Xel-Há Park, the Riviera Maya's Natural Aquarium

Xel-Ha, a natural water park in the Riviera Maya
Xel-Ha, a natural water park in the Riviera Maya.

 Courtesy Xel-Ha

Xel-Há is a water park in the Riviera Maya. It is located about 70 miles south of Cancun in a beautiful natural area that has a unique environment with inlets, lagoons, and cenotes. This is a special aquatic ecosystem that has both fresh and seawater, making it a natural aquarium, and one of the best places for snorkeling near Cancun because there is a huge variety of marine life. In the Mayan language, Xel-Ha means "where the water is born."

Although snorkeling is the main thing to do at Xel-Ha, there are many other activities you can enjoy here, including floating down a river in an inner tube, swimming in a cenote, relaxing in a hammock, or taking a nature walk through the jungle. You can also visit the park's newest attraction, a scenic lighthouse that you can climb up to enjoy wonderful panoramic views of the surrounding landscape from 130 feet high, then choose one of four water slides to easily (and quickly!) make your way back down. Xel-Ha allows you to enjoy a beautiful natural environment with all the creature comforts of changing rooms, showers, lockers, delicious food, and comfortable spots to rest. This popular attraction can be visited on a day trip from Cancun or anywhere in the Mayan Riviera. 

Sustainable Tourism at Xel-Ha

Xel-Ha has been certified by EarthCheck for its sustainable tourism practices which include treating water at a treatment plant on site, recycling 80% of the park's solid waste. The park also has a groundbreaking program for producing, rescuing, and reforesting native plants. Xel-Ha participates in conservation programs to monitor and protect queen conches and sea turtles in collaboration with other agencies.

If You Go

When you visit Xel-Ha, you should wear comfortable shoes and take a bathing suit, change of clothes, and a camera (an underwater camera is ideal).Conventional sunblock is not permitted because it can be damaging to water ecology. Xel-Ha has a sunblock exchange program: at the entrance to the park, you can trade in your regular sunblock for a day's supply of eco-friendly sunblock. You can also purchase fully biodegradable sunblock at various locations in the Riviera Maya. A towel, locker and snorkel gear are provided and included with the cost of admission.

Xel-Ha is appropriate for visitors of all ages. There is a special play area for children with water slides and a jungle gym trail in the trees. 

Hours and Admission

Xel-Ha is open every day of the year from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. There is plenty to do for a full day at this natural water park, but visitors with limited time may choose to combine their visit with a trip to the nearby Cobá or Tulum archaeological site.

The "All Inclusive" admission fee includes access to the park, meals, snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages, use of snorkeling equipment, locker, and towel. Other package options may include transportation and include visits to other locales. The basic "All-Inclusive" admission fee to Xel-Ha park is half price for children aged 5 to 11 and free for children under five. For children who are under 12 but over than 55 inches tall, bring proof of age in order to receive the child discount. For more information, see the Xel-Ha website, which offers discounts for reserving tickets online in advance.

Optional activities that are not included in the regular admission fee include swimming with dolphins, a manatee encounter, SeaTrek, Snuba, stingray encounter, and more. There is also an on-site spa where you can enjoy a relaxing spa treatment. These activities entail an extra fee.


Xel-Ha is located five and a half miles north of Tulum, 27 miles south of Playa del Carmen, and 70 miles south of the Cancun airport. The address is Highway Chetumal-Puerto Juárez, Km. 240, Tulum, QR 77780.

Getting There

Xel-Ha and many local tour companies offer packages that include transportation, and some also offer visits to other sites as well as Xel-Ha on the same day.

You can get a bus to Xel-Ha from Cancun or Playa del Carmen. The bus from Cancun leaves from the ADO bus terminal in downtown Cancun on Calle Pino. The bus from Playa del Carmen leaves from the base located near the dock at Plaza Marina Mall #41 and 42, Centro Muelle. There are three departures daily.

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