Xel-Ha#8 in Best Things To Do in Playa del Carmen
In the Mayan language, Xel-Ha means "where the water is born." So, expect a trip to Xel-Ha to include plenty of time underwater. Xel-Ha is a natural aquarium centered on an inlet and lagoon that visitors can swim and snorkel through, accompanied by schools of tropical fish, dolphins and turtles. Opinions are split on the benefits of visiting, particularly given that Playa del Carmen's Xcaret eco-park offers virtually the same experience and is closer to town. Several say your preference will probably be determined by which park you hit first. Before you pick, consider that Xcaret's exhibits are man-made, whereas Xel-Ha's are natural. Or on the flipside, keep in mind that Xel-Ha is strictly an aquatic park while Xcaret also includes an aviary and a small zoo, among other attractions. Still can't decide? There's always the option of visiting both thanks to build-your-own packages.
Recent travelers were impressed with Xel-Ha, describing it as "amazing" and "beautiful," and many recommended booking a package deal that allows you to experience both the Mayan ruins in Tulum and the water activities at Xel-Ha in one day. Visitors warn that the prices are steep but well worth it.
Xel-Ha, which is open year-round from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., is situated about 20 miles south of Playa del Carmen; the cost of transportation to the attraction is included in many package deals. Admission prices vary depending on what package you select; ticket prices start at $94.49 for adults if purchased online in advance. For additional information, visit Xel-Ha's website.
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#1 Playa del Carmen Beaches
Your hotel or resort will likely occupy a stretch of pristine white sand, but if you feel like venturing off the property to explore more of Playa's shore, you'll find a bevy of alluring beaches.
You'll likely walk past the beach at Parque Fundadores while strolling La Quinta Avenida as it sits parallel to the bustling thoroughfare. You'll know you're in the right place when you see the massive arch sculpture that's erected at the beach's main entrance. According to past visitors, this beach is always crowded with both tourists and locals, but it's also chock full of amenities and conveniently located near the ADO bus terminal and the ferry to Cozumel. It's also home to a playground – perfect if you're traveling with kids. The beach is free to access, but lounge chair or equipment rentals will cost you extra.
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