Now this is Mexico! Xel-Ha represents the very best of what the Mayan Riviera has to offer. This stunning inlet features the perfect blend of adventure and relaxation in one amazing place. Xel-Ha is the world’s largest natural aquarium with endless fun for all ages.
Our day began with ice cream for the kids and icy bevvies for the adults to cool off after our drive to the park. One of the great features of Xel-Ha is their all inclusive pricing. Equipment rentals, food and drinks are included with the cost of admission ($79 per adult/50% off ages 5-12/FREE ages 0-4). You burn a ton of energy enjoying all the activities here, so the chance to grab a snack or refreshment during the day without having to carry a wallet in your bathing suit is a big bonus.
As we started along the path to find our first adventure my kids were delighted when we encountered a family of Coati. These furry little creatures are related to the racoon family and can be found most places in the Mayan Riviera. Except for being thieves (just ask the French-Canadian couple at our resort who had their cell phone and finger puppets stolen!), they are pretty harmless but are still wild animals, so as much as you want to pick one up and cuddle its cuteness, keep your distance.
Our first stop was the Rope Swing into the cenote (underground river) below. Xel-ha is one of most unique places in the world where the longest underground river in the world flows into the Caribbean Sea. During your visit, you can opt to swim in the salt water sea or, like us, jump into the fresh water of a cenote.
Speaking of jumping..I have no idea where my seven year old found the intestinal fortitude to take the leap off the Cliff of Courage. He saw it and without hesitation wanted to jump. He only learned how to swim a year and half ago but obviously found his sea legs along the way somewhere. I’m still not sure whether I should be super proud of him or completely horrified. I am his mother, after all. He is pretty impressed with himself and is currently enjoying the photos and the bragging rights that go along with his prowess.
There are over 30 attractions to keep you busy at Xel-Ha but in my opinion the very best one is floating along the Xel-Ha “lazy” River. The river float begins under a mangrove canopy and then leads out to 1.3 kms of river. You can choose to float, swim, snorkel and simply have fun along the way. Bordering the river, there are activities that are accessible by a walking trail or you can park your floaties and pop out to have some fun. Getting there by floating “bubbles” as my three year old called them was our preferred method of transportation at Xel-Ha. Tip: Get the easy to manoeuvre single bubble and not the fun-to-say but difficult-to-drive ‘double bubbles’.
Along our lazy river ride, my son discovered his very first zipline. There were two options to zip into the water, with three different platforms to scoot from. The first one is a little hammock-like seat that props you up and the second is a T-bar you hang from. After zipping 5 or 6 times we had to nearly drag our son away with promises of more ziplines to come in the week ahead.
Our final stop to burn off the last whiff of our children’s steam was Children’s World, a play area made especially for young kids. A huge tree house with a massive jungle catwalk, water slides, a wading pool, crafts and other exciting kid-friendly things made this spot the hardest to pull both our children away. When we finally managed to gather our exhausted kids up, we spent a bunch of time going through all the pictures that the park employees took throughout the day. We whittled the stack down to four great photographs to give us fond memories of this amazing slice of paradise during the cold winter months in Alberta. There is no shortage of things to do at this amazing Mayan Riviera attraction that truly highlights the best of the what a Mexican vacation has to offer. Xel-Ha is definitely on the top of our list to revisit during next trip to the area.
Xel-Ha Contact Information:
Km 240 Carretera Chetumal Puerto Juárez, locales 1 & 2, módulo B,
Xel-Há, Quintana Roo MÉXICO, C.P. 77780
Phone: 1-888-922-7381 Toll Free from Canada
Cost: $79.00 per adults, 50% off ages 5-12, FREE for ages 4 and under
Hours: Open 365 days a year from 8:30am – 7:00pm
A big thank you to Xel-Ha for hosting our family’s visit to their amazing natural aquarium.
For more great ideas of family fun things to see and do in the Mayan Riviera, be sure to visit www.RivieraMaya.com.