The Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret with My Bestie and Son a Photo Journal

I want to share with you one of my favorite vacations. And by vacation, I mean culture trip, of the toes in the sand and cocktail in hand variety. Think palm trees, toucans, iguanas, cocktails, aqua blue water, caves, and relaxation with a side of ancient Mayans. I know what you’re thinking, “Where on earth can you sip a cocktail, dig your toes in the sand and explore ancient heritage and culture?” Well, this place is closer than you think. It’s not some far off exotic location that takes 22 hours to fly to, it’s actually right in our backyard. Ever hear of the Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret? What about the Riviera Maya of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula? If you’ve heard of either of those, then you already know more than I did six years ago.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret. Christa Thompson

Enjoying the view of the Caribbean Sea at Xcaret Park

 

I’ve experienced this trip twice now. Once alone and once with my son, bestie, Shelley of a Magical Mess and blogging buddy, Lisa Martin of My Thoughts, Ideas, and Ramblings

 

To date, it’s one of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve ever had. And the best part is that in comparison to other international trips, it’s affordable. But I’m not here to tell you about a budget, I’m here to tell you about an incredible culture trip which can be taken with anyone, that will send you home with stories to tell and which lives just beyond our American border.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

2 Macaws hang out and watch the passers by

 

So What’s the Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret Anyway?

 

The Sacred Mayan Journey goes back thousands of years to the earliest dates of Ancient Maya. A tradition in which Mayan villages would canoe for days to the Island of Cozumel to receive the Goddess Ixchel’s divine blessing. Today, it is remembered during an incredible two-day reenactment festival held at Xcaret Park in Playa del Carmen.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

The Caribbean Sea looks amazing from the shore. This is where the oarsmen will go into the sunset.

 

If you go, you would spend about two days at Xcaret Park and then you can spend other days at other Xcaret Parks.

 

Practical Things to Know About the Sacred Mayan Journey Festival

 

The event begins just before sunrise on the first day as Mayan rituals are performed through song and dance. At the break of dawn, the hand carved canoes are sent off on their journey and the day commences with food and park adventure. (Food not included).

 

On the second day, it’s another day of park adventure as you wait for the oarsmen to return from their journey. Their arrival is met with celebrations and many tears. To be there is to witness the greatest challenge of their life. A moment of unspeakable emotion and something your children will surely never forget.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret. Gauge Rybak, Kidfriendly

Gauge patiently waits at 5am. The opening ceremony begins at dawn.

 

Experiencing the Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret with Kids

 

If you’re thinking about bringing your family to the Sacred Mayan Journey at Xcaret, there are a few things you want to know before you go. Want to know more about the Sacred Mayan Journey at Xcaret? Check out my complete photo journal post about it here.

 

Your kids will never forget this adventure. My best friend and I will NEVER forget this adventure.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret. Gauge Rybak, Kidfriendly

Gauge loves feeding the animals

 

So What’s Xcaret Park?

 

Xcaret is an eco-adventure park seeded in the Mexican and Mayan culture so there’s plenty of adventure and learning experiences at every turn. There is so much to do and experience for all ages. Here are some things my son loved doing before and after the Sacred Mayan Journey at Xcaret:

 

  • Relax at the beach
  • Zip line through the jungle and into the water
  • Explore tropical animals
  • Climb the Mexican cemetery with its beautifully crafted tombstones
  • Float along the lazy river through caverns and between jungle walls
  • Shop in the Mayan village where he always loves to get handmade toys and art
  • Watch the traditional Mexican horse show
  • Snorkle
  • Walk along suspension bridges between waterfalls in the aviary
  • Walk through the butterfly jungle

 

And if that’s not a full enough day, we especially loved going to the evening dinner show which highlights the cultural diversity of Mexico through theater. The show spans a timeline from Ancient Maya to modern day Mexico and is one of the most incredible performances I have ever seen as Xcaret spares no expense in their sound and costume technology.

 

Here is a photo journal of the Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret Over Three Days with Park Attractions and Dinner Show

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

The ceremony begins.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Ceremonial incense

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret.

Opening ceremony from the 2015 Sacred Mayan Journey

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret.

Mayan princess

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret.

Mayan priest starts the ritual at sunrise.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret.

Beautiful Scarlet Macaws at the opening ceremony

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret. Christa Thompson

Dances by sunrise at the 2015 Sacred Mayan Journey

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Ceremonial offerings to the Goddess Ixchel at the 2015 Sacred Mayan Journey

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Before they leave, ready for the big journey

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

They must be the ultimate teammates. If one of them rows out of sync, the canoe will capsize.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Spirits are high!

 

Some ores are handmade.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Ceremonial offerings on the departure morning to bless the rowers.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Young girls cross the water to the village to celebrate.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

A Mayan priest tells the story of the Mayan Journey

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Ceremonial dances are performed.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

The oarsmen leave into the sunrise.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

We took a 3-hour catamaran ride to see how the oarsmen were doing. They are surrounded by large vessels in case anyone is injured.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Part of the Mayan Village, now it’s time to explore Xcaret Park!

 

The 2017 Sacred Mayan Journey is May 26-27th at Xcaret Park

click for %15 0ff online sale

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Traditional Mexican church at Xcaret Park

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Mariachis at Xcaret Park

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

The horses of Xcaret Park

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret. Christa Thompson

Pondering exactly how sweaty I actually am with this cool skeleton.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

One of the many stores to buy Mexican and Mayan art.

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret. Christa Thompson

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Things for sale in the shops

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret, Gauge Rybak, Kidfriendly

Saw a mamacita!

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

You never know what performances you’ll see around the park.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Making his art by hand right in the Mayan Village at Xcaret Park

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Just one of the many beautiful art pieces found in the Mayan Village

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

The Mayan Village

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Handcrafted

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret, Gauge Rybak, Kidfriendly

Officially pooped

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

The underground river peeks out here and there.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret, Gauge Rybak

Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg 2016 – Gauge watching a Mayan performance

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret, Gauge Rybak

Siesta! Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg2016

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret, Gauge Rybak, Kidfriendly

Climbing the ruins at Xcaret Park

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret, Gauge Rybak, Kidfriendly

Climbing the ruins at Xcaret Park

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret, Shelley VanWitzenburg

Shelley vs the Macaw

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Handmade crafts

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Handmade in the Mayan Village

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Some of the beautiful pieces in the Mayan Village

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Having a moment with the little dude.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Taking a moment to get a little wet! Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret. Gauge Rybak, Kidfriendly

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

In the Aviary at Xcaret Park

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Learning about birds!

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

A few suspension bridges sway next to the cascading waterfalls in the Aviary.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Rainbows anyone?

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Wish you were here?

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

This guy.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Wild birds. Wish I knew what they are.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret.

You’ll a lot of these guys around.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

A lady leopard takes a rest beneath the trees at Xcaret Park

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Sleeping flamingo at Xcaret Park

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

A little monkey hangs out and watches the people walk by.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Gauge takes a moment to ask lots of questions about Mayans and the artwork.

 

The horses! Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg2016

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg2016 – Swimming in here!

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg2016

 

Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg2016

 

The phone case is a must! Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg2016

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret, Gauge Rybak

Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg 2016 – Just taking it easy and having fun in the underground river.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

The underground river passes through the Mayan Village at Xcaret Park

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg 2016 – View of the river

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

The oarsmen are returning, the energy is high.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Dolphins leap as part of the arrival ceremony on the second day of the Sacred Mayan Journey.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

So many people gather to cheer on their friends and family as they return from this life-changing voyage.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

The oarsmen share an emotional hug after their two-day pilgrimage

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Emotions fly, this journey took 14 hours one way and 14 hours back in the sweltering sun.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret, Gauge Rybak, Christa Thompson

Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg2016 – getting tortillas (fresh)!

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg 2016 – Loving the fresh fruit

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

The tomb beneath the cemetery at Xcaret Park

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

The tomb beneath the cemetery at Xcaret Park

 

Xcaret Park

More of the beautiful cemetery.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret, Gauge Rybak

Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg2016 – Gauge animal watching

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Chasing butterflies. Literally.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

At the butterfly sanctuary at Xcaret Park

 

On the Second Day Enjoy the Dinner Show

 

After a long day of adventure, a perfect way to wrap up your Xcaret experience is with an evening dinner show. I love, love, love this show!

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Mayan villagers led us to the dinner show.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret Gauge Rybak, Kidfriendly

Gauge couldn’t help himself. Ninja moves.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret. Christa Thompson

Mayan villagers led us to the dinner show.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Mayan villagers led us to the dinner show.

 

Mayan villagers led us to the dinner show.

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret. Dinner show

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret. Dinner show

 

The 2017 Sacred Mayan Journey is May 26-27th at Xcaret Park

click for %15 0ff online sale

Must show ID at the Park’s box-office

What Else is there to do?

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret

Mayan villagers led us to the dinner show.

 

If you’re staying for a few days in the Riviera Maya, I can highly recommend Xcaret’s new park Xenses. This is an attraction unlike anything I have ever experienced which engages all of your senses. From a crooked village to a pitch black hike through varying ecosystems, it really is a world of wonder.

 

 

Another amazing experience is Xel – Ha, Xcaret’s very own water park built into a natural lagoon along the Caribbean Sea. It has everything from snorkeling, beaches, zip lining, zip lining bikes, and even a sub-earth sauna (just like the Ancient Mayans used). They call it the “Mayan Womb” but that’s another (very hilarious) story Shelley and I share.

 

Xel-Ha Park, Gauge Rybak, kidfriendly

He loves the zip lines at Xel-Ha

 

Xel-Ha Park, Christa Thompson

Zip bike over the jungle, into caves and beyond waterfalls.

 

Xel-Ha Park, Christa Thompson, Gauge Rybak, Kidfriendly

Hanging with the stingrays!

 

Xel-Ha Park, Gauge Rybak, Kidfriendly

Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg 2016 the little dude snorkeling at Xel-Ha Park

 

If you’re looking for something more serene, check out their Xenotes tours. And for something more adventurous go to Xplor where you can drive amphibious vehicles through the jungle, raft in underground rivers and zip line above the jungle over 3 miles.

 

Underground river rafting at Xplor Park

Gauge and I rafting in an ancient underground river system.

 

Where to Stay?

 

I’m all about things being super easy, especially when my child is involved. Last year I stayed at the Paradisus La Esmeralda Hotel and Resort for the Day of the Dead festival at Xcaret which you can find my entire review on in the above link. It was one of the nicest (if not the nicest) all inclusive resorts I have ever been to.  And I mean that with complete sincerity. There is a shuttle that can pick you up and take you to the park. Everything is as hassle free as you could ever wish for.

 

Luxury Resort in Playa del Carmen, Paradisus La Esmeralda

Paradisus La Esmeralda

 

Luxury Resort in Playa del Carmen, Paradisus La Esmeralda

Paradisus La Esmeralda

 

Luxury Resort in Playa del Carmen, Paradisus La Esmeralda

Paradisus La Esmeralda

 

I love this experience so much because, after a day at Xcaret, you can come home and unwind in your own private balcony hot tub, enjoy all-inclusive meals and room service, and even arrange a surprise for your kids at no cost. And, if you want some alone time they have an incredible kids club.

 

Grand Velas, swimming pool

Grand Velas, swimming pool

 

Swim up bars suck said no one ever! At Grand Velas.

 

I’ve also stayed at Occidental Xcaret and Grand Velas which are two very different experiences. Both offer an all inclusive experience but Grand Velas is much more luxurious than Occidental while Occidental is great for families and anyone who likes the idea of jungle and seaside hikes.

 

The crystalline coast at Occidental Xcaret

 

Occidental Xcaret

This cool little boat will take you from Occidental to Xcaret Park!

 

Occidental Xcaret

The beach at Occidental Xcaret

 

Gauge Rybak, Occidental Xcaret

Gauge checking out the Macaws at Occidental Xcaret

 

I recommend Occidental if you’re trying to save on budget and be very close to the park as it backs up to the park. Grand Velas if you want more luxury and don’t mind being a shuttle drive away (very nice property) and Paradisus if you have family or want an adult only option where it’s quiet.

 

Our Adventure on a Personal Note

 

You know, I’ve done a lot. I’ve been around the world and there’s something special that brings me back to Mexico. Specifically Xcaret and their parks. There’s an eco-adventure and cultural experience there which is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. My son loves it and has since he was six years old. My best friend Shelley who went last year was blown away. Like how could this be here and us not know about it our entire lives? The Riviera Maya and Xcaret along with the right all inclusive resort is a trifecta for an unforgettable trip no matter who you’re with.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret. Gauge Rybak, Kidfriendly, Christa Thompson. Paola Fuentez

Love this girl, Paola is like my Hermana from another madre!

 

Shelley VanWitzenburg, Gauge Rybak

Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg 2016 I love seeing these two hang out. Travel brings you together.

 

Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg 2016 – Memories that last a lifetime.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret, Gauge Rybak, Christa Thompson

Photo Shelley VanWitzenburg2016

 

Transport Tips

 

You’ll need to fly into Cancun and hire a $50 coach each way to the resort and that’s literally it.

 

The Take-Away

 

The number one question people ask my son and me over and over again is where is our favorite place to go as a family. I always tell them Xcaret Park in the Riviera Maya. There is no comparison for American travelers. This is the only place which caters to every single travel style you could possibly want to experience. For more information on Xcaret and their parks check out their website.

 

Sacred Mayan Journey Xcaret, Gauge Rybak, Christa Thompson

It’s the little things…

 

Special thank you to Experiencias Xcaret for always inviting me back year after year to experience their amazing culture and adventure parks. This is truly a staple in our lives and I am so very grateful to have the opportunity to share these memories with their incredible team. This in no way shapes my opinions in this post, they are truly amazing people.

About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Senior Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. Christa has been traveling the world since 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day.

“It’s never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams.” -Christa Thompson

6 Comments on this post

  1. Stunning Pictures! Great Place and Like the way you represent your experience. As a traveler, I like to visit on these places.

    Thanks for sharing such an great experience with us.

    Nitin Khanna / Reply
  2. I love this so much. And you. <3 The photo journal is so great. Like living it all again! This place is as close to magic as earthly possible. Everyone needs to experience XCaret!!!

    Shelley / Reply
  3. […] see more of my photos, check out my Google+ album. If you're planning a trip with kids, check out Christa's post and don't forget to pack these 14 things for your vacation in […]

  4. […] you go studying the lingo. Of all the times we’ve been to Mexico (like for last year’s Sacred Mayan Journey) and had to practice these tips, we’ve actually gotten by pretty well. Here are five […]

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