Xel Ha Eco Park-How to Make the Most of Your Day There

Snorkeling, swimming, resting, eating and drinking

Xel-Ha , Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Xel Ha Review

Xel Ha is one huge aquatic park where you can swim and snorkel all day. Since it is so big we wanted to write a Xel Ha review of the things you should not miss and all the tips that can make your day the best possible so you can maximize your time there. Xel Ha is from the same group of eco parks as Xcaret, Xplor, Xenses, Xenotes, and Xoximilco. Make sure to check out our video of Xel-ha here for a presentation of highlights.

All age groups can enjoy the park. There is a special children’s play area with water slides and jungle gym trail in the trees. If you are more advanced in years you may enjoy taking photos of everyone in the water or even feeding the fish with the provided food. At lunch time in the main building they have live music sometimes. The atmosphere is nice enough to soak up just relaxing for the day.

How to get to Xel Ha

There are three options for transportation to Xel Ha. You can choose from one of these that fits you the best.

  1. Buying transportation with your ticket.
  2. Taking the colectivo van.
  3. Driving yourself there.

We will discuss each of these in more detail below. We do however did not include taking a taxi to Xel Ha. The reason for this is the location is far from most towns in the Rivera Maya and the cost is not really worth it. For example a taxi from Playa Del Carmen to Xel Ha would cost about 500-800 pesos each way. However if you wish to proceed with this option, make sure you ask the price before taking off. When you are ready to return back to your hotel, there usually are a few taxis outside the entrance.

Buy transportation with ticket

One option to use the pick up service from Xel Ha. When you book your tickets online you can choose a hotel for pickup. Your hotel may not be on the list but you can go to a nearby hotel. This option may get you there a little slower but it is an easy option to get to the park without thinking too much about it.
Xel-Ha is the perfect spot to dive and snorkel among hundreds of tropical fish in a natural environment. Buy on-line now and get up to 15% off.

Colectivos (shared minivans)

You can use the colectivos that run from Playa Del Carmen to Tulum and ask to get out at Xel Ha. You can get these on 2nd St. between 15th and 20th Avenues. It cost 40 pesos per person each way. You know you are there when you see the fish kites on the bridge above the highway.

From the highway there is a walkway into the park. The walkway will take about 10 minute to walk to the entrance. Below is a photo of the sidewalk. To leave the park with the colectivos you might actually be lucky and one is waiting in the parking lot and is ready to fill up from people spending the day there. If not, walk back to the highway and go to the side of the highway for the direction you want to go in.

Vans come along every 10 minutes or so. If you have a large group (4 people or more) you might have to take two vans since in the afternoon/evening the vans tend to fill up as many people are getting out of work.

Xel-Ha , Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Sidewalk from the highway to Xel Ha.

Drive yourself to Xel-Ha

You can drive yourself to Xel Ha water park. There is free parking, and it will take about 30 minutes from Playa Del Carmen. It is very easy to find and signs are easy to see. Just drive south on the 307 Highway and when you see the overpass with the fish kites you will know you have arrived. Exit to your right and drive about 4 minutes toward the ocean to the main parking lot. Try getting here early so you can make the most of the day. The park opens at 8:30am each day.

Entrance and tickets prices for Xel Ha

You can buy tickets many places, but you will get the best price online. Below is a link that takes you directly to the Xel Ha website for booking.  The best deal on tickets is booking ahead of time because you can save 15% off! That is a considerable amount especially if you are going with a family or group.

Xel Ha ReviewThere are also optional activities at Xel ha like the zip-bikes. 

If you are resident of Quintana Roo State, you can get an additional discount (usually half off) but you will need local ID. After you check in and get your bracelet, you will scan it at the entrance of the park.

What to bring for a day at Xel-Ha

Make sure you bring biodegradable sun screen. It helps protect the environment and regular sunscreen is not allowed in the park.

Really cool fact: At the entrance you can leave your regular bottle of sunscreen and get samples of biodegradable cream. It will be enough for you to use during the day, and you can pick up your bottle when you exit the park. They are very serious about keeping the environment clean.

Other things to bring for a day at Xel-Ha is your swimsuit and dry clothes. An underwater camera will come in pretty handy here, so bring one if you have one.  Towels are provided as well as lockers. Bring enough money deposit for the snorkels, you will receive it back at the end of the day.  There are photographers taking your photo throughout the day. At the end of the day, you can buy these printed out or get them on a memory stick, so bring money for photos. If you plan on optional add on activities make sure you bring a way to pay for that as well. Although we recommend you spend the day exploring the parks included activities unless there is something you really want to do. There is enough to keep you occupied all day just with what is included.

How to maximize your day exploring Xel Ha Park

When you first enter the park, you will want to head to the main dining area.

  1. (#1 on the map below) This way you can get a nice breakfast that is included in your price of entry (all food and drinks are included in admission price). It will come in handy to get some energy for the day.
  2. Next, go and get a key for the lockers (#2 on the map) and store your stuff. The locker rooms have cameras and are very safe to leave items in. You can next walk the trail over to the bikes.
  3. (#3 on the map). Keep your shoes with you if you like as well as sunglasses. There is bag check before you get in the water. (Note: you do not have to ride bikes, there is a trolley that takes you to the beginning of the swimming area). After your enjoyable bike ride, you can check whatever you don’t want to swim with at the bag check. They will move your locked bag to near the lockers, so when you get out of the river you can get your stuff back (this is a great service and is well organized, plus very secure and safe).

    Xel Ha review
    Map of Xel Ha
  4. Number 4 on the map indicates the start of the “river“. It is sort of a river since the ground water flows out to the ocean from here. You will have the choice to swim with snorkels or in a raft. You really must try the snorkel though. The area by the mangroves is really beautiful. You can always start snorkeling and grab a loose raft later down the river.  Along your swim you can jump off a cliff, try your skills at a rope obstacle course and zip on three zip lines that go into the water.
  5. After you swim and play for a few hours it is going to be time to grab a drink and eat something. (#5 on the map). There is one snack bar and three buffet restaurants to choose from. While you digest your food you can enjoy the hammock area or chairs.

    Xel-Ha review Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
    Relax in the hammocks at Xel Ha.
  6. If sitting is too slow for you can check out the observation boat that is glass bottomed. (#6 on the map). It does not sail but does give you a good view of the fish (the fish love hanging out under this boat). You could also check out the garden where they grow a lot of the plants for the park.
  7. When you know your food is settled enough you can go across the floating bridge. Cross the bridge and get some nice photos on the super big chair (#7 on the map).
  8.  After that you can jump back in the water (#8 on the map) and swim into the cave there. Make sure to look up for your photo (there will be Xel-Ha photographers there). See the underwater views at this end of the park and then get out.
  9. Ready to dry out? Number 9 on the map is the trail that goes through the far side of the park. This area is more natural, and you will see some cenotes. One is nice to swim in. On this side is the new zip bikes. They are an add on activity and are bikes on wires that you peddle through the forest top. The trail wraps around the park, and you will come back to the beginning. This is an easy activity that people of all level’s fitness can do.
  10. Now it is going to be getting late in the day and you might want to eat something before leaving. We recommend #10 the Mexican restaurant. It has a good selection of local specialties and a little different food then the main restaurant. Enjoy a nice meal here and have a drink, you deserve it after spending the day swimming and paddling around.

Xel Ha Review Conclusion

So, there you have it, a complete guide how to maximize your time in Xel-Ha. We are sure you are going to enjoy it there. Even if it rains you can have fun. If you are trying to decide between Xel Ha vs Xcaret to visit, see our article here where we talk in depth about each one and what makes them different.
Xel-Há Park EN Best Snorquel all you can eat & drink at Riviera Maya Save up to 15% Off pre-sale.

Cool eco facts about Xel-Ha:

  1. Xel Ha does not use printed maps to save on paper usage.
  2. No drinking straws are used because they cannot be recycled.
  3. Xel Ha does not use paper napkins, only cloth. It helps the environment.

Xel-Ha review Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Have you been to Xel Ha park? What did you think about it? Do you have questions after reading our Xel Ha review? We would love to hear your comments below.

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  1. I love Xel Ha. It was totally worth the entrance and I would go two times in a week vacation. There is so much to do there and it is stunning.

  2. I’ve been a few times and I thought the best route to get there was actually going to ADO and getting the tickets with transportation. They take you right there and pick you up right away, no need to stop at numerous resorts along the way picking people up.

  3. Like Kyle’s comment, I was wondering why you didn’t include the ADO bus option as transportation to / from Xel Ha. We are going there this spring and I have read up on taking the bus to get there. Thank you for the information though, I like to have a lot of info before traveling

    • We will add the ADO options for sure. We want to cover everything. We will also be adding some specific articles for each aspect of the parks since there is so much to see and do. Thank you for the recommendation. We hope you have a great time at Xel Ha when you go.

  4. Xel Ha is one of our favorite places to visit. It has snorkeling and a kids area that the kids love climbing on. The restaurants are great and the day is a nice long day of activity. I tell all my friends to go there when in the Riviera Maya.

  5. We have done several other adventure parks like Aventuras Maya but Xplor is so much better and totally worth the money. the zip lines are extreme and I love the ones that go through a waterfall and the water slide. I would suggest a water camera because the photos are expensive they take of you at Xplor.

  6. Many thanks extremely helpful. We just spent two days at Xel Ha. Yes we went twice on vacation and bought an extra day since the kids love the water. Both days were exciting and it is a really well done park.

  7. Xel ha was great fun. We like the fact you can eat and drink at different schedules and have fun. The kids loved the slides and playground too. Xel ha Makes for a good family park.

  8. It has been a rainy week in Playa Del Carmen but we still decided to go to Xel Ha. It was fun even though it was overcast. Good restaurants and drinks included! We did a little more drinking instead of sun bathing to make up for it.

  9. WOW. Xel Has was amazing for a day. We wanted to stay longer but it closes at dusk. Great park and will go back next year as well.

  10. I see interesting articles here. I like your take on places and what to see and do around Playa Del Carmen. Keep up the good work.

  11. Of all the eco parks we like Xel Ha because it makes for a fun day with the family and the fact that the meals are included. It is a park where you can relax and do what you want and have no schedule where you have to be and when you need to be there.

  12. Each year we go to Xel Ha park and we have not been disappointed once. It is always clean and there are new attractions each year to keep it exciting. It seems to transform people that come through the gates into peaceable people that are there to enjoy the natural beauties of the area. The swimming is great and you can work up an appetite.

  13. I have many local friends in Playa, would they be able to purchase a ticket at the local resident price of 50% off for me with their ID? Does it have to be done in person or can they do it online and do they check the name at the park?

    • Hello

      Locals get the discount because the economy is different here and most that can afford to come to this area via a flight and have the time to visit are able to pay entrance to Xel Ha or other park. The parks know this and even though someone could by the ticket for you, they do ask for id when you enter the park and get your bracelet. So there is no getting around the rules. It is however worth the entrance to Xel Ha because it is a very fun day and with food and drinks included, a good value.

  14. Which currency is best to bring to the park (Pesos or US$)? We are coming from Canada and have had conflicting advice on the best currency to bring!


    • Hello

      The best is Pesos, however since Xel Ha is an all inclusive park, food, drinks and your day are relatively cash free. You can pay at the entrance with USD, credit card or Pesos. They give a fairly good exchange rate. However if you buy your tickets ahead of time you can save a considerable amount of money an that is the main way you can save on your day at Xel Ha. If you are staying at a resort, we know if is hard to get Pesos because you only have one ATM or an exchange counter that offers “ok” rate to you. In this case, just take credit card and USD with you and have fun. Overall the credit card might be the best option. We hope you have a great time there. It is a fun park.

  15. We just saw your video of the zip bikes and tried it when at Xel Ha. We had a great day here. We were not sure if we wanted to make it there but glad we did.

    • Hello Brent

      We are so glad you made it here and had fun. We feel that Xel Ha does have good value for the entry price and it is a fun day.

  16. Coming to Akumal in one week. We will really not know our schedule until we’re down there but would love to buy discounted tickets to Xel Ha in advance. Does that include the day before? And if so, where do we buy them?

    • Hello Annie
      You can only get discounts on Xel Ha tickets if you buy them at least 7 days in advance. Of course online is easiest and the link in this article will take you to the official website. If you don’t know the exact day you can select one and change it if you call at least 24 hours in advance. But in advance does save some money especially if you are a family or group. We hope you get to go to Xel Ha and enjoy it!

  17. I must say you have very interesting articles here. I read the one about the zip bikes at Xel Ha and have added it to my list of things for my family.

  18. Good day! I simply wish to give a huge thumbs up for the good information you have here on this article. You have really helped us plan our trip to Playa del Carmen well.

  19. Xel ha was the highlight of our vacation and that was hard because we had a lot of good times in the Riviera Maya.

  20. You don’t include Taxi but to us it is the best way to get there from Play Del Carmen, the cost is just slightly more than the busses or vans and is a lot faster than the hour to hour and a half it takes with shuttles, about a 30 minute ride. We go every year and love it….

    • Thank you Ray for your note. We will add the taxis to the transportation list and the current cost of getting to Xel Ha.

  21. I’ll be in Playa Del Carmen next week. We plan to visit Xel-Ha but we don’t know which day. can we buy tickets at the entrance when we arrive so we don’t have to pick the day ahead of time? Also do you recommend water shoes, or are flip flops ok? thanks

    • Hello Scott

      You can buy the tickets at the entrance. You can save 10% off is you buy 7 days in advance and you still can change your date 24 hours in advance if you like. For a family of 4 that can be around $35. For shoes, you can walk barefoot all day. There are lockers so you can wear shoes some and some just barefoot. If you wear water shoes you can wear them under fins.

  22. When will the new water slide be available for visitors? I’ve read it will be open sometime this summer, but do you have a more specific date or timeline? Thanks!

    • Hello Meg

      We have heard when but it is not official yet, sorry. But we will be there when it open to let you know how fast it is! As soon as we can say we will let you know.

  23. Xel-Ha is amazing!! We went today and followed your plan which was perfect!! I just have one recommendation since they built the new slides on the tower. The line gets really long (was 1.5 hr wait). We did not end up doing it since we only had about 1.5hrs to enjoy the rest of the park. So I recommend doing the slides earlier in the day. We still climbed to the top just to see the view which is beautiful.

  24. We have no place like this in my country. I loved all day here and could go back each day. I am glad I went yesterday when it was not raining.

  25. We have been thinking about the Coba Xel Ha tour combo because we want to see the ruins and see Xel Ha. We don’t know if we really want to spend two days off the resort so we are thinking of a day tour. Have you been on this? and what do you think?

    • Hello Joyce

      We are actually going on this tour this week. Coba ruins are one of our favorite ruins and Xel Ha is fun. There is a lot to do at Xel Has and it is good for an all day excursion but we will let you know what the tour is like when we take it. We should have an article and video up later this week for you.

  26. We were really surprised at the level of park Xel Ha is. It was beautifully designed, well maintained and good value for what you get. I was there in October and there were not that many people there. I thought it must not be known that well or tourism is low because with a park this good, more people should visit. I highly recommend it on vacation for people in the Riviera Maya.

  27. Thanks for the write up. We are going to Xel ha for the first time and we wanted to know what is like. We will let you know what we thought after we go.

  28. We are planning on going tomorrow with our 3 & 5 year old and don’t know if we should bring a stroller or not. Is there somewhere safe to leave it while in the river? And are there life jackets and bike seats small enough for a toddler?

    • How are you going to Xcaret? If you are going by colectivo it will be tight to take it aboard but nice to have walking from the highway to the park. If they do not have a bike that will fit there is a train (truck pulling a wagon) you can ride on to get to the beginning of the river. The lockers at Xel Ha are small for bags and things. So if you are taking the bus there or driving it might be best not to bring it.

  29. Im traveling with a party of 6. Can you please inform me where to get transportation from my hotel in riveria maya.
    Thank you we are all excited to go here.

    • Hello Lisa

      You can book transportation with your tickets or take a taxi. The colectivos pass on the highway but are not good for 6 people since they often only have room for a few people plus you need to walk to the highway.

  30. Hi, we are going to Xel ha in November and im thinking of the best way to get there from the hotel we will be staying – Bluebay Esmeralda. I wanted to book the transportation with the ticket, but it’s 27USD per person, and there’s only 2 of us – isnt the cost similar to the cost of taxi?

    • It will be similar in price. Resort taxis are always more expensive and distance is about a 40 minute taxi ride each way. A Taxi is faster but will take you talking to the driver and making sure of price and having pesos. Most drivers will take dollars but at a bad rate.

  31. I have bad allergies to sunscreens and can only wear 1 very expensive type. IT is a mineral sunscreen- fragrance free and paraben free. I can’t apply anything else to my skin or I get a really bad skin infection. Can I wear my sunscreen? Other wise I may have to not attend.

    • It must be bio degradable and there is a list of ingredients on their website that they list that are the ones not to wear in the park.

  32. Is there a private transportation company that you would recommend as we are a group of 10 travelling?

    • Hello Sue

      This same company that does airport transfers does point to point transfers in the Riviera Maya. You can click the book now button to go to the website and enter your location to get prices. They have bilingual drivers and vans large enough for 10 people. https://everythingplayadelcarmen.com/cancun-private-transportation/ The best deal for your tickets to Xel ha is buying them in advance. If you use the links on our website we get credit for referring you and you still pay the official best price for tickets. We hope you have a great time there.

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