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Visiting Quintana Roo? Xcaret Is Worth The Trip

Theme parks tend to have a cheesy, commercialized reputation in the United States, but just over an hour south of Cancun on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, Xcaret is redefining the concept. As one of the only eco-archaeological parks on the Riviera Maya, Xcaret makes an excellent day trip option for those visiting Tulum, Playa Del Carmen, Cancun, or any other coastal region in Quintana Roo.

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Xcaret was founded in 1991 on the principle of ecological sustainability, offering visitors a chance to snorkel, swim with dolphins, zip line, visit underwater rivers and cenotes, and participate in other “eco-tourism” adventures without harming the native landscape that has historically been exploited for profit in this region.

As the latest recipient of Trip Advisor’s coveted Certificate of Excellence, the park stands as an example of the fact that it is possible to experience the majesty of the Mayan jungle without further encroaching on its tropical wildlife. Xcaret employs trained biologists and indigenous people in their wildlife programming and cultural entertainment, and has received a CSR award from the Mexican Center for Philanthropy (CEMEFI) every year since 2002. The park’s commitment to social, environmental, and cultural transparency makes it a viable business model for the new age of tourism Mexico is currently experiencing, as the Mexican peso continues to make Quintana Roo an increasingly popular destination among U.S. travelers.

While Xcaret is a privately-owned theme park, it feels more akin to a fun-filled reservation that is friendly to families and idle adventurers alike: on site, guests can experience a traditional Fiesta Charra and the Mayan Ball Game (for those seeking activities that are more domestic) while nature lovers and thrill-seekers can visit Jaguar Island and or take a contemplative respite at the reserve’s colorful Butterfly Pavilion. Snorkeling and swimming with dolphins are crowd favorites, of course, as is bird watching.

Multi-colored toucans, green parrots, scarlet macaws, pink flamingos, majestic golden eagles, and emerald green quetzals live in the park within the expansive jungle aviary, which now protects over 1500 native birds. Proceeds from visitors support conservation programs and reproduction of endangered species so that their spectacle of color (and symphony of sounds) can continue to be enjoyed for generations to come.

Xcaret is located on Carretera Chetúmal-Puerto Juárez Kilómetro 282, Solidaridad, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico. For more information on ticket prices, reservations, and travel, visit the park’s website.

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