July 25, 2012


While we were on vacation in Riviera Maya, Mexico, we were invited to be guests at Xel-ha Waterpark.  If you ask any of the Terry children what their favorite part of our whole trip was, they will hands down, all tell you it was our day spent at Xel-ha.

Xel-ha is not like any other place I've been on Earth.  It is touted as a natural waterpark and natural it is.  It's not your typical water park with giant slides and wave pools- it's a lagoon with untold beauty, wild animals, fish of all kinds, caves, and FUN!  When the makers of Xel-ha had a vision to keep the park as a natural habitat for the animals that call it home- they stuck to that vision.  All of the fish that are in the park, swim there on their own accord and swim in from the surrounding ocean (including stingrays and barracudas!)  The paths through the park are all natural and if there was a tree in the middle of the path- it stayed there and the path wove around it.  Walking into Xel-ha is like walking into an oasis.  It's a great tourist destination, without being overtaken by all the normal "touristy" things.

Our kids were in heaven the entire day.  There was so much to do!  First we jumped on a raft and floated through a mangrove forest. (Forgive my pictures!  They are from a disposable waterproof camera on an overcast day- hence why they look like scanned pics from 1985!)

After our awesome float through the mangrove forest, we came out into a giant open part of the lagoon where there was a cliff to jump off of.  I kid you not- this was Noah and Sadie's very favorite part of the entire park.  They now tell everyone that they come in contact with that they jumped off of a cliff in Mexico.  I was a little bit shocked when my five year old (who is nothing but skin and bones!) took a leap and went over that cliff!  They loved it so much, they did it again and again and again!

There goes Sadie...

That teeny tiny little blue dot in front of the rock is Noah jumping off the cliff!

And that's me- flying to my doom ever so ungracefully!  I screamed like I was being murdered the whole way down.  It's a lot taller than it looks!

On down the river, were some super fun ziplines!

My husband (in the orange shorts) giving me some sort of rock and roll sign, I'm sure!  

You may wonder what Miles was doing while we were having all this fun...
He flaked out on the raft- in his flippers and all.  Gives new meaning to the term "waterbed".  

And, of course, there was some amazing snorkeling!

Truly, some of the best snorkeling in the world is in this part of Mexico.  As a mom, this is something that I really wanted my children to experience.  After all, you stick your head under the water and there is an entire other world down there!  But part of me also has anxiety about putting my children out in the open ocean.  They got to do some great snorkeling in the safety of the protected lagoon instead of being in the open ocean with currents- best of both worlds.  They LOVED it!

Another thing I really loved about the park is that it is all inclusive.  I know that most places in America charge an admission and then our kids nickel and dime us all day long.  Or we say "no" every ten steps because they want something that we won't buy them and we get severe Mommy guilt!  At Xel-ha all the food and drinks and activities are all included.  So you can have ice cream 20 times in a day if you want.  (Or Coronas if the kids are really getting under your skin!)  It makes it so nice to go somewhere that you can say yes to your kids all day long!  Miles was living proof of that with an ice cream cone in one hand, french fries in the other and nacho cheese all over his mouth.

Yum!  Isn't that what vacations are for!?

The other thing I loved, is that because everything at the park is natural (nothing mechanical) there are no age/height/weight limits for things.  It was great not having to console a little one who is two inches too short to do something and it meant that we could do all of the activities together!  It just makes for such a smooth day when every one can stay together and you don't have to split off with big kids/little kids.  

What's more fun that swinging on a rope over water?

We even got to swim into an underwater cave!  There are just so many beautiful things to see in the park and there are some beautiful trails that will take you high enough to see the jungle canopy.  Our kids didn't stop long enough to appreciate this, but we growns up sure did!

We enjoyed our day at Xel-ha so much.  I'd recommend it for anyone with children of any age.  If you are ever in the Cancun/ Riviera Maya part of Mexico, it is an absolute must do!  Our children are begging to go back there one day (and so are we!)

To check out more about Xel-ha, visit their website at www.xelha.com and to read more about their eco and sustainability projects- check out their great blog at http://xcaretexperiencias.com/blog-en/ .  


*Our family would like to give a HUGE thanks to Leo, Reina, and the rest of the Xel-ha team who treated us to such a wonderful day!

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