Commune with nature, explore ancient ruins and learn about Mayan culture at this popular theme park, home to a natural underground river.
Part theme park, part wildlife sanctuary and part archaeological site, Xcaret Park has dozens of attractions and activities to keep the whole family occupied. So many, in fact, that it’s almost impossible to see everything with just one visit.
At Xcaret, the emphasis is on getting close to nature. Swim with dolphins and nurse sharks in the Caribbean Sea. Learn about the park’s plant conservation efforts when you take the tropical jungle trail, a guided hike that passes sacred Maya trees and endangered plant species. Make sure to stop by the butterfly pavilion where twenty species of butterflies — some endangered — flutter freely above your head.
Follow the crowds to one of the park’s most popular attractions, swimming in the half-mile (800-meter) underground river. The swim brings you under rocky stalactite formations and cavern walls embedded with marine fossils. The currents are soft, the water clear and the depth about five feet (1.5 meters).
Light filters through a number of natural openings so the swim is not completely in the dark, and there are a number of exit points along the route for people who may feel tired. All swimmers regardless of ability are equipped with float vests.
The theme park encloses a set of ancient Mayan ruins. Mayan building at Xcaret dates from around A.D. 1200 to 1500.The structures were part of a port and a ceremonial center. Maya would come here and bathe in the waters to purify their bodies and minds. Visitors are free to wander around most of the ruins.
At night, Xcaret puts on a song and dance spectacular that takes you through Mexican history from pre-Hispanic times to the present day.
The park is situated in the Riviera Maya, approximately 37 miles (60 kilometers) south of Cancun International airport and 3.7 miles (six kilometers) from Playa del Carmen. You can get to Xcaret by car; the on-site parking is free. Alternatively, take a bus from the station in Cancun (Uxmal Avenue) or from Playa del Carmen (Fifth Avenue).
Xcaret Park is open 365 days a year.