Named after a Mayan word meaning “the place where the waters are born,” the Xel-Ha aquatic park encompasses 14 acres (5.7 hectares) of jungle and ocean just south of Playa del Carmen. Xel-Ha provides activities for the whole family and features cenotes, a lazy river, fish-filled lagoons, and other natural attractions.
Xel-Ha offers ample opportunities to enjoy Mexico’s warm Caribbean waters and abundant animal life. Swim through underground rivers, cliff-jump into a cenote, traverse a floating bridge, and snorkel in lagoons filled with tropical fish, sea turtles, and manatees. On land, you can zipline above the canopy, rock climb, bike, or stroll through the jungle.
Day trips to Xel-Ha typically leave from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Riviera Maya. As the aquatic park is just five miles (eight kilometers) from Tulum, some Xel-Ha excursions also include a tour of the ancient Maya city. Xel-Ha is part of a network of related parks and experiences, including Xcaret, Xplor, Xplor Fuego, Xenotes Oasis Maya, Xoximilco Cancun, Xichen, and Xenses. It’s possible to book packages that include admission to multiple parks.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bring sun protection, comfortable walking shoes, insect repellent, and swim gear.
- The use of snorkeling equipment is offered with admission.
- Visitor facilities include restrooms, changing rooms, showers, restaurants, bars, and shops.
- Free Wi-Fi is available.
- Xel-Ha is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers; wheelchairs can be rented for a fee.
How to Get There
Xel-Ha is located in the Quintana Roo region of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. By road, the park is 90 minutes from Cancun, 40 minutes from Playa del Carmen, and 30 minutes from Riviera Maya. Most Xel-Ha tours include round-trip transportation with hotel pickup and drop-off. Taxi service is available, and you can also get to Xel-Ha via the ADO bus, which leaves from Playa del Carmen and Cancun.
When to Get There
Xel-Ha is open year-round from 8:30am to 6pm. The park is busiest from December through April, when the weather tends to be sunny and warm. During the rainy season (June through October), you will find fewer crowds and lower prices for accommodations.
Must-Do Experiences at Xel-Ha
For families with kids, the park’s Children’s World features a wading pool, playground, water slide, rope climb, and other activities. Older children and adults can walk on the ocean floor with Xel-Ha’s Sea Trek technology (a helmet that allows you to breathe comfortably underwater); jump from the Cliff of Courage; and trek across the Trepachanga rope course. You can also relax on a secret beach in the Bay of Caprices, climb the Scenic Lighthouse, and swim through a mangrove forest.