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!

Xperiencing Xochimilco in a Riviera Maya Kind of Way!

Xperiencing Xochimilco in a Riviera Maya Kind of Way! - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenAs if Xcaret Xperiences hasn’t done enough to continuously surpass expectations and make our lives incredibly more adventurous in the Riviera Maya, they have gone and done something else amazing with the recreation of Xochimilco right here in the Riviera Maya!

Before you experience this brand new fun activity you must understand how it came about, as it is actually a divine replica of a place so beautiful and famous! The original Xochimilco, otherwise called the City of Flowers, is a fun natural attraction located close to Mexico City.

There, you can arrive with your friends or family and rent a specially designed boat called a trajinera which will take you through the charming canals of Xochimilco. These brightly painted boats are designed to fit around 20 people, offering bench seating and a full length table running through the mid-section of the trajinera.

Imagine having a unique picnic while floating through a beautiful canal, overlooking the historic and colorful town, which is completely draped in floral.

The original Xochimilco is BYOB and is often associated with a full day of drinking alcoholic beverages with your amigos or a spending relaxing Sunday afternoon with family! If you’ve forgotten your supplies, you will likely find vendors passing by in other trajineras selling all sorts foods and beverages along the way.

This is a day trip that is famously loved by all who live or visit near Mexico City! For this reason, the same makers who brought you Xcaret, and other well-loved parks such as Xplor and Xel-ha, have created a unique excursion like no other – at Xoximilco, Riviera Maya!

Experiencing Xochimilco in the Riviera Maya!

The concept is fairly the same, although it is done in a much more organized fashion, and is actually sold as a tour rather than a hop on hop off kind of thing – with reservations and all! Also, I should mention this one is NOT BYOB, rather is sold as a 5 course dinner tour with open bar, featuring timeless classic Mexican foods; which replicate what can likely be found for sale at the original Xochimilco Canals.

The logistics of the tour are slightly Americanized, only to put order to the booking process and timing, however this one is truly designed to give you a real feel for the country’s traditions and an opportunity to discover authenticity of Mexico.

Once you arrive at the park you will be assigned to a trajinera! Each trajinera is named after an important Mexican state or landmark. While you wait for the boat to be prepared you can enjoy a typical Mexican snack of corn called “esquites” which is traditionally mixed with mayo, parmesan cheese, chili and lime! Soooo Delicious!!! Also you can refresh your taste buds with traditional flavored waters of Mexico including Orchata and Jamaica.

Eat, Drink, Dance underneath the moonlight!

Once your boat is prepared and ready, right around sunset, you will be called to enter the trajinera and start your journey, passing through some of the most pretty and amazing landmark replicas of the real Xochimilco!

During the way you will make multiple stops to visit other trajineras where you will receive each course of your dinner! Due to the idea of authenticity you may encounter some bizarre things (for the brave of course) like fried eatable grasshoppers, which will turn up as an appetizer option at your table. I’m not really a grasshopper kind of girl but my husband had no problem cleaning his plate and mine!

Don’t worry though! If grasshoppers aren’t your thing, you will still have a glorious amount of other selections. All of the traditional foods are amazingly appetizing and cooked with delicious traditional Mexican sauces and ingredients. Get ready to be FULL as you will experience over 20 different selections. You even get a huge dessert plate with an array of Mexican sweets and traditional candies! Oh how yummy!

Aside from the free flowing food and beverages, you receive an earful of history from your ever so entertaining and funny tour guide! You will also encounter wonderful Mexican music and Mariachis, featuring selections deriving from a variety of Mexican states.

There are plenty of opportunities to dance and sing and party! While the tour guides do a fantastic job at keeping the vibe up, I really think that the fun factor on this tour is up to you and your group.  I noticed some trajineras with fairly calm crowds while others who seemed to be having a total blast dancing and making their own party.

Oh and side note: For those who are wondering how they will make it through 3 hours of open bar without a bathroom break – thankfully there is a scheduled stop along the way for that too!

Xperiencing Xochimilco in a Riviera Maya Kind of Way! - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenIt’s all about making memories!

From the moment you arrive until the very end, there are professional photographers taking pretty outstanding photos – completely worth the 49 dollars to purchase the USB stick at the end of the tour. Once you get off the boat you can purchase your photos and other take home items at the souvenir shop. While sometimes considered pricey, my husband and I generally always purchase photos from our excursions! It’s a great way to look back on all of our adventures!

Xoximilco is family friendly, friends’ family and couple friendly! I would highly recommend doing this tour with a large group if you have the opportunity! But if you are taking the tour as a couple or small group it is a great opportunity to meet friends which is always a great thing!