Xcaret, Xel-ha or Xplor? Which Experience is Best for You?

 

Xcaret, Xplor and Xel Ha are three of the Riviera Maya’s most well-known excursions, mainly because of the positive reputation of Xcaret Xperiences and also because of rave reviews. It is most likely that your concierge or tour representative will recommend you to visit one of these parks. But if all of them are so wonderful then how to you choose which one is best for you!

I have visited all three of these wonderful parks and can tell you that each of them offers a completely different experience quite unique from one another. There is something for the adventure lover, the aquatic lover, the nature lover, history lover and of course the open bar lover!

Xcaret Xperience

Xcaret - Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen

 

Xcaret Park is probably the most magnificent excursion that I have done in the Riviera Maya. It is an excursion that can be done over and over and still be enjoyable! That park is so big that actually you may not even cover the whole park in one day depending on how quickly you move along through the beautiful path of nature!

Xcaret is meant to be a full day activity starting in the morning and ending in the nighttime hours as they do have a spectacular nighttime performance in which they are famous for. You don’t have to stay for this but if you are already there it’s truly a must see!

Xcaret is absolutely family friendly but you must be prepared to walk a lot and be prepared for the hot sun by wearing bio natural sunscreen! Everything is done at your leisure so you have plenty of opportunities to stop and relax along the way, grab a bite to eat, drink a cocktail or take a swim in one of the beautiful lagoons or cenotes.

Xcaret combines water activities with exciting nature sites and lessons of the Mayan history. You may also choose to add an extra experience such as swimming with the dolphins for an extra fee!

If you purchase the deluxe package which I highly recommend you do then you will also get to enjoy a 5 star buffet meal in one of their many amazing restaurants along the way (you get to choose one)! On that note: My favorite has always been their Mexican buffet! There are also many stops along the way where you can purchase snacks and drinks!

Xel-Ha Xperience

Xel Ha - Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen

This is usually the park that mostly gets compared to Xcaret and sometimes people believe that it is the same kind of park, just with a different location however it is actually much different. While Xel-Ha is a nature park it is really is a more laid back experience with a much more aquatic focus overall.

They have various cenotes for swimming or just grab a tube, float and relax. It’s also a beautiful place to snorkel as you can discover colorful fish and other beauties underwater world. There are some mild jump off points for those dare devils as well as other over the water activities like zip lining. I should note, these zip lines are not the adventurous ones flying high above the jungle. Rather they are very kid (and kid at heart) friendly; and are really meant to be a fun way to make a water slide type splash landing in the water.

It is a great excursion for families with younger children (swimmable age) because you spend more time in the water than actually walking around the park site seeing. This is also a very nice and relaxing day to spend with your friends or as a couple. Swim, take a beautiful nature walk or grab a bicycle along the way and take a nice bike ride through the walking and bike trails.

The perk of this excursion is that it is all inclusive with open bar and all you can eat, throughout the entire day! You may also purchase extra experiences such as swim with the dolphins or other unique underwater experiences.

Xplor Xperience

Xplor - Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen

This park is for all you adventure lovers! Xplor combines an aquatic experience with breathtaking adventure through the jungle! And you can do it by day or by night!

You will be wet the entire time so wear those water shoes and your bathing suit! Even if you are just doing it for the zip lining you will end the circuit with a splash landing in the water so keep that in mind!

You may want to start off your adventure with a swim through the underground river. I won’t give away the surprise but I will tell you that your swim ends with a simply breathtaking site that you will not want to miss!

Your next activity brings you to a 4 wheel drive through the amphibious jungle! During the night excursion, this circuit adds a little bit more mystery! Don’t worry, as there will be light and there are Xplor employees along the way to insure your comfort and safety.

The zip lining is always the main headline of the park, featuring a circuit of zip lines sending you flying high above the jungle! I should note that I have done other zip lining excursions in the Riviera Maya before and this is the one where I have definitely felt the best comfort level! I am a scardy cat at heart but I love this excursion! Once you do the first one you will want to do the rest.

Xplor also features an all you can eat buffet which you can take advantage of all day! Alcohol is not served at this park for obvious reasons.

This can be a family friendly activity but remember that it is a much more adventurous experience!

My Friendly Advice!

Remember at all three of the parks it is highly recommended to wear water shoes (very important in my opinion), proper attire for getting wet, and apply eco-friendly sunscreen!

No matter which of these excursion you choose, it is for sure you will have a great time! While you might not be able to fit in all three in one visit I definitely recommend you trying all of them at some point in time!

Playa del Carmen for Adventure Lovers!

There are many opportunities for adventure lovers in Playa del Carmen and the surrounding Riviera Maya. From sky-diving to cenote diving, from zip-lining to snorkeling with whale sharks and more!

Xplor Adventure Park

There are a few adventure parks along the Riviera Maya, the main one being Xplor, which has zip-lining and underwater cave discovery tours. It’s a great day out for the whole family with a wide range of activities on offer.

Tickets can be arranged through your concierge which include transportation, food and drinks, as well as access to the entire park for the whole day.

Aktun Chen Natural Park

The full day tour of Aktun Chen Natural Park starts with zip-lining over the jungle canopy, then a walking tour of an underground cave system. After lunch, visit some interesting animals such as reptiles and spider monkeys, before snorkeling around a pristine underwater cenote. It is absolutely magnificent and the clearest cenote I’ve ever been in.

Cenote at Aktun Chen Natural Park	 - Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen

Horseback riding at Rancho Baaxal

Why not spend a day horseback riding along the beach at Rancho Baaxal, about 20 minutes north of Playa del Carmen? It is a great day out, riding through the jungle then along the beach. The owners of Ranch Baaxal are dedicated to the health and well-being of their horses, which are mostly rescues from other ranches.

Rancho Baaxal horseback riding - Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen

Whale Shark Tours

The season for snorkeling with these giants of the deep is technically May to September, with July being the best time to go. We went in mid August and saw plenty of sharks. Your concierge can organize a tour for your group which includes an on-board lunch at the beautiful Isla Mujeres off the coast of Cancun.

It is absolutely worth it for this once in a lifetime experience.

Whale shark watching - Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen

If you are prone to sea-sickness, come prepared for a long boat ride out to the whale’s feeding ground (about 1 1/2 hours).

Cenote Diving

Divers will love diving these caverns filled with fresh water. Most dive centers around town offer cenote dives, and a popular spot is Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) cenote, located 51 KM south of Playa del Carmen, just north of Tulum.

This is a unique experience to the Yucatan and one you are not likely to forget.

Sky Diving

For true adrenaline junkies, try a tandem skydive with Skydive Playa, Playa del Carmen’s one and only skydiving company with over seventeen years experience in the area.

Skydiving Playa del Carmen

Check out my video of the experience here!

Contact your concierge for more information on these adventure-loving activities in Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya.