Out of my experiences, Xel-Ha is indeed my favorite. This eco-park is geared towards nature and Mayan culture lovers, who enjoy the occasional thrill but mainly want to play with those peaceful inhabitants of the sea depths and wonder at the bounty of the tropics, and maybe get a Mayan spa treatment during the day too. Xel-Ha advertises itself as the biggest natural aquarium in the world, but once you get in, you realize this is much more than waterworks. It’s a park full of trails to bike and zip-line, underground rivers to navigate, when one gets lost only to be surprised by the most amazing spots, bays, grottos and cenotes.
Can’t you swim? No problem. At Xel-Ha you can walk on the seabed in complete safety thanks to the Seatrek technology. I was thrilled by the idea since I am not a bad swimmer, but snorkeling made me feel uneasy until a few years ago. Where else in the world can you walk on a seabed of clear waters and play with colorful Caribbean fish? Even if I looked like an Argonaut, I decided to enjoy this improvised costume party and the feeling of walking on the seabed was truly a unique experience.
Can’t you dive? No problem! This natural aquarium is open for everybody’s enjoyment. Who said you need to take a diving course to explore the seabed? Snuba is the clever combination of snorkeling and scuba diving for the less daring among us. If you can snorkel, you can Snuba too. Once I was underwater, surrounded by the deep silence of the sea, all my fear was gone when I spotted playful colorful fish circling around me. Then I thought I had found Nemo, but later I learned it belong to the Sergeant Major species and was certainly not a clownfish!
To end my day, I decided to skip the Mayan spa therapy and went to the Path of Consciousness. The name certainly intrigued me enough. Scattered through, I bumped into carved stones with insightful legends written on them, the kind that makes me stop and reflect. After submerging myself into a totally different element for hours, I was getting a gift from the rich Mayan tradition.
I found it very refreshing. Then I went for a temascal (sweat lodge) to end a perfect day in close contact with the sea creatures I had mostly seen through a glass until now. And I returned home with that feeling you have upon waking up and recalling your last dream, when it slips through the layers of your memory unless you make the effort to say it out loud.