take centre stage here. There are steps into the water all around the park, which makes getting in and out safe and simple. The currents are really easy to manage too; just make sure you grab a life jacket before you go in.
1.Try snorkellingIf you've never tried snorkelling before, this is your chance to do it in the rivers and caves. The cove is home to around 90 marine species, including angelfish, snappers and parrotfish. Why not see how many you can count? Masks and fins are included in the ticket price, and you can enjoy unlimited snorkelling.
Cross the TrepachangaTest your strength as you try and cross this tricky rope bridge. Hold on tight as you make your way from one side to the other; you'll need good balance to make all the way over. If not, you'll land with a big splash into the water.
Go zip-liningThe zip-lines are another fun activity at the park. There's a network of six zip-lines. So take your seat in the hammock and feel it pick up speed as you fly down the ropes. How do you land? You'll need to leap five metres into the crystalline waters below. 3.
See the Bay of CapricesFancy escaping the crowds? The Bay of Caprices is the perfect place to relax for a moment. It's only a few steps from the floating bridge but you'll feel a world away from anywhere. You'll find yourself right by the water surrounded by lush vegetation. 4.
See the cenotesMystical Mayan cenotes (freshwater reservoirs) are dotted all over the Riviera Maya. You'll find two beautiful ones right here in the park, they're called Paradise and Adventures. No matter how tempting it may look, it's the only place in the park where swimming isn't allowed. But you can stand and admire the glistening water from a distance.
See the dolphinsYou won't find any glass tanks in this park. Instead, you'll find marine life living in natural underwater habitats where you'll be able to see dolphins, stingrays and turtles. 6.
Visit Children's WorldIf you're bringing the kids along, don't leave without checking out Children's World. The little ones will love it here; there's a waterslide, playground, rope climb, seesaw, crocodile tunnel and hanging games. Grown-ups can sunbathe in the peaceful hammock area, knowing the little ones are safe and happy.
7.Follow the cycle trailThe Land of Huh bicycle trail is only a kilometre long, so take it nice and slow and soak up your surroundings. It's worth stopping off at Chacah's Garden if you can, where you'll find all sorts of interesting trees. Kids' and adults' bikes are available and they're included in the cost of your ticket.
8. Admire the viewTo see Xel-Ha Park in all its glory, you can climb to Scenic Lighthouse. From 40 metres in the air you'll have an incredible 360-degree view of the Mayan jungle and the beautiful waters beneath. Then, you can ride the open waterslides and spiral back down to earth, where you'll land in a crystal-clear natural pool below.
Three eco-friendly facts about Xel-Ha Park
- No printed maps are available in the park; this saves on paper usage.
- Drinking straws aren't permitted because they can't be recycled.
- You won't find any paper napkins in the on-site restaurants, only cloth.
What's included in Xel-Ha Park admission?On top of entry to the park, the ticket price also includes snorkelling equipment, towels, water bags, life jackets, bikes, hammocks, beach chairs, lockers, food and drink, adventure and children's parks and zip lines (except Zip Bike). If you fancy trying out a few other activities like the Snuba, Sea Trek and the spa, then there are additional costs for these.
What to take to Xel-Ha ParkTo ensure you make the most of your day, be sure to bring the following items along with you:
- a bathing suit
- dry clothes to change into at the end of the day
- a cash deposit for snorkelling equipment (this will be returned to you)
- water shoes or flip flops for walking around
- eco-friendly sun cream
- hat to protect yourself from the sun
- an underwater camera and a GoPro to take some snaps
How to get thereThe easiest way to get there is by hire car. It's a simple drive from Playa del Carmen (around 30 minutes) and there's free parking available. But if you don't have a car, don't worry; you can take the bus from Playa del Carmen (it's around half an hour away). There are also collectivos (shared taxis) running along the main 307 Highway, which will make a stop at Xel-Ha Park if you ask them to.