Results 1-10of 22 Reviews
April 25, 2005
Most of the bigger hotels in Cancun have reps that can organize this. Doing it this way, it’s $45 but includes transport, entry to the park, and lunch, and usually combines the park with a visit to the Tulum ruins, too.
The park is really beautiful, but most of the coral is dead, so that was disappointing for me. Xel-Ha is quite spread out, but some of the areas farther a field can be reached by a small tractor or bicycles. We took some bikes to get to the start point of the lazy river, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The river was really cold, and that was quite refreshing seeing how it was close to 100°F the day we went.
The plan was to cycle to the start of the river, leave the bikes, enter the river, and let the current take you back into the main lagoon. The river was quite slow, though, so most of this time we had be swimming and it’s quite a long way, so unless the river is quicker on a different day, be prepared for this. Equipped with our snorkel gear, we spent a long time here, and some of the areas were quite spooky, with mangrove roots touching your legs and very bold fish that would pull on my belly ring. UGH!
Once back in the main lagoon, you can feed the fish for a dollar. This is also a little creepy, as those fish are very aggressive and swarm around you jumping and, again, pulling on loose jewelry. I did wonder after I’d lost both an ankle chain and toe ring if they had been so trained and some guy was selling my bling by the roadside someplace!?
There are restaurants along the lagoon where the food is included if you do it as a package. There are trails and beaches that you can take very small hikes to, and en route, you will run into the biggest iguanas I have ever seen.
If you look beyond the commercialization of the park, you will learn that it really does do a lot to protect the local environment and encourages environmental awareness .Speaking of which, be sure to bring some kind of chemical-free sunscreen, as you are not allowed to wear the regular kind here, and with the heat of summer, you can’t go without it. They do sell small bottles there, but at $14, you might want to bring your own.
Look HERE to check out their website and look at all the different activities.
From journal Fun in the Sun
May 17, 2003
This place is extremely spread out. Plan on walking long distances. We didn't see much because we didn't want to walk the entire day. You can see caves, snorkel, hike trails, swim with dolphins, and tube in the lagoon (they say it's a lazy river, but that's not true - it's just on a different side of the snorkel lagoon).
If you really like snorkeling this isn't the place for you. It's a bare, sand bottom lagoon. There are some large fish here though. The lagoon is meshed off from large predators, so the fish inside tolerate snorkelers in exchange for their safety. Snorkelers are eveywhere! Snorkeling off of a shore or a boat is much better.
We weren't that impressed with Xel-Ha, we felt that XCaret was much better and much more worth the money. They do rent towels, lockers, and snorkel equipment. It was nice, but after visiting XCaret we probably would not return to Xel-Ha. Xel-Ha does have some beautiful scenery and there are fresh water showers everywhere to rinse off.
From journal Cancun Vacation
November 27, 2002
At this point we took a few minutes to really look around us. All shades of green in this jungle-beach paradise. Walkways placed to be unobtrusive and preserve the beauty of the foliage. Bright flowers, twinkling white sand, and blue, blue water. Time to jump in!
Our travel companions had never been snorkeling before and were mesmerized by the whole experience. Swimming around amazing rock formations, schools of vibrant-colored fish swimming just out of reach, searching the crevices for the shy ones, and seeing massive fish hovering in hiding places near the bottom. The Xel-Ha inlet is in a place where fresh water meets salt water. We don't know if it was because of the tide at the time we were there, but there was a layer where the salt water and fresh water were mixing, making vision cloudy. For my husband and I, who have snorkeled many times, this was not the best place we've ever been.
Unfortunately, it was time to head back to catch the ship before it left without us. We said good-bye to this tropical jungle after a quick, unmemorable lunch at one of the food stands, and drove the 30 minutes back to Playa del Carmen.
From journal Port of Call: Cozumel
June 5, 2003
From journal My Family In Cancun
Ladysmith, British Columbia
August 19, 2002
From journal First Time in Cancun
Rosemere, Quebec, Afghanistan
January 8, 2005
I believed that we would have too much time on our hands, but I was pleasantly surprised! We had so much to see! The snorkeling was great. The water was not as clear I was expecting, but nevertheless very good. We saw amazing fish everywhere! Well worth the money.
From journal a sweet 2 weeks in Cancun, Mexico!
Saddle Brook, New Jersey
April 21, 2004
The main attraction at Xel-Ha is the 10-acre lagoon, where you can snorkel, tube or just go for a dip. We brought our own snorkel gear, but we did wait on line for the free life jacket rental. The lagoon is anywhere between 9-12 feet deep, with most fish congregating by the rock formations scattered about the lagoon. The tropical fish pay no mind to you as you admire their beauty in their natural environment. One great area to see larger fish, such as snapper, is to snorkel by the floating bridge, where the Xel-Ha people throw feed into the lagoon.
Another option at Xel-Ha is the "Swim with the Dolphins." To swim with the dolphins costs a fee of about $115. If you plan on this you should make reservations at least 24 hours in advance. You can also watch the dolphins around the fenced area as they play with the paying customers.
A popular area in Xel-Ha is the "Hammock Park". Here you can just relax or take a nap on one of about 50 hammocks. Next to "Hammock Park" is a picture taking area. Here you can take pictures with beautiful Macaw parrots. The handler will place as many as three on your head and arms. To take a picture is free, but if you want the picture it will cost about $9. Be smart have your camera ready to take a picture quickly and you can save yourself a couple of bucks.
Other areas of Xel-Ha include an underwater cave. This was very cool. The cave is in a "U" shape and is not very big. There is also a Xel-Ha employee there to take a picture of you for a price. Here is a quick tip. There are sinkholes on a trail over the cave. Here you can see down into the water, get a family member or friend to take a picture of you as you swim by the hole. Along one of the trails (on the trails you will see plenty of iguana, so watch your step) you will come to a Tarzan swing. You can also get your picture taken here by a Xel-Ha photographer (they also take pics of you as you swim in the lagoon).
Your food options in Xel-Ha are decent. There is a buffet, a couple of sit-down restaurants, and a couple of fast-food places, if I remember correctly. There are also a few ice cream stands around the lagoon.
I would say Xel-Ha was one of the highlights on our trip to Cancun.
From journal A Bit Of R&R In Cancun
February 9, 2003
From journal Rivera Maya
January 6, 2003
We snorkeled for several hours all over the close in lagoons. This was mom's first experience snorkeling, and almost Katie's first. The fish were lovely, although Katie found some of the larger ones a bit scary. At one point a large fish scared her out of the water. We snorkeled until noon, then ate lunch at one of the restaurants.
Mom was feeling a bit tired (and sunburned; Xel-Ha won't let you use regular sunscreen because it hurts the fish. They sell an ecological sunscreen, but it is water soluble). So mom was indeed pretty sunburned. So she took a little siesta on one of the chaises while Katie did the same in one of the hammocks. Then we shopped (mom bought a teapot and some shirts) until we dropped. Dropped back into the water again, that is.
We spent another hour snorkeling, a little further out in the water, until even Katie was pooped.
From journal Mom and daughter in the Yucatan
by Love the Beach
Surfside Colony, California
November 2, 2000
From journal Cancun Alternatives