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Xelha Riviera Maya

Adventure in Mexico’s Riviera Maya at Xel-Ha

Where the Jungle Meets the Sea


This is day two of our epic, all out, Indiana Jones vs. Tomb Raider, 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 Xel-Ha for a special snorkeling excursion. We are staying with Occidental Xcaret next to Xcaret Park. Here you will find travel tips and highlights of our personal experience. 


Xelha Riviera Maya
Arial view of Xelha


Day 3 Riviera Maya


There I stood at the edge of a 16 foot cliff next to my son. The water below us a crystal blue. I watched as he observed the two jumpers before us, his eyes wide, his confidence growing. He wasted no time before hurling himself into the air and before I knew it, he was met by a massive splash. My heart pounding, I went in right after. We had just cliff jumped in Mexico at Xel-Ha and it was awesome.


Xelha Riviera Maya
Taking a 16 foot plunge into this beautiful water!


A Little History Nibble on Xel-Ha


Xel-Ha is a magical paradise with unparalleled beauty in the Riviera Maya of Mexico. A living, all natural aquarium in the earth complete with wildlife and tropical fish. Steeped in Mayan Mythology, Xel-Ha actually means, “where the water is born”. During pre-hispanic times, the location once served as a port where sailors would find shelter and trade between ancient mayans was conducted.


Xelha Riviera Maya
Snorkeling inlet


The Mythology Behind the Paradise


Hundreds of years ago ancient Mayans believed the gods fused their wisdom and love for beauty to create a perfect paradise. This paradise would have the best in nature and wildlife. The Gods called it Xel-Ha. This mythical paradise pleased the gods so much they decided it could be enjoyed by all mortals.


Iguana Riviera Maya
Still guarding the Mayan God-made paradise…


In order to maintain its perfection, the gods appointed guardians to make sure it was always taken care of. These three guardians were named ‘Huh’ the iguana and guardian of the land, “Chuc Kay’ the pelican and guardian of the air, and “Kay Op’ the parrotfish and guardian of the water. To this day is is still believed these are the guardians of this mythical paradise. A mythical paradise that you, me, and anyone else can visit.


Xelha Riviera Maya
There’s no shortage of fun here.


Xel-Ha Now


Now the paradise once known by the ancient Mayans as a place for all mortals to enjoy is owned and operated by the Xcaret Parks enterprise. They have made this special place safe for all to enjoy a plethora of fun water activities while keeping in line with its natural setting and providing a place of refuge for its still abundant guardians. Here’s a list of fun things to do at Xel-Ha:

  • Snorkeling in its crystal blue inlets
  • Cliff jumping into refreshing waters
  • Float down a beautiful lazy river
  • Snorkel into a Mayan cave
  • Trepachanga (rope course over the water)
  • Ziplining
  • Rope swinging
  • Trails through the jungle
  • Cenotes
  • Ixchel’s Grotto
  • Children’s play area
  • Mayan ruins
  • and more

Travel Tip: If you’re comparing this park to Xcaret keep in mind there are no animal exhibits here, it’s completely natural, all-inclusive, and is entirely based on water attraction points. Xcaret is much larger and has animal exhibits, an aviary, a butterfly forest, botanical gardens, and other water activities as well as cultural experiences. Really, the parks are both worth visiting and you can find packages on the Xcaret site.


Xelha Riviera Maya
The Little getting some love from the locals.


We loved our experience in this perfect paradise of the Riviera Maya. Not to mention they are an all inclusive park so there’s no need to bring anything but a towel, sunscreen and your swimsuit. Your buffet and alcohol is all included on the bill which runs in the home of $80USD and you can add on transport from your hotel for just under $40 for the family. Totally worth every penny.

Travel Tip: You never know when mosquitos will strike, always have some bug spray with you. Bring dry clothes, you’ll appreciate it at the end of the day. Make sure you have water shoes and I highly recommend purchasing a waterproof neck pouch for your smart phone (which allows you to operate your phone through the plastic). They sell them at the park for $27 USD.


In Closing


I’m so glad we made it to this awesome park. It was so natural and so peaceful. By the end of the day we had made so many memories, I couldn’t have asked for a better day of water adventure. Still, all good days must come to an end. Our time had come to leave this beautiful paradise where the jungle meets the sea.


Xelha Riviera Maya
park map


We made it back to the Occidental Grand Xcaret just in time for the cool Mayan canoe arrival in the hotel’s canal. We were well spent, eager to relax in our spacious suite, and that’s just what we did.


Mayan canoe show Occidental Grand Xcaret
The Mayan canoe performance at Occidental Grand Xcaret


Special thanks to our sponsors:
While we have been sponsored by the following brands with fully paid experiences, this in no way shapes our opinions or reports. Everything you read is legit from our hearts to your eyes. They just make bringing you the deets affordable, and we’re okay with that!


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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