Images of Xcaret Park on the Mayan Riviera

Aerial View of Xcaret

Xcaret

Xcaret is a popular eco-archeological theme park on the Riviera Maya area south of Cancun. It is located just four miles from Playa del Carmen

Plan to spend an entire day, swimming in an underground river, snorkeling, and touring a butterfly pavilion, aquarium, and Mayan village. If you like, you can also sign up for a premium experience such as a dolphin or shark encounter.

– Edited by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

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Lush Grounds

Xcaret, lush grounds
Teresa Plowright

The Xcaret park extends over 200 acres, so wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to do some walking. Fortunately, there's a lot of shade and lush foliage.

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River Float

Xcaret, river float
Teresa Plowright

Rivers are a highlight at Xcaret, especially the Underground River snorkeling trip. This photo was taken on a slow, 20-minute boat float on the Paradise River. It was very pretty, but hot; families on a first-time visit may prefer to use that chunk of time elsewhere.

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Underground River

Xcaret waterfall
Photo courtesy of Xcaret.

The main river experience at Xcaret is a snorkeling trip down two underground rivers. Guests are issued full gear: life jackets, snorkels, flippers, and masks. Kids as young as age 5 can be fitted out. The trip covers over one kilometer of the river and takes about 20 minutes; there are several points along the way where you can rest in a nice spot, or exit if a child is tired.

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End of the Underground River

Xcaret, end of underground river
Teresa Plowright.

After guests finish the underground river swim, they'll find a bag waiting with their dry clothes and other belongings.

Tip: check the last departure time for the underground river swim so you don't miss this experience, which is included in the price of admission.

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Snorkeling Lagoon

Snorkeling Lagoon
Teresa Plowright

Snorkeling in this lagoon is another popular activity.

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Beach and Float Tubes

Xcaret beach
Teresa Plowright.

Xcaret has several beach areas and inlets where you can float.

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Relax Seaside

Xcaret theme park
Teresa Plowright.

Xcaret has many lovely areas to relax. The grounds are extensive, and after you've toured the butterfly pavilion, Mayan village, coral reef aquarium, orchids greenhouse, and more, you may be ready for some lounger or hammock time.

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Small Pools

Xcaret beach
Teresa Plowright.

Pools offer a midday break and a place to cool down for kids.

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Hammocks by Rock Pools

Xcaret, quiet area with hammock
Teresa Plowright.

After you've toured Jaguar Island, the orchid greenhouse, coral reef aquarium, and butterfly pavilion, hammocks seem like a good idea.

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Kids on Rope that Crosses Lagoon

Rope across lagoon
Teresa Plowright.

Kids love this kind of challenge.

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Pumas at Jaguar Island

pumas at Jaguar Island
Teresa Plowright.

At Jaguar Island, look for pumas and a black jaguar.

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Giant Sea Turtle

Xcaret, giant sea turtle in pool
Teresa Plowright.

In several large pools, you can see giant sea turtles.

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Mayan Ruins

Xcaret, Mayan ruins
Teresa Plowright.

"Xcaret" is a Mayan word meaning "small inlet," and the park has several small Mayan ruins. The Mayan settlement in this area was at its height from 1400 to 1517 AD.

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Mayan Village

Xcaret, Mayan Village
Teresa Plowright.

Xcaret also has a Mayan village area. There are many authentic Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula.

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Papantla Flyers

Papantla Flyers
Teresa Plowright.

In one of the live performances, "Voladores de Papantla," Pole flyers perform a ceremony worshipping the sun god while 30 meters in the air. The four flying men represent the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water.

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Glass Bottle Music

musicians in Xcaret
Teresa Plowright.

Surprise performance near the entrance to Xcaret.

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Boy on Horse

Xcaret- horse riding show
Teresa Plowright.

This sand arena is the venue for an excellent horse-and-rider show.

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Mexican Horse Show

Mexican Horse Show
Teresa Plowright.

During the "Mexican Charreria" horses and their riders show off their skills, and do Mexican rodeo tricks. Lady riders ("adelitas") wear especially colorful outfits. Watch the show while dining at the La Cocina restaurant, which has delicious Mexican specialties.

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Night Show

People dancing in Xcaret
Teresa Plowright

The night show typically starts off with an amazing ancient Mayan ball game called Pok-A-Tok. Imagine basketball with a hoop that's mounted vertically a wall, a sloped court, and a heavy ball that can only be hit with the hips. Then come the many dancers in colorful costumes.

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Night Show

Xcaret, night show
Teresa Plowright

Audience reaction at the night show adds to the fun. Most of the audience is Mexican, and people recognize and cheer the regional songs and dances.

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Mexican Rodeo Tricks

Xcaret, night show, horse rider
Teresa Plowright.

The night show takes place in a huge covered amphitheater, where horses take to the stage at several times.

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History and Culture

Xcaret night show dancers.
Teresa Plowright.

During our visit, a panoramic sweep through Mexican history was followed by a medley of regional songs.

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Night Show Finale

Xcaret night show finale
Teresa Plowright.

The night show is a spectacular production that's not to be missed. Families with kids are everywhere, and the music, fast pace, and cast of hundreds will keep even little kids and teenagers entertained.

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Chapel

Chapel at Xcaret
Teresa Plowright.

Xcaret is a popular wedding destination. Above is the bougainvillea-covered chapel. Other areas are used too, including some spectacular natural settings.

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Map of Playa Del Carmen Area

Map of Playa Del Carmen and Xcaret
Google Maps

Note: Xcaret can easily be visited independently without an excursion from your resort. Depending on the number in your party, it may save money to take a taxi from Playa del Carmen; if your resort is near the highway, you can even hop on one of the frequent local buses, and for your return journey, you'll find taxis waiting at the Xcaret exit when the night show finishes. 

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Map of Xcaret Park

Map of Xcaret Park
Google Maps

 Doing your homework before your visit will help you plan your day at Xcaret. Keep in mind: 

  • With more than 40 activities, attractions and shows, it’s almost impossible to see the whole park in one day. If you have the time to come back another day, realize that your second day in Xcaret for free if you pay for your tickets with MasterCard.
  • The ticket price for kids under 12 is half of the adult ticket. 
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