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Vamonos to Mexico » Travel Guide » Xel-Ha Park: 16 Attractions Not to be Missed

Xel-Ha Park: 16 Attractions Not to be Missed

  • Joel CZ 
  • 15 min read
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No doubt that Xel-Ha has become a trendy and sought-after attraction in Quintana Roo. This ecological park is only an hour and a half from Cancun.

It has a territory of 84 hectares where you can do activities such as snorkeling, river tours, and many other exciting things.

Xel-Ha has a sustainable tourism certification by EarthCheck that makes it the first park in the world to obtain it since 2014.

Its name comes from the Mayan language, “Xel” means piece or entrance, and “Ha” means water, so Xel-Ha translates as “water entrance.”

Now come with me to show you what this fantastic park offers and all the incredible things you can do here.

1. Relax at the Xel-Ha Spa

xel-ha park
Source: Adriano Badaraco / flickr

Who doesn’t like to relax? Xel-Ha offers a magical place for your relaxation.

I know that when you go on vacation, you want to rest, relax and pamper yourself.

Inside the spa, you will find peace with massages and Mayan handcrafted treatments next to nature. It will be your favorite place.

It is one of the most popular activities at Xel-Ha since its massages combine natural ingredients and physiotherapeutic techniques that will leave you feeling renewed.

Finally, when the session is over, you will be given a glass of delicious wine that will make your stay even more pleasant.

You can choose a modern massage or pre-Hispanic techniques, complemented with handmade rituals to connect with your being.

I also recommend you ask for the chocolate treatment. You will love it!

Don’t forget to make your reservation before arriving at the park as it can get busy.

2. Watch the Manatees

xel-ha park
Source: David Alexander Elder / flickr

Where to see manatees in Cancun? Not only will you see them, but you can also swim with them here at Xel-Ha Quintana Roo Park.

Although manatees are mammals that live in shallow waters and coastal swamps, they are usually solitary but super curious.

You should also know that they weigh between 300 and 500 kg, their diet is seaweed and sea grass, and they eat between 30 to 50 kg during the day.

Manatees can submerge for approximately 20 minutes, and believe it or not, they are related to elephants.

They replace their teeth very often, unlike us, which only happens once. I’m sure the tooth fairy has a lot of work to do with them.

They are also endangered, and this activity aims to make people aware of how we can help them.

You can swim, feed and touch them. They are sensitive to touch, so don’t be too rough. The activity lasts 40 minutes.

3. Mangroves

In Xel-Ha Mexico Park, there are four types of mangroves:

White, black, red, and botoncillo mangroves. They serve as a shelter against extreme weather for many animals.

How many mangrove species are there in the world?

About 70 species of mangroves provide a home for many terrestrial, marine, and aerial species.

Mangrove trees withstand salt and fresh water because they are adapted to living in flood ecosystems.

They are so important that without them, 18 million people around the world could suffer from floods every year in addition to other natural disasters.

Countries like China, Vietnam, and Mexico, among others, save billions of dollars in damages thanks to mangroves.

It is a beautiful place where you can get in touch with nature, besides enjoying stunning views for breathtaking photos.

4. Discover the cenotes of Xel-Ha

xel-ha park
Source: Diana Sanchez / flickr

Cancun’s Xel-Ha park has protected areas of two cenotes: the Paraíso and the Aventura.

Unfortunately swimming in them is prohibited.

The jungle of Quintana Roo has a territory of 50 km where you will find around 57 cenotes, one of the most beautiful things to see in Xel-Ha.

The Mayas considered the cenotes super sacred places where the priests communicated with their gods.

How deep are cenotes? The depth of the cenotes can vary. On average, they range from 10 to 40 meters deep.

Although in the state of Tamaulipas, there is the deepest cenote in the world with a depth of 339 meters, and its name is “El Zacatón.”

There are four types of cenotes in the form of a pitcher, cavern, open and ancient.

Several scientific researchers have defined that cenotes are the product of the meteorite impact that extinguished the dinosaurs.

5. Have fun at the Ziplines

If you are a lover of extreme sports, in Xel-Ha Cancun, you will find a zip line with a distance of 400 m, a height of 20 m, and a speed of 30 km/h.

The zipline is called Salpichanga, it has six lines, and you can ride in a hammock or on a swing, an activity with incredible views.

Before the zipline was used for tourism, its primary purpose was quickly transporting the military to move to inaccessible places.

Ziplines consist of a system of cables inclined at different heights that are hooked to a pulley to move the adventurers by means of harnesses.

Did you know that the longest zip line in the world is 2,530 m long, called “Toro Verde,” which is in Puerto Rico?

Pay attention to the guides for your safety. Although ziplining is generally safe, accidents can happen.

6. Caleta, Xel-Ha’s Cove

xel-ha park
Source: Dan / flickr

One of the most popular places in Xel-Ha is its cove that reaches the Caribbean Sea, which makes it one of the most extraordinary things to do here.

Several freshwater rivers flow into the cove, which together form part of the most comprehensive subway river system in the world.

Don’t forget to swim with snorkel equipment to see more than 400 species of animals and plants of many colors and sizes and take pictures.

In the currents of the cove live more than 90 species of fish that you can see diving into the sea. One of them is the pink snail.

Its depth is 4 to 6 meters and is open from 10:00 to 16:00 hrs. If you take your children, they must know how to swim and be at least eight years old.

Also, consider that the tour is 1 hour, where 10 minutes is a safety briefing, 10 minutes to put on your diving equipment, and 40 minutes of free time.

7. Swim with dolphins at Xel-Ha

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Source: Dave Young

One of the things we all want to do is share a beautiful moment with our smiling aquatic friends.

Not only can you swim with them, but you will receive kisses and greetings, feed them, and play with them.

The guides will tell you the most important things you should know about dolphins.

How much does it cost to swim with dolphins?

There are three packages to choose from

  • Encounter
  • Swim adventure
  • Royal swim

These packages range from 1,399 to 2,299 pesos (70-110 USD).

A curious fact is that dolphins inspire the sonars of the submarines since they communicate with this sound.

They also have a unique name, and marine biologists discovered that when a female gives birth, she emits a sound several times, giving a name to the baby.

To swim with the dolphins, you must be at least eight years old and be a good swimmer.

You will be able to spend 1 hour with them: 15 minutes of instructions and 45 minutes of free time.

8. Explore the Subway Rivers

As you will see, Xel-Ha has a system of subway rivers that pass through its cove and are the longest in the world.

These rivers are formed by rainwater that is not lost by evaporation and reaches the subway caves that flow into the sea.

Believe it or not, there are also artificial subway rivers. Humans create these with the excavation of mines or urban development.

Also, in these rivers, you can find blind fish since they are born in the dark and don’t need to see daylight to survive.

The trajectory of the rivers is not always underground, as there may be parts where it reaches the surface, such as the Xel-Ha creek.

The “San Actun” subway river is 155 km long and is located in the Mayan Riviera, then the Ox Bel Há with 146 km, and the Dos Ojos river with 58 km.

9. Sea Trek

xel-ha park
Source: Experiencias Xcaret / flickr

You are wrong if you thought you couldn’t walk at the bottom of the sea! “Sea Trek” allows you to do this by diving into the depths.

What is Sea Trek? A tourist diving adventure where you can interact in their natural habitat with all the animals and plants you find.

For this activity, you will wear a helmet with which you will breathe underwater, and its primary function is that you can withstand small sea currents.

The helmet’s weight is about 35 kg, with which you will be able to dive and stand underwater accompanied by professional divers.

Did you know? Sound propagates underwater ten times faster than air. That’s why you can hear more easily what’s happening around you.

I recommend you to go to Sea Trek in your first days as it is not advisable to take a plane after diving because of all the dissolved nitrogen.

Because of the plane’s altitude, our body converts the nitrogen into bubbles in the blood so your pressure can drop.

10. Speedboat

Are you a fan of speed? Well, in Xel-Ha, you will find an activity you love: the Speedboat.

You will enjoy going at full speed on the turquoise blue waves over the Caribbean Sea.

The captain will make 360° turns, making you go crazy and dive under the water at full speed.

You will cross the waves at a speed of 90km/h, plus.

Also, the Speedboat is designed to carry 35 people on board, the captain is a certified guide, and everyone will wear a life jacket.

The activity takes 30 minutes, of which 5 minutes are for safety instructions, 20 minutes for the tour, and 5 minutes to disembark.

You can bring a camera to record videos or take pictures, but the park is not responsible for its loss, so always bring it with you.

11. Admire the Meliponarium

xel-ha park
Meliponine bee ceremony – Source: Experiencias Xcaret / flickr

What is a Meliponarium? It is a nursery that takes care of an essential insect for the Mayas. I am talking about the “meliponine bee.”

The Mayas considered these insects sacred because of the healing values of their honey, which was harvested twice a year in a special ceremony.

These ceremonies were carried out in June and December during full moons only. It is worth mentioning that this ceremony still takes place today.

The person in charge of the ceremony was the Mayan priest, accompanied by musicians, floral decorations, traditional altars, and an abundant feast.

You may want to read: What is The Mayan Route? A Road Trip Adventure You Cannot Miss

Meliponine bees don’t have a stinger, so they cannot defend themselves, which is why their honeycombs are built inside the trunks known as “jobón.”

Their honey is curative as it removes ailments such as coughs and sore throats, fevers, bites, digestive disorders, and wound healing.

12. Snuba, an aquatic activity at Xel-Ha

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Source: steven.i / flickr

What is Snuba? It is a breathing system that allows you to snorkel with new diving technology—allowing you to dive up to 5 meters.

The term “Snuba” comes from the company “Snuba International,” dedicated to new technologies for professional diving and tourism.

It is an activity that will leave you enchanted with all the beauties you will find underwater and with which you can swim.

The activity lasts 1 hour: 10 minutes for safety instructions, 10 minutes to practice on the dock, and 40 minutes of free time in the water.

What is the difference between Snuba and Sea Trek?

The difference is that you swim in Snuba and have a breathing system that is only enough to submerge 5 meters.

Sea Trek is all about walking underwater. Although they sound like the same activities, the experience is totally different.

13. Stone of Courage

If you go swimming through the river, you will find a stone about 5 meters high which is famous because many people dive from it.

The stone has ropes and cracks that will help you climb it so you can jump like “Tarzan.”

The locals gave the origin of its name because many times, the people who climbed the stone were afraid to jump, but those who do are called “brave.”

14. Fun at the Xel-Ha Lighthouse

vamonos to mexico
Source: Jerry Bowley / flickr

If you thought lighthouses were boring and only there to warn boats close to land, Xel-Ha will change your thinking.

For starters, the lighthouse is an important tourist attraction in the park because, from the top, you will have a breathtaking view of the Mayan Riviera.

How tall is the Xel-Ha lighthouse? The lighthouse is 40 meters tall, and you can slide back to the park on four incredible slides that will take you to the water.

The slides are in a spiral shape hugging the lighthouse. It is a spectacular and innovative way to turn a boring lighthouse into a super fun one.

Xel-Ha, since pre-Hispanic times, was a commercial port and lodging for many sailors, so the lighthouse also serves as a reminder of the past.

The climbing requirements are that you must be over 1.10 m tall, weigh less than 110 kg, and preferably not climb if you are pregnant. All this is for your safety and fun.

15. Zip-Bike

xel-ha park
Source: Tips de Viajero / flickr

If you are a fan of the movie E.T., especially the flying bicycle scene, and you imagined doing something like this, Xel-Ha can make your wishes come true.

Here you will find the flying bicycles that will take you to the clouds; this activity starts in a palapa where you will be given safety equipment.

Then you will board your bike, which only one person can get on, and move forward. You will have to paddle as you would on a regular bike.

The name Zip-Bike combines two fun activities: zip line and bicycle. The tour lasts 30 minutes with a height of 7 meters.

Undoubtedly an activity that you will remember for a long time. Imagine the pictures you can take and share with your friends; you will not regret it.

16. Admire the local Trees in Xel-Ha

Trees are the lungs of our planet, the manufacturers of our oxygen, and providers of spectacular views. I will tell you about some of the trees you will find here. 

The Cocotera palm is 20 to 30 meters tall, it has gray bark, and its leaves can reach up to 6 meters long.

Another tree you will find is the Zope tree, famously known as “elephant’s foot,” this tree grows fast and can reach 40 meters in height.

Then we have the Cacao and chocolate trees. One of its curiosities is that its fruits don’t grow on the branches but directly from the trunk.

There is also the Guaya tree. You will see it at sea level, and it can grow up to 100 meters. Its fruit is of medicinal use and supports the immune system.

With the Chicozapote chewing gum tree, archaeologists say that our ancestors used to make chewing gum because of its sticky resin.

Conclusion

As you’ve seen, this incredible and admirable park shows us that we can share, enjoy and evolve with nature.

Xel-Ha sends a clear message to the world where it reminds each one of its visitors how beautiful, wise, and fun nature is.

It is up to us to make a change to improve the quality of life of each species with which we share this planet.

I look forward to your anecdotes, and I hope you tell me how it went. Vamonos!

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