Xel-Ha Mexican Eco Waterpark

Where the underground rivers naturally empty into the ocean, they built an eco water park called Xel-Há that we couldn’t wait to experience! Our friends who have been before told us about landing in the water at the end of the water slides to a bunch of tropical fish at your feet. We wanted to see for ourselves where freshwater mixes with saltwater on the Riviera Maya in a swirl of unlimited snorkeling, food, and beverages.

Located in Tulum, about a 2.5 hour bus ride from where we stayed. To protect the environment and preserve the wildlife, reef-safe sunscreen is required. We put our stuff in lockers and hopped on a shuttle that took us to the starting point for snorkeling at the river, but you can get in the water at a variety of areas.

Before our Waterpark day, we had ample practice with the kids using rented snorkels at our resort. The kids could hopefully snorkel with us! Apparently a cold river using a different mask which covers your whole face is worlds apart from practicing in a nice warm clear pool.

We had to adjust our expectations after many perfectly (horrible) timed tear-filled, “I need to go to the bathroom!”, “I can’t breathe!” (so. many. mask adjustments!), and “I’m scared”. Bottom line, I don’t think our sons aged 5 and 7 were old enough to comfortably do the snorkeling experience.

Our son W turned out to be very sick. I was taking kids to the bathroom on a constant rotation. W started shaking from being so cold in the water after his first attempt at snorkeling. When we got him out, he couldn’t even walk with us and had to be carried, then on the way back he vomited all over Jeremy’s head… I wish I took a photo of Jeremy’s expression in that moment because it was shock and disgust—and simultaneously a lot of love and relief that W might feel better finally hahaha! So many conflicting emotions!

Instead of Zip lining and big slides (which I totally recommend you do!), we shifted our focus on slowing down to take care of the kids and getting our youngest some fluids. After getting cleaned up a bit, we ate at the international buffet. The universal favorite was the ice cream machine, which had a steady line.

Then we divided into teams. Jer took the boys to the extensive and super fun Kids Play area where they could explore through a ropes course in the trees and go down water slides or cool off in splash pads. I took our 11-year-old daughter L for a snorkeling redo.

She takes to the water like a fish, just naturally comfortable, but it felt really good that she held my hand most of the time. We checked the rocks and sides for the best views of fish!

Our guide on the bus ride there had excellent advice I’ll pass on. “This is what you are on vacation for, so give it all you’ve got! You will be so tired, but you can sleep and rest when you get to your bed.” How true it was, though!! I gave it all I got on the 2.5 hour bus ride home where I cleaned full on diarrhea all over my son’s legs in the middle of the aisle. Jer was defeated and frozen in shock, and I honestly went into Autopilot mode to stop myself from wanting to cry. An old plastic bag we removed our wet clothes from, and a bunch of baby wipes from our friends saved the day!

Jer made a covering out of a plastic bag so that W wasn’t completely butt-naked as we made our way through the hotel lobby… We ordered room service (so wonderful!!) for dinner, and laughed our guts out at which was worse—cleaning diarrhea when you’re dead tired, or being thrown up on your head and smelling vomit for the rest of the day? You know it’s love when you can laugh about these things… We gave the kids baths, took care of the **grossness**, and rewarded ourselves with a much needed shower. Sleep was almost instant with hammock-filled dreams of the sea.

More adventures soon!

Love, Kat

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