Xel Ha vs Xcaret – Choosing Your Adventure Park
Xel-Ha and Xcaret are two of the most popular and well-known eco parks in the Riviera Maya, and for good reason. They both offer a beautiful experience that is unique to the area, fun for the whole family, and a sure way to create lasting memories. Although these two parks are operated by the same company, they offer different experiences that may be hard to understand.
As such, we’ve created this post to help you look at Xel Ha vs Xcaret, and which one may be a better fit for your adventure. We will compare attractions, costs, food, bringing kids, and more. If you have any questions about the two, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us on our contact page. You can also book a tour to visit both Xcaret and Xel Ha to save some money ans get to see both on the Experiencias Xcaret website.
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Advantages of Xel Ha
Neither Xel Ha nor Xcaret are simply better. Instead, each have their benefits and downsides. Located between Akumal and Tulum, Xel-Ha is a park that has amazing snorkeling, a fair amount of free activities, and things to do for the whole family. It made our list of 7 Amazing Things to do in Akumal, and is definitely worth checking out. A few of the notable advantages of Xel-Ha over Xcaret are:
- Water Activities – Xel-Ha’s activites focus on the water activities and snorkeling. If you want to be in the water, swim around, and snorkel, Xel Ha is one of the best places to be.
- Food – One thing we love about Xel-Ha is that the food is included in your entrance price. You don’t have to worry about meals or costs while you’re in the park.
- Free Offerings – In addition to the included food, Xel Ha has many other activities that are included in the cost of admission. You can ride bikes around the lagoon, jump off cliffs, take a few ziplines, or slide down the awesome waterslides for no additional cost!
- Fish – Xel Ha has some amazing wildlife living in its lagoons. Although Xcaret has more animals in general, Xel Ha definitely has the better snorkeling and fish to see.
- Pricing – After visiting both parks multiple times ourselves, Xel-Ha is consistenty cheaper. This is partly because many activities are included, and you can have quite a bit of fun without paying extra. One of the major differences between Xel Ha and Xcaret is that you can entertain yourself for free once you’re in the park here.
Reasons to Visit Xcaret
Xcaret, on the other hand, is a park that doesn’t focus primarily on the water and swimming. It made our list of our favorite Playa del Carmen Tours, and for good reason. The activities span a wider range, and there are things to do that don’t involve being in the water as much. Xcaret is often a bit more crowded, but covers a large area. Here are a few reasons you may consider choosing Xcaret over Xel-Ha:
- Animals – Although Xel Ha has the better fish seeing, Xcaret has many more animals. There’s a butterfly pavilion, sea turtles, monkeys, tapirs, and a bird aviary. If you or your family love animals, Xcaret certainly has a great opportunity to visit with some.
- The Grand Show – Xcaret has a grand show at the end of every evening. Lasting about two hours, the show covers the history of the Mayan people, their downfall, Spanish settlers, and their culture today. With a few hundred participants, the grand show truly is grand, and an amazing experience to check out!
- Smaller Shows – In addition to the grand show, there are a ton of smaller shows and entertainment activities going on during the day at Xcaret. The smaller shows are almost like bits and pieces of the grand show, but they offer a look at local culture and history.
- Awesome Beaches – Unlike Xel-Ha, Xcaret has quite a few places to chill out. There are natural sandy beaches and many lounge areas. Although Xel Ha also has lounge areas and human-made beaches, the relaxing spots at Xcaret are a little bit better and more relaxing.
- More Activities – The activities are Xcaret do not all center around swimming, and there are quite a few more. There are underground rivers, caves, snorkeling, animal habitats, and more. There are more activities, but most of these cost a little bit extra.
The Difference Between Xel-Ha and Xcaret
Xel Ha and Xcaret are two parks that have many similarities and quite a few important differences. First, Xel Ha is a bit cheaper. Tickets to get in are more economical many times, depending on the season.. Furthermore, when you get in the park, there are more free offerings. Food is included, and you can snorkel or ride bikes for no additional cost. There are still activities with added costs at Xel-Ha (as there are at Xcaret), but you can do much more for less.
Next, the general vibe of Xel Ha and Xcaret are different. Xel Ha is more about being in the water, snorkeling, jumping off cliffs, and seeing the fish. It’s beautiful with clear waters, and an ideal location to spend your time. Xcaret is also an eco park, but it’s not as focused on just observing nature. You can see old Mayan villages, find live entertainment, see animal habitats, see recreations of chapels and towns, and much more. Xcaret is essentially a more active park while Xel Ha is a more relaxed place.
Xel Ha vs Xcaret with Kids
If you’re wondering if Xel Ha or Xcaret is better for your kids, here are our thoughts. If you want to be more active and give your kids entertainment, Xcaret is the right choice. If it’s toward the end of your vacation or you want a relaxing day, Xel-Ha is the place to go. It really depends on what your kids like. The animals, recreated areas, and entertainment make Xcaret a lot of fun and stimulating for kids. They’re unlikely to get bored, and there’s always something else to see and do.
Xel Ha or Xcaret for Adults
For adults, it depends again what you want to do. For those new to the eco-parks in the area, we usually recommend Xel-Ha for adults. Xel-Ha is a bit more laid back, romantic, and you will get more time to just be together. Whether you’re going with your partner or a group of friends, Xel-Ha usually provides more than enough activities and relaxation to keep you happy all day long.
Pricing at Xel Ha and Xcaret
As already mentioned, Xcaret has more added costs than Xel-Ha. Food is included as part of the cost at Xel-Ha, so this saves you money pretty quickly. Included in the entrance fee at Xel Ha is some alcohol consumption as well, which can be an even bigger saver of your wallet. If you’re looking flat-out at price, Xel-Ha is the easy winner here.
Food in the Parks
In our opinion, the food is better at Xcaret. However, neither are bad. Xel Ha and Xcaret are run by the same people, so the food is basically the same. However, there are generally more options at Xcaret. Both eco-parks serve food in a buffet style and have snack bars. At Xel-Ha, the buffet is included or you can pay to eat from the snack bar. At Xcaret, both cost money, with the buffet running around 30 USD a person. Overall, the food experience at Xel-Ha is better in our opinion because of the ease and no-extra-cost offering.
Deciding Xel Ha vs Xcaret for You
It can be hard to make a final decision. Don’t overdo the thinking process. Both parks are awesome, and you can’t go wrong either way. Whichever you choose, you’re bound to have some fun. If you’re unsure, flip a coin. Go to one or the other, or go to both during your stay! Remember there are also many other parks like Aktun Chen and the new park Xavage worth checking out as well!