The Riviera Maya is a place best known for its incredibly clear waters; in some places it is almost impossible to determine how many shades of blue are visible! The Riviera Maya sand is so soft and powdery that it stirs through your toes almost like water.
One of those Riviera Maya beaches is Xcacel; which is not only breathtakingly beautiful but also one of the most important nesting spots for sea turtles.
I can’t help but go almost every I time can, after some 35 minutes driving south from Playa del Carmen, in a kind of “hidden” entrance between mangroves. After entering you drive for about 3 more minutes until you reach a security stand where the keepers will come and meet you and tell you some basic facts about Xcacel.
TOP Facts you need to know about Xcacel-Xcacelito!
In case you didn´t know, these are the TOP 4 facts you will learn as soon as you enter Xcacel-Xcacelito Sanctuary:
- It was designated as the Xcacel-Xcacelito Sea Turtle Sanctuary in 1998.
- Its total area is about 365 hectares that combine 3 different ecosystems; which are beach, mangrove and cenote (sinkhole).
- The Xcacel-Xcacelito sanctuary has a wide and long beach, sand dunes, an open cenote, mangroves and great wildlife diversity.
- There´s a “Turtle Camp” with volunteers run by the ecological organization Flora, Fauna y Cultura that´s been operating for the last 10 years on site.
Once you pass the entrance and park your car, take a walk on top a sand dune and what you will find will astound you; everywhere you look is a wide and white sandy beach, filled vegetation, indescribable shades of turquoise and blue, a few families or groups of young people setting up their umbrellas or looking for a shade underneath a palm tree, walking along the beach, swimming, jumping from wave to wave, taking pictures… and many endless and wonderful beach scenes.
The purity of diving in a Cenote next to the beach
After you set your camp and go for a swim, it is worth to take a short walk to the cenote; you will cross a wooden bridge and pass throughout the mangrove until you get to the cool and clear waters of this sinkhole. For those who are not fond of that salty sticky feeling on the skin, take a dip here to cool off, these waters will make your skin feel softer than ever, trust me!
There are also a few spots within the cenote where you can just sit on a mangrove branch or the wooden dock and let the fish do their job, a way of pedicure which you can find at spas in Playa del Carmen and other cities of the world but in its natural environment! If you are the kind of person who is very ticklish, then try to stay out the fishes way, if not, you´re in for a treat and it won´t cost you a thing!
I wish I could stay longer but sometimes it’s just time to leave!
After a long day of sun bathing, swimming, taking long walks to explore, having fun with the kids and taking pictures with your waterproof camera, around 4:30 to 5 in the afternoon it is time to leave! The beach closes around 5:30 to public and all that remains is a few keepers and the Sea Turtle Conservation program volunteers.
It is extremely important that you bring with you the following items: organic sunscreen and mosquito repellent, enough water, snacks, fruits or sandwiches, and last but not least, garbage bags so you can leave the place as clean as you found it; remember, this is a place where for a few months every year, 2 species of sea turtles come to lay their eggs; so let´s keep it safe for these amazing creatures.
So, if you –like me- live close enough, take a short drive from Playa del Carmen or Tulum and you are ready for a full day of pure fun, feeling blessed and thankful for the life you´ve got, come on over and become a Xcacel Lover yourself.
-By Bea Lozano