Xel-Ha, a huge natural lagoon, is difficult to describe to the uninitiated. Is it a water park, is it an aquarium, is it a theme park, is it nature at its most beautiful? It’s all of these and more. Found south of Cancun and just north of Tulum on the coast of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, it’s a place we’ve found ourselves returning to each time we’ve visited the area. A place where you can zipwire into the lagoon, swim in a cool cenote, go cliff jumping as parrots fly overhead, do an obstacle course across the water, snorkel, spot wildlife or just relax in a hammock. Whatever you choose to do, it’s a brilliant day out and a highlight of our Mexico vacation. I’ve no doubt we’ll be back as opening in July 2017 is the new lighthouse with 4 x 30 metre waterslides. We saw this being built on our recent trip and were already talking about returning to try it out even as we were there, it looks amazing! You can watch the video about it here.
You spend the whole day at Xel-Ha and it is set up to make your visit hassle-free. All food and drinks are included so you can pause to catch your breath and refresh whenever you want. I’m sharing our absolute favourite things to do:
10 THINGS WE LOVE TO DO AT XEL-HA
The Cliff of Courage has legendary status in our family. My daughters absolutely love it. 5 metres high they leap off it again and again …. and again. This year there were 2 cliffs of courage – joy! If you don’t fancy jumping yourself, it’s fun to watch others take the leap of faith.
After cycling through the jungle, or taking the little road train if you don’t fancy cycling, you arrive at the head of the mangrove river from where you can climb into an inflatable and float down the slow moving water or you can snorkel the river’s route. Look out for the crabs in the mangroves on the way!
As a natural lagoon, Xel-Ha is open to the sea and there is plenty of marine life to see as you snorkel around the park. This year we saw stingrays too. Look out for the fishy flags showing the best snorkelling locations. Snorkels and fins are provided to borrow free of charge.
A favourite of ours is Chuc Kay’s rope swing. You swing out over the river, let go and land in the cool waters of a cenote. So much fun and even little ones can do it.
It gets hot in the Rivera Maya and the refreshing, crystal clear waters of cenotes are the perfect place to cool off. There are plenty of cenotes at Xel-Ha, some full of bird life and fish and some for swimming in.
My children love crossing the lagoon on the ropes and obstacle courses – it’s so much harder than it looks!
Zipwiring across the lagoon and landing with a splash in the water at the end is huge fun for all ages. Swim to shore then take a different zipwire back!
As you walk around Xel-Ha you’ll notice iguanas, coati and agoupi crossing your path. We love the coati – so cute! Tropical birds, parrots and bees can also be seen.
You can choose to pay extra for a range of additional activities from zipcycling to swimming with dolphins, manatees or rays, snuba and seatrek. There is also a jet boat ride, not for the fainthearted as it turns 360 degrees and powers along at high speeds!
After an action packed day you can grab a hammock and just watch the world go by. There is a children’s playground and you are spoilt for choice with many trails and gardens and beautiful spots by the lagoon to relax and enjoy the stunning views. For non-swimmers there is plenty to do around the lagoon, or grab a life jacket and have a bob around in the refreshing waters.
As well as these faves we love the wobbly bridge, the jungle walkways and the stunning views across the lagoons. Turn a corner, you’ll come across a sculpture, or a hammock park or a refreshment stop or a band playing music.
Xel-Ha is a day out filled with adventure, nature, fun and exploration, whether on top or under the water and of course, the wonderful Mexican water. Enjoy!
Xel-Ha is one of the best organised parks I’ve ever been to. Immaculately maintained and with great visitor systems.
- Included in your entrance fee are towels, snorkelling equipment, lockers, showers.
- Life jackets are positioned throughout the park – just grab one when you need it and then drop it at a lifejacket point when you are finished with it. Different sizes are available everywhere.
- Take eco friendly sun cream.
- We prefer to wear water shoes as the ground can get hot.
- Food and non alcoholic drinks are included – stop at one of several restaurants when you want to eat or grab a drink whenever you need one.
- The park is extremely well signposted.
- Your wristband acts as a photo pass. Scan it at a photopoint and have your picture taken and then you can purchase all your photos.
- Tickets are discounted if bought online in advance.
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