Xel Ha vs Xcaret-What park is better for your to visit?

Xel Ha vs Xcaret

Xel Ha vs Xcaret

Have you been having a debate in your family over Xel Ha vs Xcaret? Both are popular parks to go to in the Riviera Maya. We have been many times to both Xel Ha and Xcaret and want to tell you the differences between the two. Hopefully we can answer some of your questions and you can find the right park to visit while on vacation here.

What are some of the advantages of Xel Ha?

Here are most of the things that you can do or see in Xel Ha that might make this the better park for you.

  • If you love swimming and snorkeling, Xel Ha water park is all about this. This is the main activity here.
  • Your meals and alcoholic drinks are included at Xel Ha. That means that the Xel Ha entrance price is all you pay. Only if you want to do an optional activity, do you have to pay anything else.
  • If you want a shorter day of activity, Xel Ha is open from 8:30am-6:00pm.
  • Swimming at Xel Ha will bring you in contact with many tropical fish. There are fish flags throughout the park where these fish gather. If you love swimming with the fishes, you will love it here!
  • Xel Ha does offer free bikes to use, waterslides, and you get to take some zip lines with water landings. These are just some of the free things to do at Xel Ha that Xcaret park does not have.
Xel Ha vs Xcaret
Float or snorkel? It is your choice at Xel Ha.

What are some of the advantages of Xcaret?

Here are things that make Xcaret park unique to visit.

  • Xcaret is a full day of activity. The park opens at 8:30am and closes at 9:30pm after the grand show.
  • Xcaret has more animals to see. There is the aquarium, butterfly pavilion, jaguars, sea turtles, tapirs, monkeys, and bird aviary just to name a few.
  • Even though Xcaret is about the natural environment and Mexican heritage, there are three underground rivers you can swim in. Here you can snorkel or swim. Usually, you have time for one, but you can do all three if you want. Snorkels are an extra cost from the basic entrance ticket, but you can still swim here with life jacket with basic entrance.
  • Xcaret has beach areas for relaxing. Of course, with so much to see you might not have time to swing in a hammock, but they do have them. There are also sandy beaches in an inlet where you can swim. Xel Ha does not have any natural sandy beach area but does have hammocks and plenty of chairs to sit in overlooking the inlet.
  • Xcaret has mini shows throughout the park all day long. This can be a ceremony in a Mayan village, traditional dancers from Veracruz or a show of an owl dance. Many of these shows will be represented in the final grand show at the end of the day in Xcaret.
  • The grand show at the end of the night is about 2 1/2 hours of entertainment. It is one of the biggest shows with over 300 participants. It roughly tells the story of the Mayan people and the arrival of the Spanish. Then it goes on the showcase the vibrant culture of dance and customs from around Mexico. To many people the grand show is what makes Xcaret a great place to visit.

Xcaret vs xel ha

What is the price difference between Xel Ha vs Xcaret?

If you are shopping Xel Ha vs Xcaret purely on price, there will be a clear winner. The day pass to Xcaret is currently  $99.00 USD. The Xel Ha day pass is currently $89.00 USD. But you should think about transportation and meals since this can influence your decision. Here are the cost comparisons.

Transportation cost Xel ha vs Xcaret

If you want to book transportation with your ticket from Xcaret or Xel Ha, they will add this on for $30 USD per person. This is bus that will pick you up at your hotel or central meeting point. You can also get a discount on this if you book ahead.

There are however alternative means of getting to Xel Ha or Xcaret. Depending on where you are staying in the Riviera Maya, your transportation cost will vary. Xcaret is much closer to Cancun and Playa Del Carmen and cheaper for a taxi. Xel Ha is closer to Tulum, so it is only cheaper to take a taxi to from the Tulum area.  Colectivos are also a method of transportation to get to both Xel Ha and Xcaret.

Colectivos are shared vans that drop people along the 307 Highway. Both parks are off of this highway. It will range between about 25-35 pesos per person for a ride from Playa Del Carmen or Tulum to both parks.

ADO busses also go to both parks. You can read about how to take the bus and colectivos in each article we have on the parks.

Food cost Xel Ha vs Xcaret

At Xel Ha all your food is included for the day. This means you can eat a buffet breakfast and then lunch at the buffet. There are also snack bars that are open all day long as well. Alcoholic drinks are also included in the all-inclusive package.

At Xcaret park you much purchase all your food. So, this means if you want to, you can eat at the snack bar or at the buffet for lunch. The buffet is about $27/29 USD per person. So, this can add to your overall expense for the day. Remember too that the grand show does not finish until about 9:30pm. So, it means a late dinner when you get back to your hotel or rental.

Xcaret does offer an Xcaret Plus ticket that includes the lunch buffet. Xcaret also offers dinner at the grand show as an add on in the Xcaret dinner package.

So, as you see, Xcaret can be more expensive once you add in meals. It is however a park that you can spend 13 hours in and makes for a full day you will not forget.

Did you make up your mind what the best park is?

We hope we have been able to describe what the parks are like between Xel Ha vs Xcaret. If you have decided what park to visit you can see different ticket options below. All of these links will take you to the official booking site where you will pay the guaranteed best price. If you have any further questions about the parks, let us know in the comments below. We love to help out our readers.

How to buy tickets to Xel Ha or Xcaret

Tickets to Xel Ha

If you have decided to go to Xel Ha for the day and only want tickets to this park, you can click the reserve now button below. This will take you to the official site of Xel Ha. 

Did you know you can save 10-15% off the ticket prices of Xel Ha? It only takes a little planning. If you book 7-20 days in advance you can enjoy 10% off your admission. If you book 21 days in advance you can get 15% off. This is considerable savings especially for a family. You don’t have to worry about weather because Xel Ha has a weather change policy on the tickets. As long as you change the date 24 hours in advance, you can do so with no charge.

Xel Ha vs Xcaret

Tickets to Xcaret

If you have decided to go to Xcaret for the day and only want tickets to this park, you can click the reserve now button below. This will take you to the official Xcaret site to book your tickets. 

Did you know you can save 10-15% off the ticket prices of Xel Ha? It only takes a little planning. If you book 7-20 days in advance you can enjoy 10% off your admission. If you book 21 days in advance you can get 15% off. This is considerable savings especially for a family. You don’t have to worry about weather because Xcaret has a weather change policy on the tickets. As long as you change the date 24 hours in advance you don’t change anything.

Xcaret vs Xel Ha

Why not visit both Xel Ha and Xcaret with a special price

Did you know that Xcaret, who owns Xel Ha, offers two day passes so you can visit both parks? You don’t have to visit the Xel Ha and Xcaret in back-to-back days either. You can select the different dates on the booking calendar. With this option you can save $43 USD off the adult ticket. Children get 50% off the price of an adult ticket under the age of 12. Best of all, the savings does not have to be 7 or 21 days in advance to book. You can book this special deal for tomorrow if you want and save a lot of money.

You can click the reserve now button or the photo link below to go directly to the official booking site. Here you will be guaranteed to get the best price guarantee on your tickets.

Xel ha vs Xcaret


Did you know that Xcaret has even more parks and tours available for you?

If deciding between Xel Ha vs Xcaret was not bad enough, there are also the parks of Xoximilco, Xenses and Xplor to check out. You can read all our articles in the links. Xcaret does a great job as designing its parks and making them unique experience for their guest. They also do tours to Chichen Itza. You can see our video and article here about the Xichen Deluxe tour to Chichen Itza.

What is your opinion? What would you recommend between Xel Ha vs Xcaret? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Xel Ha vs Xcaret
The grand show at the end of the day in Xcaret Park.

About The Author


  1. I am glad you actually wrote about this. We have been looking at both parks to visit. We don’t have the money to do both on our vacation but I think after reading your article we will go to Xel Ha. A nice all inclusive day sounds good for the family.

    • Hello Rosy
      Thanks for reading our website and we are glad we were able to help you. We don’t like for people to be surprised and have to pay more. We also like for people to find the right tour and what fits their budget. We hope you have a great time here in the Riviera Maya.

    • Xel Ha does offer the same discount on day passes as Xcaret. As for seasonal passes we have not heard anything. It would be good to contact them directly if that is what you are interested in.

  2. Hi. Could You please recommend which park will be better to visit with the one year old baby?We travel with 11 years old girl too. We know that we wont be able to do most of activities. We was thinking about xel ha, but after reading Yours reviews I think there is too much snoorkeling and it wont be able with the baby. I would be thanksfull for any advices. Thank You

    • Hello Monika

      It is true what you said about snorkeling. We can imagine that at Xel Ha you would have to spend more time out of the water with the baby. Xcaret has paths you can use a stroller see the animals. Xcaret has a new section called Children’s World. https://everythingplayadelcarmen.com/xcaret-childrens-world/ It will be perfect for your 11 year old and you can sit with the baby in the splash pool. It is a long day with the show at night going to about 9pm, so just be prepared for a full day.

  3. Another thing that Xel Ha offers for an additional fee are scan-able wrist bands for photos around the park. There are over 60 cameras around the park where you can scan your bracelet and a mounted camera will take photos of you. I believe I paid about $50 for me my partner. There are also professional photographers that photograph you underwater and with tropical birds. They give you a code and you can go online 2 days after your trip to view all of your photos. We took about 150 photos on this trip! Amazing!

  4. You are awsome, thank you so much for sharing your experience!! My kids would like to experience many things that we never done it before like 1. swim with dolphin 2. swim with sherk 3. Sea Trek 4. Snorkeling to see nemo and sea turtles. all of above, am i able to do all at Xel Ha? and airport service is $25 per person should i book ahead on Tripadvisor or it is the same as taxi at the airport?

  5. Thanks for the great write up. We are visiting Riviera Maya in June with our 4 year old daughter and trying to work out which is best for us. We are not bothered about the evening show at Xcaret with her and like the idea of the all-inclusive price at Xel Ha, so think we will probably go down that route.

    Our daughter loves the water, but can’t really swim and has never done anything like this before. Will we be ok taking her on the lazy river, and is there plenty for her to do?

    Also, I was planning on booking transportation through the website. Presumably this also includes transportation home. Is that one bus at a fixed time?

    Many thanks for your help.

    • The lazy river is basically where the Cenote underground water runs into the inlet. They have one and two person floats. So you could take a two person raft and one adult go with her. It is best to snorkel because it is beautiful especially by the mangrove. There is a children’s play area that can be fun for a 4 year old. Most is on land but there are water slides. We are sure just seeing fish from some of the bridges will be interesting to her. The transportation is round trip and is scheduled to give you the full day there. They try to limit each bus to a few hotels that are close so you can have the shortest ride possible.

  6. Thanks a million for your great comparison of the two parks, we just booked our flight and we are debating which park to visit and your article will certainly help us decide what’s best suited fo us.

    Thanks again from Canada!

    • Thank you Mathieu

      We hope you have a great trip and enjoy whichever park you decided to visit. They are both great options.

  7. Thank you for writing this! Me and my partner have been debating which park to go and whether to book in advance.
    My partner wants to swim with dolphins, i love the idea of swimming underground and seeing the wildlife, so is Xcaret better for this?
    If we book both is there much difference between the two or would it be two very similiar days?
    Thank you

    • Hello Hayley

      You can swim with the dolphins at both locations but if you do so at Xcaret, you will not have as much time for the whole park. It is a very large park with a lot to see. Xcaret does have three “rivers” you can swim in which gives you a snorkel experience but again you really only have time for one since there is a lot to see in the park. The two would be similar days but still enough different to do both. You could leave swimming to Xel Ha and explore Xcaret another day. If you want to do both parks, you can buy combo tickets that give a good discount. We will say that Xplor and Xcaret are more different since one is more zip lines and the other is more culture and animals.

  8. Thank you for the article, helps a lot for the decision
    Can I bring my own full-face snorkeling mask into the park? Thanks again.

    From Naples

    • Yes you can bring your own mask. That is no problem here at the park. We hope you have a great time there.

  9. Thank you for the great info you are sharing. What is the policy about food and snacks, can you bring any from outside?

    • Both parks allow trips to your car with re-entry with the coded bracelet. Bags are not searched so you could bring something with you. If you go to Xel Ha of course you have unlimited access to the buffets and restaurants which have a wide range of things, so there is no real need to bring anything with you unless you have certain food restrictions.

  10. Xel Ha looks fantastic but unfortunately I am a non swimmer could I still do the underground river?

    • Xcaret has the underground river or rather rivers that go through channels in the park and go through tunnels. Most of the water is about 5 or 6 feet deep and you wear a life vest so it is pretty easy. At Xcaret there is so much to do you have plenty to do without swimming.

  11. Thanks for this info. We are staying at the Xcaret resort and have access to all the parks, but only 2 full days. I really want to swim with dolphins, turtles, fish etc… Do both parks offer the same chance to swim with these animals or is one a clear favorite? He is more interested in the ziplines and ATVs so Im thinking we do one day for me at either Xcaret or Xel Ha and then one day for him at Xplor? Advice?

    • Hello Randi

      Xel Ha is a better place to swim with the dolphins. There is a larger area for it. Plus if you go here you can swim with the fish. Turtles are better at Xcaret but you can only see them and not swim with them. Xplor is great. We just posted a video of this park here so you can see more about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnlzqPUvAAM&t=201s

    • At Xel Ha it is included in your entrance for the mask and snorkel. You can swim in Xcaret with the life vest for free but do need to rent or get the ticket with included rental. You can bring your own but not many people do. You would have to carry them into the park and get a locker for them when not in use.

  12. Hi, I am planning to travel in a few weeks with my kids (12, 19, 22) and this was a great article. I have a 12 year old who loves to swim, but I don’t really swim. However I would like to be in the water. My other kids are interested in ziplining and ATV. Would Xcaret be the best choice to do “extra” activities? Or should we do Xel Ha with the all-inclusive and just add on the “extras?” Thanks!

    • Hello Tami

      Probably the best is Xel Ha. The rivers for swimming at Xcaret don’t allow you to see them and they might not allow them to go by themselves especialy if all young. If you go to Xel Ha you can see them swim or you can float in a raft while they snorkel or swim. There are three zip lines which you can stand on the side and see them go. There is a lot to do without doing the extras but the zip bikes are fun and something you might consider at Xel Ha. Since you have a little time before, if you have not bought your tickets yet, you can save 10% by getting them 7-20 days in advance. If you use the links on our site to go to the official site we get a credit for referring you and you still pay the same official rate. We hope you have a great time!

  13. It is a hard choice but we made one and took your advise in mind. We had a fun day at Xcaret. We really wanted swimming and some culture plus that show is amazing!

  14. Hi, i plan to buy unlimited xcaret package since i stay at Occidental at Xcaret, but i really love to go to Xeiha and Xplor. Do you have any suggestion? I want to buy 3days combo Xcaret + Xeiha +xplor ( my concern is do they allow me to access any park in 3 days? Can i go more than 1 park per day ? Can i go back the park i like? )

    • How long are you staying? Normally in one week you might want to spend some time at the hotel. Xplor, Xenses and Xcaret are close to your hotel. Xel Ha is a little farther away if that helps you plan any.

        • We guess you are referring to Occidental Xcaret Hotel? We have been there. It is a quiet resort, a little older one. Many people confuse it with the new Hotel Xcaret Mexico https://everythingplayadelcarmen.com/hotel-xcaret-mexico/ These are only in common by name but a world apart. Hotel Xcaret Mexico is new and really one of the best resorts in the Riviera Maya. Occidental is a mid range resort that is fine not outstanding. There are some resorts priced the same that offer better quality. What happens at some resorts is they start out new and exciting, they sell vacation packages, aka timeshares, and then they have made the money and they don’t have any motivation to improve the resort or do much more. As we have stated in many articles, usualy newer hotels or resorts offer better quality. If you have any more questions, let us know.

  15. Hello. I have been to the two parks and honestly you cannot go wrong. I think if I went a second time I would go to Xel Ha because it is such a relaxing day. Xcaret is super fun but there is a lot to see and do and you don’t want to relax there.

  16. Hi
    We are looking to do a few different parks with our 21 year old triplets, where would you recommend we stay? Is the hotel with the parks included the most economic way to go?

    • Hello Kathy

      The Hotel Xcaret Mexico does have all the parks included and one of the best resorts in the area. It is however expensive. If you are looking for an all inclusive resort and still plan on going to the parks, it is good to price it out. https://everythingplayadelcarmen.com/hotel-xcaret-mexico/ Don’t confuse this with Occidental Xcaret which is close to Xcaret but a vast difference from the Hotel Xcaret. Only officially is the Hotel Xcaret Mexico part of the Xcaret group. Most parks are about 100 usd per person so if that is 5 people it can be about $500 usd for each day at a park. At Hotel Xcaret you will need two rooms so this will add to your expenses. One possible discount is staying at another hotel and buying in advance you can save 15% off tickets if you buy 21 days in advance. You can also buy multiple tickets to the parks for a discount or multiple days at one park since they tend to be a lot for one day. If you want to do this option, you can use the links in this article to buy tickets. You get the official best price and it gives us credit for referring you. https://everythingplayadelcarmen.com/xel-ha-vs-xcaret/ Let us know if you have any other questions for your trip.

  17. I love both parks for different reasons. If I had to visit multiple times one park, I would go to Xcaret because there is so much to see.

  18. Hello, thanks for the helpful info!

    Our 4 year old gets free admission to Xcaret, but do you know how much they will charge for his lunch buffet?

    (We will get Xcaret Plus tickets that include lunch for us)

    Thank you!

    • Sorry we do not know but if you go to their chat online, they can answer that for you. They don’t post prices anywhere so it is hard to find out. If it is half priced it would be about $15 we think.

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  1. What are Xel Ha Prices for tickets? Everything you need to know!
  2. What is better Xplor or Xcaret? Two parks to visit on vacation in Mexico

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