the

Scenic highway 395 near Bishop, California.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Bishop, California.

Where are they going next? South, towards Death Valley National Park.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Visit to Xcaret theme park near Playa del Carmen, Mexico

On Thursday, we arranged a couple of vans to take us to the Xcaret theme park just south of Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Going to an amusement park is not something we would normally do in Mexico, but since it was one of the included tours with the RV caravan we are leading, we figured we might as well go and enjoy the experience. And ultimately, we did enjoy it.

Xcaret is a little different than your typical Disney style experience. There are no "rides" as such. Well, except for a small boat tour on a short narrow river. And everything is themed Mayan, or Mexican.

And because of the location by the water, and the geography of the area which includes underground rivers and cenotes, many of the activities are water based.

But only 16 of our group of 24 decided to experience the day at Xcaret. There is a lot of walking involved, and it's a full day. In fact, some of that group of 16 took a fairly expensive taxi back to the RVs mid day and then returned for the evening show.

By Mexican standards, Xcaret is not cheap. In fact, there's not much about the Mayan Riviera that is cheap. The Cancun to Playa del Carmen to Tulum corridor is certainly the most expensive part of Mexico with a lot of things geared towards tourists and priced in U.S. dollars. Everything at Xcaret is also priced in U.S. dollars. It costs $90 USD ($115 CAD, 1,675 pesos) for the full day entrance pass. Only 7 of us took full advantage of the entire day. There are also optional things like swimming with the dolphins and similar activities, but there is really no need to do any extras because you can't do the entire park in a day.

Everybody went their separate ways because people had different things they wanted to see or do. Ruth and I started out with Mike and Louise and went for a leisurely swim in an underground river...

Water temperature 22C (72F). 
A bit chilly for my liking, but I got in!

Everybody has to wear a life jacket.

Us, in the water!

They have locked bags in which to store your belongings while you do the river swim. I forgot to put my sunglasses in the locked bag and was afraid they would fall off my hat if I wore them on top!

Swimming into a tunnel.

Swimming under a waterfall.

Good thing for lifejackets because it's actually quite a tiring experience. That's the longest I've been in the water for years! There are about five different exits that you can use as you go along, but we did the whole thing.

Next up, we decided to go to the tower. This enclosed platform rises 26 stories and gives a great view of the area.

The Xcaret Tower.

The platform comes down, and you board for the ride to the top.

Great views, and everybody is seated while the platform slowly spins for the panoramic views.

Looking north towards Playa del Carmen.

The church at the Hacienda. The people sitting are not real.

The Mayan village.

All of the shows in Xcaret are included in the daily admission. We made it to the 1:00pm show of the Papantla Flyers. I took a video for you, but we don't have good enough wifi here at the Yax-Ha RV Park in Chetumal to upload it right now.

Climbing the pole.

 At the top.

Zoomed in. They are wrapping the ropes around the pole.

Then they let go and fly around the pole and drop down as the rope unwinds.

Neat stuff.

Then, we had to find some food.

This was going to be an issue because the Xcaret website states that no outside food or drink is allowed. But, they never checked bags so we could actually have brought something in. And of course, everything you buy in Xcaret to eat or drink is very expensive.

So, our choice was to take an expensive (250 pesos each way) taxi back to the RV park and eat our own food, or eat at one of the five buffet restaurants located in the park. If we went back to the RV park, we would lose at least two hours in the process.

We bit the bullet and went to the Mexican Kitchen restaurant for buffet lunch.

Cost was $30 USD ($38.50 CAD, 562 pesos) per person for lunch. Like I said, anything to do with Xcaret is ridiculously expensive by Mexican standards. 562 pesos for a buffet lunch. Yikes!

The consolation was that the lunch was all you can eat, and it was really good!

With very full stomachs, we continued exploring.

Next stop was the nursery.

Ruth, and the flowers.




There is a lot of birdlife, and the park has it's own aviary and breeding program. They have bred over 800 macaws in the last 20 years and released them free. Many of them still live in the park.



There is other wildlife in the park as well. This is a cuati.

We did the 15 minute boat ride.

 The water is crystal clear.

Much is natural, but of course some is not.

Flamingos.

Butterflies.

Birds.

All kinds of colorful birds.

This is a cute little one.

Too many photos. We took about 160 pictures and whittled them down to 60. Hard to decide which ones to show you here!

At a Mexican dance show.

And the equestrian show.

On our way to the 7:00pm "Mexico Espectacular" show.

The grand finale to the day is the two hour show that starts at 7:00pm. We had read that this is a "don't miss it" event, and it's true. All we could say was "wow". When they say it is spectacular, it really is.

Everybody getting seated for the show.








We spoke to everybody in our group who went to the final show, and everybody agreed it was fantastic.

Final thoughts?

It's a very touristy Mexican experience. And while the price is very expensive by Mexican standards, it's probably cheaper than a similar experience would be in the U.S. or Canada. And, it's not what we personally come to Mexico for, but obviously the entire Mayan Riviera is geared towards mainstream tourists.

But, the whole thing is very professionally done. We enjoyed it, and would probably go again to experience what we missed. You can't do the whole thing in a day. In fact, they will sell you a half price pass if you want to continue the next day.

We were there for a full 12 hours. Slept well Thursday night, but we were up at 6am to get ready for an 8am start to Chetumal. Next year, we need to plan Xcaret with a rest day prior to departure.

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And in Canada...



36 comments:

  1. One of your group emailed me to say they really enjoyed it. As you know we cancelled it in Fall due to the torrential rain, but maybe I should re-evaluate my prejudice against it. It is what it is. Approach it on that basis and it looks like fun.

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    1. Glad to hear that they enjoyed themselves, we did too. It is definitely not something that we would do on our own down here and it isn't our idea of what we come to Mexico for. It does however show off Mexico in a good way, especially to tourists who aren't going see non tourist areas of Mexico and what some of the traditional crafts, foods, dance, music and culture are like throughout different parts of the country.

      We went into it with a positive attitude and had a good time even though it is very touristy.

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  2. Despite the cost, it looks like a wonderful experience. Great pictures!

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    1. Yes, it was a good experience despite the cost. The evening show was almost worth the cost of the ticket itself!

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  3. Beautiful picture of the mot mot. Thanks for the info about Xcaret! Sounds like something we would like to do someday if we decide to be tourists!

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    1. Thank you! We saw a few mot mots in Colombia a few years ago but I had forgotten the name of it. They are a beautiful bird and most so in the wild.

      If you want to play tourist for a day then it isn't really a bad thing to do, just make sure to stay for the evening performance, definitely a fabulous show.

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  4. Glad you were able to experience the day as you wouldn't have gone on it on your own!

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    1. You are right, we would never have done it on our own. We would prefer to see the real thing as we are traveling through the country.

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  5. I am like you. I wouldn't have gone. I am glad I read your article and saw the photos. If I am in that area I will definitely go.

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    1. We definitely enjoyed ourselves and we really loved the evening performance but we have to admit that a lot of things in the park itself were very touristy. The grounds themselves are beautiful and we loved walking around some of the trails especially the trail that had the wild macaws and the fun to watch coatis. Some of the attractions are fake but are so well done in places it is hard to tell the fake from the real thing. I did like the way that they try to preserve the Mexican culture by showing the tourists many of the traditional songs and dance from the various states in the country because the majority of these people will never visit these areas themselves or perhaps it just might entice some of them to go a little further afield in Mexico.

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  6. When we went to Xcaret we enjoyed all of it but the night show was spectacular. We almost thought it alone was worth the admission!

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    1. We have to agree, the evening performance was definitely the highlight and was just about worth the admission alone. It was professionally done and was certainly equal to any Las Vegas performance.

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  7. That actually looks like an amazing place. Pricy but worth it. Thanks for great photos.

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    1. It actually surprised us, still a touristy thing but it was lots of fun and the evening show was fantastic.

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  8. Heard a lot about this park...from what I saw, I think the price of admission is worth it. Thanks for the beautiful pictures!

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    1. We pretty much have to agree that it was worth it but it was still very touristy in so many ways but at least it was well done. The landscaping was beautiful in the way that they tried to maintain the grounds and keep much of it in a fairly natural state.

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  9. Kevin, you are a great photographer, thank you. Yes, the Xcaret experience is a must, at least once. Im glad you guys got to live it. Continue enjoying mexico.

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    1. Thank you Mina, Kevin does do a wonderful job with our pictures.

      I am not sure that we would say, Xcaret is a must see thing but it was definitely a fun experience.

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  10. So for a couple going on their own, they would be lucky to do it for under $300 Canadian! I am glad you are sharing the photos as there is little chance we would go ourselves! :)

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    1. Yep, that is about right! I don't think it would really be your thing anyways Croft, just like it really isn't ours but because it is part of the caravan experience we went ahead and just enjoyed ourselves. Have to ask you though, how much would you pay to see a good Las Vegas show if you and Norma were to go to one?

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    2. That is a good question! We just might pay $100 for a show we really wanted to see like Elton John or Eric Clapton but tickets for those shows never go for that. Would we pay $500 for a ticket? No.

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    3. Which is what I more or less was trying to get at. You would be willing to spend $100 for a good show, of course Elton John doesn't go for that. The entrance fee into Xcaret was $89US and we have to admit that the evening show alone was almost worth that price and it was definitely Las Vegas quality, so you get that show and more for the same price. Having said that if we had to pay it ourselves we probably wouldn't even though it is probably worth the price but it is just not our thing!

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    4. I guess what really bothers me is the fact that whole coast is set up just to rip off tourists. I know Vegas is as well but the difference is 90% of the people watching the Vegas shows are Americans whereas I am sure only one or two Mexicans a day go into (can afford) the "Authentic Mexican Experience" theme park. It just bothers me to support them. And Mayans dancing with beer bottles on their heads is so offensive on so many levels although we went into that restaurant ourselves (without having the excuse of a caravan), LOL

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    5. We agree that whole area is just a tourist trap! You are wrong however on the fact that only a few Mexicans go to Xcaret, as there were a LOT of Mexicans in there although it is hard to tell who are Mexicans and who are tourists from Central or South America because there were quite a few of them as well.

      And maybe you missed Chris's comment the other day about the dance with the beer bottles but he said this is a true traditional Mexican dance that they used to do it at branding time. He mentioned that even Juan used to participate in this dance in performances that he and his troupe would do.

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    6. I did miss Chris' comment and was actually going to ask Juan about that dance. I am surprised.

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    7. We weren't sure ourselves until Chris confirmed it to us the other day. :-)

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  11. Well your pics and description make me want to go. We didn’t go when we were there last year as it seemed so touristy. Thanks for posting.

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    1. Well we have to admit that we are glad that we did go because if it wasn't for the caravan we would never have done it. The evening show was fantastic, we enjoyed it the most.

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  12. Oh my, what fun! Loved your pictures, showcasing so much of what you did, especially the bird and flower pics. Sure it was expensive, but what the heck, you can't take it with you! How often do you (or us for that matter) get to an amusement park, and one that offered you so much entertainment makes it all worthwhile.

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    1. It was actually fun but this is not what we come to Mexico for. It is certainly not something that we would ever have done on our own but we went in with an open attitude and made sure that we made the most of it and to have fun with it. It certainly isn't an "amusement" park but rather a theme park based on all things Mexican. For a tourist coming into the area to any of the all-inclusive resorts it is a great way to learn about Mexico and see some of the traditional songs, dance, crafts and even history of the country because most of those tourists will never experience the real Mexico.

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  13. Probably something I will never see so thanks for letting me see it through your camera lens. Glad you enjoyed it. The colourful costumes and the energetic dancing makes it and interesting show I bet. Safe travels.

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    1. Glad we are able to show you what you night never get the chance to see.

      The show was amazing and yes, the costumes were fantastic!

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