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Xcaret Park Riviera Maya Occidental Xcaret feature

Day 2 Journal: Adventure and Mayan Culture at Xcaret Park and Occidental Xcaret in the Riviera Maya

This is day two of our ten-day adventure to the Riviera Maya and Isla Holbox on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico to explore Mayan culture, mythology, and eco-adventure. Today we are at the all-inclusive Occidental at Xcaret Park which is an eco-archeo-adventure park in the Riviera Maya. Here you will find travel tips and highlights of our personal experience. 


Travel Tip: If you’re looking for great deals on travel gear, I always check VoucherBin for the latest coupon codes before heading out on foot. 


Occidental Xcaret
The entrance to Occidental Xcaret where you’ll find the open-air lobby.


Day 2 in the Riviera Maya


From my little dinner table at Occidental Xcaret, I could hardly tell we had just experienced a tropical storm. The colorful paper cutouts were waving gently in the breeze as I waited for my much-needed margarita. We had just spent the day exploring the resort’s lavish property, followed by a full day at Xcaret Park next door. We were tired, hungry, and ready for some much-needed sleep, but not before we enjoyed a Mexican meal (as part of our all-inclusive accommodations).


Occidental Xcaret
Love the river that winds through the resort.


Occidental at Xcaret


Eager to see the property despite the slow passing tropical storm, we got up super early and headed out for an adventure. Our room, situated on a lagoon-like pool framed in purple tropical flowers, was very big and well maintained.


I do wish they had more pillows (an easy fix by just asking), but in all honesty, we weren’t there to hang out in the room. We are adventurers! I stepped out for a moment onto our wrap-around balcony and enjoyed the view of the pool, then we were off to explore the on-property trails through the jungle.


Occidental Xcaret
More of the pretty river and hanging vines.


About the Property


There’s no shortage of tropical foliage at Occidental Xcaret. From the moment you step foot into the lobby, you’re surrounded by hanging plants, tropical vines, massive Banyan, and Ceiba Trees.


The lobby is inside a massive tiki hut-type thing that gives you this wow factor upon arrival. The staff (all eagerly waiting guest arrivals) are beyond friendly and ready to handle your every need.


Occidental Xcaret
The river leads to the park where you have a private guest entrance.


A man-made canal lined with hacienda buildings runs through the entire front portion of the property. In areas surrounding the main lobby, you will find Scarlet Macaws just hanging out on their perches, beautiful tropical plants, and rustic thatch-style bridges.


Travel Tip: At 6:50 pm every night a traditional Mayan canoe comes by with Mayans dressed in ceremonial costume chanting, playing drums, and lighting all the torches. This is really cool and worth taking photos of. Also, ask the front for extra pillows in your room, and you may want to bring a power strip as there are not many outlets in the rooms either. 


Occidental Xcaret
Pretty jungle at the hotel.


We ventured out into the jungle…


We were eager to see what was beneath the tree hammocks and on the ground. Smitten by the giant Banyans and Ceibas, we almost didn’t see all the iguanas! Then just like that, it was one creature after the next and before we knew it, we were surrounded by deer, howler monkeys, coati, agouti, and colorful tropical birds.


It was seriously the coolest thing. The Little was wide-eyed with wonder. One look at him just made my heart melt.


Occidental Xcaret
Some of the natives of the hotel’s jungle. Walk quietly and don’t disturb!


Eventually, we were led to a long path that took us to two Mayan ruins. These, I do believe, were reconstructed on original foundations. Very cool to explore, surrounded by the wilds of the Riviera Maya.


Mayan Mythology: Both the Ceiba and Banyan Trees are sacred. The Ceiba is and has been sacred to the Mayans for thousands of years. It is believed by Mayans that the Ceiba holds an energy connection with the Cosmos, Earth, and the Underworld, and as a place where Maya Gods and supernatural forest creatures live. It is known to them as the “World Tree” and is tied to their creation myths. The Banyan have very similar meanings, especially in the far east of the world.


Occidental Xcaret
The beautiful seaside of the hotel.


Seeing the beach was like seeing Jesus…


And that’s a big shoe to fill when you’re a travel blogger who lives in one of America’s most popular beach destinations. The sight of the Beach Club with its thatch hut style, the cabanas with their swinging beds and curtains blowing in the breeze, and the blue-green Caribbean Sea crashing against the coastal rocks were a perfect combination for paradise.


It was seriously the coolest morning hike ever. We were refreshed and ready for even more adventure at Xcaret Park.


Occidental Xcaret
Left, you can catch a ride to the park from the hotel. Right, the adult pool made from tidewater and home to tropical fish. Bottom, hammocks by the sea.


Travel Tip: I advise staying at Occidental not just because I have been sponsored by them, but because it truly is the most convenient means of seeing the Riviera Maya given that Experiencias Xcaret picks you up. All you have to secure is a coach from Cancun airport and that’s in the home of $50USD one way for the whole family.


Renting a car will cost you upwards of $350 USD for 10 days once they tack on the insurance. (Don’t be fooled, opting out of insurance means you have to leave a $1,200 USD deposit on your charge card).


Xcaret Park


Xcaret Park


I keep asking myself why it took me so long to hear about Xcaret Park. Then I realized that so many tourists in the US find visiting Mexico to be taboo. The claims that it’s unsafe and unhealthy have reached far too many. Sadly, people have no idea what they are missing out on, and they couldn’t be more wrong.


xcaret park 7
The river in the Mayan Village where you can swim.


Xcaret Park like all of the other attractions owned by Experiencias Xcaret in the Riviera Maya, is 100% safe, staffed by some of the nicest people on the planet (many of which speak English), and offers nearly a completely hassle-free experience. As in, if you stay at Occidental Xcaret, they will pick you up and take you to any of their parks and tours.


Travel Tip: I advise getting a package to these. Some of them are all-inclusive (meals/alcohol) some are inclusive of one meal per person. 


Some of the park's culture. They really have made it their business to bring culture to the guests. I love that.
Some of the park’s culture. They really have made it their business to bring culture to the guests. I love that.


Xcaret Park is home to breathtaking beauty.


Carved into a natural landscape of caverns, underground rivers, tunnels, and beaches, Xcaret Park is literally the coolest attraction I have ever visited. It’s like archeology meets Indiana Jones-like adventure, wrapped in paradise. I would take this place over Disney any day and here’s why:


  • Nature
  • Eco-archeo-adventure
  • Mayan Mythology
  • Unbelievable representation of Mayan culture
  • Hands down the most beautiful cemetery I have ever seen
  • Awesome authentic hand-made Mexican and Mayan art for sale
  • Really cool excursions (which will cost extra) that allow you to get up close with trained animals


Travel Tip: You can bring a dry change of clothes, there are rinsing showers and lockers. There are even plastic bags for wet clothes.


I advise getting the waterproof cellphone bag that hangs on your neck. It’s right around $20 USD and worth every single penny.


Some of the wildlife you'll see at the park. They are all in natural habitats and have lots of room to play and live.
Some of the wildlife you’ll see at the park. They are all in natural habitats and have lots of room to play and live.


Our Day at Xcaret


Despite the tropical storm, we were still able to do a lot of things. We started with checking out the butterfly habitat and then made our way to the Mayan Village overlooking the crystalline river.


Then we suited up and hit the river for an underground adventure of dark tunnels and waterfalls. We enjoyed an amazing lunch at Laguna then headed over to the cemetery where we saw the most beautiful tombstones ever built upon a conduit of hidden crypts.


xcaret park
Pretty cemetery. I love how the tombstones are colorful and custom.


Xcaret Park Cemetery
Absolutely beautiful and ornate tombstones at the cemetery. These are replicas of the most beautiful in all of Mexico.


Xcaret Park
More of the beautiful cemetery.


xcaret park
Hidden crypt at the cemetery.


xcaret park hidden crypts
The Little running through the hidden crypts.


Xcaret Park
Hidden crypt


Xcaret Park Shopping
This is my favorite store at the cemetery. Here there are beautifully handmade skeleton dolls and skulls.


We finished the night with an awesome night show which highlights the history and culture of Mexico.
We finished the night with an awesome night show which highlights the history and culture of Mexico.


Travel Tips: Go to Xcaret Park in May, June, or September when it’s very slow. You get the same experience without the crowd making your visit a lot less touristy. 


Special thanks to our sponsors:


While we have been sponsored by the following brands, this in no way shapes our opinions or reports. Everything you read is legit from our hearts to your eyes.




Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 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

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