Xcaret Park Playa del Carmen was the first of six eco-parks in the Mayan Riviera under the Experiencias Xcaret umbrella. It’s also one of the largest theme parks in Mexico. But is it the best park for you? This article covers Xcaret activities, Xcaret tips, Xcaret reviews and Xcaret itineraries.
The aim is to help you decide if Xcaret is your best choice and how to make the most of your time at this exciting theme park.
- What is Xcaret Eco-Park?
- How to Get to Xcaret Park
- Xcaret Tips For the Best Park Experience
- 1. Study All the Xcaret Activities Available
- 2. Decide How Much Time You Need at Xcaret
- 3. Decide Which Xcaret Tickets to Buy
- Xcaret Park Itineraries
- Live Dream Discover’s Xcaret Itinerary
- Nature Lovers Xcaret Itinerary
- Xcaret Itinerary for Water Lovers
- Xcaret Cultural Itinerary
- Xcaret Prices for Admission
- Xcaret Discount Tickets
- What to take to Xcaret
- Xcaret Review and Final Thoughts
- Pin It For Later
What is Xcaret Eco-Park?
Xcaret (ish-ka-ret) is a 250-acre theme park with more than 40 attractions. Xcaret activities include adventurous water sports, educational and cultural exhibits, local nature and wildlife attractions and impressive live shows.
Situated just minutes from Playa del Carmen, it’s one of the most popular attractions in the Riviera Maya of Mexico attracting over a million visitors each year from all over the world.
Due to the size of the park and the abundance of things to do at Xcaret it really does deserve at least two days to see everything. Luckily, Xcaret Park offers multi-day passes as you’ll see below.
However, if all you have time for is one full day you can still hit the main Xcaret attractions and have a fantastic time. Especially if you do a bit of pre-planning with our handy itineraries below.
How to Get to Xcaret Park
- You can add first-class bus transportation to your admission for $30 USD
- The local ADO bus also makes stops at Xcaret. Check at the Cancun and Playa del Carmen bus stations for the schedule.
- Collectivos (shared vans) run up and down the main 307 Highway and will stop at Xcaret
- If you are staying in Playa del Carmen a taxi is a viable option but from a Cancun Airbnb or hotel, it would be about $80-$100 USD
- If you have a car the drive is quite easy and there is free parking on site.
Xcaret Tips For the Best Park Experience
As we just mentioned, there are so many Xcaret activities that it’s next to impossible to see everything in just one day. This is why planning is a must.
Start with the following tips for planning your visit to Xcaret Park:
1. Study All the Xcaret Activities Available
The first thing we suggest you do in the planning stage is to look at the many Xcaret activities and attractions and decide your priorities.
Do you favor water activities? Does your love of nature top everything else? Or are you really interested in learning more about the Mayan culture?
Once you’ve determined what your priorities are, take a look at the map of Xcaret park and suggested itineraries for Xcaret adventure park below and create your own day of fun.
Keep in mind that if you are a family or group of four or more and you have different interests you could always split up for the morning/afternoon and set a time to meet for lunch.
2. Decide How Much Time You Need at Xcaret
If you have the time and money we highly recommend 2 days at Xcaret Park. This way you can spend the first day getting an overview of the park, then return the next day to spend more time on the things you liked the most.
Another reason to go for more than 1 day is that the evening show is a must-see. However, it doesn’t start until late evening and if you’ve been at the park since opening you’ll be too exhausted to enjoy the show.
Having said all that we understand that not everyone can afford to spend two days at Xcaret Park. Not to worry, all of our itineraries below are based on one day at Xcaret.
3. Decide Which Xcaret Tickets to Buy
Now that you’ve decided what Xcaret activities you most want to do and how many days you will be spending, it’s time to buy your Xcaret Park tickets.
There are several options for Xcaret Park tickets and you can find more detail further along in this post. The main thing you need to decide is if you want food and drink or optional activities included. There are various ticket options depending on how much you want to be included.
If you’re interested in visiting any of the other wonderful parks in the Xcaret family be sure to check the Xcaret Packages offered. These packages allow you to purchase admission for two of the parks. For example, you can combine Xcaret and Xel-Ha for a discount price.
Xcaret Park Itineraries
Once you’ve gone through the Xcaret tips above you’ll be ready to plan your day. We have been to Xcaret Park many times over the years and we’ve used that experience to create several one-day itineraries.
For a taste of all the park has to offer go with our Live Dream Discover itinerary. But, we’ve also created itineraries that focus on specific Xcaret activities like water sports, nature or culture.
Live Dream Discover’s Xcaret Itinerary
Since we enjoy variety and wanted to taste a bit of all Xcaret Park has to offer we created a balanced day by combining little parts of everything that make Xcaret eco theme park special. If that sounds like you then you may want to use our personal Xcaret itinerary as a guide.
*Note: Everything on this itinerary is included with the basic Park Admission unless otherwise noted as extra charge.
- Arrive at 9:00 am
- Pick up a map and make your way to the events board just inside the park. Some of the shows and events change regularly and you won’t find them online so, therefore, can’t pre-plan. If there is something, in particular, you want to see you’ll have to adjust this itinerary accordingly. We opted to just go to the big evening extravaganza usually about 7:00 pm.
- The first stop is at the Rotating Scenic Tower (#16 on map) for a spectacular panoramic view of the entire park and out to the Caribbean Sea.
- About 10:30 am head to the lockers near the beginning of the Underground River (#12 on map). Here for an extra charge (unless you purchased the Plus ticket) you can get a locker for the day and rent snorkel gear. You can then change into your swimsuit, grab a life vest (free and mandatory) and get ready for the underwater river. As an alternative to the locker, you can put all of your belongings in a large locking dry bag (no charge) which will be transported to the end of the river. We chose to rent a locker for some things (valuables, non-water camera, car keys, extra money etc) and place items in the transit bag that we would want to use at the beach at the end of the river (towel, flip flops, sunscreen, some money etc).
- To swim/snorkel the underground river to the end takes about 45 min to 1 hour. Be sure to stop at the photo points along the way.
- Around noon you will emerge from the river at the other end of the park right where it meets the Caribbean Sea (#36 on map). Here you can pick up your belongings and return your life vest but hold on to your snorkel gear.
- Follow the black route past the Manatee Lagoon and stay right following signs for the beaches, natural pools and snorkeling inlet (#4 & #21 on map). This is where you’ll be for the next hour or two. You can snorkel, take part in water activities or simply find a beach chair or hammock to take a nap.
- Right about now you’ll likely be ready for lunch. There are a couple of restaurants and bars you can eat at (extra charge unless you purchased the Plus ticket) and you can choose a sit-down meal, a buffet or as we did order some fajitas and margaritas at a beach palapa.
- By this time it should be around 2:00 pm, depending on how long you lingered at the beach.
- Check your map and start making your way back to your locker. If you want to you can stop along the way to see the turtles (#5), the aquarium (#6), and if your timing is good you may catch the Voladores ceremony (#10).
- By about 3:00 pm you’ve returned your snorkel gear and belongings and are dried off and ready for nature and culture time.
- Check your map and head down the path towards the Cave Route to the Mayan Village (#26). If you’re timing is right you can check-in at Nature and Culture Tours (#27) or the Pre-Historic Ball Game (#29). Otherwise, just follow the Cave Route to the Mayan Village.
- After a look at the Mayan Village you can walk through the Mexican Cemetery (#34) and St Francis of Assisi Chapel (#33) on your way to the Butterfly Pavilion and Aviary (#9) where you should arrive around 4:00 pm if you didn’t stop to take in a ball game or nature tour.
- The Aviary and Butterfly Pavilion are quite extensive and if you’re enjoying it and taking lots of photos you could be there for at least an hour bringing you to about 5:00 or 5:30 pm
- Assuming the Mexico Xcaret Espectacular starts at 7:00 pm you should have time for some dinner or snacks. There are many restaurants and snack bars to choose from but we suggest you make your way towards the main theater so that you’re close and can go and get seats right after your meal. If you’re running late or aren’t overly hungry there are snacks like popcorn, hot dogs and ice cream at the theater.
- Whatever you do, don’t miss the Xcaret show! It truly is spectacular and is worth the price of admission alone. The theater is huge so you’ll usually always get a seat but we still recommend getting there at least 15 minutes before showtime to get good seats. The theater is open-air so there is no AC and as heat rises the lower you sit the cooler you will be. Plus you’ll be close to the action.
Nature Lovers Xcaret Itinerary
If nature is your primary focus and/or you have no desire to swim or snorkel you may want to follow the Xcaret eco theme park Nature Lovers Itinerary which takes in the abundant wildlife, flora and fauna in the park.
- Start your day the same way as the Live Dream Discover Itinerary but check the schedule for any nature related events to add into your day.
- Before going to the Rotating Scenic Tower stop in at the Regional Wildlife Breeding Farm (#15) and check-in at Nature and Culture Tours to see if there is a tour you are interested in.
- After the Scenic Tower stop by the Mushroom Farm (#17) and the Museum of Orchids (#18) before doing the Paradise River Raft Ride (#13)
- After the raft walk the Tropical Jungle Trail (#19) and visit Spider Monkey Island (#23)
- In the same vicinity you will find the aquarium, the Tapir’s and the deer shelter
- By this time you should be ready for lunch so pick a restaurant close by to relax over a tasty meal. Then maybe grab a hammock for a little nap.
- After lunch and nap you may want to try the exciting Sharks! Hands on Adventure (#40) or the Stingray Encounter (#43). Note: There is an additional charge for these activities.
- From there head to the Jaguar Island (#7) before heading to the Aviary and Butterfly Pavilion and Bat Cave (#32) where you will have plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful birds and butterflies.
- End your day as in the Live Dream Discover itinerary with a meal and the Xcaret Espectacular show.
Xcaret Itinerary for Water Lovers
If you love being in the water it’s easy to spend the whole day exploring the rivers, lagoons and beaches at Xcaret adventure park.
- Follow the Live Dream Discover Itinerary for the first half of the day.
- Once you’ve completed the Underground River swim head to the Water Activities Center (#30 on map) to see if there’s anything you want to do.
- You can spend the rest of the day exploring and playing at the snorkeling inlet, in the natural pools and on the pristine beach.
- There is also Snuba (#1 & #3), Snorkeling Tours (#1) and a Sea Trek Underwater Walk (#21) for an additional cost.
- Just make sure to be dried and dressed in time for the show!
Xcaret Cultural Itinerary
If your main interest is in learning more about the local culture there is plenty to keep you busy.
- Start your day the same as the Live Dream Discover Itinerary however pay extra attention to the posted schedule for cultural shows and cultural Xcaret activities.
- This itinerary will not be as structured as the others since you’ll want to plan around the showtimes. For this reason, we won’t list the order of things but instead, we just list the must see’s for lovers of culture.
- The Horse Exhibition is a beautiful display by Mexican charros and adelitas which combines the elements of Mexican horsemanship with typical music and colors of Mexico
- The ritual ceremony of the “Voladores” (#20) is a custom that expresses respect for nature and the spiritual universe. It’s really beautiful and awe-inspiring to watch. It’s usually on at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm but check the schedule for changes.
- The Pre-Hispanic Dances display the history and culture of these land through music and movement. The dances may change seasonally so check the program for times.
- The Sacred Mayan Journey recreates the ancient annual pilgrimage the Maya performed in canoes paddling towards the island of Cozumel to worship the goddess Ixchel.
- Seek out the various archaeological sites around the park to learn more about the history of these ancient people.
- The Hacienda Henequenera and the Museum of Mexican Folk Art is a representation of typical 19th-century mansion architecture and Mexican handicrafts.
- The Mexican Cemetery and Bridge to Paradise are great examples of the respect, humor and colorful symbolism that this culture brings to life and death.
- Emerge from the Xcaret jungle into a replica of an ancient Mayan Village where you can learn about their way of life, social organization, how they build their homes, and what they eat.
- Of course, you should finish the day with the best display of Mayan Culture at the Xcaret Espectacular Show.
Xcaret Prices for Admission
- Xcaret Regular Admission: Adults $124.99 USD (Admission only. See below for what is included)
- Xcaret Plus: $154.99 USD (Includes buffet lunch and additional facilities of the Plus Area)
- Xcaret Total: $156 (Inlculdes everything in Xcaret Plus along with 1 optional Xcaret activity like Snuba or Sea Trek)
- Xcaret at Night: $104.99 USD (Park admission after 4 pm)
- Shows, exhibitions and cultural tours
- Tours in Underground River
- Access to beaches, bays and natural pools
- Life jackets and inner tubes
- Lounge chairs, hammocks and rest areas
- Safety bag service during the river journey
- Restrooms, dressing rooms and showers
- Show “Xcaret Mexico Espectacular”, a musical journey through the history of Mexico
Xcaret Discount Tickets
- 10% OFF purchasing 7-20 days in advance. It does not apply for Packages or the Xperience Passport.
- 15% OFF purchasing at least 21 days in advance. It does not apply for Packages or the Xperience Passport.
- 20% OFF the purchase of packages of two parks or tours.
- 25% OFF the purchase of packages of three or more parks or tours.
- 50% OFF For children between the ages of 5 and 11. Kids under the age of 4 get free admission.
Note: We advise you to book online in advance as you will receive a 10-15% discount. Plus if you use our special Live Dream Discover link you will get a discount plus we will also make a small commission at no extra cost to you. and we will be truly grateful for the support.
Planning a trip to Mexico? Make sure you don’t forget anything with this checklist on what to pack for a beach vacation!
What to take to Xcaret
- With so many Xcaret activites in the water, swimsuit is probably the #1 item on this list
- Don’t forget a change of clothes to put on when you’ve finished your water activities.
- A waterproof bag comes in really handy to carry your phone and some cash. Click here to see our favorite phone pouch dry bag.
- Sunglasses are a must when you’re on land although you won’t need them when you’re snorkeling.
- A waterproof camera is highly recommended as you will be spending some of your time in the water. We captured so many great photos & video at Xcaret with our GoPro and couldn’t imagine traveling without it. The good news is the prices have dropped since we purchased a couple of years ago. Click here for pricing and reviews.
- Water shoes or flip flops are a good idea because you’ll be in and out of the water and having to dry your feet to put on shoes every time is a pain. You can pick up a good pair quite inexpensively if you plan ahead.
- A hat is a good idea as the Mexican sun is really strong and you don’t want to ruin your day with sunstroke. We love these waterproof, sunscreen hats when we travel in hot climates. They are lightweight, durable and fold up into nothing.
- Eco-friendly sunscreen is vital at Xel Ha water park, in fact it is required that you only use the reef safe type. They do sell it at the park but it is more expensive than buying your own before you go. You will need it in other protected areas on the Maya Riviera so it’s definitely worth purchasing a bottle.
Note: Lockers and towels are provided so you can safely store your camera and clothing when not in use.
Xcaret Review and Final Thoughts
We would definitely recommend a day trip to Xcaret when you’re in the Riviera Maya and if you can spare the time we’d even suggest two days. It’s clear why Xcaret is the flagship for the Experiencias group as it has a little bit of everything.
The activities at Xcaret Park are almost endless. You can learn about the Mayan culture and history, see native birds, animals and sealife, snorkel or boat along an underground river, relax on the beach or in a hammock and in the evening enjoy an incredible live show. Plus of course, there’s an abundance of food and drink options.
If what you’re looking for is a well-rounded experience that gives you a taste of all that this beautiful region of Mexico has to offer then you will not be disappointed in Xcaret. It’s a place for all ages and activity levels and is perfect for families, couples and groups of friends with similar or diverse interests.
However, if you are looking for a little less culture and more adventure check out Xplor Park for a day of adrenaline-pumping fun.
If your desire is to spend the day exploring a beautiful undersea world and enjoy all-inclusive food and drink then Xel-Ha may be more to your liking. We have a similar review of Xel-Ha if you are considering a visit.
If you are having a difficult time deciding between Xel Ha and Xcaret this comparison article will be of some help.
There are also several other Experiencias Xcaret Parks offering a variety of fun adventures and experiences so if you have decided that Xcaret is not for you there is bound to be a park that is.
If you want to continue the adventure after the park closes take a look at staying at Hotel Xcaret Mexico.
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through one of these links we may receive a small commission. This is just one of the ways we make a living that enables us to keep this blog going and keep our dream alive and we are truly grateful for your support. All opinions in this article are truthful and are 100% our own.
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Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.