Welcome to our ultimate guide to one of Mexico’s most popular attractions, Xcaret park. For those of you that don’t know already, Xcaret is a nature theme park that first opened in 1990. It’s located in the bustling tourist town of Playa del Carmen, offering many different activities for both adults and kids, from its underground river trails, to snorkelling at the beach. Xcaret Park is not only full of adventure with its vast range of activities. It gives you a taste of what true Mexican with its traditional shows, exhibits and experiences.
It can be quite overwhelming once you first arrive and see how much there is to do. Therefore, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you make the most of your trip to this thrilling nature park.
Read on for our top tips for visiting Xcaret Park. 😊
Before you visit Xcaret Park
- Before your visit to Xcaret Park, you’ll can buy your tickets online on the official Xcaret website. Top tip: if you want a bit of a discount, you’ll receive 10% off if you book 7 days in advance of arrival. E.g. if you’re looking to visit the park on the 10th January, you’ll need to book either on or before 3rd January to receive a 10% discount. Please also note that Xcaret Park offers 3 different types of tickets. We’d highly recommend opting for the ‘Xcaret plus admission.’ You can find out more about the ticket types on their website here.
- Consider how you’re getting there. Xcaret provides a coach transfer directly to the park for an additional cost, but if you’re staying close to the park, it might be best to get a taxi or Collectivo (a local Mexican mini bus).
- Xcaret park is extremely big, so it’s easy to get lost and ultimately miss a lot of the best attractions. To avoid this, be sure to download a pdf version of the park map from the website. Once printed or saved, pin the areas that you want to visit. Try to group all the attractions together in each area and don’t move to the next area of the park until you’ve completed a section.
- Ensure you bring a printed version of the PDF ticket that you should receive via email when booking. You’ll also need the card you paid and also a form of id. You’ll need to show these at the park entrance to claim your entry wristband.
When you get to Xcaret Park
- Try to get to the park for opening to beat the crowds that arrive on tour buses. You can check the website or on Google Maps here for the latest opening hours.
- For those of you that are wanting to visit the underground rivers as soon as you arrive, which is a great park strategy, head straight to the changing rooms and pick up a life jacket. The rivers are less crowded first thing on a morning and you’ll have a peaceful float in nature. You can then visit another river later in the day if you wish.
- Depending on what you’re planning on doing first thing when you arrive, you need to be mindful of what you’re carrying around with you. If you’re doing the water activities, you’ll need to put your bags in the locker and take your phones (with a waterproof case) and cameras with you.
During your day at Xcaret / recommendations for seeing the park
- We recommend starting off with the water activities (underground rivers, natural pools, snorkelling, beach). The weather is cooler and it’ll give you time to dry off in the afternoon, whilst looking around at the other activities. The rivers are also a little quieter first thing on a morning, providing a more relaxing experience.
- Aim to see as much as you can before lunch time. Whilst the park is generally always busy, it gets even busier from 12pm. If you manage to cover off a lot of the attractions and activities before lunchtime, you’ll be able to avoid the restaurant queues for lunch. This is especially important if you’ve opted for the Xcaret Plus Admission with lunch included. The included La Cocina restaurant is busiest from 12pm – 2:30pm.
- The snorkelling bay is one of the most popular attractions at Xcaret, so we recommend – visiting mid-morning or later in the afternoon to escape the crowds.
- If you’ve opted for the Total Admission, make sure you check the event times before you go and explore the park – as you’ll not want to miss your activities!
Food and drinks
- We highly recommend opting for the ‘Plus Admission Ticket’, which includes a buffet lunch with unlimited soft drinks, and one alcoholic drink. This will save you some money at the park and the food is simply delicious!
- The park doesn’t allow you to bring your own food, but they didn’t check bags upon arrival. Therefore, I’m sure you can bring some sort of snack to keep you going.
- There are many water refill stations throughout the park, so we recommend bringing your own water bottle that you can refill throughout the day. You’ll save a ton of money this way!
- There are many options when it comes to finding a place to eat or grab a drink. If you’re looking for a light snack and a drink on the go, opt for one of the smaller kiosks that are located near the main attractions, as they’re cheaper than the restaurants.
- We found the food and drink at Xcaret Park to be very reasonably priced. It’s also very delicious! Not what you’d expect for theme park food. Card payment and cash is accepted, however we personally recommend bringing a credit card and keeping your cash in a locker. You don’t want it to get wet when you’re exploring the water attractions!
Seeing the shows at Xcaret Park
- Be sure to check online in advance, or on the boards as soon as you arrive at the park, so you can plan activities around show times. Generally, most shows take place in the afternoon. This is another reason why we recommend completing the water activities earlier in the day, opening up your afternoon for shows.
- During the busier months, we suggest arriving 20-30 minutes before the show begins so you can grab a good seat!
- If you’re looking for something a little more special and fancy splashing out when you get to Xcaret, dine at the park whilst you watch the Xcaret México Espectacular Show! It’s an amazing show that’s already included in your park admission ticket. Nevertheless, eating and drinking with the best seats in the house really maximises the experience.
Optional extra activities
- As you’ve probably discovered, there are a collection of optional activities that you can do at Xcaret Park. They’re available for an additional fee and are purchased in addition to your park tickets. The best way to secure these activities is to go to an activity booking station when you first arrive at the park. Be quick though – the popular activities can fill up fast and places are limited! Have an idea of what activity you’d like to do before arriving at the park.
- An even better option than booking on the day is to book optional activities online before you visit. You’ll get a discount and will ensure you secure one of the limited spaces.
- Don’t book too many activities as there is already a lot to see at Xcaret Park. 1 or 2 is perfect if you plan on arriving early and spending the full day there.
- Don’t feel like you need to book an optional activity. There are enough amazing attractions included in the ticket admission that you won’t feel like you’re missing out.
- In our opinion, the best optional activities all revolve around marine life. ‘Snuba’ and the marine animal encounters are very cool! As for the water sports and spa, we think you can do this in plenty of other areas of Riviera Maya, so you may as well enjoy something unique to Xcaret!
- Set an alarm on your phone for when the activity takes place and ensure you arrive with plenty of time to spare. Time goes fast when you’re having fun and you don’t want to miss your activity!
Our top tips for capturing the best photos at Xcaret Park
- If you want to take some cool photos at the various ‘photo opportunity’ stations that are located throughout the park, you can buy a photo pass when purchasing your admission ticket. This all-in-one pass allows you unlimited digital photos for the cost of 600 pesos. Simply buy the pass, register it to your wristband on entry and you can then scan as many photo points as you wish. The photos then get uploaded to your online account.
- During the busier months, there may be a queue to get your photo taken, so allocate extra time in your day for this. Try to arrive at the park earlier to be one of the first people at the best photo spots.
- If you’re not looking to purchase the photo package at Xcaret but have a good waterproof camera with you (or a phone in a waterproof cover), you can take cool photos in the same spots yourself, but without the price tag. Get practicing those selfie skills!
What to wear to Xcaret Park
- As you’ll be spending a full day at the park, be sure to dress appropriately for the activities you’re planning to take part in. A pair of shorts and a t-shirt or vest is best.
- There’s lots of shade at Xcaret Park but it can get very hot! Pack plenty of biodegradable sun cream and a hat for extra protection. We also recommend bringing along some biodegradable mosquito spray.
- If you’re looking to take part in the water activities (and you definitely should), don’t forget to bring your swimwear. Water shoes are an excellent addition and are a lot safer and more comfortable than flip flops.
- As the park is so big and there’s so much to see, you’ll no doubt be doing a lot of walking. Pack comfortable shoes to avoid those nasty blisters!
- Pack an extra set of clothes in case yours gets wet, or if you’d like to freshen up and change outfit for the evening shows. Bringing a small pack of toiletries is also a great idea!
When’s the best time to visit Xcaret Park?
- Aim to arrive at the park early morning for opening in order to queue less for the attractions. You’ll also have a much better experience of the underground rivers.
- Go during the week if you can, avoiding any public holidays and weekends. Locals tend to visit on weekends, making the park significantly busier.
- We recommend avoiding Mexico’s rainy season between the months of August – November. The park is all outdoors and isn’t going to be pleasant if you get caught out in the rain! It doesn’t rain every day, but when it does, it’s very heavy!
What to take with you to Xcaret Park
- Non-chemical sunscreen and mosquito spray: Traditional creams and sprays isn’t allowed in the water as it damages the natural eco-system. If you can, we recommend you buying these from a local store before you arrive, as they cost around $15 USD at the park.
- Towels: you’ll need to dry off after the water activities or after a shower.
- Refillable water bottles: be sure to bring your flasks as you’ll be able to fill these up at various stations in the park.
- Dry clothes: after the water activities, you’ll want some clothes to change into. Comfort is key with a full day of exploring the park!
- Water shoes: Even if you aren’t going to spend time at the beach or don’t plan on going snorkelling, we thoroughly recommend investing in a pair of water shoes. We wore these to the underground river and many of the non-water activities. They are much more comfortable than flip flops or going bare foot!
Our top 5 must-see attractions at Xcaret Park
- Aviary – as soon as you go through the double doors, you’ll enter what feels like a real-life jungle. Home to many different species of birds, it’s truly a tropical paradise. As you look up, you’ll be surrounded by plants, merging seamlessly with towering waterfalls. What we loved most about the aviary is that all the birds were in their natural habitat, flying freely. They weren’t restricted by small cages and it felt amazing to be that close to them…especially the toucan! Can you guess why? 😊
- The underground rivers – This was the first activity we did when we arrived and it started the day in the best way possible. There are three underground river routes you can take, where we opted for the ‘blue route’. This is considered to be the best out of the three. The water was so refreshing, yet not too cold, as you glide through the river at a leisurely pace, taking it the beautiful scenery. This was a firm highlight of our trip to Xcaret Park.
- Xcaret México Espectacular evening show – Unfortunately, we were unable Xcaret’s traditional Xcaret México Espectacular evening show whilst we were there due to poor weather, but we’ve heard great things. The show takes place in the park at 7pm every day. It’s well worth staying until the evening and the park quietens down, so you’ll get to explore some of your favourite attractions with less crowds
- Traditional Mexican Village – What we loved most about the traditional pueblo (town) was the real authentic feel it had to it. It was such a contrast to the other activities they have on offer at the park and was really welcomed. Wander around an intriguing Mexican cemetery, stop at one of the colourful houses for craft activities, see the quaint church and embrace the lively environment and shows throughout the day.
- Aquarium – The aquarium in Xcaret Park is like no-other we’ve ever seen. The indoor area of the aquarium is home to some gorgeous tropical fish tanks. It also features some other sea life, like starfish and seahorses. The highlight is just outside, where you’ll encounter a variety of amazing sea turtles! Just when we thought we saw it all, and as we were coming out of the aquarium, we saw some gigantic turtles swimming in the water. It was the most incredible moment witnessing these creatures swim around in the bay. You can get up close to smaller sea turtles too!
How to get back to your hotel after visiting Xcaret Park
- Depending on where you’re staying, you have a few different options to return to your hotel after an action packed day exploring Xcaret. These are:
- By taxi – There’s a taxi rank right outside the exit of the park. You’ll find plenty of taxis waiting to take you back home. There’s a price guide listed on the board outside, so you know how much exactly you’ll be paying, and are unlikely to get overcharged. This is the most convenient and quickest option, but also the most expensive.
- Collectivo bus – If you’re on a bit of a budget, then we recommend catching the Collectivo (mini bus). It heads to the north or south of the Riviera Maya coastline, up to Cancun, or to Tulum and beyond. You can catch it next to the taxi rank but be sure to check with the driver to make sure they’re heading in the right direction to where you’re going. It’s helpful if you know a little Spanish and know your exact location/route for this option.
- Xcaret coach transfer – Xcaret Park have their own coach you can use to get back to your hotel. Be sure to check online when booking for departure times and stop off points. This is an extra cost when buying your theme park tickets and is the method of transport you would have used to get to Xcaret.
Our final tip for visiting Xcaret Park, and the most important one, is… have fun! Take it at your own pace and enjoy every moment you spend in the park. It’s a huge place so you probably won’t see everything, so take that into account and choose the attractions that you think you’ll like the most.
So there you have it, our top tips for visiting Xcaret Park. We hope you found it useful and can now use our suggestions to help you plan your trip to this unique nature theme park. If you have any questions at all, or if you have your own suggestions, please leave us a comment below! 😊
By SusieAuthor bio:
I’m a passionate traveller that loves a sunny beach holiday, but also appreciate the cultural side to a trip and checking out undiscovered destinations. I’m the go-to Toucan Traveller for great holiday stories, cool photos and foodie recommendations.