Traveling to XCaret Mexico

International Travel | Travel
July 7, 2023

What you need to know before you go

XCaret Park is an eco-theme park in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. It’s not your typical theme park and there aren’t any roller coasters. Instead, there are underground caves to swim in, rope courses through the jungle, ocean adventures, shows highlighting the Mexican culture and arts, and over 50 different attractions to spark interest in everyone in your family! There are eight different parks in the XCaret family to visit now, but XCaret remains the largest and top dog.

Angelo and I first discovered XCaret Park in 2010 before kids. It was our chosen excursion while our cruise ship was docked in Cancun. It was such an unforgettable experience, and I knew it’d be a place we’d come back to. Fast forward 13 years, I was booking our family’s stay at Nickelodeon Riviera Maya (read more about it here). XCaret popped up as a “thing to do” and it was an immediate yes and booked! I highly recommend doing at least one full day at XCaret Park, but even with that, we only got in about half the park and wish we had more time.

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Ten Things To Know Before Your Trip

1. Buy tickets in advance online to save $5-$15 per person and to avoid long lines at the ticket counter. Children ages 5-11 years old are 50% off an adult ticket, and children 4 years and younger are free! Bring your ID with the tickets you purchased online.

2. Park hours and all extra activities are posted on their website. Depending on which activity you choose to add-on, start to plan your day around that given time. We added the Dolphin Experience because it was one everyone in our family could enjoy. Activities have age requirements, so make sure you check those before you book, if you’re traveling with younger kids.

3. This XCaret map will be your friend during your time exploring the 200 acre park. They have QR codes at the entrance of the map for you to download the map onto your phone. The park is broken up into different zones and navigated by colored lines on the ground. It isn’t too difficult to navigate, but it’s very large so lots of walking.

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4. Purchase reef-safe sunscreen and apply before you go. (Sun Bum is reef safe). I also recommend wearing a full coverage swimsuit or rash guard type shirts, and water shoes. The Underground cave water is cold and the bottom is rocky. We wore our bathing suits, water shoes, and light cover ups to XCaret, with towels packed in our bag. You’ll be in your bathing suit all day, but will want a cover up for dining, shows, and the ride home.

5. Bring a waterproof phone case and backpack to hold your belongings. During the Underground Cave swimming, they transport your bag up the river for you in a waterproof bag. I highly recommend packable quick dry towels over the bulky classic beach towels. Towels are also available for rent if needed.

6. Xcaret’s website states there is no outside food allowed. Baby food/milk, and water are allowed inside the park. There are plenty of snack and drink spots around the park, like any other theme park. Honestly, you don’t want to miss the authentic and delicious Mexican food while you’re here. We ate at Bar En Las Rocas and really enjoyed the food, margaritas, and beautiful Caribbean views. There are also multiple buffets if you have some picky eaters in the family.
7. The Underground River is the main attraction at XCaret because it’s included in admission and there is no extra charge. Life jackets and waterproof bags are provided to get your belongings up the river to the exit. This was by far the coolest, one-of-a-kind experience we had at XCaret. My 4-year-old didn’t enjoy the cooler waters, but everyone else didn’t seem to mind. Life jackets made it an easy enjoyable swim, with plenty of things to see along the way. We swam through a bat cave, cenotes, mangroves, and popped out by the beach. For reference, if you look at the map of the park, the river starts at #7 and ends at #22. Tip: We started our day with the Underground Rivers, then slowly made our way back to the park entrance/exit. The river took us about an hour to complete.
8. New Children’s World was another favorite of the day and all my kids (oldest is 12 years old) had such a good time exploring this oasis, that I practically had to drag them out. There are rope courses and slides throughout the jungle, hanging bridges, and more cenotes to awe at. If I had to describe it in one word, I’d say “Neverland”. There is a smaller natural pool for younger kids, with a small beach and shaded area for the parents to hang out. Each slide in the area had a life guard attendant, so I felt safe enough to let the kid’s run around while I waited in the shaded beach chairs.

9. Most of the performances at Xcaret are towards the end of the day. We stumbled upon the horse exhibition on our way out of the park, so stopped and watched. The XCaret Mexico Espectacular is said to be one not to miss, featuring over 300 dancers and musicians presenting the story of Mexico dating back 500 years. Unfortunately, we had dinner plans back at our resort, so we left before the 7pm start time. Tip: Purchase dinner tickets or light snacks to get reserved seating.

10. XCaret has many attractions, both optional and complementary. Included in your admission price you will get to enjoy more than 50 different activities including the Aviary and Butterfly pavilion, coral reef aquarium, tropical jungle trails, several exhibitions, and shows, and access to the beach. Tip: Bring your own googles to do a little snorkeling adventure with tropical fish right off the beach.
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