Mexico’s Mayan Riviera is a hugely popular place to visit and for good reason. We all know about the world-famous white sand beaches and glistening turquoise colored water and the amazing Mayan ruins. But did you know there is a wide variety of eco parks in Mexico as well?
These eco adventure parks showcase the natural wonders of the Riviera Maya region (the jungle, ocean, cenotes and wildlife) and put it all together in a mix of fun, learning and adventure.
We received some of the products mentioned below on a promotional basis. This post contains compensated links.
Here are six Mexico eco parks we loved:
1. Xcaret Eco Theme Park
The Xcaret Group knows how to build great eco-adventure parks! They operate five theme parks in the Riviera Maya, including the Xcaret eco park, which is a proud three-time winner of the Travvy Award for “Best Park in the World” in 2016, 2017 and 2018!
The Xcaret natural adventure park sits on a remarkable piece of land, with acres of dense jungle hugging the shoreline of the beautiful Caribbean Sea.
Xcaret Park offers an incredible amount of amazing nature, cultural and adventure activities. You’ll enjoy the Xcaret underground river, all kinds of animal exhibits, swimming with dolphins, sharks or stingrays, a really fun Children’s World, a Butterfly Pavilion, and so much more.
If you only go to one eco-adventure park during your stay, you really can’t miss visiting one the best eco parks in the world. We recommend buying your Xcaret admission tickets in advance to save between 10-25%.
For more information on visiting the excellent Xcaret eco park, please visit to our two full-length blog posts:
Hotel Xcaret Mexico
It’s worth mentioning that if you are a big eco park fan, you may want to consider staying at the Hotel Xcaret Mexico. This all-inclusive resort is located next to Xcaret Park and includes admission to all the Xcaret parks, transportation between the parks, food and beverages and an airport shuttle.
2. Xel-Ha Eco Park
Xel-ha Hidden Wonder is an amazing all-inclusive eco adventure park by the Xcaret Group.
Located right on the beautiful Caribbean Sea, Xel-Ha has a large, protected inlet perfect for snorkeling. One of the main attractions at the Xel-Ha eco park is a relaxing float on an inner tube down the lazy river.
If you enjoy eco adventure activities, you can park your tube at many of the exciting activities along the Xel-Ha river such as aquatic zip lines, the Cliff of Courage, rope swings, etc.
Xel-Ha offers a wide selection of adventure activities such as swimming with dolphins, manatees or stingrays, SNUBA, zip-bikes and high-speed boats.
A visit to Xel-Ha with kids is made extra special with a visit to the fun Children’s area complete with a floating lily pad walkway.
Make the most of your visit with our Top 23 Tips to Visit the Xel-Ha Eco Park.
Similar to Xcaret, you can save a lot of pesos by purchasing your Xel-Ha adventure park ticket online in advance. Save even more money, by buying an Xcaret & Xel-Ha package deal.
3. CROCO CUN ZOO
The fun and interactive CroCo Cun Zoo is located just north of Puerto Morelos. This animal rescue zoo is a good activity on a hot, sunny day as it’s set in a dense jungle.
Your visit to this fun Riviera Maya zoo includes a guided tour with stops at many different animal stations. Animals on display at this eco-park include: parrots, lizards, iguanas, crocodiles, spider monkeys, peacocks, deer, snakes, hairless dogs, etc.
There are many interactive moments at the CroCo Cun Zoo where you or your kids can touch or feed the animals. For example, your kids will love feeding the parrots and the small deer. The question is, are you or your kids brave enough to hold a baby crocodile or put a boa constrictor over your head?
4. Kantun-Chi Park
Located just 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen is the beautiful Ecopark Kantun-Chi. This small eco park is home to four cenotes set within a beautifully manicured jungle.
Our favorite Kantun-Chi cenote was #4. This amazing cenote is nearly completely underground, with only a little natural light permeating in.
Kantun Chi cenote #4 has a stunning setting with a gentle river stretching left & right and the roof of the cave not too far from your head. The water wasn’t very deep in this cenote and there are large rocks you or your kids can stand on inside the water.
Getting to this Kantun-Chi cenote is half-the-fun with a 10 minute walk through the dense jungle. If you don’t feel like walking, Kantun-Chi operates a little horse-drawn wagon to this cenote, although this service seems to only operate during busy periods.
Kantun-Chi cenote 3 is a large, open air cenote surrounded by lush vegetation, with two kayaks available for use. There are two man-made islands in the middle of the cenote, each with a hammock to spread out on.
The other two cenotes at ecopark Kantun-Chi are found within large caverns with openings to the jungle on one side.
Lifejackets are mandatory at the Kantun-Chi park, but they included in the ticket price. Also included in the Kantun-Chi price are change rooms, showers and storage lockers (with a refundable 100 peso deposit).
- Kantun-Chi is a 100% natural eco park. To protect the cenotes, tanning creams, sunscreen and repellents are not allowed. Organic insect repellent is provided, and they recommend wearing a sun shirt for your sun protection.
- You can save 10% on your Kantun-Chi admission by booking online.
- Combine your visit to the Kantun-Chi eco park with a visit to the beautiful, seaside Tulum Mayan ruins with this private tour.
5. Akumal Monkey Sanctuary
The Akumal Monkey Sanctuary is located approximately 25 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. As you’d expect, there are tons of monkeys to see, but the Akumal animal sanctuary is also home to many donated animals, most of which were former exotic pets.
The Akumal Monkey Sanctuary is home to a large variety of small monkeys. To be honest, the monkey enclosures were a little small for my liking, but they made a genuine effort to give them interesting habitat within.
Other animals found at the Akumal animal sanctuary include lemurs, wild boars, silver fox, peacock, geese, deer, goat, boa constrictor and macaws.
The best part about the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary is the many animal encounters. You’ll have a chance to feed deer and goats, hold macaws and a boa constrictor.
The spider monkey encounter at the end was amazing. You sit on a bench with some seeds and nuts and the spider monkeys come to you to get them. The adorable little spider monkeys will sit on your head or shoulders for a while and you won’t believe how small and light they are!
Akumal Monkey Sanctuary Tips:
- Guided tours are mandatory at the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary. We recommend you sign up online beforehand to make sure there is room in the timeslot you are interested in.
- If you want a great place to eat authentic Mexican food after your visit, swing by El Taco Maya in nearby Akumal. It’s nothing to look at, just a typical locals restaurant with red plastic chairs, but the pork tacos are amazing!
Akumal Monkey Sanctuary Tickets
6. Aktun Chen Eco Park
The Aktun Chen Natural Park is just a little further south down the highway from the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary. Aktun Chen is home to three main attractions – zip lining, an underground river and a cave walk. A nice feature of Aktun Chen is you only pay for the attractions you wish to see or do.
The cave walk is Aktun Chen’s claim to fame as it was named in National Geographic’s Journeys of a Lifetime book as one of the Top 10 Underground Walks in the World. We felt the Aktun Chen cave lived up to the hype – it was pretty awesome. It was full of interesting stalactites and stalagmites, all lit up very nicely.
At the end of the cave tour, we arrived at a cenote with amazing blue water. It’s brilliant, glass-like blue water reflected the cave formations overhead.
The Aktun Chen cave walk was easy enough for our small kids to walk, with only a little assistance here and there. Adults need to wear hard hats in the cave to protect against low hanging stalactites.
The Aktun Chen zip line course consists of 10 zip lines which take you a total distance of nearly 0.6 miles of track. Interspersed throughout the zip lines are wooden suspension bridges which allow you to enjoy the canopy level at a much slower pace.
What attracted us to the Aktun Chen eco park was the age limit for zip lining – children aged 4+ are able to go as long as they have a minimum height of 3 feet and a minimum of 33 pounds.
The Aktun Chen park staff were great with our daughter – they were worried she might be a bit small, so the supervisor volunteered to take her around the zip line course himself. He was great with her and she had a truly amazing time.
Tip: You can combine a visit to the Aktun Chen eco park with the incredible seaside Tulum Mayan ruins with this highly rated combo tour
More Excellent Eco Parks by the Xcaret Group
We didn’t manage to make it to all the Mexico eco parks during our month in Playa del Carmen, but we know first-hand that the Xcaret Group knows how to entertain visitors to Mexico. Here are your other top options for Riviera Maya eco adventure parks:
Xplor Eco Adventure Park
Everything is included at this all-inclusive eco park in the heart of the jungle, so you can try as many activities as you want as many times as you want.
Top activities at the Xplor eco park include two zip-line circuits, rafts through an underground river, amphibious vehicles, a stalactite river swim, the Hammock Splash (a crazy hammock/zipline hybrid) and the brand new underground expedition adventure.
Xplor comes alive with fire at night, with Xplor Fuego!
Let your senses come alive at this half-day Mexico eco park. Enjoy over 50 fantastic scenarios, such as floating without getting wet, a bird-flight zipline, a walk through underground caves and caverns, and much more.
Enjoy a celebration of Mexican culture and traditions on a party aboard a colorful Mexican gondola. Enjoy the best of Mexican cuisine and an open bar, while listening to vibrant live music.
We didn’t get a chance to visit Xoximilco while in the Mayan Riviera, but recently we were lucky enough to experience the real Xoximilco in Mexico City.
Swimming in the crystal clear cenotes is all the rage in Mexico right now. We wrote about a bunch of our favorite kid-friendly Mexico cenotes from our visit, but you can also make it easy with the Xenotes guided tour. With Xenotes you’ll enjoy a day of zip-lines, kayaks, rappelling and snorkeling on crystal clear cenote waters.
Visit the best Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula in style with Xcaret Expeditions. Choose between tours to Chichen Itza (one of the Modern Wonders of the Word), the beautiful seaside ruins of Tulum or the dense jungle adventure of a visit to the Coba ruins.
DON’T MISS: If you are currently in the Mayan Riviera or are planning a trip there, don’t miss our blog post, Plan the Best Family Trip to the Mayan Riviera. It’s packed full of planning tips, exciting family activities and links to all of our Mayan Riviera blog posts. It’s sure to help make your family trip a memorable one!
More Mexico with Kids
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- The Best Public Beaches in Playa del Carmen
- 9 Amazing Family-Friendly Restaurants in Playa del Carmen
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- Valle de Bravo with Kids
- Traveling to Mexico with a Baby or Toddler
- Baby-Friendly Mayan Riviera Beaches
- Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas Review
- All-Inclusive Beach Vacation Family Packing List
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