Quintana Roo has many places of touristic interest such as Cancun, the “Riviera Maya” and many archeological zones like Tulum, that when put together become the most important touristic destination in Mexico. Because of this, we shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that the most important touristic theme parks of the country are here.
PanamericanWorld will show you 5 touristic theme parks that you have to visit if you are ever in Mexico.
Pepe Triviño, editor of Forward Travel Magazine; Marco Arroyo, editor of Visit USA Magazine and a collaborator in several national media; and Raphael Paredes, a public relations officer working for touristic companies, all agreed on this list of the five most important parks of the country.
After and interview with PanamericanWorld they named other very attractive parks, even though some of them are natural parks and deserve a space of their own, among them were Xochitla, in Tepotzotlan, Mexico State; Barrancas del Cobre, in Chihuahua; Jardines de Mexico, in Jojutla, Morelos State; Cañon del Sumider in Chiapas, among others.
The eco-archeological park Xcaret is the most important of the country because of the number of visitors it gets every year. It was originally called Pole, after a pre-Hispanic port of the Late Postclassical times (1400-1517 ad). Which was maybe one of the most important commercial seaports of the time.
Raphael Paredes says that the park gives its visitors the opportunity of getting to know Mexico’s traditions and nature, with a park full of the country’s art and traditions; these include Maya culture, underground rivers, water activities and even a henequen hacienda from the past century.
One of the activities is the recreation of the country’s traditions. For example, the festival of life and death is about showing all the different traditions around the country, so each year they have different states show their traditions. This year, between October 30th, and November 2nd, they had the celebration of Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), and Michoacan was the hosting/showing state.
Paredes says that the main goal of the park is show its visitors what Mexico is, including the Maya forest. They have imposed traditions from the mentioned culture, and that’s why they have the Sacred Maya Crossing where men and women, row in canoes (in the same way their ancestors did) from Polé (Xcaret) in the waters of the Caribbean Sea, all they way to the park of Chankanaab in the Island of Kuzamil (Cozumel).
This park has one of the best and most complete shows of Mexican culture in the country. At the end of the day, in a huge auditorium there is a show with more than 300 actors, “Xcaret Mexico Spectacular”, and more than 14 million people have seen it since it was first created. It tries to give you a taste of what Mexico is, its history, its roots, even their traditional dances and songs.
According to some researchers of the Maya culture, this park has one flaw and it is not promoting the archeological ruins it was named after. Even though the three experts acknowledge the place, Marco Arroyo said even though it is the most visited, it is not the most innovative of the country anymore.
Location: Chetumal-Puerto Juarez road, Km. 282. Solidaridad, Quintana Roo, Five kilometers south of Playa del Carmen, inside of the Riviera Maya.
Main Attraction: Swimming in Cenotes (Underground Rivers), and playing a Mayan Ball Game
It is next to Xcaret, and five minutes away from Playa del Carmen, and 45 minutes away from Cancun. Xplor is among the most innovative features of this destination and it is considered an adventure park because most of the activities are related to adventure and nature. Xplor has seven zip lines, underground rivers, amphibian cars you can ride in different tracks inside the forest and amazing food.
According to Raphael Paredes, its main attraction is its zip lines, one of them is almost one kilometer above the forest, going by a jaguar and a crocodile pit, and ending in a water curtain.
Swimming in underground rivers and rafting, will allow visitors to enjoy the ancient formations of stalactites and stalagmites, that have been formed throughout millions of years, and that together with fossils created an amazing underground decoration. They are an amazing show of nature, said the experts we talked to.
Pepe Triviño said that among the most interesting features, is one of the caves you visit, where inside of them a dinosaur was recreated. He also says that afternoon and evening activities create a special environment, where the darkness of the forest and caves blends with the fire of the torches, and the light of the moon and stars creating a unique experience.
Where: Federal Road 307, km 282, only 56 km away from the International Airport of Cancun, Quintana Roo, 6 km south from Playa del Carmen and 55 km north of Tulum.
Main Attraction: An almost 1 km long zip line.
It is a water park. Xel-Há is made up by a combination of bays, lagoons and “cenotes” that make up the longest underground river on earth. It is located about 13 kilometers away from Tulum.
Explorers and visitors consider this park the biggest natural aquarium of the world, because it gives its visitors the opportunity to swim among a big variety of fishes and stingrays.
Its view from above makes it look like an oasis in the middle of the jungle. This aquatic world allows people to enjoy snorkeling and swimming with dolphins.
Other available activities are snuba diving and Sea Trek. Snuba diving is like regular diving but without tanks, you get your oxygen from large tubes connected to tanks that float in the water.
Sea Trek, on the other hand is a fun way of exploring seafloor, you wear a helmet with tubes that allow you to breathe. From the bottom of the river you enjoy marine fauna in an incredible way.
This huge natural pool is made of water from the Xel-Há river and from the Caribbean Sea.
Location: Chetumal Puerto Juarez Road km 240, locals 1 & 2, module B, Quintana Roo
Main Attraction: Sea Trek and Snuba
One of the main attractions and touristic traditions in Mexico City, is a ride in a “Trajinera” around the canals of Xochimilco. A similar night version was recreated in Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, five minutes away from Cancun International Airport, and 35 minutes away from Playa del Carmen.
Xoximilco is a night park that has canals, rides in “Trajineras” and at least 20 typical dishes. It is a new park; it opened its doors at the beginning of this year.
The park has a total of 57 hectares, from which 36% are forest, 28% canals, and 35% tracks and service areas, and the total path of the Trajinera boats is 2.5 kilometers long. Despite the length of the path this whole ride taks around three hours, in which you dine with music on board.
Location: Cancun-Tulum Road, five minutes away from the Cancun Airport and 35 minutes away from Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo.
Main Attraction: Ride in a Trajinera boat
“Cenotes” (underground rivers), are part of the mystery and attractive of the mistery and charm of Mayan history and culture. The park Xenotes Oasis Maya gives you the opportunity of combining the history, culture, and nature and adventure activities.
Xenotes is park of a group of ancient geological formations, where you can find underground rivers and crystalline pools that were hidden for millions of years in the deep ends of the Maya forest, in the state of Quintana Roo.
The Mayas believed that the “cenotes” were the door that led to the Xibalbá (underworld) where the gods of rain rested and that’s why they thought of those places as sacred. That’s why the aluxes exist, they are little creatures that look after each “cenote” and you have to ask for their permission before you go into the river.
This park gives you the opportunity to enjoy four types of “cenotes”, whose names were chosen after the four elements of nature: fire, earth, air, and water.
K’áak (Fire Xenote). An open “cenote” with vertical walls that let you enjoy the exotic fauna of the forest. You can visit this river by kayaking or by riding a “wheel”.
Lu’um (Earth Xenote). This one is half open half not; here you must do rappelling along the rock formations that make up this “cenote”. It connects with the aquifer through tunnels and caves.
Lik’ (Air Cenote). It’s an old cenote known as the ancient cenote where water flows really slowly. It is totally open and you can experience it through a zip line with the sounds of the forest and the air in your body, but most importantly with all the adrenaline of flying high and feeling free.
En Ha’ (Water Cenote). It is a covered cenote that allows you to dive into the deepness of the river and to live with the species that live there, with the flora and fauna and surrounded by rock formations.
Location: Predio Tres Bocas, in Puerto Morelos, alcaldia Benito Juarez (Cancun) in an area know as the Route of the Cenotes, 35 km away form Cancun.
Main Attraction: Cenotes Tour