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Xel Ha in Cancun

It’s been chilly out here for weeks (by chilly, I mean in the 60s during the day and 40s in the evening), and it’s finally starting to warm up again (and by that, I mean 80s).  I don’t remember the last time it’s been chilly for this long.  I’ve been constantly dreaming of a tropical vacation, and although we’ve come close to booking various different trips to gorgeous islands, we’ve withheld to take care of other matters.  Plus, we already have a vacation coming in a few months.  I’m just really itching to lie on a beach for days on end with no cares to tend to (besides diaper changing and what-not).

Even though the weather is starting to warm up again (hello, spring!), it’s not quite warm enough to head out to our local beaches.  Until that time comes, I’ll still be dreaming of that island getaway – like the one we had on Isla Mujeres for our honeymoon.
I was reading our post on that trip and realized I owed a little recap from our excursion to Xel Ha, so instead of ignoring it like I’ve been for the past 3 years (ha), I decided this would be a good time to reminisce considering I’m already dreaming of island life.
Xel Ha is a sustainable all-inclusive water park for families located in the Riviera Maya.  It includes a natural inlet of water where you can swim, snorkel, cliff dive, and zipline into.  When you jump in the water, everything you see is how it naturally is.  The sea critters were not taken from the ocean and placed there; the hundreds of colorful creatures actually live here.  You’re visiting their home.


One big thing that they mandate here that you should be aware about is that you have to use chemical free/biodegradable sunscreen so that it doesn’t harm the animals in the water.  I wish this is something everyone had to do in any natural water environment.  Actually, I wish it was the only type of sunscreen in the market!  I’m not sure why we don’t make a bigger effort to protect our planet, but that’s a completely different conversation altogether.  Anyway, you can read more about sunscreen and how it affects our environment here: http://www.cozumel-tours.com/biodegradable-sunscreen.htm.

For our first adventure, we took a shuttle to the beginning of a lazy river where we got to float together on inner tubes.  We passed through some beautiful mangrove forests then ended up in the open area of the inlet.  Yes, the life jackets are mandatory 🙂

 

 
Sun in my eyes 😉

 

You can see the fish below pretty much immediately.  We definitely had to get some snorkeling in at some point.  But first…

We ziplined right into the water!  They had a lot of fun activities here that was just integrated into the land.  This was our first time ziplining together.  It was short, but still a lot of fun.  Something my husband did that I didn’t do was cliff dive.  I did it once when we went river rafting at Kern River, and I think that may be the last time!  I was content watching him jump from the water.

 

Xel Ha really encourages people to snorkel.  It’s actually included in the price of admission if you don’t have your own gear.  You just have to make sure you borrow and return everything.  This was the trip that really confirmed our joy of snorkeling.  We snorkeled once in Hawaii, but after this trip, we knew we would have to snorkel again on our next island vacation.  We ended up buying our own gear after this 🙂  The cost at the store is around $30, and normally when you visit places like this, the rental fee is around $25.  If you plan to snorkel again in your lifetime, it’s definitely worth the purchase.

 

Left, right, above, and below… there were fishes everywhere.  We couldn’t get a photo of everything we saw, but we definitely saw a huge variety of fish.  We could also see different shells along the floor.

 

 

That has got to be the goofiest underwater face ever.  I can never look decent when I’m holding my breath underwater.  Anyway, by this staircase I remember seeing a bunch of brilliant blue fish and schools of damselfish.  You can’t see much in the picture, but it was kind of cool knowing what was swimming around our feet as we walked up the steps.

The other great highlight of Xel Ha is that it’s all-inclusive – and the food is GOOD.  It’s still the best buffet I’ve ever had.  Oh, and when I say “all-inclusive,” yes, that includes liquor.  We ate, we drank, we’d walk around, we’d swim, and we’d do it all over again.

So, I have no idea what the name of the blue drink above is.  When we asked the server to get us a drink unique to their bar, he brought this out.  When I asked him what it was called he said, “Don’t worry about it; but when you finish it, you will speak perfect Spanish.”  Ha!  I didn’t speak Spanish after that, but if someone asked me to try, I might have.

 

Some scenic views of the park as the sun began to set…

 

 

I don’t know if you remember, but remember the hoopla about 2012?  You know, that the world was going to end because it was when the Mayan calendar ended?  That’s the countdown above.  However, instead of viewing it as “the end of the world” like some people were doing, they brought it up as an opportunity for new beginnings.  That’s more like it.

 

Another awesome thing about this location is that there’s natural caves or cenotes scattered around.  We took some time to explore the few we could find in the jungle before having to head back to our tour bus.  There’s one that you can actually swim in, but we had already changed out of our swimsuits by then.  If we had known before, we definitely would’ve checked that out too.

 

 

Hope that was a nice little mental escape, because it was for me!  I forgot how much fun we had here.  Eat, drink, explore, swim, repeat.  Can’t wait to go back one day with our little one.  We’re hoping to head back for our 5 or 10 year anniversary, whichever suits best.  Until then, here’s a fun picture we also took there.  We also have one with a toucan!

 

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