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Xcaret Park with Kids

Updated: Jul 11, 2022

We were very indecisive about whether to visit Xcaret or not. Part of a group of 9 or so beautiful oceanfront nature & cultural theme parks built around natural wonders, it is exceedingly expensive (£350 for two adults and one half price child!!), busy and not particularly adventurous. However, so many people had told us to do it, that is it the perfect activity for young kids, we blew the budget and went - it did not disappoint! Here is our review/info dump on Xcaret with kids.

Xcaret entrance

We arrived bang on opening at 8:30 and had the place to ourselves for quite some time. Immediately upon entering Xcaret Park, our kids were greeted by flamingos, an excellent happenstance as they tie with penguins as Quinn’s favourite animal! Alongside the nearby Macaws, this got them immediately hooked and set the tone for the rest of the visit.

Exploring the Xcaret Caves

After studying the bewildering map for what seemed like an hour, we decided to hit the “white trail” which headed towards a cluster of animal exhibits and goes directly through the Mayan village (Ruta Pueblo Maya). Getting there was a fun adventure in itself. We arrived so early that the kids were able to literally run through the caves with excitement without bothering anyone.

Xcaret Cemetery and Mayan Village

The Xcaret caves lead you to a beautiful Mexican Cemetery, (unfortunately located atop a steep circular hill with step access only) with colorful tombstones and displays. Our daughter really enjoyed walking around the pathways looking at all the brightly colored tombstones and actually slowed down to look and ask questions along the way. The graveyard opens up into a village with cute buildings, displays and beautiful temple. We liked what we saw but didn’t stay long, knowing that it’s impossible to fit this place in to one day and there was so much more to do!

See the Birds at the Xcaret Aviary

The Xcaret Aviary was one of the highlights of the day and our first nature stop. This is a truly beautiful complex holding an impressive number of birds and species. It is surprisingly big and it took us a long time to make our way through it all.

The Aviary is constructed over many levels, with the trail spiraling downwards along the edge. It features a towering waterfall, which makes the whole place feel like a tropical paradise (and super humid!).

The kids enjoyed walking along the suspension bridge at the top and seeing the tropical birds stopping at the feeders along the way. We got some great photos; we didn’t see another soul for the first 45 mins of our visit.

And of course, the kids loved the very colorful Xcaret birds. There were so many brightly colored parrots, smaller tropical birds and ducks etc., as well as giant shoebills and huge pelicans. I’d say the golden eagles were certainly the favourites, not least because one of them shed a large feather which just happened to land on the protective netting in such a way that Andrew could grab it. What a souvenir!

All round this area we got to see glimpses of the Xcaret underground lazy river, which made the kids excited for what was to come.

Butterfly Pavilion

Next up was the Xcaret Butterfly Pavilion, which is an equally impressive enclosure.

Your journey through the Butterfly Pavilion begins with a display featuring a series of small trees. Each subsequent tree shows the gradual transformation from caterpillar to butterfly a little further until the transformation is done. This introductory display at the is very cool and really helps children understand the butterfly transformation process. I was a bit concerned that this might be a bit old hat for us as our caterpillar obsessed kids grow several at home every year in our desktop butterfly house, but it’s very nicely done and they loved it. The intimate encounters with many tropical butterflies was unique and fun. Getting to see so many beautiful, colorful butterflies flying all around and up close was so exciting for them. We were happy to see lots of Blue Morpho and Monarch butterflies flying around as we had to cut out a visit to Valle de Bravo from our trip. One day hopefully!

Dos oragituas (if you know, you know!)

Mexico Family Trip Idea:

If your kids love butterflies and you love family trips to Mexico, check out Valle de Bravo. Every winter millions of Monarch butterflies migrate from Canada to Mexico and congregate in protected areas nearby. Valle de Bravo is an easy side trip from Mexico City, which sadly we had to cut from our adventure. It looks like one of the most amazing things to ever see in nature.

Jaguar Island

Our next must-see Xcaret attraction was the Xcaret Jaguar Island exhibit. On an island surrounded by a moat and under a hanging bridge, were lucky enough to spot the jaguar sleeping in a bush. What a beautiful creature! On the other side, we saw the puma, escaping the heat under a tree.

Other Wildlife at Xcaret

On our way to our top destination of the morning, we stopped and looked at the Tapir as they’re pretty weird and are worth a quick look. Along this walkway are a number of deer like creatures, spider monkeys and raccoons. Amazingly all the animals were visible at every enclosure we past. One of the highlights of the day was the moment a coati jumped out of a bin as I went to throw something away! It scared the life out of me and was absolutely hilarious. There are a lot of wild animals that call the park home including massive lizards and iguanas that are casually lolling about around every corner.


Dotted around the park are a number of Mayan ruins. I was sceptical, but it turns out they are genuine! More can be found about them here:

Swim the Xcaret Underground Paradise River

By this time it was already 11am and we were keen to tick off the main attraction; the xcaret paradise underground lazy river. Max was utterly desperate (as was I!) and hadn’t stopped begging us to jump in since we first spotted it snaking under several of the stops we’d already visited.

We had purchased Xcaret Plus tickets (more on that below) which allowed us to access VIP changing areas but more importantly, a service which moves your belongings from your starting point to your chosen exit area. This was a stunningly well thought out and welcome service as it would have been quite a mission back to the start to pick up our bags and pushchair!

After changing, showering and picking up the mandatory life jackets (they had baby ones) we headed through the Xcaret Plus embarkation area. We had a brief moment of terror when an employee tried to tell us that Willow was too small to go in (due to the cold water temperature). I explained that she’d already swam several chilly cenotes with her big brother and sister by this point, and thankfully they allowed me to sign a waiver and let us through.

The water temperature of the underground river was indeed quite cool but it was bloody brilliant! The first little stretch of river goes through a really beautiful tall canyon, lined with waterfalls and trees at the top. Before long the river enters a dark cave with high ceilings. It got pretty dark in there, but there were holes in the ceiling letting streams of light through every so often which allowed us to see just enough. Our kids are fearless and loved every minute, however I imagine it could be a little scary for some kids.

There are 4-5 exits along the Xcaret underground river in case you want to get out before the end. Quinn’s teeth started to chatter a little bit towards the end but none of us wanted to get out so we continued. We were determined to do the whole thing (and had ordered our belongings to be delivered to the very end!) and didn’t regret it, the end opens out into a mangrove area and we loved swimming around the overground roots!

Xcaret Underground River Tips:

  • Xcaret park policy requires guests wear biodegradable sunscreen to help protect the hydrological system.

  • There are some helpful, but somewhat complex logistics associated with your belongings and equipment for the underground river. For standard ticket holders, lockers are provided for which you must keep the key. For Xcaret Plus ticket holders, your belongings can be placed in a dufflebag and moved to your selected location/exit from the river.

  • Eat after the river. It can be surprisingly hard work swimming with a baby and a three year old strapped to you and we saw another few people getting out at the first exit as they ate too much at the buffet and weren’t feeling great swimming with such full stomachs.

La Laguna Restaurant

After the river, we dried off, got semi changed and went for lunch at La Laguna restaurant, one of six buffet restaurants on site. We had planned to eat at the grill near the exit of the river. We had read in advance that our xcaret passes would allow one buffet meal, and that the restaurants had a breakfast, lunch and dinner service. We arrived at the start of lunch where they served everything from the usual Mexican fare to steaks, burgers, chips, sushi and pizza, as well as unlimited beers and fresh fruit juices.

We loved everything we ate, and made several return trips to the huge selection of fresh fruit, breads and pastries. I’m not going to lie, we might have brought some collapsible Tupperware with us to sneak some out for tea. This place is utterly incredible but £350 for two adults and one half price child fare? And you’re not allowed to bring in your own food? That’s pretty steep so I feel ok with taking a bit of cheese and bread for supper.

We worked up a huge appetite seeing the top Xcaret attractions all morning and we ate a ton of food. La Laguna Restaurant was a great Xcaret dining option for families with small kids!

Bat Cave

After lunch, seeking to stay out of the sun and water while our massive dinner went down, we descended some stairs into the Xcaret Park Bat Cave. The kids went wild for this one, the roof was quite low so they could see a lot more detail of the bats from their low stature than they have in the “real” caves we’ve explored previously. They swooped silently around with only Quinn’s squeaks making any sound at all

Manatee Pool

We decided to head to the kids world for the bulk of the afternoon, but on the way we got an excellent view of the large manatee pool containing several of the fascinating creatures. We were lucky enough to walk past as they were eating lettuce scattered on the surface at the time, so they were quite active near the surface, sticking their noses out of the water quite a bit. It’s easy to get a feel for how big the graceful manatees really are!

Xcaret Children’s World

I was so impressed with the Xcaret Children’s World, it was extremely difficult to leave the area as the kids were enjoying themselves so much.

When we arrived at this gorgeous corner of the park we immediately raced straight into the little lake, which has a surprisingly beautiful cascading waterfall flowing into it. I love the effort by Xcaret Park to make the kids play area so stunningly beautiful.

There was a little wading pool next to the lake which Quinn loved, I have genuinely never seen her so happy squealing her socks off. She was even moved to “swim” to explore the rocks below, which was a huge confidence boost for her. She jumped in and out between the lake and the splash zone waterfall area for an hour occasionally digging for buried Mayan treasure in the large beach area nearby.

Meanwhile our son went off to the secret adventure, and due to the presence of lifeguards (something I’ve never really seen on any of our previous adventures!) I was comfortable to let him go for it alone (making some friends along the way) while I kept my eyes and hands on the other two.

The Secret Adventure is a long pathway with soft play jungle gym-type obstacles to navigate, ropes to climb, bridges to cross, waterslides to go down and bird houses to walk through. He simply loved it and it looked like the best time!

See the Fish at the Xcaret Aquarium - Avoid the Dolphins.

We didn’t have much time left before the evening show so we had to make a difficult choice between which area to finish on. We chose the aquarium as they are always a big hit with our children. They get super excited and run from tank-to-tank (we adults don’t typically get to see anything for very long or read a thing!).

The aquarium features an impressive amount of local tropical fish, the tanks are laid out in depth zones. One exhibit in particular stopped our kids dead in their tracks – the two jellyfish tanks with various coloured lights being absorbed and emitted by them. Hard not to stop and watch these mesmerizing sea creatures for quite a while, but we were keen to press on to finish off the section.

Unfortunately at the end of the aquarium trail, it opens up into dolphin and shark enclosures. It turns out that the park offers various swimming and feeding sessions for these magnificent animals, which we wholeheartedly disagreed with. While it was hugely tempting to get this once in a life time experience for our son who was desperate to swim with the dolphins, we were glad we explained the reasons why we could not do this. Dolphins roam thousands of miles of ocean in their lifetimes and as sentient beings it is absolutely awful to lock them away in a pond (the same goes for the manatees and sharks but scientific evidence suggests they’re less aware of their surroundings). Once we saw the size of the dolphin enclosure our son was moved to tears and complained bitterly asking us to write to the park operators. Once we returned back to our apartment, I took to my laptop and discovered that according to the recent report here, only 4.2% of dolphin deaths are from old age. That fact alone is so shocking and upsetting I would urge anyone to do as I have done and write to the park operators to end this cruel practice at once. It put a huge downer on what was otherwise a near perfect day at an attraction which rivals any other including Disney.

Xcaret Park Shows

There are many amazing cultural shows throughout the day in various locations around the park. We managed to catch the Flying Man show which was a very peaceful 15 mins or so watching a traditional ceremony involving four men dressed in colourful ribbon dangling upside down from a pole while one played tranquil flute music. The main event however is the history of Mexico show, lasting two hours (7-9pm) in its own purpose build stadium. Our kids are usually in bed by 7pm but allowing the baby an extra long lunch nap and sneaking our buffet food out meant we felt we were ok to stay out late! It was totally worth it, a stunning display with Mayan warriors, the arrival of Catholicism, the Spanish conquest, horses, parrots and loads of fire - they also gave a fantastic demonstration of the ancient Mayanball-hoop game we had seen in Coba and Chichen Itza. The show was absolutely breathtaking, and with the live music it was highly emotional in places. An extremely fitting end to an almost perfect day.

Xcaret Park with Kids was So Much Fun!

That’s our brilliant day at Xcaret with our kids! We focused on the many nature attractions, but that is not all Xcaret has to offer. Xcaret Park has an equally impressive number of cultural attractions, including Mayan ruins, a prestige beach area, turtles (we decided a against this park simply because we’ve got oodles of turtle related adventures planned during our trip later down the line) museums, shows, chapels, etc.

There was so much to do at Xcaret with kids that we could have easily spent another full day at Xcaret to take it all in. But, in the end we just didn’t have the time. We’ve resolved that if we are ever lucky enough to visit Mexico again we will certainly return, however we might have to remortgage our house because the park owners also operate another 8 stunning parks including Xel-Ha (built around cenotes and ocean bays on the Caribbean Sea), Xplore (a thrill a minute park of dune buggies, caving and zip lines) and Xenses, a unique experience filled with optical illusions (it looks absolutely hilarious).

How to Save Money on Xcaret Tickets

Visiting Xcaret with kids is extremely expensive (and we’re from London and the English Home Counties!). There are several easy ways to save money on your family visit to Xcaret.

The easiest way to save 10-15% is to simply buy your Xcaret tickets online. This alone will save two parents a minimum of $20USD! I've also read that when purchasing tickets with a HSBC credit card, you will get a second day free!

As mentioned above, we chose the Xcaret Plus tickets. This includes all the things to do with the Standard Xcaret tickets plus you get one free meal from the buffet restaurant of your choice, free snorkel gear and access to the exclusive Plus area lockers, dressing rooms and private restrooms. Xcaret plus tickets are well worth it. While I initially balked at the price, when I added up the cost of eating at any of the restaurants, it was absolutely worthwhile to get it discounted upfront. Throwing in the special changing area, river entrance and the carting of our belongings to our chosen river stop off, it was absolutely worth it

Obviously we cheekily nabbed some extra food for from the buffet, which meant those plus tickets stretched even further 😉

Planning a Mexican Family Trip?

If you are currently in the Mayan Riviera or are planning a trip there, don’t miss our run down of our "A Taste of Mexico with Kids - 7 days in the Yucatan Peninsular" and our know-before-you-go guide to how, where and when in the Yucatan. They're packed full of planning tips, exciting family activities and links to all of our Mayan Riviera blog posts. It’s sure to help make your family trip a memorable one!

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