Most of us associate Cancun, Mexico with Spring Break, and really, this location has so much more to offer than tequila slammers and skimpy bikini's. Cancun is also a popular tourist destination for families or couples looking for an eco-friendly and archaeological site that will stimulate the mind and not empty your wallet.
Xcaret Theme Park is a unique and interesting underground geological formation that includes pools, lagoons, fresh water sink holes, and a beach to bask in the sun and rest your tired body after a long snorkel through the crystal clean waters of the Riviera Maya.
The soft currents make for an easy swim through the caves so you don’t have to worry about being an avid snorkeler or diver. Along the way, you’ll observe prehistoric marine fossils on the cavern walls as well as stalagmites and stalactites. The top of the limestone cavern is covered with small sky light openings that allow for an ample amount of light to guide you along your journey. The entire underground river adventure takes approximately 20 minutes, however, in some cases it can feel a bit longer. If you feel yourself getting tired there are many exit areas to rest so you can catch your bearings before continuing down the river.
The depth of the water is 1.6 meters and the distance is 2000 feet. Visitors may choose to use life vests and snorkel equipment, but these items are optional. It’s up to you whether you’d like to admire the underwater views or just float along with the current. In some cases, many people will use the fins, but they will clip their masks and snorkel to their vests if there’s nothing to see.
The water is quite cool, like a natural spring, so make sure you take extra precautions and warm yourself up before diving right in. Your personal belongings are stored in locked bags which will be waiting for you at the exit of the river.
It’s a wonderful combination of tranquility and mystery all wrapped up in a historical location where centuries ago civilizations made their way down the river collecting water for their families and animals.
If you’d like to save your trip to the underground river for another day, you can swim with dolphins for an additional fee or go on an offshore snorkel trip to Xel-Ha’s lagoon. After a long day of water sports, head on over to the XCaret Mexico Espectacular where you’ll experience a collective of ritual full of traditions, music, song and dance.
Don’t leave out the amazing food as it’s a symbolic and sacred object in pre-Hispanic ceremonies. You’ll also immerse yourself in the celebration for the senses with the delightfully prepared feast Xcaret has prepared for you; an original mixture of regional and international food to satisfy even the most pretentious of palates.
The service is perfection and the show is remarkable. A waiter will serve you with a welcome drink before the show even begins, so don’t worry about leaving your seat.
The Butterfly Pavilion
Experience the Butterfly Pavilion where you’ll get to experience firsthand the entire life cycle of the butterfly. This is the largest butterfly adventure in Latin America, so not only will you experience a one of kind natural location, but you’ll see several species of native butterflies.
The flight area measures 37,000 ft² with a height of almost 50 ft, all within a beautifully landscaped area with multi-level gardens. Visitors will experience the remarkable metamorphosis of the butterfly at the reproduction area “where all the stages of the butterfly life cycle are shown, contributing to restore natural butterfly population with a monthly production of 2000 to 3000 butterfly specimens.”
The Aztecs viewed the butterfly as a symbol of extreme exquisiteness and mysticism, and within the butterfly, there is an ancient warrior who died centuries ago during a battle. Another legend tells us how every butterfly flew to heaven and became a star.
On Jaguar Island, there are telescopes strategically placed for visitors to view these spectacular beasts roaming within the lush vegetation. The preserve was built with only the animals in mind, meaning these godly creatures are being looked upon carefully to guard their conservation.
You will be amazed to see these creatures out of their natural, more recognizable, black-mottled yellow coats. Their sleek black skin reflects a creature of power, lord of the night, and a sovereign of the underworld. Mayan legend tells of a Sun God that transforms into a jaguar to travel the “world of the dead, and fight against it; its victory symbolizes the dawn of each new day.” Its mottled skin represents the stars in the Sky.
You may remember the scene from Apocalypto where a black jaguar is gracefully galloping through the rain-forest in hot pursuit of an escapee. The escapee leads the black knight to his enemies who are eagerly awaiting him with spears. However, as the man changes course the jaguar attacks head on into his enemies. The men believe that it’s a bad omen. So as history as told us, the jaguar has had many faces.
Coral Reef Aquarium
Image via Wikipedia
For those of us that can’t experience the coral reef first hand, Xcaret is one of the only aquariums in the world where you can experience the biodiversity of the multicolored underwater gardens of the Mexican Caribbean coral reef.
There is a handful of colorful fish, hard and soft coral, anemones, sponges, star fish and crustaceans, among many others marine creatures. The exhibits show you the diverse ecosystems in this brilliant coral reef at different depths, giving you an entirely different perspective of all things aquatic. “Interactive exhibits will allow you to put your fingers to the test and touch some of these wonderful species; feel the coral reef directly on your skin”.
You will finish up your journey at a tank which holds some extraordinary species of sharks and you will be able to watch the mischievous dolphins and the ancient turtles underwater through a glass window.
A one of kind experience in a tropical location is what you will take away from your visit at Xcaret in Cancun. Start planning your vacation today.