Even though I watched some videos of Xcaret Park before our visit to Quintana Roo, Mexico, I was still unsure about what to expect when we got there. Xcaret Park is probably one of the most random and most fun theme parks I have personally been to. In the post I will try my best to explain what to expect when you visit. You may also find it useful to watch our Youtube video to see some of the park in more detail.
We made our own way to Xcaret Park without joining a tour or getting a bus as this was sure to be a less stressful way of arriving. I had already booked online so when we arrived I needed to take my printed booking, my passport and my debit card to the ticket window outside the park. We got there at park opening time and there was no queue for this. My documents were checked and we were given paper wristbands to wear. These are necessary to get into the park, to eat, get the locker key and use the cameras for photos. We bought Xcaret plus tickets as they included food and lockers.
After getting our wristbands, we walked down the path to the entrance where we scanned our bracelets at the turnstiles. We then walked through the large shop to the park. Halfway through the shop we noticed a container of eggs and suddenly realised some were hatching as we watched and we were the first to see tiny newborn quails!
Xcaret Park is huge! There is a lot of walking involved and, though there are maps throughout the park, you don’t get given a map so the best thing to do is take a photo of one of the signs to look at on your phone. Once you get your head around the map it is fairly easy to find your way around. This is due to a clever system where coloured lines on the map correspond to actual coloured lines on the floor. There are also little information huts throughout the park where staff members are very helpful.
We first found our way to the Xcaret plus area which is where our lockers were. To get a locker key, you go into the shop and your wristband will be scanned. They try to give you the least amount of lockers they can so if you would rather have more than one locker with more space, I suggest splitting your party and going into the shop separately.
Near to the shop and lockers you will find changing rooms and toilets. We didn’t get changed yet as I had spoken to a nice man in the information box outside the locker area who had recommended we do the dry part of the park first. We left our swimming stuff in the locker for later and set off to find the raft ride.
The raft ride had no queue, however it was a good 20 minute walk to get to the raft from the entrance. Along the way there were animals to look at, a plant house and a jungle to walk through. Just before the raft was a cave to walk through which was a dark tunnel.
We were loaded onto a raft straight away. There are bench seats on the rafts with no seat belts. We were seated 4 to a bench with other families on the other benches and the staff member driving the raft from the back. If you can, get on the front row or wait for the next boat as we were in the third row and those of us in the middle couldn’t see much. The raft ride is a slow, gentle ride round a crystal clear river with very picturesque scenery to look at.
After our raft ride we walked back to join the main path and ended up near some mayan ruins. We followed the lines on the floor to the park entrance and then joined the white line which is the one that took us around the dry part of the park. The white line on the floor was very useful as a guide to where to go and as long as you follow it you will be fine.
There was a lot of walking involved in this next part of our adventure. We followed the line though dark caves, stumbling occasionally on riverside things to look at, until we came out near a pyramid. At the front was a cave entrance down which we could see candles burning and up the steps was a graveyard. We went first to look at the cave and the candles with their wall of wax before making our way up the steps and following the sign through the graveyard. The graves were elaborately decorated and very colourful.
Opposite the exit to the graveyard was a shop which provided some much needed air conditioning as the day we visited it was very hot. The shop sold all sorts of death themed memorabilia. From the shop we followed the white line up the hill where we found a huge church. Next to the church was the entrance to the aviary.
The aviary is massive, the biggest I have ever seen, with impressive walkways, waterfalls, a long wobbly bridge across the middle, stepping stones and plenty of picturesque photo opportunities. We saw lots of birds including brightly coloured parrots who repeated the word “hello” to me.
After the aviary was the butterfly enclosure. Again, this was a huge jungle-like area with beautiful and brightly coloured butterflies to look at. At the end of the butterfly house was a huge room with a stained glass roof and a fenced hole in the floor down to the underground river.
We continued along the white line, following signs to the jaguars until we found them, and then carried on down the path to the international buffet restaurant. There are numerous restaurants throughout the Xcaret Park and Xcaret Plus tickets include one meal with unlimited soft drinks and a beer. I was recommended the international buffet for its range of food and it didn’t disappoint.
We were seated at the edge of the restaurant which was outside with a view of the jaguars. Drinks were ordered from the waiter and you helped yourself to food from the buffet. Because of covid everyone had to wear a mask when not seated and staff members were giving out hand sanitiser at the buffet before you got the plates. The range of food was amazing and this truly was the best buffet out of all the Xcaret parks we visited. There was everything from friendly options such as fries, burgers and hot dogs to adventurous options such as fried cactus and everything in between. As a vegetarian, I thought this was one of the best buffets I had been to because there were so many options to choose from. While we were eating a caribbean band started playing which made the meal even more special.
After lunch we made our way back to the lockers which turned out to be another pretty but long walk. We changed into our swimming stuff and headed to the river bag station next to the lockers. Because the rivers take you to the other end of the park they have a great system where you put everything you want with you but that you want dry in a bag. They padlock the bag and give you the key on a necklace then take the bag to the other end of the river for you to pick up when you get there. If nothing else, you need to put masks in the bag as they are needed to get through the shop at the exit to the river. You could also put your towels and shoes in there for the walk back. We saw a lot of people with water shoes, which on reflection is a great idea as we ended up walking back to the lockers in bare feet and it is again a long way.
Next we picked up our life vests, which are compulsory, and walked down the path to the river entrance. There are three different rivers to choose from. We chose by spinning a wheel at the entrance and headed to the green river. The entrance to the river was in a cenote type cave and initially the crystal clear water felt cold but it was due to the air temperature being hot and it was fine once we were in. The river has a very slow moving current and it is deep a lot of the way. The current carries you but you may also want to swim as it is very slow. There are exits along the river so you can do parts of it rather than go the whole way. The whole river took at least 45 minutes for us to get down as it is a long way. We loved it though! We swam between tall walls, through numerous caves and tunnels including a bat cave, through mangroves and past interesting exhibits. There were photo opportunities along the way. This was definitely our favorite experience at the park and if we had had time we would have tried the other two rivers.
At the end of the river we picked up our belongings from our locked bag and walked out through the shop to find ourselves at the coast! There were sandy areas with hammocks to rest in and swimming areas next to the sea which were closed as the sea was too rough. We did manage to see a giant crab though, which was washed up by the waves. Around the corner was a snorkeling area and more seating areas with beach huts, tables and chairs. In this area is a speed boat ride which you can pay extra for.
There is also an area in the park for under 12’s including an area with water slides, tunnels, and hanging bridges, as well as climbing nets, obstacles, and labyrinths. There are kids cenotes to play in. For children under six years old, there’s a wading pool, a sandbox, and water jets. The kids area has its own bathrooms and dressing rooms and a snack shop. It is compulsory for children to wear life jackets in this area and for parents/carers to stay with them.
There are extra activities which you can pay to do at Xcaret Park including sea treks, swimming with dolphins, sharks or stingrays, speed boats, massages, fish spa, paragliding and snuba but these aren’t in your face and honestly, if it’s your first visit, I wouldn’t book them. We spent the whole day at the park doing the free activities and ran out of time to finish them – if anything, we could have spent another day there to do the other river swims and snorkeling. There are also many shows throughout the day which we missed all bar one that we stumbled on and an impressive show at the end of the day which we also missed. There is plenty to do at this park without spending extra money.
Even after visiting, I’m not entirely sure how to describe the park in one sentence. It is a cross between a water park, a museum, history site, zoo, jungle and theme park! We absolutely loved our day at Xcaret Park and we would definitely visit again to do the rest of the activities and shows we didn’t have time for. Tickets to the park aren’t cheap at £81 for over 12’s and £40 for 5 to 11 year olds just for park entrance or for Xcaret Plus tickets it is £110/£55 however as theme parks go, it is a great one. There are photo points around the park where you can scan your wristband and have your photo taken. You can then purchase your photos to download at the end of your visit. Be aware you pay per person in the pictures and not per wristband. We thought we could scan one wristband and pay for one lot of pictures but it turned out we needed to pay for 4 people which would have cost 99 US dollars. We decided against the pictures as we had only had about 30 taken.
Taking an autistic child to Xcaret Park?
There is a LOT of walking involved and the park is HUGE – you wouldn’t want to lose a child here so you would need to keep them close by you at all times. You could do the park with a pushchair/wheelchair but some paths may be tricky as there are hills and steps as well as stepping stones and a rope bridge in the aviary. You can however avoid the aviary.
The buffet had fries, burgers and hot dogs.
It is necessary for every guest to wear a wristband.
We didn’t queue at all for anything and the park didn’t seem crowded. The only points where there were more people were at the lockers, the entrance and exit to the river (but along the river we hardly saw anyone) and at the restaurant, but it still didn’t seem crowded as there was a lot of seating and we were outside at the edge. I presume some of the shows, especially the main show, could get busier. We left before this started as all the other activities closed and we wanted to avoid it.
The life vests were a little uncomfortable, especially the strap between the legs.
It never felt loud, there isnt noticable background music but there was a band playing at lunch, you can see this on our Youtube video.
Paths are not particularly smooth, you might want water shoes.
There are animals, birds and butterflies to look at.
There are shops you need to walk through at times.
There are a lot of dark caves and tunnels around the park in both the dry areas and the rivers. Feel free to watch our Youtube video to see some of these.
There are some areas where paths are up high or you can look down holes to caves below. The rope bridge is high up and wobbly. There are rivers you come alongside at times. Close supervision is necessary, especially if your child likes to climb.
Areas of the park are by the sea.
There are lifeguards in the children’s area and CCTV.
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