Xel Ha Xcaret Comparison Essay


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.
  • You 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.

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.

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 you 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. If you would also like to buy a photo package of your day you can click here. This allows you to get all your photos that you take at 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. .

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. If you also want to buy the photo package of your day in Xcaret you can do so in this link.

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.

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.

Xcaret and Xel-Ha Xperience Passport

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 it’s 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.

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

Want to know the difference between Xelha and Xcaret?  If you’re like me and find yourself short on money and/or time on your upcoming trip to Cancun and can only choose one eco-park,  let me help you pick!

Beautiful Xcaret

In the last ten years,  I have had the pleasure of visiting Cancun and the Riviera Maya a total of seven times. I always called it “Mexico’s Gateway Destination” and after a three year break of discovering other places and beaches in Mexico,  I finally returned to the crystal blue waters of the Riviera Maya. One thing that was on my to-do list was to visit one of the several eco-parks, something I had never done on my many spring break trips. I knew I wanted to see either Xelha or Xcaret , but I couldn’t decide which one or tell the real difference between them. I found myself asking the same question I am sure many vacationers strapped for time ask themselves, “Xelha or Xcaret?”

Thankfully in the end, I was lucky enough to visit both. What I found was that they are completely different in their own unique ways and nothing at all like I expected (I expected Disneyland-ishness)! I could not believe that after all my past visits to the Riviera Maya, I never experienced these beautiful parks before. So now that I have encountered both, let me break down the difference between Xelha and  Xcaret  for my fellow vacationers who question which to go to (although I insist on making time for both if you can!).

 You can read the full, detailed article on Mexico Today : “The Riviera Maya: Mexico’s Gateway Destination“

 OR.. Here’s a photo summary!


What I appreciate most about this park is it shows off the colors, sounds, and cultures found throughout all of Mexico, and it sparks the interest of the tourists visiting. The experience of Xcaret transforms the image of Mexico seen as being only one big beautiful beach, and demonstrates that it is SO much more. 

Traditional Mayan Cemetary

World Record for Guacamayas

Mayan Performance

Mexican Charreada

Voladores de Papantla

Xcaret Mexico Espectacular


Xel-Ha is a perfect blend of rest and relaxation while still offering different aquatic activities. What I liked most about this park, besides the obvious natural beauty, is it is all inclusive: food, drinks, towels, snorkel gear.. the works.  The park was completely my style, a beach-bum who doesn’t like to get my hair wet yet still surrounding myself in all the excitement and beauty that nature has to offer.

A View of XelHa

Lazy River

Nature Tour

This post is a post featured on MexicoToday.org.  Read  “The Riviera Maya: Mexico’s Gateway Destination ” for a full detailed description about my time in Xel Ha and Xcaret.



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