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First the good news...Xcaret is without question one of the most amazing places on the planet. Now the bad news...everyone on the planet will probably be there to enjoy it the same day you are there. For a place dedicated to nature it's amazing how many unnatural distractions there are at Xcaret on any given day.

Xcaret is kind of like Disneyland-meets-the-beach. Not in the sense that there are thrill rides to enjoy, but more along the lines of offering plenty of water-themed attractions for kids young and old to enjoy.

From the time you leave the Cancun airport to the time you take off your shoes in your hotel room you will probably have been exposed to ads for Xcaret about 2 million times. Okay, maybe only 1 million. But the point is that between the colorful billboards, kiosks, flyers, posters and buses....Xcaret is no secret destination.



Xcaret is 50 miles south of Cancun, or about an hour by car or tour bus, just a few minutes past Playa del Carmen. That may seem like a long way to go for a Cancun getaway, but it doesn't seem to slow to many people down. 7 days a week the caravan of cars, shuttles and Xcaret's own buses traverse Mexico's Highway 307 headed for the Yucatan's modified version of Paradise.

Often called an ecological park, Xcaret is located on about 150 acres in between Highway 307 and the azure Caribbean coast. The site was chosen because of the natural clear water lagoon that connects to the ocean there. The lagoon is still there, but much of what draws tourists to the park has been added since the site was developed.

This water wonderland consists of a protected white sandy beach, a river lagoon complete with underground tunnels, and the ruins of actual Mayan temples in a jungle setting.

Activities at the park include snorkeling and scuba diving, swimming with dolphins, paddling canoes, peddle boats, horseback riding and more. Visitors can also enjoy a bird aviary, a sea turtle nursery, a botanical garden and a pretty cool tropical aquarium.

Most of the things offered by Xcaret are actually pretty neat. Where the park gets it's less than perfect reputation is the way it burns through your money, the unrelenting crowds and the unnatural way it portrays nature. Buy hey, Disneyland does the same thing and that doesn't seem to bother anybody.

Cancun visitors with children probably have a better reason to visit Xcaret that those without. The excursion can be a great way to show the kids that there is more to do in Cancun than just lay by the pool day after day. The disadvantage of bringing children is the amount of money needed to finance the larger expedition. But at least the kids can help you carry the money.

Those with a real sense of adventure might consider making the Xcaret trip part of a bigger getaway. The nearby beach community of PLAYA DEL CARMEN and the ruins at nearby TULUM are fun destinations on their own, but a great "two-fer" to wrap into an Xcaret day trip or overnite adventure.

For more information drop by the XCARET web site.




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