Riviera Maya in Mexico is indeed one of the heavenly vacation spots on the earth. This is a tourism and resort district whose coastline stretches for at least 90 miles, situated in the Yucatan Peninsula’s eastern portion. Here, you can find endless opportunities for various fun activities, from shopping to visiting ruins to scuba diving. There are also several eco-parks and attractions that bring the visitors to meet the nature and rich culture of Mexico. In the following article, we will discuss about two of the most popular parks in the district, which are Xel Ha and Xcaret. If you have enough time, you definitely should visit both. But what if your time is limited? Below, we will see the differences between Xel Ha vs Xcaret to help you choose.
About Xel Ha
In the Maya language, Xel Ha means “the place in which water is born”. And you will see why this place is named like that right from the moment you enter the front gates. In Xel Ha, water is just about everywhere. And this is definitely a heavenly sight if you have spent a good amount of time under the Mexican sun. Xel Ha is a nature park in which fresh water from Mexico’s underground rivers meets the salt water of the Caribbean Sea. Unsurprisingly, Xel Ha is brimming with aquatic life, with at least 70 species of fish, 120 species of birds, 300 species of plants, along with various land animals.
Xel Ha is 113.2 km from Cancun; it is about 1 hour and 35 minutes. But you can book for a bus to pick you up at your hotel or meeting point. However, if you are staying in the Tulum area, you can take a taxi and the cost will be cheaper. There are also colectivos and ADO buses that can take you to Xel Ha.
In Xel Ha, all foods are included for the day. You can eat a buffet breakfast, a lunch, and also snack bars. There are also alcoholic drinks included in the all-inclusive package.
Pros of Xel Ha
One of the big differences between Xel Ha vs Xcaret is that Xel Ha is all about water activities. Most of the attractions here are aquatic activities, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming with dolphins, and walking underwater. There are also zip lining, interacting with manatees, exploring caves and rifts, Mayan caves and cenotes, and trekking in the jungle. In Xel Ha, you can swim and get in contact with various tropical fish. There are fish flags to indicate the spots where fish usually gather.
Xel Ha is also generally more budget-friendly because it includes various free services in the package. Your meals and even alcoholic drinks are included, so you won’t have to spend more money. There are also free bikes, waterslides, and zip lines. You only have to pay if you want to do one of the optional activities.
Xel Ha is great if you only have a short day to spend. It opens from 8.30 AM to 6.00 PM. The area is relatively smaller compared to Xcaret.
Cons of Xel Ha
The disadvantage of Xel Ha is that it mostly provides only aquatic activities. This park does not have many other options. If you also want to visit some Mayan ruins, well, the Xel Ha Mayan Ruins are just south of the park – but it has its own separate admission fee.
Also, note that Xel Ha does not open until night. If you have a long day and you want to spend the night outside, Xel Ha won’t be a suitable choice.
Xcaret has a sheer size that may be a little overwhelming; it rivals the size of the Disneyland. Yet, every inch of its grounds is full of either fun or educational things. This park is designed to highlight the colors, sounds, sights, and tastes of the different regions of Mexico. This is a suitable choice for everyone in your family.
Xcaret is a little bit closer to Cancun; the distance is about 76.2 km or 1 hour and 13 minutes. You can also book a bus to pick you up at your hotel or meeting point. Nevertheless, you can also take a taxi from Cancun or Playa Del Carmen.
Foods are not included in the package. If you want to eat some snacks or meals, you will have to pay more. But there is the Xcaret Plus ticket which includes the lunch buffet, and you can also request for a dinner during the grand show by adding the add-on in the Xcaret dinner package.
Pros of Xcaret
The most contrasting difference between Xel Ha vs Xcaret is that Xcaret offers many more activities. It has beach areas where you can simply relax, it has underground rivers where you can swim and snorkel, there are many animals such as tapirs, monkeys, sea turtles, and jaguars. It has a butterfly pavilion and bird aviary. Mini shows are performed throughout the park all day long, but the grand show is always at the end of every night to show you two and a half hours of entertainment. Many people come here because of the grand show.
Xcaret opens from 8.30 AM to 9.30 PM. It closes after the grand show. So, this is a great choice if you want to spend the night outside of your hotel.
Cons of Xcaret
The disadvantage of Xcaret is that it is quite more expensive. Don’t forget that you will need some extra bucks for the meals and/or alcoholic drinks. Even if you purchase the Xcaret Plus or Xcaret dinner package, you will still need to prepare more money if you want to enjoy some liquid. So, if you want to visit Xcaret, you have to prepare more money.
Xel Ha vsXcaret offer different attractions and advantages. Xel Ha is great if you only have a short day to spend. It is also great because the all-inclusive package includes meals, liquids, as well as free bikes, waterslides, and zip lines. But most of its attractions are aquatic activities. On the other hand, Xcaret is quite more expensive because you will have to buy the meals and liquids separately. But Xcaret offers many more activities, along with mini shows and a grand show at the end of the night.