Xel-Ha is an eco park with a Disney edge!! Is about 60 miles south of Cancun and open every day from 8:30am to 6pm. You can easily drive here and pay the $19 cover charge or, as most do, take a tour that will pick you up close to your hotel and bring you here for a day of snorkeling and fun.
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.