XCARET : The Most Beautiful Amusement Park in the World?
Xcaret (pronounced “ekskareh”) is a Mayan archaeological site located right on the Caribbean in magical Quintana Roo. There are a lot of the original structures within the site combined with a privately owned Eco Park by the same name. The park has a resort, theme park, and it is a part of a series of Xcaret Experiencias Group, which also owns Xplor, Xel-Ha, Xenses, Xichen, Xenotes, and Xoximilco tours and activities.
The park was a major winner in the 2018 Travvy Awards, which is the “Oscars” of the Travel Industry. Overall, it is considered the “Best International Theme Park” and “Best Water Park.”
After hearing about all of these awards, I had to figure out for myself what the fuss was all about. I have been to Mexico on numerous occasions, but I never felt the desire to visit an amusement park while I was there. I had already been to Disney World and Disney parks in Los Angeles and Paris. Why would I want to step into one in Mexico?
Let’s find out…...
First of all, how do I get there?
As a budget traveler, I put myself through an experience to learn how to save YOU money. I noticed that they sold packages with transportation included, but I do not suggest doing this unless you have money to spare and do not mind wasting it. You are better off grabbing a taxi and purchasing a ticket online. By doing this, you can easily fit four people in a taxi and pay less than 300 pesos or find yourself paying about 500 pesos per person if you purchase transportation as a part of a “deal-saving” package. It’s not saving you money. Trust me on this one. I already did the math. Also, by booking the ticket online over a week before you plan on going, it will save you $10 U.S. Dollars per person.
Secondly, should you purchase the meal plan?
Well, this is totally personal preference. I didn’t purchase the meal plan and ended up having wonderful food at a fraction of what the plan would have cost me per person. Xcaret has a variety of places to eat and I can’t say which one is better than the other one. I would gladly experience them all. However, I asked a friend of mine that works there and she told me about this place. I love getting insider information. The food was delicious and with views of the Caribbean you cannot go wrong. We ate plenty for less than the cost of the "budget all included package." As you can see in the photo below, no one went hungry. The photo does not show the actual size of course. It was a lot of food.
Hours later, I decided to rest and found this gorgeous dining area called "La Isla."
Finally, what is there to see and do there?
The park is amazingly beautiful and there is an abundance of things to see and do for people of all ages. I would suggest taking some time to plan your trip and becoming aware of the attractions available to you. Not everything is included in the price of your admission. There are plenty of “other” activities that you will have to pay extra for.
The winning attraction is an underground river that you can swim and the whole experience takes about 45 minutes. Do not worry if you cannot complete the swim. There are different spots where you can exit should you get tired or have a child that cannot swim until the attraction ends. Everyone will be provided with a life vest and you must be able to swim. The park provides bags to put your belongings in and they are immediately locked until you return. Once you exit the river you will find yourself here:
In addition, this park has a water park, aquarium, zoo, museum, and cultural center. You will be able to find a Regional Wildlife Breeding area, a Coral Reef Aquarium, a Butterfly Pavilion, a Mayan Village and Cemetery, a Beach, an Archaeological Site, a Hacienda with a Folk Art Museum, and a grand finale with a MUST NOT MISS “Mexico Espectacular Show.”
Besides the above, what did my nephew (12 years old) enjoy the most and what were his complaints?
I am adding his suggestions because I do not normally travel with kids, but I found his feedback to be valuable because I realize that there will be many families enjoying this place. He was disappointed that a lot of the attractions were not included in the price at this particular location. Kids sometimes get really attached to the idea of feeding stingrays, swimming with dolphins, or dreaming about going down to an underwater world with an astronaut type mask that helps you breathe underwater. All of these attractions cost extra so please be prepared if your child is really into doing these activities. The GOOD news is that admission includes more free activities than you can possibly do in one day. The “optional” experiences are exactly that. They do not have to be included in your trip unless you really want to purchase them. We found plenty of free attractions. Isn't this view priceless anyway?
Also, he enjoyed the show very much, but started to get a little anxious towards the end. I would say it is possibly an hour too long for kids that simply do not have the attention span to sit through a show. Although the program says two hours, it took about three hours between people sitting down, an intermission, and then exiting the theater.
Personally, I thought the show was fabulous and while I didn’t do the dinner and show combination, I would recommend it for a romantic experience with your special someone. In this show, you will learn about the history of Mexico, get to experience the ancient Mayan ball game, and listen to the amazing music of this country. Overall, I give the experience two big thumbs up. As a first time visitor, I enjoyed it immensely just by walking around, enjoying the ocean, eating the food, swimming the underground river (twice may I add), and ending the evening with my very tired nephew and cotton candy. I am sure I scored the “Very Cool Aunt Award” at the end of our adventurous day.