Inside: If you are heading to Xcaret in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, you will not want to miss these five amazing attractions + get an additional $5 off your reservation with code!
If you are reading this, you are most likely planning a trip to Xcaret in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. If that is the case, you are in for quite a treat! My husband and I went on an anniversary trip in 2018 to Cancun, and Xcaret was definitely a highlight. There are so many attractions available at Xcaret, that it can be somewhat overwhelming.
However, if you plan in advance and realize that you can’t see everything, you will have a great time. In this article, I will talk about five of our favorite attractions. At the end, I will also share some tips to save some money on your trip to Xcaret.
To read more about our experience at the Grand Park Royal Cancun Caribe Resort, click here.
What Is Xcaret?
Xcaret is described as a natural theme park loaded with over 40 attractions for people of all ages. It is located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and is named after the nearby archaeological site known by the same name. There, you can swim with dolphins, explore natural rivers, see breathtaking shows, and enjoy international cuisine. In sum, Xcaret is an activity that you really have to experience to truly understand.
With that said, we hadn’t anticipated going to Xcaret when we initially planned our trip. We had heard of it, but it wasn’t something that we thought we would have time to do. However, while at the resort, we decided to look into some fun excursions that we could do, and Xcaret came highly recommended by everyone. In the end, we decided to visit Chichen Itza and Xcaret and we don’t regret it at all!
How Much Does It Cost To Go To XCaret?
You are probably wondering how much it costs to spend a day at Xcaret. The good news is that you can pay the reasonable admission fee (click here for current rate) and have plenty to do all day. That said, many of the best activities have an additional cost, so it is important to plan and budget in advance. If you plan on eating lunch during the day and swimming in the underground rivers, I strongly recommend that Xcaret Total package, which includes a lunch buffet, a rental locker, snorkel fins rental, and one optional activity!
At the end of this article, I will share a few tips for saving money, but for now Click HERE to see current fees and to book your admission to Xcaret online in advance, saving 10% – 15% + an additional $5 off with code XC5-AF19 (valid through 2/14/2019).
Five Must-See Attractions At Xcaret
With that background, I am now ready to reveal five of our favorite attractions at Xcaret. Of course, there are many others to choose from, but you can’t go wrong if you plan these activities into your day.
1. Underground Rivers (included in park admission)
This was an absolutely breathtaking experience for both my husband and me. When someone told us we should swim in the underground rivers, at first I said I didn’t want to do it because I am not very good at swimming. I am so glad that I changed my mind!
Xcaret has three underground rivers (they say underground, but you can still see the surface almost the entire time). The three rivers are called the “Blue River”, the “Mayan River”, and the “Manatee River.”
The rivers are full of crystal clear water, and according to the website, average about 5 feet in depth. However, I feel like it was deeper since neither my husband nor I could reach the bottom at any point. Life jackets are required, and there are exits placed periodically throughout in case you want to leave before you get to the end (but I recommend that you don’t!).
If you have ever gone to a water park with a “lazy river”, that is basically what this is, but so much better! You will enter the river at the beginning, and choose which of the three rivers you want to follow. From that point on, you can swim or float around 650 yards to the end. As you swim through the river, you are surrounded by beautiful trees and caves. It is a great opportunity to really just relax and enjoy.
One great thing about the underground rivers (and Xcaret in general), is that it has photo stations throughout where you can scan your wristband, and have it take a picture of you. If you purchase the photo pass, you can download all of the pictures after your trip. The pictures are really high quality and eliminates the need to ask strangers to take pictures of you. Here are just a few of the pictures that we took.
Even though I am not a good swimmer, this experience was amazing. Trust me, you don’t have to know how to swim and you will have a great time.
Tips for Underground Rivers
- Do this at the beginning of your day. It will take you about an hour to get from one end of the river to the other, and they are on opposite sides of the park. At the entrance, you will put anything that you want to have at the end of the river in a large locked bag, and they will give it to you at the end.
- Take a waterproof phone carrier if you want to take videos or your own pictures. More about this in the tips at the end of the article.
- Buy the photo pass and take as many pictures as possible in the river. If you click on the “Recommendations” tab here, it will give you details on the photo pass. If you book your admission from this link, just check the box under “enhance your experience” that says “add photo pass”.
2. Swimming With Dolphins (separate fee)
Swimming with dolphins at Xcaret was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. That may sound like an exaggeration, but it truly was amazing. I had always dreamed of doing this, so when the opportunity arose, we decided to take the plunge.
There are a few different options for swimming with dolphins at Xcaret. Each includes different activities and have different price points. The three options are listed below from least expensive, to most expensive.
- Swim with Dolphins Interax. Including swimming with dolphins and close-up interactive with the dolphins.
- Swim with Dolphins Ride. Includes swimming with dolphins, riding a dolphin, and close-up interaction with the dolphins.
- Swim with Dolphins Primax. Includes swimming with dolphins, being pushed by your feet by the dolphins, and close-up interaction with the dolphins.
Since we were already spending quite a bit, we decided to go with the least expensive “Interax” option. When our scheduled time came up, we were split up into small groups with other people and taken down to the dolphin area. Each group had a guide that provided information about the dolphins and lead the group into the water.
From there, it was pure joy! We each got a turn getting a kiss from the dolphin before heading out into the water where multiple dolphins swam around us in circles. It was such a great experience and one that I would recommend to anyone!
Click HERE to book (narrow to Xcaret and scroll down).
Tips for Swimming with Dolphins
- Pictures are not included in the photo pass, unfortunately. You can buy a separate photo package for any of the dolphin activities and I recommend it. There are different options based on how many pictures you want, but we ended up spending around $130.00 USD. They will take pictures of you regardless and once you see the pictures it can be hard to resist!
- The dolphin area is not covered, so plan accordingly. We didn’t have any sunscreen left on us by the time we got to the dolphins, because it all washed off in the rivers. You may consider wearing a swimming shirt to you don’t get burned. I don’t burn easily, but my husband came away from this one a bit red.
3. Sea Trek (separate fee)
This was an unforgettable experience as well. The Sea Trek activity is so unique and awesome, that I have to recommend it as well. The Sea Trek activity consists slowly descending about 25 feet under the ocean surface and then walking along a path for about 25 minutes surrounded by beautiful sea life.
Since breathing is important, Xcaret provides you with an individual helmet that allows you to breathe as if you were on land. The helmets might make you feel like an astronaut, but they are obviously necessary and make this experience possible.
The only requirements (other than being at least 8 years of age), are that you know how to walk, breathe, and decompress your ears. You will have a short 10-15 minute instruction before entering the water and then you will walk on the ocean floor for about 25 minutes. There is a guardrail along the entire route and professional scuba divers are present to ensure everyone’s safety.
My husband and I loved this experience because we were able to see some amazing fish and other sea life close up in their natural environment. In case it isn’t clear, this does not take place in a pool or an artificial aquarium. You will actually be walking on the ocean floor and it is amazing!
Since we had our waterproof phone protector, we took a video the entire time.
Click HERE to book (narrow to Xcaret and scroll down)
Tips for Sea Trek
- They will take an underwater picture of you at one point during the walk. This is included in the photo pass and you can download it with the rest of your pictures. You can purchase the pictures individually as well if you don’t purchase the photo pass.
- If you take your own phone to take a video, you will be instructed to hit the “record” button before entering the water. Don’t forget to do this, otherwise, the pressure will be too strong and you will not be able to turn it on. This will result in a long video, but it is worth it.
- Practice decompressing your ears before you go under. You can easily reach your hand up under the mask without letting any water in to plug your nose, but they will give you some tips on decompressing your ears without your hands as well.
4. Aviary and Butterfly Pavilion (included in park admission)
We finished up at Sea Trek around 2:00 PM, and at our lunch buffet right after. When were done, we decided to check out some of the great nature exhibits that Xcaret has to offer. After consulting our map, we decided to check out the aviary and butterfly pavilion, because they were in the same section of the park. My husband was a little bit unsure if he would like it, but we were both amazed at how beautiful it was.
The aviary is truly outstanding. Not only does it give visitors the opportunity to see some gorgeous birds up close, but it also does so much for conservation. The aviary includes natural habitats where over 1500 Mexican birds can live, many of which are in danger of extinction. Xcaret’s scarlet macaw has gone a long way towards repopulating the jungles of southern Mexico, and the babies were so cute!
We really enjoyed the butterfly pavilion as well. It is one of the largest butterfly pavilions in the world and has over 20 regional species of butterflies. We went in the late afternoon, so there weren’t as many butterflies active, so if you have a chance to go in the morning you may see more. That said, the habitat that they have built there is beautiful and you will definitely enjoy it.
Tips for Aviary and Butterfly Pavilion
- Take your time and rest when you can. There is definitely some walking involved and it is pretty humid.
5. Xcaret Mexico Espectacular (included in park admission, unless you want assigned seats and dinner)
There are many shows going on at Xcaret, but this is one that you won’t want to miss. It starts at 7:00 PM and lasts for about two hours, but it is well worth waiting for!
The show takes through the history of Mexico, starting in the pre-hispanic days and continuing to the present. The beginning was so cool because they play some of the Mayan ball games and show you how it was actually done! One of the games was like an ancient hockey/soccer hybrid, using a flaming ball and wooden sticks. You have to see it to understand completely, but it was amazing.
My favorite part of the show was watching the Papantla flyers because they originated in my home state of Veracruz. The show also shows you regional dances from all around Mexico and it is quite the performance!
If you just want to see the show, you can go in with your standard admission. However, there is another option if you want to ensure that you get a seat and a nice dinner. If you purchase the dinner package, you will have a great seat and a meal that includes multiple courses of regional foods.
Since it was our anniversary, we decided to splurge and get a nice dinner as well. It was worth it just to have the assigned seats, and the dinner was really good too! Some of the courses were better than others, but I really enjoyed the majority.
Click HERE to book (narrow to Xcaret and scroll down)
Tips For Xcaret Mexico Espectacular
- If you don’t pay for the assigned seats and dinner, make sure you get to the theater at least 30 minutes early.
- Sit back, relax and enjoy the amazing Mexican culture. You may hear bad things about Mexico, but it is a beautiful country with an amazing culture.
How To Save Money At Xcaret
Although you can have an amazing time at Xcaret just with the price of admission, if you decide to do some of the optional activities, the cost can climb pretty quickly. That said, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so if you can afford it, it is well worth the cost.
To make it a little bit easier, I want to share a couple of tips that may help you save some money.
- Buy your waterproof phone protector in advance. If you are going to take pictures or videos in the rivers or any of the other underwater activities, you absolutely have to have a waterproof phone protector. We didn’t know about this in advance, so we ended up buying one at the park. Unfortunately, they go for about 30 USD at the park, which is pretty high. I recommend that you buy them in advance since you can get them for much less in advance. For example, you can buy a pack of two here for a much more accessible price.
- Buy your admission and extra activities online at least 21 days before your visit to save 15%. If you buy your tickets and extra activities ONLINE, a 15% discount will be applied at checkout.
- Purchase the Xcaret Plus or XCaret Total admission options. Both of these options include a lunch buffet that you can redeem at one of many restaurants on site. We went with the restaurant “La Cocina” and it was amazing. They had so many authentic Mexican dishes and it was unlimited! If you buy the XCaret Total admission, you get everything that is included in Xcaret Plus, but you also get to bundle one optional activity from the following: Adrenalina, Sea Trek, or Snuba Family. This is a good way to save a few dollars if you know that you are going to want to do one of those activities.
- Try to get a discount on your admission from your resort. You are able to purchase tickets to Xcaret at most resorts in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The downside to this is that in order to get a steep discount, most of the resorts require that you sit through one of their timeshare presentations. We did that in order to get a discount on our admission to Chichen Itza and Xcaret, but we had to waste two hours to do it. Learn more about that bad experience HERE. We were able to get admission and transportation for about 40 dollars less than we would have online. Even though we saved some money, it is still a safer bet to buy online and get the guaranteed discount than risking not getting the discount at your resort.
- If you don’t buy activities online, ticket agents on site may be able to give bundle discounts in person. Since we bought all of our activities and admission in person at Xcaret, the ticket agent that helped us authorized a bit of discount on our activities. We were able to save a decent amount that way, but it ended up being pretty close to what we would have been able to pay if we had planned ahead and purchased online with that discount. If you are only a few days away from your trip and are not eligible for the 10% or 15% DISCOUNT online, definitely ask for a discount in person!
- Consider bundling multiple parks to save. Experiencias Xcaret has more than just one park, and you can save if you bundle trips to 2-4 of the parks. Click HERE for details.
My husband and I had the most amazing experience visiting Xcaret. We were definitely tired at the end of the day, but it was worth it. Like I said above, we didn’t know much about Xcaret when we were planning our trip, but we are so happy that we found out about it.
Whenever anyone tells us that they are planning a trip to Cancun or Playa del Carmen, we are quick to recommend Xcaret and we hope that you will make the decision to go. I can assure you that you will have the time of your life and it will be an unforgettable experience.
Let us know in the comments below how your trip goes!