Riviera Maya with kids: What to do with a toddler in Xel-Ha

If you are visiting Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Riviera Maya with kids, then there is no doubt you must visit Xel-Ha. Xel-Ha is a must-see natural water park located in the Riviera Maya.

Xel-Ha is less than forty minutes away from Playa del Carmen and one hour forty minutes from Cancun Airport. We drove to Xel-Ha, and driving there was quite easy. You just need to take highway 307 Cancun-Tulum.

You can get the cheapest tickets buying directly on their website ahead of time. Most hotels in Cancun will offer tours to Xel-Ha, and other tourist places like Xcaret. This tour will be more expensive, but it includes transportation. When I visited Riviera Maya, I rented a big van for the whole family which is convenient if you are planning on visiting different places around Quintana Roo and Yucatan. If you are just staying in a hotel, that may not be necessary. The tour option is quite convenient, and maybe cheaper than taking a taxi.

Photographers everywhere to capture great moments.

Xel-Ha offers a photo package where you pay a fixed price for as many photos you can get during your visit. There are photographers all over the park plus many automated photo spots. We got at least a hundred pictures for the whole family. I bought it was expensive but for sure very convenient. No need to bring your camera/phone and risk loosing it or getting it get.

Make sure you check out all the activities available in Xel-Ha ahead of time. That will allow you to plan and enjoy your visit more. Xel-Ha is so big that you need to pick your favorite activities. It’s hard to visit every single spot in one day.

The River tour

We took our toddler to the River.  You get to just go with the flow of the river, and relax in an inner tube. Make sure you leave all your things in a locker before heading to the river. You enter the river on one side, but exit at the opposite side of Xel-Ha. It’s better if you don’t have things in your hands, and water shoes are highly recommended. Water shoes allow you to get in and out of the water on any point of the river, walk a little, and join back again with no worries about sandals. I got a pair of water shoes for everyone, and it worked out great.

Along the way, there are many places where you can exit. There is no need to complete the entire river tour.

Swim with Dolphins or Manatees or Stingrays

My little one and I swam with dolphins. When I got the park tickets online, I wasn’t sure if I would swim with the dolphins. So I waited, and purchased the tickets at the entrance of the park.

Swimming with dolphins in Xel-Ha


While in the tube along the river, you will find people snorkeling. You can see which places you like the most, and come back later for snorkeling.

I went snorkeling on my own while everybody else was taking a break at a palapa. Try to find some solo time if you can.

Children’s world

There is a play area; hopefully it won’t be too crowded. Let them play while you watch them from a hammock.

We spent the whole day in Xel-Ha. There are so many things to do and see. Nobody wanted to leave, especially the kids.

Sunset at Xel-Ha


  • Make sure you do the activities that you like first, and leave for later or the end of the day those that you are OK missing. The day goes by very fast when you are in Xel-Ha and you may not be able to do everything.
  • Bring water shoes; you will be glad you did.
  • Arrive early. This way you can cover more, and be ahead of the crowed. I would suggest to arrive early and have breakfast in Xel-Ha.
  • Don’t worry about what kind of sunscreen you have. Xel-Ha has a program to exchange your sunscreen if it is not chemical-free. You will find the exchange center at the entrance of the park.

Did I forget anything? Please comment bellow

Traveling soon with a toddler?. Check out my article about My must have when flying with a toddler

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