Xcaret houses the ruins of a Maya city which reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries.
History of Xcaret
Located in Mexico’s Quintana Roo region, Xcaret was then known as Ppole and is said to have been of great ceremonial importance, as evidenced by its wealth of temples, homes and monuments.
It’s believed the site was first settled between 200 and 600AD, but most of the buildings visible today date from about 1000 years after that. Xcaret was strategically located near the sea, but not directly on the coast – possibly because of swampy ground. As a result, it is surrounded by defensive walls.
Xcaret was a port city, and historians and archaeologists believe it was one of the most significant and active ports on the Riviera Maya. Some have also raised the idea that it was where pilgrims came for purification before going to the island of Cozumel to worship the goddess Ixchel.
Xcaret was still occupied when the Spanish arrived in the early 16th century, and they built a chapel there in 1548, implying they believed the settlement was important. The walls of this chapel are still visible today.
The ruins of Xcaret are located within the wider Xcaret Park, which is privately run as a tourist venture. Day admission is for the whole park (including the ruins), and is steep at around £70 per person. If you’re going, you’ll want to make the most of the other attractions to get your money’s worth. The ruins alone aren’t worth the park’s admission fee.
Getting to Xcaret
Xcaret is on the Riviera Maya, about 75km south of Cancun and just outside the town of Playa del Carmen. Buses run frequently along the Riviera Maya, or you can hire a taxi. Day trips also run to the wider Xcaret Park from Cancun.
Xcaret México Espectacular Show
As night falls, Xcaret gets ready to host one of the most surprising shows in Cancun and Riviera Maya, featuring more than 300 artists on stage. Having the impressive scenario of the Gran Tlachco as home, you will hop on a journey through the rich culture of Mexico.
Attend the artists’ presentation that will take you by more than 500 years of history at the most famous Xcaret show. Approach the culture of our country since the pre-Columbian era, the Conquest of Mexico times, the Colonial Era, the first years of Mexico as an independent country, the Revolution years at the beginning of the 20th Century, until reaching our days. Mexico is a fascinating blending of traditions of culture that have endured the pass of the centuries.
We know that one of the main reasons for coming to the Mexican Caribbean is to enjoy its beautiful beaches, but without a doubt, many friends or acquaintances have told you that you should visit Xcaret. This paradise in Riviera Maya hides our great love for Mexico, and we show it every day.
So, if you already plan to visit us, this little guide with the most frequently asked questions about Xcaret will help you better plan your experience and prepare for the best day of your trip to Riviera Maya.
Where is Xcaret park located?
Xcaret is in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. This city is one of the most visited destinations in Riviera Maya. We are on the federal highway Playa del Carmen – Tulum, about 20 minutes from downtown and approximately 90 minutes from Cancun.
How can I get to Xcaret park using public transportation?
Getting to this paradise on your own is very simple. From Cancun, you can take a bus from the ADO bus station downtown, and it will take you to the park. Another way is taking a minivan near the bus station to Playa del Carmen, and from there, take another minivan to Tulum. Tell the driver you are going to Xcaret so he can drop you off at our bus stop on the federal highway. You’ll be able to recognize it thanks to its colors.
What’s included in my admission to Xcaret park?
At Xcaret, we have four types of admission for our visitors:
Enjoy more than 50 attractions including: the underground rivers, our snorkeling inlet, the aquarium, the scenic tower, a beautiful and incredible walk along the Paraíso River, all our shows, and of course the Xcaret México Espectacular presentation at the Gran Tlachco.
This type of admission doesn’t include food, use of lockers, or snorkeling equipment but you can get them all at an additional cost.
Xcaret Plus Admission
This admission includes a meal at any of our restaurants, unlimited non-alcoholic beverages during your meal, a beer, the use of our Plus Area where you will find lockers, showers, changing rooms, and snorkeling equipment so that you can enjoy the underground rivers and our inlet more easily.
Xcaret Total Admission
It gives you all the benefits of our Plus Admission and it includes an optional activity to choose from between Snuba Bahia, Sea Trek, or Adrenalina.
These three admissions allow you to enjoy a whole day at Xcaret from its opening time at 8:30 a.m. until the end of Xcaret México Espectacular. However, there is still one more admission for those who visit Xcaret at night:
Xcaret at Night Admission
It allows you to enter Xcaret from 4:00 p.m. until 10:30 p.m., allowing you to enjoy all the attractions of the park in addition to our famous Xcaret México Espectacular. To this admission, you can add our Xcaret Xclusive package for $30 USD. It includes a reserved seat inside the Gran Tlachco, a bottle of sparkling wine, caramelized seeds, and non-alcoholic drinks for the little ones.
If you want to purchase your admission, enter here: XCARET ADMISSIONS
Is it necessary to know how to swim to enjoy water activities?
If you are one of those who have asked us this question, you will be relieved to know that it’s not necessary to be an expert swimmer to enjoy our rivers, natural pools, beach, and snorkeling inlet. In each of these attractions there will be a lifeguard, as well as life jackets so that you can use them during your experience.
If you want to do any of our optional activities, these are the ones that require you to know how to swim: Snuba Reef and Swim with Sharks. These are the activities you can do without knowing how to swim: Snorkeling Tour, Sea Trek, Sea Trek Rays, Interactive Encounter with Rays, and Adrenalina.
What kind of restaurants can I find at Xcaret?
You can find different restaurant options according to your personal cravings, as well as a new cafeteria in front of the entrance of the rivers.
- La Cocina: Satisfy your appetite with delicious Mexican dishes such as Poblano mole, chicharron in green sauce, cochinita pibil, and other delicious stews, as well as traditional desserts.
- Dos Playas: If you like seafood, this is the perfect place to try delicious dishes such as Caribbean paella, seafood soup, seafood cocktail, and a passion fruit aguachile.
- La Laguna: The perfect place for international food lovers. In this restaurant, you will find dishes such as sushi, pizza, hamburgers, and some cuts of meat such as cutlets and flank steak.
- El Manglar: In this gastronomic corner of Xcaret you will find the best selection of typical food from the Mexican Pacific, based on fish and shellfish such as red and green aguachiles, fried fish, and cocktails.
- Peninsula: In addition to having one of the most beautiful views of Xcaret, here you will find international food, as well as seafood and fish. Try dishes such as marlin ceviche, pickled mussels, shrimp cocktail, as well as various cuts of meat.
We also remind you that all our restaurants have an extensive salad and dessert bar, in addition to having options for vegetarians and vegans.
Are there any activities for children at Xcaret?
The little ones are welcome to Xcaret because most of the activities are adapted to every age. For example, in order for them to enjoy our underground rivers, natural pools, and more, we have life jackets for kids from 3 years old and up. Yet, even if you kid is younger, you can bring their own vest.
Besides, we have a special place just for them. The Children’s World is filled with various experiences for children under 12 years old such as the Secret Adventure with tunnels, water slides, and hanging bridges, a wading pool, jet fountain and sandbox. The minimum age required is six years old.
Some of our Dream Activities are also available for children. The Snorkel Tour may be suitable for children from 3 years old and up. Snuba Arrecife can be done by children from 9 years old and Snuba Bahia by kids from 12 years old. Little ones can walk under the sea with Sea Trek, as long as the diving suit fits perfectly. A little Adrenalina for them? Of course, they can carry out this activity from the age of 8 years old or a minimum height of 1.40 m.
Can I do all the activities in one day?
Xcaret is a one-day park, so doing all the activities in a single visit may be possible if you make a well-organized itinerary. For this, we recommend downloading our Xcaret app for your Android or IOS device. In it, you can find a detailed map of all our activities, as well as their schedules.
With our app, you can even create an itinerary of all your favorite activities and thus be able to follow a schedule that will allow you to do and experience the best of Xcaret in just one day. We recommend that when you arrive at the park you visit the underground rivers first since they are the attraction that will take more time, especially if it is your first time.
If you still think that a single day is not enough, we have a promotion in which, by booking your first day, we give you your second visit at a special price for you to keep on enjoying the beauty of this paradise in Riviera Maya:
Is Xcaret enabled for the use of wheelchairs?
Yes! Everyone is invited to come and enjoy paradise. That is why each of the colored paths in the park is enabled for the use of wheelchairs. Also, we have an electric car rental service so that our visitors with limited mobility can enjoy better their visit.
If you come with kids, we also have in our visitor service area the rental of strollers so that your kids can be safer and more relaxed walking with you through the park.
On this map, you’ll be able to find the areas where you’ll need to be more careful due to their inclination, for example, some areas of the blue path or the green path.
What kind of clothes should I wear at Xcaret?
Coming to Xcaret is the best opportunity to create incredible photos in paradise, so we recommend you bring comfortable clothes that help you with the tropical warmth. We recommend hats or caps, some water shoes, and a change of clothes in case you want to bring your favorite outfit and rock it for the photos.
Cotton garments are perfect for keeping you cool, but a good tip is also considering beachwear, just don’t forget UV protection to enjoy the water activities. In case of using sunscreen, make sure it’s 100% biodegradable and bring a towel. In case you forget your beach clothes, towel or sunscreen you can buy them in one of our stores.
Are you already open and operating?
Xcaret is already open and operating from Monday to Saturday from 8:30 in the morning until 9:30 at night. For now, and until further notice, we are taking Sundays to rest.
What are the restrictions now with the new normality?
These new times have required us to create protocols that allow us to continue receiving visitors and ensure that their experience will be safe. Part of these protocols is the reduction of capacity in our shows, optional activities, and attractions.
The use of a mask is mandatory during your visit, except when you are doing water activities or eating in our restaurants. Also, we have placed antibacterial gel dispensers in every corner for the use of our visitors and coworkers.
Due to its extension and because it is an open area, our visitors maintain a healthy distance during their visit and our staff is always attentive to make it so.
If you want to know more about our protocols here you can find more information: 360° Xafety
What is Xcaret México Espectacular about?
We are sure that this presentation is one of the reasons that brought you to Xcaret. Xcaret México Espectacular is an incredible journey through the history of the country, its dances, and traditions. Through different numbers, we will take you to live the history of the Maya world, the arrival of the Spaniards, up until the most historical passages that marked a before and after in our country.
We will take you to know different corners of Mexico through the best language that exists: music! You will experience a little bit of La Guelaguetza with Flor de Piña from Oaxaca, you will get excited with the Dance of the Elders from Michoacán, and you will get excited with the traditional mariachi.
In any case, we are sure that the moment you will remember for a long time will be when the song “Mexico en la Piel” begins and give the presentation its incredible closure after such a spectacular trip through Mexico.
This entry was a bit long, but we hope it helps you to better plan your next visit to Xcaret. If you would like us to make a similar guide to your favorite park, leave us your comments.
Apasionado por lo no establecido, viajo y colecciono historia para compartir con quien quiera escucharlas, tomo fotos para recordar que aún no conozco todo el mundo y amo la tecnología porque alguna adicción debía de tener.
Xcaret Eco Park: History, Culture, Ecology and Water Play
Although much of what Xcaret Ecological and Archaeological Park has to offer is outdoors, there are a variety of indoor activities that can keep you dry on a rainy day, and you won’t care if it’s raining if you are in the water.
Architect Miguel Quintana Pali came up with the idea of building a theme park around some of the Mayan Riviera’s natural wonders and archaeological ruins, which would give people access to these resources, while educating them about the dangers we humans pose to the natural world.
Xcaret, Mayan for small inlet, was once a significant port. Ruins from the ancient village have been restored by the National Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH) with funding from Xcaret and are incorporated into the park.
There is a natural inlet with turquoise blue water, which has become a tropical playground surrounded by beaches with rock formations to explore. You can swim through underground rivers, where on a crowded day, you may find yourself bumper to butt with others on the same dark journey between patches of open daylight.
For an additional fee you can try Snuba diving (attached to an air hose) or Sea Trekking with a weighted air helmet in cenotes, which are underwater sinkholes formed when the roofs of underwater caves were eroded away. There is also an independent vendor providing the opportunity to swim with the dolphins.
All of these activities continue under normal rain conditions, but they may be cancelled if there are strong winds.
The wildlife in the park, which includes deer, panthers and jaguars, howler monkeys, birds and butterflies, to name a few, will probably take cover, but you can always find plenty going on inside the Coral Reef Aquarium.
For a decadent and relaxing escape from a sudden shower, a massage under a palapa or in a river cave at the Xpa could do the trick. A little pink boat rows you across the river to the cave. Overhanging green tree branches separate you from a waterfall, whose constant symphony drowns out any other sounds from park visitors.
The outdoor shows, like the Mexican Charreria cow girls, the Mayan fire dancers and the Papantla Flyers may be cancelled if there is significant rain, but the evening Xcaret Spectacular Night Show will go on in the indoor Grand Tlachco theatre and ball court.
The Xcaret Night Spectacular is worth the trip to Xcaret, even if you don’t spend the day at the park. The show is included with the cost of admission, or for an additional fee you can have a three course dinner during the show, which was one of my favorite meals of the trip.
Although the narration is all in Spanish, you won’t have any trouble understanding the historic presentation. The show begins with Mayan children enacting the legend of the story of creation. Offerings to a leopard-skin-clad dignitary from a citizenry of painted men in elaborate headdresses and women in colorfully embroidered robes provide the prize for the winners of the ancient ball games.
The first pre-Hispanic game, called Pok ta’ pok, is played by barefoot men wrapped in leather and fabric loincloths, each with unique body paint, bearing carved and feathered creatures on their heads. The goal of the 3000-year-old game is to get the rubber ball through a vertical stone hoop by hitting it with just the hip. Although it appears to be a team sport, just one man is honored as a winner at the end.
In the Burning Ball Game, or Uarhukua, from the Purépecha people of Michoacan, they light a wooden ball on fire, then use hockey-like sticks to propel it though the same stone hoops. The fireball represents the sun and honors the god of fire in this ritualistic sport. Despite also being barefoot, I was glad to see that these players wore a much thicker protective layer of leather around their midsections displaying team colors.
The ball games are followed by the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, which begins peacefully and escalates into battle. Spanish knights on horseback accompany monks in brown robes to convert the Mayans to Christianity. The indigenous people and Spaniards intermingle once more creating the Mexican culture.
The second half of the program on Mestizo Mexico is a showcase of regional Mexican folk music and dance from around the country. A colorful array of costumes, music and dancing take you from the Gualeguetza of Oaxaca, to the Vaqueria of the Yucatan. The Old Men Dance represents Michoacan, while Veracruz celebrates its Carnaval with feather-clad showgirls. Papantla fliers swing from the rafters. Sinaloans dance a polka and drummers beat out a peasant tune from Tabasco. Mariachis, a flirtatious Jarabe Tapatio dance and rope tricks from Jalisco round out the cultural tour. The grand finale brings them all back together, with giant puppets leading the parade. It is a really impressive exhibition of Mexico’s cultural heritage.
Xcaret is located just south of Playa Del Carmen on the Mayan Riviera. At publication, prices start at $89.99 for adults and $44.99 for children 40″-50″ tall for basic park entry, 10% off for online purchase. Packages are available including meals and transportation. Xcaret may be included or have special rates from some all-inclusive Cancun or Mayan Riviera resorts. For more information and current prices visit www.Xcaret.com.
In addition to the actual ruins, Xcaret Park created a replica of a typical Mayan village. You can walk the village, where you will explore Mayan houses, which were built to stay as cool as possible in the Mexican sun and heat. The houses were constructed from wood and hemp, with palm-thatched roofs. The Maya created waterproofed roofs by harvesting the palm leaves when the sap was at the tips, which acted as a seal.
While Xcaret Park pays tribute to the Mayan culture through the Xcaret ruins, the village and the Mexican Cemetary, the park also traces history through demonstrations. The Xcaret Night Show illustrates Mexican and Mayan culture and history through performances. Performers reenact a Mayan ball game, which doubled as a game and ritual. The ritual side of the game had each team acting out a war between good and evil.
El concepto All-Fun Inclusive de Hotel Xcaret Arte incluye 5 talleres artísticos: danza, alfarería, tejido, pintura y cocina vegana.
El concepto All-Fun Inclusive de Hotel Xcaret Arte incluye el acceso ilimitado a los parques más queridos e icónicos de Cancún y Riviera Maya: Xcaret, Xel-Há, Xplor, Xplor Fuego, Xenses, Xoximilco, Xavage y Xenotes sumando más de 200 experiencias de aventura, inspiración y entretenimiento.
¡Bienvenido a Hotel Xcaret Arte, bienvenido a casa!
Should you watch Xcaret Mexico Espectacular?
We made the mistake of not properly planning our time inside the park. We arrived early, around 9:30 AM. On the surface, this seemed like the right idea. However, if you want to attend the evening shows, we learned that an early arrival time is not ideal.
Our boys were pretty tired and cranky by 6:00 PM. There was no way they would survive the Xcaret México Espectacular evening show.
Because of this, we did not get to see the big show. This was unfortunate because we’ve heard it’s the highlight of Xcaret. We did see some of the actors in costume before the show began. It looks like quite the spectacle.
Travel tip – Plan your visit to include the evening show. If you have young kids, it might be wise to arrive at the park late morning or mid-day.
We did watch the evening horse show.
This Mexican cowboy show is quite entertaining and worth watching. If you haven’t had dinner yet, consider eating at La Cocina (located near the park entrance) because it’s right beside the horse show. The restaurant has some of the best seats to watch the show.
The horse show finishes before the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular evening show.
Related – Should you bring a car seat when you travel with kids?
Xcaret Underground River
So I’ve managed to avoid making any blog posts that revolved around theme parks, or major structures built simply for tourist attractions, and I guess it was inevitable. And this particular inevitability comes in the form of the Xcaret Underground River.
While the rivers were originally naturally formed underground rivers leading to the ocean off the coast of Mexico, they were purchased in the eighties to be transformed into a tourist attraction that exceeded expectations. The park itself has many other attractions, including aquariums and bat caves, bird and butterfly pavilions, green houses and animal sanctuaries. But of course what I’m most interested in, is snorkeling in the rivers.
There are three rivers that can be chosen, each about 600 meters long and going no deeper than 1.60 meters. The rivers pass by Mayan cenotes, rock formations, and marine fossils. At the end of the rivers as they flow into the ocean, there is mangroves inhabited by pink flamingos. The history behind the tunnels and springs is fantastic, and even though it may be a tourist attraction with very little substance left, the idea of it is just so cool.
At the end of the rivers you can snorkel coral reefs off of the beach, or swim with the dolphins. You can go scuba diving, and farther along the beach there is a manatee sanctuary. Essentially, it’s a very well stocked very exciting theme park, and honestly I would be completely up for visiting, even if it has been called a ‘Disneyfied ecopark’, because who doesn’t love a little bit of commercial tourism. There’s a reason things like these get popular, and it was about time this blog featured something a little more commercial.
Anyways, here’s a video if you’ve got an interest in seeing what this is all about. I know I sure did.
Included in your admission
This activity is special for those who want to live the underground rivers without getting wet. Sail through paradisiacal landscapes aboard a comfortable raft.
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Ages: for the whole family.
Location: Del Río Route (Black)
With the main banks and cards issued in Mexico.
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Discounts in your purchase
Buy your ticket to Xcaret in advance and get the best discounts online
10% OFF purchasing By purchasing 7-20 days in advance. It does not apply for Packages or the Xperience Passport.
15% OFF purchasing By purchasing at least 21 days in advance. It does not apply for Packages or the Xperience Passport.
20% OFF On the purchase of packages of two parks or tours.
25% OFF On the purchase of packages of three or more parks or tours.
50% OFF For children between the ages of 5 and 11. Kids under the age of 4 get free admission.