Xel Ha, Mexico: Land Where the Water is Born

By Cacinda Maloney

Xel Ha, Xel Ha Mexico, Xcaret Park

Plopping into my clear plastic tube, I was ready for cool relief. It had been scorching and sweaty hot, as the temperatures soared to over 100 degrees for the last few days. I had come to the golden lands of Mexico. I was in search of the festivals surrounding the “Dia de los Muertos” -those days in November where Latin Americans celebrate death as a natural part of the human experience. I had spent the entire day before observing this tradition and so admire the culture of the Mexican people.

Cancun Xcaret, Xcaret Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Xel ha, Mexico: Land Where the Water is Born

But today, I was drained from the heat and couldn’t wait to finally be immersed in the cool, crystal-clear freshwater river that flowed into a lagoon at Xel Ha. I fiddled around with the buckles on my vest to make sure they were tightly secured. I had my flippers on my wrist like a bracelet and my mask firmly attached to my forehead. The attendant at the park must have thought I looked like a wacky, sweaty tourist. But at this point I didn’t care, all I wanted was to be in that water.

Xel Ha, Xel Ha Mexico, Xcaret Park

Xel ha, Mexico: Land Where the Water is Born

The “put-in” spot was a perfectly shaped lagoon surrounded by mangroves. I waited until I could no longer see the last person in front of me floating away. Then snugly attached to my clear plastic floatie, I was off drifting among the mangroves. Slightly spinning, twirling and relaxing, I looked back at my new travel friend to make sure she made it into the water. She was so cute with her yellow ponytail and bright white skin, as I watched her do the same and she soon caught up and joined me.

Xel Ha, Xel Ha Mexico, Xcaret Park

The lagoon we were in was set in a beautiful landscape of trees, cenotes, and clear waters. The park was busy, but with these mangroves surrounding us; it was as if we were all alone in the watery forest. These mangroves are essential to the ecosystem, and we were right dab in the middle of the red mangrove, which is the only species that lives in salt water and serves as a natural filter for the water, as it provides oxygen and nutrients for the coral reefs below. It also serves as a natural barrier against hurricanes and controls erosion of the sand along the coastline. We traveled down this natural lazy river on our plastic rings for hours.

Xel Ha, Xel Ha Mexico, Xcaret Park

Occasionally I would look back at my friend, as she posed for her selfies in the water. All I wanted to do was relax and once in a while, I would doze off to the gentle rock of the calm waters. We were in a magical paradise in the Riviera Maya known as Xel Ha. It has been described as a “natural aquarium in the earth” and I was floating above 90 species of marine fish down below.

Xel Ha, Xel Ha Mexico, Xcaret Park

Xel ha, Mexico: Land Where the Water is Born

Xel Ha is steeped in Mayan mythology. It was most likely used as a point of intercultural exchange between the Mayan people and other sea-navigating peoples between the 7th and 12th centuries.

Xel Ha, Xel Ha Mexico, Xcaret Park

Xel ha, Mexico: Land Where the Water is Born

Hundreds of years ago, ancient Mayans believed that the Gods combined their love for beauty and wisdom to create a perfect paradise named Xel Ha, a place “where the water is born.” As I drifted in the cool waters, I begin to feel what the Mayans were talking about. The waters re-energized me and gave me a sense of peace, I was “re-born”. It was the perfect place to cool off and relax after the unbearable heat from the few days earlier. I decided that this mythical paradise of Xel Ha is actually a reality! I think the Gods got it exactly right!

Xel Ha, Xel Ha Mexico, Xcaret Park

Xel ha, Mexico: Land Where the Water is Born

Today, Xel Ha is a natural water park in a lush setting with a plethora of activities for water lovers. They have everything: snorkeling, cliff jumping, bike riding, jungle trails, zip lining, zip bikes, centoes, large animal encounters (dolphins, manatees and stingrays), adrenaline water rides and much more. You could spend days here and not do all the activities that they have to offer. Honestly, it is a water lovers paradise and I highly recommend it.

Xel Ha, Xel Ha Mexico, Xcaret Park

Disclosure: I was invited to Mexico by Experiencia Xcaret. The pure joy I felt that day, floating among the mangroves was all my own!

Recommended Reading about Riviera Maya area of Mexico:

Grand Velas: Raising the Bar on All Inclusives

Xcaret Cancun:  What is it?

Cancun’s Underwater Museum

Foodie Heaven: Benazuzu, Cancun Mexico

Gliding Thru Hidden Worlds

Here are a few other articles I have written about Mexico:

Step Back in Time: San Miguel de Allende

The Circus is in Town; Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Zihuatanejo, Mexico:  Unplugged Paradise

Oh the Colors of Mexico: Zihuatanejo

My Secret Lover: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

It is True: I have Two Lovers

Stone Island, Mexico

Arizona’s Beach: Rocky Point, Mexico

Arizona’s Beach: Rocky Point, Mexico, Part 2

Arizona’s Beach: Rocky Point, Mexico, Part 3




  1. Bryan December 17, 2015 at 8:11 am

    As I stare out at a cold, rainy day, the warmth of this post brought me much-needed sunshine. Thanks!

    • Cacinda Maloney December 17, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      Bryan, you would love Xel Ha! it is very cool!

  2. […] day trip options from Chichen Itza, cenotes exploring and the world-class parks Xcaret Park and Xel Ha, there is plenty to do and see while visiting the Yucatan […]

  3. […] Grand Velas is close to Mayan ruins, natural cenotes, and amazing adventure parks, like Xcaret and Xel-ha Park, so there is plenty to do if you even want to leave the luxury […]

  4. […] Visit Xel-Ha Park […]

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