Come face to face with ancient Mexican culture when you experience the theme parks at Xcaret and Xel-Ha in Cancun's Rivera Maya region.

Family Vacations in Mexico: Xcaret and Xel-Ha

Theme parks offer vacation attractions for the whole family, and you've probably never experienced entertainment like this. Xcaret and Xel-Ha in Cancun's Riviera Maya region represent the latest innovation in theme parks: They incorporate the assets of their tropical surroundings into exciting activities that introduce the heritage and history of Mexico to park visitors -- especially children.

Xcaret is noted for its unusual underground river passages. These passages were originally used by the Mayans for stealth warfare. The coral-and-limestone ceilings of the passageways have been chiseled a bit higher and wider to allow for the easy passage of visitors bobbing through with life jackets. You can also snorkel in a lagoon, swim with the dolphins, see animal exhibits, and visit Mayan ruins and a re-created Mayan village. Xcaret presents an extravagant evening show that begins with an exhibition of traditional Mayan games. The show also features a cast of 200, who perform folk dances and folk songs.

Although smaller in acreage, Xel-Ha offers a full day's activities. It features a large lagoon for snorkeling, ruins to explore, hidden beaches with hammocks for relaxing, and a Mayan cave. If you're looking for an authentic lazy river ride, you'll find it here in a spring-fed river that has just enough current to take you on an easy trip downstream. You can also investigate Xel-Ha's deep limestone cenotes.

Xel-Ha is home to more than 100 species of birds and 350 species of plants, and its surrounding jungle offers a variety of hiking trails.

Continue to the next page to learn about Mexican traditions that continue today: the Day of the Dead and Night of the Radishes festivals.

Mexican Vacation Information

Mexico Tourism Board - Los Angeles

Address: 1880 Century Park East, Suite 511

Los Angeles, CA 90067

Phone: 310/282-9112

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.