Xplor Park is one of the handful of adventure theme parks on the Yucatán’s Riviera Maya. The park is located just outside of Playa del Carmen, and it’s built right into the natural landscape. My nephews and I road-tripped the Yucatán for three weeks and they had begged to zip-line while we were in Mexico. There were a good number of options, the Yucatan is well set up for tourism and we saw opportunities in Isla Mujeres, and in the cultural interior as well. But with the number of theme parks near Playa, we decided check out Xplor Park, which seemed like a good mix of adventure activities that two young boys would like (aged 10 and 11).
We used a tour company, Olympus Tours, to organize the visit. They comped our trip to Xplor and showed us around the park for the day. This review is my opinion and the feedback from my nephews, who have been to dozens of theme parks and are pretty well versed in their offerings. Olympus Tours offers excursions all over the Riviera Maya, and they also organize transport to and from the airport. We loved Olympus they were super fast to respond and convenient. Had we not rented a car, we would have definitely used their transport services for Cancun airport.
There are a few main types of rides at Xplor: the ziplines, ATV area, and river activities.
Our favorite part was the ziplines. They have an extensive zipline course throughout the park and many on the lower course have you ending with a cheerful splash into the cool river water. You are well harnessed and there are very clear and thorough safety checks in place to ensure you are latched very securely into the zip line harnesses. The tallest ones have you soaring over the treetops with views out into the Caribbean. It takes a couple of hours to finish the two courses, and there is opportunity to drink in between. There is some climbing to get up the tall towers, so be prepared!
The ATVs were a lot of fun. At first the boys were miffed that they couldn’t drive, but as soon as we set out they were bubbling with laughter. We sped through the obstacle course, flinging ourselves around turns, through rivers, under waterfalls, and weaving through tunnels. It was good fun.
The underground river has two main activities, a paddle course, and a floating river. The paddle course was legitimately tricky! You use hand paddles to bump and coast your way through a twisty underground river. It’s beautiful, with blue lights illuminating the underground karst formations. The other part of the river has two sections, one is a quick floating trip (with life jackets) through a current that whisks you along the river. The other is a longer, 25-30 minute course. This would be great with kids 10+, it was relaxing and fun at the same time. I was able to float along while they swam and circled through the occasional waterfalls.
This was a clear highlight of the theme park. The ticket price includes free food and drink, and it’s high quality. So many theme parks gouge on food and drink, but here the focus is on enjoying the day. It also meant we didn’t have to worry about packing a huge sack of food and drink and lugging it with us. The drink stations are integrated into the rides area of the park, making it easy to pop in for a quick drink. They had a huge array of freshly prepared smoothies on offer with local fruits and kid-friendly concoctions. They also had cold water, coffee, and tasty cookies.
Lunch was easy too, I love this concept of all included. I’m from the Orlando, Florida area, and this is a clear selling point for the park. They have a huge buffet style cafeteria with an enormous range of foods. There are cold and hot sections, and everything from conventional western fare (think hot dogs, pizza, pasta, salad) to local Mexican fare (ceviche, fish, meats). I jumped on the chance to make the boys try some new Mexican foods we hadn’t yet sampled. You don’t leave here hungry, that’s for sure. Even the pickiest of eater finds something to eat and drink.
The Yucatán Peninsula has a unique geology, with the limestone rock bed forming a network of underground rivers, caves, and cenotes. Xplor used these natural features in the park, incorporating them into the rides and activities. Though my nephews and I had swum in the cenotes near Valladolid earlier that week, we hadn’t had a chance to really explore caves and rivers. Xplor gave me a chance to show them the cave formations and the eerily blue waters in a safe environment. We all loved that the park was lush and green, it’s like the pathways are carved out of the jungle to let tourists come in and play adventurer for the day.
Overall Impression of Xplor?
Other nearby parks have a stronger focus on integrating aspects of the local culture, but Xplor has a well designed infrastructure for fun. And, the park is does a phenomenal job integrating the local landscape and unique geological features of this region. The underground rivers and caves were well-lit and beautiful as we paddled along. The tunnels were brought up to safety codes but then left in their natural beauty. With the huge buffet lunch to cap it off, it was a great day. I like that everything is included once you walk in the door. Besides souvenirs, food and drink and all the rides are in the one flat fee you pay to get in. This is a big advantage for those on a budget as you know precisely how much you will spend for the day and you don’t have to worry about $4 water bottles and “upgrades” everywhere you look. We rode every ride, chugged smoothies, zipped over the jungle, mowed down on lunch, and my nephews raved about it for weeks.
Quick Tips for Xplor Park and Olympus Tours
Where: Xplor is just 15 minutes outside of Playa del Carmen, on the road to Tulum.
Getting there: If you use Olympus Tours, they transport you to and from your accommodation. If you’re driving, the road is well-marked and there is plenty of safe parking.
What’s it like? If you’d like to see more of the rides, and what you get when you buy the optional photo package, check out my full Xplor photo gallery.
Tips: Ziplines are the clear highlight for a lot of people, so they can get backed up. Arrive early and start with the ziplines so you beat the crowds. Vic’s favorite ride was the hammock zipline into the water. Eric loved the water slide best. I loved floating in the underground river through the waterfalls (this requires a life-jacket though, and might freak out little kids who are not strong swimmers). They have heaps to do, so you will be busy all day.
Tickets: Prices change, but you can check here. They offer 50% off for children’s prices, which is nice. If you’re keen to visit multiple parks and you really want to hit every ride, I recommend a guide. It’s affordable because it’s Mexico, and I liked having another person to help wrangle the boys on the zip-lines!