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.
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 that can be taken with anyone, that will send you home with stories to tell and which lives just beyond our American border.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Zipline 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
- 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
The 2017 Sacred Mayan Journey is May 26-27th 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!
The 2017 Sacred Mayan Journey is May 26-27th at Xcaret Park
Must show ID at the Park’s box-office
What Else is there to do?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You’ll need to fly into Cancun and hire a $50 coach each way to the resort and that’s literally it.
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 that caters to every single travel style you could possibly want to experience. For more information on Xcaret and its parks check out their website.