Canadian family of four
Traveling the world with toddlers
As parents, we try very hard to share all of the things we love with our toddlers (aged 2 & 4). Take one glance at our website and you will see that we love traveling, being in nature, outdoor activities and be learning about new cultures. During our recent trip to Playa del Carmen, we were lucky enough to spend one day each at Xcaret and Xel-Há with our kids. We all had so much fun that our visits were easily amongst our favorite days of the whole trip.
Visit our blog for more tips and adventures: Family Can Travel
Here’s why we feel parents should take their toddlers to Xcaret and Xel-Há:
1.- It’s fun!
When your kids are energized, engaged and having fun, it creates timeless family memories and also opens the door to all the other lessons you want to teach them along the way. And boy, will they have fun here! From the moment you enter each park to the moment you drag the kids home, you and your kids will have the time of your life.
As if all of the amazing nature and cultural activities at Xcaret and Xel-Há aren’t enough, both parks have a Children’s World, a play area designed especially for the little ones. We thought the swimming area in the Xcaret Children’s World was especially well designed – our 4-year-old daughter loved swimming in the cenote (with her complimentary kid-sized lifejacket), while her little brother could ‘swim’ in the splash pool right next to her.
2.- It teaches them to love nature
It’s important to teach our kids to love the earth and all the creatures in it. Xcaret and Xel-Há offer countless opportunities to share all the wonders of the world with them. Our kids especially loved the tropical fish swimming in the lagoon at Xel-Há, while at Xcaret they loved the brightly colored birds in the Aviary, the Butterfly Pavilion, and especially the sea turtles. While watching the turtles, my daughter looked up and asked, “Can we watch the turtles forever?”
3.- They can try snorkeling
We love to snorkel in beautiful and clear tropical waters. On this trip, we wanted to introduce it to our kids, but we were worried about them trying it in the open ocean. Our visit to Xel-Há was the perfect solution. Xel-Há is home to a large, well-protected, saltwater lagoon that provides calm waters for the kids to try out for the first time.
4.- They can build confidence
For older toddlers, a run through the Secret Adventure obstacle course at Xcaret with a parent will be an unforgettable adventure and a chance to build some well-deserved confidence. They’ll love climbing the rope ladders, crossing hanging bridges and sliding real fast down the side-by-side water slides into a cool cenote below. Our 4-year-old had so much fun doing the Secret Adventure with her mom and she was bursting with confidence when she was able to complete the whole course.
5.- They can build courage too
When our daughter heard that we wanted to swim through an underground river, we could tell she was nervous. She was asking questions like, “is it super deep?”, “it is going to be dark?”, etc. We try to build courage in our kids by telling them it’s ok to be scared, but if they want to be brave, they’ll do it despite being scared. After such an amazing day of accomplishments at the park, I wasn’t surprised when she agreed to give it a try.
The opening leg of the river is through an open canyon running through the jungle, complete with many waterfalls dropping into the water. She loved this section and was swimming great with her life jacket on. When we got to the first dark section, she came closer to me, but we made a game of it, racing to the next sliver of light from the holes in the ceiling. Soon, she was used to it and was back to having a great time. I was so proud of her for having the courage to try and she was rewarded with a fun experience at the end of a great day at the park. Our 2-year-old was nervous about it too, but after some encouragement, he gave it a try riding on moms back. We made sure to make a big deal of how brave he was for trying and even saw his confidence grow in the water after that day.
6.- They can run wild
Xcaret and Xel-Há are huge parks with plenty of room to run. We liked letting our kids run and explore in the safe environment of these parks, something they wouldn’t necessarily get to do elsewhere in Mexico. The kids loved running ahead and exploring, and would often be rewarded with a big surprise, like a huge iguana in the bushes or a perch of brightly colored macaws.
7.- Learn about new cultures
Xcaret is not just a nature park, it’s full of interesting cultural attractions too. Given our love of nature, we focused mainly on the natural attractions during our visits, but our kids were exposed to some great culture during the day. In addition to the great artwork found throughout the park, our daughter really connected with the Mexican Graveyard and was in no hurry to leave. She was also mesmerized by the wall of burning candles below the graveyard.
8.- Plenty of learning opportunities too
Between our two kids, we must have read The Hungry Caterpillar to them about 982 times! So, it was very exciting to see a display outside the Butterfly Pavilion showing every step of the transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly. I could see our daughter making the connection from what she learned in books to what she was seeing in real life.
9.- It’s easy
To top it all off, it’s just so easy to take your kids to these parks. They provide all the standard kid-friendly amenities you’d expect (like stroller rentals, etc), but it’s clear they designed these parks with families in mind. From the lifejackets for kids of all sizes, the potable water fountains across the parks, to the submarine with an underwater viewing area for kids who can’t snorkel, I was amazed at how easy and fun it was to take our kids to these parks.
As you can see, there are so many reasons a visit to Xcaret and/or Xel-Há will be a highlight of your family trip to Mexico. But it all comes back to #1 – it’s a lot of fun. Everything else is simply a bonus. We know you will have a world-class time at each park.
Read more family travel tips: Top 15 tips to have the best day at Xcaret Mexico