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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This sounds like such an amazing place! I will definitely be putting it on my list of places to visit whenever I manage to go to Mexico. #countrykids
Wow! Xel-ha looks like a place my family would love to visit. How did you have time to fit in all those activities? Did you do all that in one day? Looks like so much fun. #CountryKids
This looks like an amazing trip full of wonderful experiences. We love to snorkel and that water is so clear. Thanks so much for sharing. #CountryKids
Water parks are great for family bonding, aren’t they? I love the fact that you’ve gone back here several times. The stuff of family legends!
I need to go back again and do the helter skelter. My friend did it this summer she said it was terrifying!
OK so I’m just agreeing with everyone else really, just wow! This really is the ultimate day out for an outdoorsy family. The best of both worlds with nature, space and beauty on the one hand but all the Adrenalin and thrill of the activities on the other. My teens would adore this as would I.
thank you for sharing on #CountryKids
Oh wow this place looks amazing for water adventures and that obstacle course looks incredible as does cliff jumping – my kinda place
Just popping over from #countrykids
This sounds absolutely amazing! My kids would LOVE it 🙂 #countrykids
This sounds like a fantastic place to venture with the kids. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. #CountryKids
What a stunning lagoon. It sounds like a wonderful place to visit. I’m not sure I would be brave enough to jump off the Cliffs of Courage though! 🙂 #countrykids
Wow your daughter is much braver than me, no way I could just off that or walk across those ropes. Looks like a great place to spend time for the water happy people! #CountryKids
Yes, I think I would dare to try! Looks like a blast!! Pinned #FarawayFiles
This looks so amazing!! I mean the colour of the water!! #farawayfiles
Just wow! Looks so fun.
That park looks amazing. I get really put off most water parks as they are crowded and chloriney. It seems like so much thought has gone into Xel-ha so you can experience nature and have a great time splashing about. One for the Mexico list for sure. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles
Oh this place looks absolutely brilliant, Jo! I love how it is all set within the natural environment rather than a theme park. That’s so much more appealing to me. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles
This looks like a fun and amazing place though I can see how it’s a bit hard to pin down on describing it. Adding it to my list! #theweeklypostcard
What a fun place. Not sure I could get up the courage for the cliff jumping though. Watching sounds fun though.
I think relaxing in the water or the hammocks is more my speed. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard
Currently in Mexico and will be in Yucatan in just a few weeks. This is so useful, thank you! #TheWeeklyPostcard
This looks incredible! I grew up jumping cliffs in Northern Ontario. Throw in some ziplining and relaxing in the water amd it seems like the total package! Thanks for sharing on #TheDailyPostcard.
That post brings back so many good mmemories! I was in Cancun with two girlfriends last year and we decided to visit Xcaret, from what I read here it seems to be pretty similar to Xel-Ha tho. Definitely a day I’ll never forget 🙂 #TheWeeklyPostcard
Xel-Ha seems to bel cleaner than last time I was there (some 20 years ago). At that time there was so much sunscreen in the water that you could barely see anything. #TheWeeklyPostcard
Oh my goodness! No its really clear water and only eco friendly sunscreen is allowed
Hi Jo – Glad to see you back on #TheWeeklyPostcard! And we love this post! We debated going to Xel-Ha on our last Cancun trip, but decided against it in the end. The adverts made it look a little too “theme park” – but this looks awesome! Super helpful. Thinking our next trip will be all about Xel-Ha and Tulum. And maybe margaritas. 😉 Thanks for sharing!
Goodness, looks like loads to do there! My action-loving boys would love it. Not sure if we’ll be visiting that part of Mexico on our big trip, but it could inspire us to detour for a day or two! #MondayEscapes
I visited Tulum for the first time last year and heard about Xel-Ha but we didn’t make it! Definitely adding this to the list for our next visit. 🙂 #mondayescapes