Xcaret

Best known as “nature's divine playground”, Xcaret Eco Park bridges the fascinating topographies and tapestries shaped by nature, with a little of man's creativity for a biodiverse experience guaranteed to blow your mind. Beset amid the crystal clear waters and ancient relics of Playa del Carmen (central to the Costa Maya), Xcaret Eco Park is less than 56 km (35 miles) from the touristic buzz of Cancun and encompasses one of the Mayan Riviera's most fascinating archaeological sites. Nestled beside a picturesque stretch of Caribbean coastline within verdant Quinatana Roo State, the 2,000 year old, pre-Columbian ruins of Xcaret set the backdrop for a truly epic adventure!

Mexican architect Miguel Quintana Pali stumbled upon the ancient realm of Xcaret in 1984, whilst hunting for a prime area of coastal land for private development. Swayed by the sheer paradisaical beauty of the of Costa Maya; the discovery of natural underground rivers and a realization the area was punctured by hundreds of active sink holes; Pali decided to forgo his own dreams and develop this charismatic stretch of Mayan Riviera for all to enjoy. Xcaret Eco Park opened in 1990 to a fanfare of critical acclaim – the first au naturel theme park of its kind, anywhere in North America. Today, the park is as committed to eco-friendly practices as it was two decades ago. Nearly 80% of water is re-used for irrigation and 180 tonnes of compost is distributed among chief botanical areas. Visitors are encouraged to use eco-friendly sun protection on sale within the park, in order to reduce chemical pollutants entering the waterways.

From the vivacity of Monkey Island, to the tranquility of floating along a jungle-lined waterway, Xcaret offers a multitude of enticing activities. Home to over 1,000 unique species, Xcaret lures wildlife enthusiasts from all corners of the globe, keen to experience the thrill of getting up close to the comically disproportionate Spider Monkey, mimicking Macaws and shallow dwelling Nurse sharks, common in Caribbean waters. A recently developed 'Shark Tour' offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to dive with these docile creatures - at some of the most populated sites along the Mayan Riviera. Jaguar Island compels many to visit Xcaret, purely for a glimpse of these famously elusive predators. With their jet black coats and piercing eyes, no pixelated “sighting” photo can ever compare to viewing them at the world's last jaguar-friendly habitat. If you don't have the time to wing it across Mexico to one of the several infamous butterfly reserves, Xcaret Butterfly Pavilion really is the next best thing. Teeming with Blue Morphos, Swallowtails and Monarchs, budding lepidopterists will find it impossible to tear themselves away!

At Xcaret, visitors are overwhelmed by the sheer variety of activities on offer. From cruising the narrow jungle rivers aboard sightseeing boats, to relaxing in a rainforest spa, surrounded by the brilliance of nature's creation, there is something to suit even the most walk weary of visitors. Highly trained biologists and guides lend their knowledge to fascinating narrated hikes into the heart of the jungle, where you'll see first hand the real magic of Costa Maya. It's an experience no-one can ever forget!

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