Xplor vs Xenotes: Which Riviera Maya adventure experience is better in 2023?
Are you looking for a unique adventure experience in Riviera Maya Mexico and can’t decide between Xplor and Xenotes? You’ve come to the right guide!
As a travel blogger that lives in Playa del Carmen, I’ve become a resident expert on the Xcaret parks and tours.
And I know just how confusing and overwhelming they can be when you’re first learning about them online!
In this ultimate Xplor vs Xenotes comparison guide, I’m sharing everything you need to know about each Xcaret adventure experience including:
- An overview of each experience
- Pros and cons
- Price comparison
- Activity comparison
- Food and beverage comparison
- Visitor info
- Money saving tips
- And more!
Ready to find out which Xcaret adventure experience is best for you? Let’s get to it, starting with a quick comparison chart:
🏆 Best for Ziplining
🏆 Best for Cenotes
Which is better Xplor or Xenotes?
If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure in Riviera Maya, Mexico, both Xplor and Xenotes are great options.
Xplor is an adrenaline-pumping adventure park with zip lines, underground rivers, amphibious vehicles, and more. You can spend the whole day at Xplor and never get bored!
Xenotes, on the other hand, is a full day tour of four different types of cenotes, which are natural swimming holes that are found all over the Yucatan peninsula.
Xenotes is a great option if you just want to experience cenotes and simply do water activities.
So, which Xcaret adventure experience is better? It depends on what you’re looking for.
If you want to spend a whole day doing different adrenaline-pumping activities, Xplor is the better option.
If you’re looking for just cenotes and water activities in a unique natural environment, Xenotes is the better choice.
About Xplor and Xenotes
Next, let’s take look at each park in more detail:
What is Xplor like?
Known for its adrenaline pumping activities, Xplor (pronounced “Ish-plor”) is an Xcaret adventure park located just south of Playa del Carmen.
It was the first Xcaret park I ever visited and still remains one of my favorites!
Xplor by Xcaret offers 6 different adventure activities ranging from zip lines to underground caves to ATV experiences.
Each activity is uniquely carved into natural outdoor landscapes, taking you deep into the Riviera Maya jungle, underground caverns, and flooded caves.
Xplor park is best known for its sky-high zipline course with some of the tallest zip-lines in Riviera Maya. Some even end with a vigorous drop into a cenote so be prepared to get wet!
The layout of the entire park is uniquely centered around the beating “Heart” (“Corazón” in Spanish), which is the park’s central hub with facilities and services.
You can read my full Xplor review in this post!
👉 Buy your Xplor park tickets ahead of time by clicking here! Get 25% off with coupon code XCSALE23.
What is Xenotes like?
Xenotes is a full day all-inclusive tour offered by Grupo Xcaret, which brings you to four private cenotes along the famous “Ruta de los Cenotes” (Route of the Cenotes) near Puerto Morelos.
ℹ️ Previously called Xenotes Oasis Maya, Xenotes is now known as Xenotes, Enigmatic Waters Tour by Xcaret.
At this natural water park near Playa del Carmen, Xcaret arranges a circuit of different water activities at each of the four cenotes in the middle of the jungle that includes kayaking, swimming, rappelling, and ziplining.
Each cenote on the Xenotes by Xcaret tour is a different type, letting you fully experience the natural wonders of Mexico’s Riviera Maya in one day.
Beautiful Ha Cenote treats you to a semi-open cenote with hanging vegetation and beautiful underwater gardens for snorkeling and kayaking.
Water ziplines happen over the open Iik Cenote, where you can also cliff jump over 20 feet high.
You’ll try assisted rappelling at Lu’um Cenote, a deep cavern cenote with million-year-old formations.
K’aak’ Cenote offers an adrenaline rush with a water slide, ziplines, and cliff jumps.
And best of all, the all inclusive Xenotes tour includes round-trip transportation with hotel pickup, a continental breakfast, picnic lunch, drinks, and some alcohol.
You can read my full Xenotes review in this post!
👉 Buy your Xenotes tickets ahead of time by clicking here! Get 25% off with coupon code XCSALE23.
Xplor and Xenotes Location
Xplor is located just 15 minutes south of Playa del Carmen on the way to Tulum, or a little over an hour south of Cancun Mexico.
Its location right off the main highway makes it easily accessible by car, taxi, or pre-arranged transport.
Xenotes park is located in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, about 1 hour north of Playa del Carmen, and 1 hour south of Cancun. Visitors will arrive at Xenotes by the transportation service included on the tour.
Xplor and Xenotes Mexico Map
Xplor vs Xenotes: Pros and Cons
Next, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of Xplor and Xenotes:
Pros of Xplor
- Greater variety of activities
- Best ziplining in Riviera Maya
- Closer to Playa del Carmen
- Unlimited food and drink
Cons of Xplor
- Transportation is not included
- Can get crowded
- Can be very hot during the day
- Lots of stairs
Pros of Xenotes
- Transportation and breakfast is included
- Small groups
- Feels more natural and less commercialized
- More water activities
Cons of Xenotes
- Less variety in activities
- Not as many services and amenities
- No cell service
- Longer time commitment
Xplor vs Xenotes: Quick Comparison Table
Xplor vs Xenotes: Price Comparison
Xplor and Xenotes are the same price for admission tickets but the main difference is that Xenotes includes transportation.
To get to Xplor, transportation can be added for an additional $27 USD per person.
Xplor offers one admission package that typically starts at $129.99 USD for adults and $64.99 USD for kids (ages 5-11).
The Xplor admission ticket includes all the activities (as many times as you want), a buffet lunch, and unlimited snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.
👉 Buy Xplor tickets on the official website by clicking here! Get 25% off with coupon code XCSALE23.
Xenotes offers one admission package that typically starts at $129.99 USD for adults and $64.99 USD for kids (ages 5-11).
The Xenotes admission ticket includes all the activities, roundtrip transportation with hotel pickup, a continental breakfast, deli lunch, drinks, beer, and wine.
👉 Buy Xenotes tickets on the official website by clicking here! Get 25% off with coupon code XCSALE23.
How to Save Money on Xplor and Xenotes Tickets
There are a few different Grupo Xcaret discounts available–take advantage of these automatic discounts outlined below to get the best deal and avoid paying full price for admission tickets.
🦜 Explore my Xcaret resource hub for easy access to all of my Xcaret park reviews, comparison guides, as well as current Xcaret coupons and promotional offers.
Book in advance
You can automatically save by booking online on the official park website in advance:
- 10% off – ticket purchase 7 to 20 days in advance
- 15% off – ticket purchase at least 21 days in advance
Travelista Tip: You can change the date of your visit up to 24 hours before so it’s best to reserve your tickets ahead of time and then you can always change the date if needed.
Create your own package
If you’re interested in visiting more than one of the Xcaret parks and tours, you can save by creating your own package:
- 15% off – ticket purchase for any combination package of two or more parks and tours
- 20% off – ticket purchase for any combination package of three or more parks and tours
👉 Click here to get your discount by creating your own package
Stay at one of the Xcaret Hotels
Staying at an Xcaret all inclusive resort gives you all “fun-inclusive” access to the parks, meaning you get unlimited access to all of the Xcaret parks and tours during your stay.
This is an especially great option for families if you plan on visiting more than one of the parks or tours.
Check out the hotel websites below for more info:
- Hotel Xcaret Mexico
- Hotel Xcaret Arte (adults only)
- La Casa de la Playa (adults only)
🎨 Wondering what it’s like to stay at an Xcaret hotel? Find out in my Hotel Xcaret Arte review!
Xcaret also offers special discount tickets for Quintana Roo residents which are valid only at the park’s ticket booth, online, or through the contact center.
Tickets for Quintana Roo residents can be purchased through the website here but it is only available in the Spanish language.
You’ll need to present an Official ID of Quintana Roo to be eligible for the discount. For foreigners living in Quintana Roo, Temporary and Permanent Resident Cards are accepted.
Xplor vs Xenotes: Activities Comparison
Here’s how the two experiences compare in terms of activities:
Xplor Mexico offers 6 different adventure activities that you can do as many times as you want:
- Ziplines: With two full zip line circuits and a total of 14 unique ziplines, Xplor offers the absolute best ziplining in Riviera Maya with jungle and ocean views. You’ll reach the top of the towers by climbing spiral staircases and hanging bridges. Take off from the zipline platforms solo or in-tandem for a thrilling high-speed jungle adventure.
- Amphibious Vehicles: The ATVs of Xplor are known as amphibious vehicles and will take you on a jungle circuit measuring over 3 miles (5 km). Hanging bridges, tiny roads, flooded caverns, and stunning views of the jungle await you along the journey.
- Rafts: The rafts are an underground challenge that will take you river paddling as you navigate through underground caves. Each participant will be given two small wooden paddles that you’ll strap to your hands and use to paddle your way through an underground river course.
- Stalactite River Swim: The stalactite river swim is a unique Xplor water activity that will take you swimming, floating, and trekking through stunning underground caves featuring clear turquoise water, impressive stalactites, and ancient rock formations.
- Hammock Splash: Sit back and relax in a hammock on this comfortable seated Xplor zip line circuit that ends with a thrilling drop into Xplor cenotes. Try out the two different circuits for double the rush!
- Underground Expedition: On the underground expedition challenge, you’ll explore underground caves, climb over obstacles, and glide down two thrilling water slides. You’ll be able to stand and trek through the narrow caves and shallow water in this unique underground challenge.
At Xenotes, you’ll get to experience water activities at 4 different cenotes:
- Ha Cenote: At the semi-open Ha’ Cenote, you’ll get to kayak down a narrow river in a double kayak, navigating between lush rock walls. Then you’ll head to the other side of the cenote via an underground cave entrance for cenote snorkeling in natural pools, where you can see tiny cenote fish, small catfish, and lily pads.
- Iik Cenote: Iik Cenote is a large, open cenote where you’ll get to go flying through the air on overwater ziplines. The zip lines are divided into two sides, each with two zip lines where you can choose to go on a seated hammock or hang from a monkey bar. And if you’re feeling brave, you can also choose to cliff jump from at a height of around 20 feet.
- Lu’um Cenote: Lu’um Cenote is a deep underground cavern cenote where you’ll try assisted rappelling down under the earth and into the fresh waters of the cenote. You can even choose to rappel upside down or jump from a ledge into the cenote for an added rush.
- K’aak’ Cenote: K’aak’ Cenote is an open cenote with a variety of fun activities including water slides and overwater ziplines. And after you drop from the ziplines, you’ll swim or inner tube for about 200 meters between stone walls where you can choose to do a cliff jump for one final rush.
Who are Xplor and Xenotes suited for?
Here’s a look at who each experience is best suited for:
Who is Xplor suited for?
Xplor adventure park is best suited for adrenaline junkies that are looking for an all day adventure experience with a variety of land and water activities.
The park features some of the best ziplining in Riviera Maya so if ziplining is at the top of your list, then Xplor is where you want to be!
You’ll also get to drive ATVs and swim through underground caves, which will get your heart pumping.
Xplor is also suited for families with children ages 5 and older–although with its intense activities, kids will probably have more fun if they’re a bit older.
Who is Xenotes suited for?
Xenotes is best suited for nature lovers looking for a unique outdoor adventure while visiting Riviera Maya, Mexico.
If you’ve never visited a cenote before, it’s basically a one-stop shop and the most hassle-free way to experience four in one day.
Adventurous travelers who love adrenaline-pumping water activities will especially enjoy this tour.
Xenotes is also a great family-friendly activity for children ages 5 and older, though younger children should be very comfortable being in water.
Located in the middle of the jungle, Xenotes feels much more natural and less commercialized than any of the other Xcaret parks.
It’s the perfect activity if you are outdoorsy and prefer a more natural and authentic experience.
⚠️ Due to the nature of the activities, both Xplor and Xenotes are not recommended for pregnant women, those that have heart problems, back pain, recent surgery, or a fear of heights.
Xplor vs Xenotes: Which has better food?
Here’s a look at how each experience compares when it comes to food and drink:
Xplor Food and Drink
At Xplor, you’ll get to dine at the Troglodita restaurant, which is a large buffet-style restaurant with communal seating at large wooden tables.
The Xplor buffet lunch includes food options with a mix of American and Mexican cuisine including hamburgers, pizza, pasta, tacos, enchiladas, and much more.
In addition, you’ll be treated to a healthy salad and fresh fruit bar, as well as soft-serve ice cream, and gourmet desserts. Drink options include a soda foundation, water, and fresh juices.
Aside from the restaurant, Xplor Park Mexico also offers two snack and smoothie bars known as “Oasis” and “Manantial”.
These snack bars are perfect for a pitstop between activities to refuel with refreshing flavored water, fresh juices, and fruit smoothies. You can also grab some snacks like bananas and oatmeal cookies.
👍 With a full buffet of hot food items, Xplor offers more variety and options when it comes to food and drink.
Xenotes Food and Drink
Continental breakfast is included in the Xcaret Xenotes tour and is available to enjoy after the first cenote.
You’ll enjoy a light continental breakfast with apples and pastries. Drink options include coffee, hot chocolate, and fruit waters.
After the third cenote, you’ll also be treated to a buffet lunch, which is a “jungle picnic”. The Xenotes lunch buffet is basically a deli bar where you can build your own gourmet sandwiches.
The sandwich buffet includes a variety of rustic breads, a cold bar of meats, salmon, premium cheeses, and salad bar type toppings.
Additional sides include soup, tortilla chips, seasonal fruit, and chocolate brownies. A variety of soft drinks, bottled water, wine, and beer are also available.
👍 While the Xenotes food and drink is more basic, breakfast is included, as well as beer and wine during lunch, which are nice value-adds.
Xplor vs Xenotes: Transportation
One of the biggest differences between Xplor and Xenotes is transportation–transportation is included in the Xenotes tour but it is not included at Xplor.
Transportation is not included in the Xplor price of admission. To get to Xplor, you can go on your own, take a taxi, or add the round-trip transportation service to your ticket for an additional $27 USD per person. Free parking is available on site.
If you do choose the Xplor transportation service, it’s important to know that transportation can only be added at the time of purchase, so be sure to add this extra charge when you’re buying your tickets. Xcaret buses pick up at your hotel, resort, or designated meeting point.
Travelista Tip: If you’re staying in Playa del Carmen Xplor is very easy to reach by taking a taxi and only costs around $15 USD each way (up to 4 people). There is a taxi stand outside of the park entrance for the return trip.
Round trip transportation is included in the Xenotes tour and the brightly-colored green vans are large, comfortable, and have waterproof seats. Xenotes vans pickup from your hotel, resort, or designated meeting point.
Each group will be assigned to one van that will be used for the entire day–where you’ll drive from one cenote to the next and then back to your hotel or resort.
Xplor vs Xenotes: Services and Amenities
Here’s a look at the services and amenities available at Xplor and Xenotes Mexico:
All necessary equipment is provided at Xplor and Xenotes and is included in the price of admission. Equipment includes life jackets, harnesses, helmets, and snorkeling masks.
Wearing a life jacket is mandatory on all activities at Xenotes, while they are only required on certain activities at Xplor.
Lockers are included in your Xplor admission ticket and are large enough to store a medium-sized backpack. You’ll be given a thick velcro wristband to secure your locker key throughout the day.
There are no lockers at Xenotes so the van will also be used to store the group’s personal belongings throughout the day. It’s best to bring only what you’ll need for the day’s activities and leave valuables behind.
Restrooms, Changing Rooms, and Showers
Both Xplor and Xenotes offer clean and well-maintained restrooms, showers, and changing rooms.
These dressing rooms and facilities make it easy to take breaks, freshen up, and change out of your wet clothes at the end of the day.
Gift shops are available at Xplor but not at Xenotes. At the Xplor gift shop, you can purchase park photos, snacks, souvenirs, and branded gear (like water shoes, swimsuits, and rashguards).
Travelista Tip: As expected, the Xplor gift shop offers items at a premium price so I would recommend bringing your own gear and water shoes to save money.
Xplor vs Xenotes: Photo Package
One of the biggest takeaways from the two experiences is the photo package. Here’s what you can expect at each park when it comes to photos:
Xplor Photo Pass
A Photo Pass can be added to your Xplor admission package when purchasing tickets online or on the day of the visit at the gift shops or at different stands throughout the park.
What’s cool is that there are cameras and “Xelfies” photo opportunities embedded all over the whole park.
Tracking technology is inserted in your wristband so they can track your Xplor photos and you’ll be able to scan and review them all at the end of the day.
The Xplor photo package can be expensive but they are high-quality photos that are difficult to capture on your own.
Plus, it’s a great way to capture your memories if you don’t have a GoPro or waterproof camera.
Xenotes Photo Package
At Xenotes, there are not “Xelfies” photo opportunities throughout the park. Instead, each group will have a professional photographer that follows them around during the day taking the best high quality pictures.
While the photo package can be expensive, the photographers are positioned in the best vantage points to get all the best action shots from the cliff jumps and ziplines.
If you do wish to purchase your Xenotes photos, the payment can be made by cash or credit card at the end of the day. You’ll then receive a redemption code where you can download your Xenotes pictures online.
Travelista Tip: If you think you’re going to want Xplor or Xenotes photos, add the photo package online ahead of time when purchasing tickets as it is less expensive than buying them on the day of your visit.
FAQs about Xenotes vs Xplor
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Xplor and Xenotes:
What are the opening hours?
- Xplor is open Monday-Saturday from 9AM-5PM (closed Sundays).
- The Xenotes tour is available from Monday-Saturday (closed Sundays) with pickup from 8AM-10AM depending on your hotel location. The tour duration is 8-9 hours.
What are the minimum age restrictions?
Both Xplor and Xenotes are suited for children 5 years of age and older. However, there are also minimum height and weight restrictions for the zip lines:
- Xplor: The minimum height requirement is 3.6 ft (1.1 m) and the minimum weight requirement is 88 lbs (40 kg)
- Xenotes: The minimum height requirement is 4.5 ft (1.4 m) and the minimum weight requirement is 88 lbs (40 kg)
🧑🤝🧑 At Xplor, children can also ride tandem with an adult if they don’t meet the minimum weight requirement.
What’s the cancellation policy?
For both Xplor and Xenotes, reservations canceled more than two days in advance of the date of visit are subject to a 10% administration fee.
Reservations canceled in 2 days or less before the visit date, or in case of a no-show, are not refundable. A change of date for your visit can be made at no charge up to 24 hours before.
More information on the Xcaret cancellation policy can be found here.
What should you wear to Xplor and Xenotes?
You will definitely be getting wet at both parks so you’ll want to wear a swimsuit, comfortable clothes, and water shoes.
I usually always wear a one-piece bathing suit, waterproof shorts, water shoes, and a rash guard to be most comfortable on all the different activities.
What should you bring to Xplor and Xenotes?
Here’s what you should bring to each park:
- Biodegradable Sunscreen
- Beach Towel
- GoPro or waterproof camera
- Change of clothes
- Cash or credit cards
- GoPro or waterproof camera
- Change of clothes
- Cash or credit cards
Final Thoughts: Is Xplor or Xenotes better?
So, have you made up your mind between Xplor and Xenotes?! I hope this Xenotes vs Xplor comparison guide was helpful in guiding your decision.
Both Xplor and Xenotes offer incredible adventures you won’t find anywhere else in the world so you can’t go wrong with either!
I honestly had a blast at both parks but if you’re still undecided, here’s my take:
Choose Xplor if you really want to go ziplining because the park offers the absolute best ziplining in Riviera Maya.
Plus, you’ll get to do a variety of different land and water activities such as driving amphibious vehicles, swimming and rafting through stalactite rivers, and an underground expedition.
Choose Xenotes if you really love water activities and have never visited a cenote before.
Situated in the heart of the Mayan jungle, it’s the most authentic Xcaret experience and doesn’t feel overly commercialized. Plus, it’s the most hassle-free cenote tour with everything included.
So, now that you know all about Xplor and Xenotes, which are you going to choose?!