The Riviera Maya region outside of Cancun, Mexico, is a great destination for family vacations. We recently took a spring break trip there and loved learning more about this gorgeous area. Xel Ha Park is a great place to spend the day with family. It's an aquatic theme park where you can snorkel and even swim with dolphins.
You'll love it! Here's everything you need to know to help you plan your trip!
I was given free admission to Xel Ha Park for my family so I could share my review with you. This post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something through one of these links, I am compensated.
What is Xel Ha Park
Xel Ha is an aquatic theme park run by Xcaret. If you read my post on Xplor Park, you know that Xcaret owns a bunch of parks outside the Cancun area and that they are awesome (fantastic service, super clean facilities and unique experiences you can't get anywhere else. While Xplor is focused on family adventure activities, Xel Ha is all about being in the water.
It's basically a natural aquarium and is centered around an inlet and lagoon where you and your family can snorkel among hundreds of species of tropical fish. There are a bunch of activities to do with the family, but all of them involve being in the water.
Your hair will get wet. Isn't that the barometer most women go by when planning their activities?
Where is Xel Ha Located?
Xel Ha is located about 8 miles north of Tulum and 76 miles south of Cancun. Staying in Playa Del Carmen puts you about 40 minutes away. It's right on the Caribbean Sea and is a really easy drive right up or down the highway.
How to Get To Xel Ha
When you purchase your tickets online, you have the option to add on transportation. I highly recommend this option. A charter bus, run by Xcaret and not a 3rd party, picks you up right at your hotel and takes you to the park. While on the bus, the park representative shares tons of information to help you plan your day at the park. The bus is safe, clean and super comfortable.
Adding a transportation option is a great idea. Just know that you have one drop off time and one pick up time. We were picked up at our hotel at 7:15 am. And we were told to meet our bus outside the park at 6 pm. That's a LONG day. We ended up taking a taxi back a little early since we had dinner reservations that we didn't want to miss.
Each park has a taxi stand out front with rates posted in English and Spanish so everyone is on the same page. Take a taxi at your own risk!
How Much Does it Cost?
At the moment Xel Ha is about $94 dollars for adults and $47 for kids for admission, unlimited snorkeling and food and drinks. A great option for families is the Xel Ha Total package (adults $147.99 for adults and $96.99 for kids). This package includes the snorkeling, food and drinks plus one of 3 activities (Adrenalina, Snuba or SeaTrek) for even more adventure.
What to Bring to Xel HA
This park is all about being in the water. It's less about adventure and all about swimming and snorkeling.
- Bathing Suit – almost all of these activities take place in water so a bathing suit is a must!
- Board Shorts – Since I'm like most women, I don't love parading around my bathing suit so I wore board shorts over my suit.
- Long Sleeve Rash Guard – A long sleeve rash guard helps to protect the skin from the sun.
- Water Shoes – There are trails all throughout plus, reefs and things in the water so water shoes are a must! They sell them in the gift shops for about $30/pair.
- Sun Hat – Since I don't love snorkeling, I knew I could wear my sun hat (I literally can't stop talking about this hat! It's great for travel and can be rolled up – and doesn't lose it's shape! I wore it every day on vacation. It also fell in the water once and it dried pretty quickly! ). If you do plan on snorkeling, you can leave it in a locker.
- Waterproof Phone Case – This is the waterproof phone case I took and loved it. It did create a slight distortion on some of the images once it got wet and I did my best to keep the screen area clean but it worked great for the most part!
- Credit Card – If you plan to add on any other activities or the photo package, you'll need your credit card.
- Cash – While you might not need it for tips at the park if you plan on taking a taxi back, it's best to use cash. And although the park has drink stations throughout, you may want to buy a bottle of water or soda to drink on your bus ride back.
- Change of Clothes for each person – You will most likely be wet at the end of the day so a set of dry clothes is a must for the trip back. (Xel Ha provides bags to put your wet items in.)
What Not to Bring
- Towels – The park offers towels to dry off with so leave yours back at the hotel!
- Sunscreen – The park prefers you to use reef safe sunscreen so leave your chemical laden sunscreen at home.
- Valuables – You don't need them. Don't bring them. I wore a little necklace that I wouldn't have worried about if it got lost.
While they do give you access to lockers, you don't want to keep heading back there very often. The park is large and that would be a lot of walking that is not necessary. I don't believe there are any age requirements at this park as we saw people with newborn babies. The lockers aren't huge so try to bring just what you need (keeping in mind you'll be there all day!)
What's Included at Xel Ha
- The Lighthouse – This lighthouse is more than 98 feet tall and is actually a water slide! From the top you'll be able to see incredible views of the Caribbean Sea and pretty much the whole park.
- Xel Ha Cave – This cave is said to be a sacred place and is a covered cenote (underground river). Such a cool place to swim!
- Cliff Jumping – Along the river, you'll find places specifically for jumping off of (complete with ladders or rock climbing foot holds!). It's fun to observe but I am too chicken to ever do anything like that.
- Water Play Area – with zip-line, rope swing and trepachanga which is a challenging ropes course to try to get across without falling into the water.
- Children's Play Structure – A fun play structure is set right on the water where your kids can spend time running on suspended bridges and climbing in what looks like a tree house. There's also a slide that ends right in the river and wobbly lily pads to jump between.
- River Tour – We were really excited for this river tour! This is self-guided and you can go at your own pace. To get to the start, you can either catch a ride on a train or ride bikes! We chose the bikes and it took about 20 minutes to get ourselves to the start of the river.
My oldest and I decided to use inner tubes. Since we did this first and the park was still really quiet, we were the only people in the water. We floated through a tunnel of mangroves and enjoyed (and were scared) of how quiet it was.
My husband and youngest son decided to snorkel so they could check out the fish. But quickly, my youngest thought the water was too cold and they went back and got him an inner tube also. Once you get through the mangroves, the river opens up into the larger lagoon area.
It's in the lagoon area that you find some of the other included activities I mention above, like the zip-lining.
- Snorkeling – Snorkeling is a big deal here. And Xel Ha provides all the equipment. One of the coolest things about this park is that it is created so you can drop into the water pretty much wherever you want. The lagoon wraps through the park, with various coves, that you can explore.
Again, this park has paths that lead you to all the activities. We saw tons of iguanas and coati. We heard tons of birds. You feel like you are in the jungle and it's absolutely gorgeous! There are maps found around the property to help you find where you are trying to go as well as plenty of signage to point you in the right direction.
All of the Xcaret parks are eco-friendly. So along all of the paths you'll find recycle bins and receptacles to place reusable drinking cups when you are done with them.
There are several different restaurants and bars on the property that are included in your admission. We had lunch at Chulavista and enjoyed delicious food. I had been trying to eat Keto for most of our trip and it was pretty easy for me to do so. In fact, the restaurants offered such a wide range of food that it would be easy to fit almost any diet.
Xel Ha also has alcohol available if you're into that. There are also places to grab soft drinks or water when you need some refreshment.
Throughout the park, there are areas for hanging out. Many of these areas are somewhat secluded and have amazing views! From time to time our group would split up and these little areas provided the perfect places to sit back and relax while we waited for the rest of the family to do their activity.
Activities to Add On at Xel Ha
There are a few things that you can add on to enhance your experience.
- Swim with Dolphins – Self-explanatory. :)
- Sea Trek– Where you wear one of these fun helmet things and explore the ocean life found underwater.
- Snuba– Which is a cross between snorkel and scuba diving!
- Sting Ray Encounter – Where you learn about and swim with stingray!
- Zip-Bikes – A fun adventure peddling bikes along a zip-line track.
- Spa Xel Ha – They offer a wide range of spa services that take place in a relaxing jungle atmosphere.
- Adrenalina – A crazy adventurous boat experience that takes you out into the ocean and does 360-degree turns as you dip and dive with the waves.
- Fish Pedicure – There is also one of those crazy places where you can stick your feet in the water and the fish will eat away at your dead skin…
- Swim with the Manatees -My youngest is obsessed with manatees so I knew we needed to add on this experience for him! He didn't even know manatees were at the park until we were on the bus ride there but I knew we would be adding this on from the moment I knew we'd be visiting Xel Ha!
The add on adventures include a little bit of learning about the animals and then the chance to interact with them. They both had a great time! Miles said it was a dream come true! The adventure lasted about 45 minutes and there were less than 20 people in their group.
They offer a few groups throughout the day but I recommend adding on any extra adventures when you first get to the park so they don't sell out.
Xcaret parks, including Xel Ha, are for families looking to do activities all day long. But the park does have a lot of areas to relax in including hammocks, little alcoves like I shared above and even a few bars.
The whole family really enjoyed this park. We aren't huge swimmers so we did think the day was a little bit long, but for kids who love to explore, snorkel and swim around, this is a great place to spend a day.
This park was a great way to experience a jungle atmosphere and water activities at the same time. There were things to do for all ages but it would be hard to keep your family together if your kids were different ages.
Although the parks have pretty decent signage, I'm not sure I would let my 10 and 12-year-olds go off on their own. I'd definitely want them to have a parent with them to make sure we could all find each other again.
More Posts about Xel Ha and other Xcaret Parks Outside of Cancun
- Xplor Park for the Non-Adventurer
- Things to Do In Cancun with Kids by Family Vacation Hub
- 5 Must Do Excursions in the Riviera Maya Area by Happy Mess Moments
- Experience Xcaret in Mexico's Rivera Maya by Dandelion Moms
Head to XelHa.com to find out all the information you need to plan your trip to this super fun water park for families.
Pin Info About Xel Ha for Later
If your family loves to play in the water, snorkeling and exploring sea life, Xel Ha Park is the perfect place for you to spend the day next time you are in the Riviera Maya region of Mexico!