Get ready to get wet! Featuring a calm, turquoise lagoon as its centerpiece, Xel-ha Park is the perfect place to take your family for some water based fun in the hot Mexican sun!
Xel-ha is a huge Mexican eco-theme park not far from the Tulum Mayan ruins. There are tons of kid-friendly things to do at Xel-Ha, with a large variety of food & drink options.
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Top 23 Xel-Ha Tips and Tricks
To help you make the most of your visit to Xel-Ha Park, here are our top 23 tips to get you on your way:
1. Plan Ahead
Xel-ha is a very big theme park with a pretty unique shape. To make the most of your visit to Xel-Ha Park it helps to plan ahead.
Before your read on, take a peek at the Xel-Ha park map below. As you can see, the land-based areas of the Xel-Ha park hug a beautiful T-shaped swimmable lagoon.
With the help of the Floating Bridge near the inlet to the Caribbean Sea, the walking route around Xel-Ha is circular, meaning you can’t simply cut across the park to quickly get to the attraction you want. To make the most of your time at Xel-Ha, pick a walking direction and follow it around the whole day.
Be sure to stop at every Xel-Ha attraction on your list as you see it, as it will take a long time to come back to something you missed.
2. Introduce Kids to Snorkeling
If you or your kids are new to snorkeling, Xel-ha’s tranquil lagoon is an easy and memorable location to give it a try for the first time.
There are no big waves in the Xel-Ha lagoon making it much easier to keep water out of your snorkel. Life jackets are mandatory and complimentary at Xel-Ha, making it a safe outing for everyone.
To improve your chances of seeing large groups of beautiful tropical fish in the Xel-Ha lagoon, snorkel towards the flags in the water. These flags identify the best spots to snorkel at Xel-Ha as the tropical fish tend to congregate nearby.
3. Toddlers Can See Tropical Fish Too
If you are visiting Xel-Ha with a toddler or baby, you don’t really need to take them very far to show them tropical fish.
The entrances to the Xel-Ha lagoon are via staircases which descend straight into the water. We noticed that some colorful fish like to congregate near the staircases, so even toddlers who don’t go into the water will get to see the beautiful fish of the Xel-Ha lagoon.
If your kids are too small to snorkel at Xel-Ha, an excellent alternative is to take them to the Steady Subaquatic Observatory. This stationary boat has a large underwater viewing area, complete with large windows on both sides and little stools to sit on.
Our toddler and preschooler were too small to snorkel Xel-Ha properly, so they absolutely loved the ability to watch the beautiful tropical fish from the safety of an inside viewing observatory.
Xel-Ha River Tour Tips
4. Have Fun on Your Way to the Xel-Ha River Tour
There are several fun options to get your kids to the headwaters of the Xel-Ha River Tour. Walking, of course, is always on option, but it’s a pretty long 1km walk through the jungle.
Families with bigger kids can borrow complimentary bikes for a fun family bike ride through the jungle. We love family bike rides, but the smallest bikes at Xel-Ha were just a little too big for our 4 year old daughter.
Rather than bike to the River Tour, we took the ‘train’ through the jungle instead, which our kids thought was pretty cool thing to do. The ‘train’ is really two train cars being pulled by a pickup truck through the jungle.
5. What to do with Your Stuff on the Xel-Ha River Tour
At the headwaters of the Xel-Ha river tour, you put your belongings in a locked duffel bag, which then gets transported to the end of the lazy river. Xel-ha staff gives you the only key to the bag, which you bring with you to the end of the river where you retrieve your bag.
6. Choose Your Snorkel Gear
Before you begin river tubing at Xel-Ha, you have the option to grab complimentary snorkel gear. If you simply plan on sitting on your inner tube and treating it like a lazy river, you probably won’t need any snorkel gear.
If you want to spend time playing in the water while floating down the Xel-Ha river, then it’s a good idea to get your complimentary snorkel gear.
7. Choose Your Inner Tube
Lastly, as you enter the Xel-Ha river you will be given your inner tube. Most people are given a single person tube, but families who want to float down the Xel-Ha river with kids can request much bigger two-person inner tubes, in the shape of a figure-8.
Xel-Ha Health and Safety Tips
8. Prepare to Follow the Rules
Some people may expect the safety standards to be looser in Mexico, but visitors to Xel-Ha with kids will be glad to know that they take safety very seriously here.
Lifejackets are mandatory for all water-based activities and they strictly enforce all minimum height restrictions for the Xel-Ha attractions. We know this firsthand as we tried to get our 4-year old up the awesome Scenic Lighthouse (for the epic waterslide down), but she was just barely too short and she was denied access.
It was a bit disappointing at the time, but in retrospect, it was the right thing for them to do.
9. Help Protect the Xel-Ha Ecosystem
Xel-ha takes its responsibility to the environment seriously as well, as evidenced by their Earthcheck Gold Certification.
To help protect their fragile aquatic ecosystem, the Xel-ha sunscreen policy states, “Only the use of sunblock and sunscreen containing titanium oxide and zinc oxide is allowed in the park.”
Do the fish a favor and bring your own bottle of biodegradable sunscreen to Xel-Ha Park.
10. Pack Lightly for Your Day at Xel-Ha
Virtually everything you need for your day at Xel-ha is included in the standard ticket price. Gear included in your Xel-Ha admission includes all snorkel equipment, life jackets, towels and even free lockers. Stroller rentals are available for an extra fee shortly after you enter the park.
11. Keep Your Phone Dry
We recently learned the hard way in Thailand that iPhones do not enjoy going for a swim. Given that Xel-Ha is an aquatic themed park, you should invest in some protection for your phone, such as a waterproof case.
An even safer idea would be to leave your phone in the free locker rental and bring a waterproof camera with you instead.
12. Come Hungry
Are you like me? If I stay at an all-inclusive resort, it bugs me to go off-resort and pay for my own meals and drinks somewhere else. This is not an issue at Xel-ha, where admission is all-inclusive!
Choose from any of their four restaurants which serve national and international favorites buffet style.
Breakfast is served from 9:30 – 11:30 and lunch is from 11:30 to 5:30.
Outside food and drink is not allowed in Xel-Ha, but with the all-inclusive food and drink you won’t need to bring any! The only exception to this rule is that baby food is allowed into Xel-Ha Park.
13. There’s Plenty to Drink Too
Does playing in the hot Mexican sun make you thirsty? Xel-ha has you covered with a domestic open bar and unlimited non-alcoholic drinks.
You’ll easily stay hydrated with potable drinking water fountains all over Xel-Ha Park.
Things to do at Xel-Ha with Kids
Despite being an adventure eco-park, Xel-ha has plenty of things to do for kids of all ages.
14. Visit Xel-Ha Children’s World
Be sure to set aside some time to bring your kids to the Xel-Ha Children’s World where they can run, laugh and play for hours.
Your kids will love playing in the wading pool (with splashing buckets), the teeter totter, on a cool swing where parents and kids can ride together, an underground crocodile tunnel, an octopus to climb on and a rope bridge with a slide.
Nearby in the Xel-Ha lagoon there is a fun pathway of floating lily pads for the kids to crawl & jump over while trying not to fall into the water. Our 4-year old daughter loved the lily pads and wanted to do it over-and-over.
15. Relax on Hammocks
Your kids will have so much fun at the Xel-Ha Children’s World, they will likely leave exhausted. Luckily there’s a set of hammocks near Children’s World to give your kids some fun while relaxing and recharging.
16. Learn About Stingless Bees
If your kids love nature, swing by the Bee Nursery where your kids will have a chance to see real beehives. Worried about your kids getting stung by a bee? No need – the Melipona bee is a stingless species of bee! Who knew there was such a thing!
17. Feed the Fish
As you walk through Xel-Ha Park, look for fish food dispensers along bridges. Lots of smart fish have figured this out and stay near the fish food dispensers hoping to get an easy meal. Watching the fish swarm the pellets of fish food in the water is a super fun activity for kids at Xel-Ha.
18. Swim with Dolphins at Xel-Ha
Swimming with dolphins is a bucket-list activity for many people. For families visiting Xel-Ha, swimming with dolphins will create memories which will last a lifetime.
Xel-ha offers several different packages for swimming with dolphins. The minimum height for swimming with dolphins is 39.4 inches / 1 meter.
If your toddler is too small to swim with dolphins at Xel-Ha, don’t worry, they can still enjoy the dolphins. Simply hang out on the pathways surrounding the Xel-Ha dolphin enclosure as there is often dolphin activity going on which you can enjoy for free!
Click here for more information on swimming with dolphins at Xel-ha.
19. Visit Xel-Ha Before Tulum
If you are planning a trip to Tulum on your vacation, come to Xel-ha first. There is an amazing scale model of Tulum here which gives you a great idea of what it was like during its inhabitation.
See below for how to save money with a combo ticket to see both Xel-Ha and Tulum.
How to Save Money at Xel-Ha
20. Buy Xel-Ha Tickets in Advance to Save Time and Money
Xel-Ha is one of the best theme parks in the Yucatan Peninsula and the ticket price reflects that fact. Not to worry, with so many things to do at Xel-Ha, you’ll still enjoy excellent value for your money.
So, how much does Xel-Ha Park cost? Standard Xel-Ha tickets cost $99.99 USD when purchased at the park. Standard admission tickets include most of the things to do at Xel-Ha including: free breakfast and lunch, river floating on tubes, unlimited snorkeling in the inlet (with free snorkeling gear), ziplining in the World of Adventure, the Children’s Playground and much more.
There are several ways to buy discounted Xel-Ha Park tickets:
- Save 25% with the purchase of tickets to three parks or tours
- Save 20% with the purchase of tickets to two parks or tours
- Save 15% by purchasing Xcaret tickets at least 21 days in advance
- Save 10% if you buy tickets between 7-20 days in advance
- Save 50% on Xcaret tickets for kids between 5 – 11 years old
- Xcaret tickets for children aged 4 and under are free
Enjoy these discounted entry tickets by purchasing your Xel-Ha tickets online. A family of 4 could easily save $30 – 45 USD on Standard Xel-Ha tickets alone.
21. Add Experiences to Your Ticket
The Xel-Ha Total Admission ticket offers all the same advantages of the standard Xel-Ha entry ticket, plus one amazing optional activity of your choice. By choosing your optional Xel-Ha activity in advance, you’ll save between $27 – 42USD (depending on the activity)
Xel-Ha Total Admission tickets cost $122 USD each. The list of Xel-Ha activities to choose from are:
- Adrenalina: a high speed ride in the sea (savings of $37 USD)
- Snuba Caleta: a combination of snorkeling and diving (savings of $27 USD)
- Sea Trek: a walk on the seabed. (savings of $42 USD)
22. Save Even More with Ticket Bundles
Bundling your tickets for all the Grupo Xcaret parks and/or tours to Mayan ruin sites you plan to visit is a great way to save money at Xel-Ha. Buy any two experiences online and save 20%, while 3 or more experiences will save you 25%.
Here are a few Xel-Ha ticket packages we recommend:
Xel-ha & Xcaret Combo Ticket
We think that Xcaret is the best eco-park in the Yucatan Peninsula. Kids will love swimming down the underground river, playtime at Children’s World and world-class animal exhibits. We visited both Xcaret and Xel-Ha during our Mexico family vacation and had a great time at each.
If you plan on visiting both eco-parks, buying an Xcaret / Xel-ha ticket package will save you $48 USD per person.
Xel-Ha & Tulum Tour Combo Ticket
Tulum is one of the most beautiful Mayan ruins in Mexico. Perched up high on cliffs overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, Tulum is not to be missed.
Combine your Xel-Ha and Tulum Tour tickets and save $15 USD per person.
Xel-Ha & Coba Combo Ticket
If you prefer your Mayan ruins in an exotic jungle setting, you’ll love a visit to the Coba Mayan ruins. Feel like an explorer as you walk through the Mexican jungle, discovering all the treasures Coba has to offer.
Combine your Xel-Ha and Coba Tour tickets and save $15 USD per person.
Watch our short YouTube video of our visit to Coba with kids.
Create Your Own Combo
There is virtually no limit to the Grupo Xcaret theme parks, cenotes and archaeological sites you can bundle. Book your combo online and you’ll save between 20 – 25%.
23. Stay at the Hotel Xcaret Mexico
If you want a really amazing Xcaret experience for the whole family, stay at the brand new, family-friendly Hotel Xcaret Mexico, where they literally redefine the term “all-inclusive”.
The Xcaret hotel All-Fun Inclusive program includes food and beverages, admission to all the Xcaret parks (including Xel-Ha), transportation between the parks and an airport shuttle.
Check out the best family-friendly hotels in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Plan Your Mexico Family Vacation
If you are currently in the Mayan Riviera or are planning a family vacation, check out, 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 to Mexico a memorable one!
More Mexico with Kids
- 6 Awesome Eco Parks in the Mayan Riviera
- How to Easily Visit the Best Mayan Ruins
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- The Best Public Beaches in Playa del Carmen
- 9 Amazing Family-Friendly Restaurants in Playa del Carmen
- Beware of These Scams When Renting a Car in the Yucatan Peninsula
- What You Need to Know About Driving in the Yucatan Peninsula
- Mexico City with Kids
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- Are you Afraid of the Food & Water in Mexico?
- Traveling to Mexico with a Baby or Toddler
- 4 Kid-Friendly Cenotes near Playa del Carmen
- Baby-Friendly Mayan Riviera Beaches
- Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas Review
- All-Inclusive Beach Vacation Family Packing List
Celine Brewer is a dedicated family travel blogger with a profound passion for helping families create unforgettable adventures together. Her blog blends captivating travel narratives with practical tips for family-friendly destinations and enjoying active travel with kids. As a mother of two, she understands the unique challenges of traveling with children and offers valuable insights to empower parents.
When Celine isn't traveling with her husband and two kids, she's either working on one of her three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Baby Can Travel and Travel Banff Canada) or out enjoying the majestic Canadian Rockies her family calls home.