In the Mayan language, Xel-Ha is pronounced SHEL-ha and means "where the water is born." And it almost seems like it when you visit this beautiful eco-park. It is called the largest natural aquarium in the world. It's a water paradise! And Xel-Ha's all-inclusive package means you pay one price and receive not just your admission, but all your activities, snorkeling gear, towels, locker storage, deck chairs, hammocks, lifejackets, inner tubes - everything you need to have fun in and out of the water is included.
Oh, and I forgot one more minor thing: all your food, snacks and drinks (even alcoholic) are also included. If I remember correctly, there are about 5 restaurants/bars in the park with a wide variety of foods to savor. The one where I ate had a HUGE buffet, with table after table of pasta dishes, fish, burgers and hot dogs, tacos, salads, fruits - I'm sure I didn't see it all. The outside of the restaurant had spigots so you could pour your own lemonade or beer or other beverages. You could even make your own ice cream cone. Compared to Disneyland, where the price of admission and the cost of the food in the park is astronomical, this was a bargain and a delight!
You can spend the entire day in this biological preserve, exploring the jungle, snorkeling with brightly colored fish – it’s water, water, everywhere, lagoon, cenotes, caves. And everywhere you sense the deep commitment to preserving this beautiful natural wonder where Mayans once lived and thrived.
The family spent most of their day snorkeling and I wandered the park by myself. I stopped and watched a family swimming with the dolphins for a while. Pretty amazing what they've trained the dolphins to do. My favorite was when the dolphins pushed a person like a speedboat across the water: one dolphin would push on each foot, making the person rise up out of the water, arms wide open like a cross and they'd be pushed forward with amazing speed, laughing/screaming with delight.
I visited the nursery, too, with its array of tropical plants. Bonus: I got a nice cool-down standing under the sprinklers in one area. Do you see the big red iguana on the rocks above?
Meandering along one of the many paths, I hiked out to an out-of-the-way finger of land called Lighthouse Point, right on the edge of the Caribbean. Under a loosely thatched roof, there were several hammocks hanging in the gentle breeze. There was absolutely no one else around, so I just laid in my hammock enjoying the waves exploding on the rocks, the sunshine, the breeze. So beautiful, I could have stayed right there the entire rest of the day! I happily laid in my hammock, watching the waves and enjoying the amazing blueness of the Caribbean.
As in most every place we went, there were iguanas up here, too. With a bright, pink hibiscus blossom in hand, Javier lured an iguana to come over and take the flower from his hand. "Your turn, Princess!" he called out to Brianna, my youngest granddaughter, handing her a flower. Looking both excited and a little nervous, she bent down, and bravely held out the flower to another iguana. Gently he took it from her hand. Another beautiful Mexico moment, another beautiful Mexico memory.
Thank you for letting me share our Mexico trip. Now it's your turn to go and enjoy. I can't wait to return again soon. There's a little casita in Akumal that I'm going to book for my next vacation with a yoga studio nearby. Perfect. Adios!