With unparalleled access to the Caribbean Sea and all of its bounty, a visit to the Xcaret eco-archaeological park is a must when on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Snorkeling, ziplining, river rafting, exploring underwater rivers, and hiking tropical trails through jungle ruins are all options within this natural adventure park, which gives fast access to many of Cancun’s greatest attractions.
A prebooked admission ticket or day tour to Xcaret park makes it easy to access an impressive range of activities, with entry including the opportunity to snorkel with fish in natural lagoons, visit the park's Maya archaeological sites, and and catch the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular light and dance show. Some day tours have optional upgrades for extras such as a buffet lunch or exclusive changing rooms, while combo tours can be booked to also visit other nearby attractions, such as the Chichen Itza or Xel-Ha ruins or Xplor Adventure Park.
While there’s plenty to do within the bounds of a general admission ticket, a plethora of add-on activities are also available. For an extra fee, take a speed boat ride (from $59), snorkel atop an offshore coral garden (from $49), take in a theatrical interpretation of the origins of Mexican culture over dinner at the Gran Tlacho Theater (from $59), or experience the Temascal, a traditional four-part wellness ritual (from $39).
Things to Know Before you Go
- Visitors should bring sunscreen, walking shoes, swimming gear, and lightweight clothing.
- Most tours include round-trip transportation from hotels in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
- Lockers and snorkel equipment are available for a fee.
- Most of the park is wheelchair accessible, and wheelchairs are available for rental for a fee.
- Several add-on animal encounters are available for additional fees. Pet stingrays in a shallow lagoon (from $39); go deeper with snuba (an underwater breathing apparatus); nurse sharks (from $59); or swim with bottlenose dolphins (from $109).
How to Get There
Xcaret is located 47 miles (7 kilometers) from Cancun and six miles (10 kilometers) from Playa del Carmen. Most day tours include round-trip transportation from hotels in both cities. Taxis are available to and from Xcaret, and parking is free for those arriving by car. Public buses run from both Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
When to Get There
The park is open daily from 8:30am to 10:30pm—arrive early in the morning to beat the crowds and enjoy a full day of fun. Although weather is tropical year-round, it can be especially hot in the humid wet season from June through October. Peak visitor season is December through April.
What Not to Miss
Xcaret's cultural attractions include a replica Maya village, a colorful and symbolic Mexican cemetery with a grave for each day of the year, and shows performed by the swinging Papantla Flying Men (Voladores de Papantla). Don’t miss the Maya ruins, the aquarium, the sea turtle nesting site, the walk-through butterfly pavilion, the orchid greenhouse, or the two inland islands with jaguar and puma enclosures.