Experiencias Xcaret: 6 Experiences, 6 Times the Fun

If you’ve ever been to or heard of the Riviera Maya, you have probably heard about Xcaret. It is one of the biggest ecofriendly touristic and natural parks in the area, attracting thousands upon thousands of tourists per year. Although some may consider it pricy, it is worth every penny you invest. The Xcaret family has expanded over the past 20 years and now has a total of six parks ranging from eco-natural parks, to adventure parks, to culture parks. There is something for everyone! Check out the list of Xcaret parks and their highlights:

  • Xcaret

Priced at approximately $129 USD (for the full package, including transportation), Xcaret is one of the most popular destinations in the Riviera Maya. The park offers a full days’ worth of fun water activities, learning opportunities, culinary experiences, and much more. You can swim down the underground rivers, visit the butterfly pavilion, visit the newborn macaws, the jaguar island (where you can spot jaguars and panthers), or just walk around the park exploring every corner of it. Churches, haciendas, restaurants, observation towers, archeological sites, and much more, make up the 200 acre space. Don’t forget to stay until the end to enjoy the amazing Mexico Espectacular show featuring live music, traditional folkloric dances and a journey through Mexico’s history.

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  • Xel Ha

The aquatic-themed park is located approximately 120km south of Cancun. Also priced at $129 USD, this park offers less activities than Xcaret, but more food and drinks! With an unlimited buffet, beverages, and national open bar, you will enjoy a – literally- full day. You can swim down the river and into the cove while snorkeling and observing the beautiful life. Xel Ha, after all, claims being the biggest natural aquarium in the Riviera Maya. Amongst the many activities, you can also purchase swimming with dolphins, Sea Trek, amongst other fun extra activities.

  • Xplor

Although the park uses the natural surroundings, caves, underground rivers, and jungle, it is much more focused on adrenaline and adventure. The $149 USD per person entry fee includes an unlimited buffet, zip line circuits, river rafting circuits, circuits for amphibious vehicles, and two river circuits to snorkel in. The four activities take all day to go through, so it is recommended to bring comfortable shoes and be ready for a lot of walking and, especially, fun! They have recently opened Xplor Fuego, which is essentially the same thing except at night. Everything is illuminated with fire, making it a whole different experience for only $99 USD.

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  • Xichen

Chichen Itza isn’t a park, under the strict description or general idea of what a park is; however, Experiencias Xcaret now offers tours to Chichen Itza as part of the many activities tourists can do while visiting the Riviera Maya. The archeological site tour is 12 hours long, but is as luxurious as it gets. Besides having an experienced – and bilingual – guide with you throughout the tour, and having the opportunity to visit the beautiful ancient Mayan civilization, the luxury tour includes a light gourmet breakfast, drinks, a visit to the wonderful Valladolid City, a cenote, lunch buffet, and a unique experience that will leave you longing to visit all the other archeological sites in the region.

  • Xenotes

Everyone tells you that you must visit at least one cenote when visiting paradise. But it’s so hard to choose just one from all the many options out there, and even more, what type of cenote should you visit? The Xenotes tour offers a nature-filled day at four cenotes (of different types). The price is $119 USD and you get snacks, coffee, breakfast breads, a glam picnic, rappel, kayak, zip lining, and snorkel. Just like Chichen Itza, it isn’t a park in itself, but rather an adventure offered by the same company that has given millions of people memories for life.

  • Xoximilco

This glammed up version of the original Xochimilco is located just a few minutes south of Cancún. Trajineras (traditional Aztec boats) are pushed with long sticks by experts down beautifully landscaped canals while guests enjoy a night to remember. Each trajinera can carry up to 22 people; whether you are here with many friends, or about to make new friends, you will have an experience of a lifetime. The $119 ticket includes a cruise through the canals at night, a three-course Mexican meal with an open bar of tequila, beer, fresh water and soft drink, all while being accompanied by different traditional ensembles playing music through the cruise.

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We recommend that you visit Experiencias Xcaret website for further information about each amazing adventure that will leave you wanting more. Whichever park you choose to visit – or if you choose to visit more – you will find yourself diving into a world of adventure, nature, adrenaline, and excitement. These parks are made to be enjoyed with friends and family. Start booking your holidays and get ready for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Now, if you have any questions about any of the Xcaret experiences, about living in Mexico, buying property, or are interested in one of the many real estate options we have listed on our website, feel free to contact one of our Top Mexico Buyers’ Representatives who will gladly assist you on your journey to becoming a homeowner in Mexico.

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate…

We Make It Happen!

Palenque! A Surprisingly Charming Stop on our Journey through Mexico!

Part of the privilege of living in Mexico is getting to explore all of the hidden treasures, beautiful wonders and amazing history tucked away in nearly every corner of the country.  Every landmark, every town and every city in Mexico tells a story!

On my journey with my husband from Mexico City to Playa del Carmen by car, we stopped in the charming town of Palenque in the beautiful state of Chiapas. We stopped off for a place to sleep for the night and to simply take a break from driving but discovered that we were in a town full of beauty, charm and rich history.

The town is small with a very Mexican feel.  Many people who come to Cancun or even Playa del Carmen experience more of a Caribbean and Americanized version of Mexico.  If you are searching more authenticity Palenque is a perfect place to experience it!

Although Palenque happens to be a very popular tourist destination due to its history, well-known archeological sites and wondrous hidden waterfalls the town’s traditional feel has remained untouched by tourist traffic.

You feel as though you stepped into a little story book!  Pick up a morning tamale by one of the local street vendors and then head on over to one of the many cafes you will find all around the little town.

If you are a sweet addict of coffee or even the casual morning sipper you are going to be in love in Palenque.  The state of Chiapas has the most incredible coffee, hence the reason why you will find a café nearly everywhere you turn.  Pick up a cup or go to your favorite local café and grab a kilo of the perfect blend to make right in your home!

Once you’ve had your caffeine fix you can explore the town and then head over to the famous archeological sites where you can find exceptional pyramids standing strong on a site where the Mayans used to reside, leaving us with mysteries of their endeavors.  Each pyramid holds a different history.

In Palenque you can still climb the historical Mayan pyramids which leave you with outstanding views into the distance of the town and far ahead.

In Palenque you can also visit the beautiful waterfalls at Misol Ha!  The incredible views are captivating and invigorating for your spirit.  Swim in the clear waters and take in all of your breathtaking surroundings!

Before you leave Palenque don’t forget to have a good meal while you are there.  In Mexico each state prepares Mexican food with a different style of cooking and specializes in different regional dishes.

There are not any fancy resorts in Palenque but rather small and clean hotels, most offering coffee and breakfast in the morning.

Palenque is known for being a hot travel spot for backpackers and also for students exploring and studying new cultures and traditions.

Traveling through Mexico means you have the opportunity to see, taste, and feel so many different and new things.  Take of all the beautiful new experiences you are presented with and enjoy your journey through this amazing country!

-By Bea Lozano

Churches, Pyramids, Volcanoes and Pure Colonial Charm: Cholula

Churches, Pyramids, Volcanoes and Pure Colonial Charm: Cholula
Just this week I posted a picture of one of Mexico’s most famous volcanoes – Itzaccihuatl, the one that looks like a sleeping woman.  Now, this volcano is right next to another one, Popocatepetl, which recently had a small eruption.  Some photographer captured a picture of a church on a hilltop with the erupting volcano behind it; the picture is so beautiful that I decided to make it my computer wallpaper.

Here’s the funny thing; I didn’t realize until today that I’ve actually visited this site!

This discovery has brought to mind another great place to visit in central Mexico – the town of Cholula.

Where is it?

Cholula is a town which has been swallowed up by metropolitan area of the larger (colonial) city of Puebla.  It would be misleading to say “suburb” since it’s much more like a town and not at all like the modern idea of a suburb.  This means it’s about 2 hours away from Mexico City, just on the other side of the famous volcanoes I’ve mentioned.

The colonial beauty

Like the city of Puebla, Cholula is full of pure colonial charm, with many churches and buildings with colonial architecture; the town is simply a lovely place to walk around and enjoy the scenery.  There are also good restaurants.

Mystery and Magic

While there are many sites worth seeing and writing about in Cholula, I want to focus specifically on the one I mentioned at the top – the church, called Nuestra Senora de los Remedios, on the hilltop with the view of the volcano (more correctly volcanoes, since besides those two, you can see 2 others further in the distance.)

First of all, it’s worth noting that it’s actually not on a hilltop.  If you look at any picture of the church and “hill,” you will notice that the sides are very straight and almost flat; what appears to be a hill at a first glance is actually a pyramid that has been overgrown.  The church was built on top of the pyramid!
The pyramid was from a more ancient civilization in the area, and was actually abandoned around the 12th century; by the time the Spanish arrived and built the church, the pyramid was long out of use and overgrown.

In recent decades, the bottom part of the pyramid was excavated, allowing you to see the bottom steps, and revealing a large network of secret tunnels in the bottom part of the pyramid!  The top has not been excavated because of the church on top, which is also a treasure!

The Church

After you check out the fascinating pyramid, you can make your way up the “hillside” to the church (walking only, 48 steps, 850 ft upward!).
First of all, the views of the volcanoes are stunning! You can look out over the green, patchwork countryside with the majestic volcanoes towering in the distance.

The views of the city of Puebla are also amazing. (Here’s a challenge; count how many churches you can see.  If you can visit all of them, you’ll know the entire city, and have seen some of the most beautiful architecture to be found!)

The church itself is spectacular.  The orange painting outside with white trim and elegant domes and arches is true to the best of colonial style.  In the interior, the painting, gold work, images, statues and structure are all very original and very beautiful.  It’s a place where you can just stand in silence, absorbing it!
It’s easy to see why the church, like the pyramid in ancient times before it, is one of the region’s most important pilgrimage sites.

If you are traveling in central Mexico, I would definitely recommend a trip to Puebla and the town of Cholula!  Among the many sights you will see in your life, few will be as specular is this one.

-by Bea Lozano
Mexico Closing Costs Kit

The Hidden Magic of Guanajuato, Mexico

Recently, we’ve started exploring some of Mexico’s “Hidden Gems” – places that absolutely fabulous to visit, but in the international picture, are entirely off the radar.

The central Mexican city of Guanajuato is one such place.

The Magical City

With beautiful, classic old homes, and alleyways so narrow that two people leaning out two opposite windows could kiss, this city is not only very beautiful, but also very romantic.  The hill landscape and and the seemingly orderless roads add an element of the unknown and discovery.  There are also the classic old churches and gardens with bright flowers:

The city is also fmous for its mines and mummies:

A Beautiful State

Besides the beautiful city, there are many amazing places to see throughout the state, which has the same name.  These include the town where the Mexican War of Independence started (Dolores Hidalgo,) old monasteries and a huge statue of Jesus on hill (called “Cierro de Cubilete”) just north of the city of Guanajuato:

A Touch of the International

While I’ve said that Guanajuato is largely off the international radar, there are a couple of striking exeptions.  One is the town of San Miguel de Allende, which is a beautiful colonial town that is home to between 8000 and 12,000 expats, mostly Americans.  This is one of the largest community of Americans in Mexico, and they have been largely responsible for restoring and keeping up the authentic colonial beauty of the town.

Another exception is that in 2012, the pope visted the City of Guanajuato and gave a Mass at the bottom of the hill where the huge state of Jesus; since he was old, he couldn’t travel to the top:

Some Americans will be familiar with San Miguel de Allende or the pope’s visit to El Cierro de Cubilete, but even most of these will be unaware that these are located within the State of Guanajuato, or of the riches to be seen and experienced here!

I would certainly recommend Guanajuato as a top option for a place to visit on your travels around Mexico – or even to live in for those interested in a small colonial town like San Miguel.

-by Bea Lozano
Mexico Preconstruction Condo Kit

Travel Tip – The City of Oaxaca Reflects Mexico’s Colonial Beauty

Whether you’re looking for a less-known choice for retirement in Mexico or not, it’s always good to get a glimpse of some of the beautiful locations throughout Mexico; the travel options never run short here in Mexico, and if you’re looking for something new, you’ll always find it!

At a blog called gadventures.com, I found this great post about Oaxaca.  Take a look at some of the pictures:

We’ve written about the Oaxaca culture fair in Playa del Carmen, but going there directly is, of course, always the best way to go!

The city of Oaxaca is yet another colonial gem, again with its own regional variation, distinct from what you’ll find in central Mexico, or on the Yucatan Peninsula, for instance.  Here’s an excerpt from the story:

“Oaxaca’s historic city center is a photographer’s dream. Colorfully painted Spanish colonial buildings and churches line the narrow stone streets.

“Like Mexico City and Puebla, it’s compact enough to walk, yet it can take days to fully appreciate all the details and nuances. One need only pick a direction, and wander, eyes wide open, to find interesting angles.

“The center, along with the nearby archaeological site of Monte Albán, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

“Landmarks not to miss include the Former Monastery of Santo Domingo, with its gilded interior, the adjacent Cultural Museum of Oaxaca next door, which features a fabulous turquoise-covered human skull, and Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, located in the Zocalo (main plaza).”

(Read the rest here.)

The state of Oaxaca is also the most famous area for production of mescal, a stronger-flavored sister to the world famous tequila.

The city is in the interior of the state, but the Pacific beaches are only a few hours away.  They are fairly undiscovered and offer a quiet getaway off the beaten track – especially off the “international” beaten track.

-by Bea Lozano

Mexico Insurance Kit

Travel Tips – The Charm and Beauty of Mexico City

When I tell people that Mexico City is a great place to travel to, they usually give me a funny look – like they think it’s a joke, just waiting for me to start laughing.


“Isn’t that a big, ugly city, full of smog, litter, traffic, graffiti, poverty and crime?” is what runs through most people’s minds. “It’s not safe, is it?”


Mexicans as much as anyone else have a very negative image of the city (compare to how most Americans feel about New York, or Canadians about Toronto.) But contrary to what people think, it really is a good place to travel.


You’ll notice that this page speaks highly of its travel potential.  This travel site ranks it as Mexico’s #1 place to travel to, safely.


Balanced View

I love Mexico City.  That’s where I’m from.  But I think there’s more to it than that.  At the same time, I want to be honest; some of the ugliest places I’ve seen in any city are in that city. Yet, blocks away there are some of the most beautiful and interesting places you’ll find anywhere – even compared to Europe.  These are some of the reasons I recommend the city.


Colonial Charm – The old downtown of Mexico City (“Centro Historico”) with its splendid old churches and blocks upon blocks of beautiful Mexican architecture has been very well preserved and I would say it holds out well against any other colonial city, and even the charming European cities everyone goes on about.


Unique Culture – Walking around downtown Mexico City, you really feel something different. While the city is busy, it’s also relaxed and enjoys life. There are men playing guitar in the parks, and bands with young and old people dancing on the weekends.  The huge city square has been home to some of the most massive outdoor concerts of all styles.  And then there’s Garibaldi Square with its mariachis …


History, Museums, Art – If you love fine culture and learning about history, you will love Mexico City.  It has an excellent Museum of Anthropology, and the Bellas Artes fine art museum, among many, many similar  items.  There are also many religious sites, like the famous Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe.


Parks and Canals
– Inside and just outside of the city there are parks of all sizes, ranging from fairly pure nature and authentic Mexican countryside to very elegantly landscaped urban “park-ettes” ideal for sitting down with an ice cream. One of the most famous parks (Chapultapec) has a castle in the middle of it. There are also the famous canals of Xolchimilco in the south of the city where long boats offer both quiet, relaxing rides, and “parties on the go.”


Food – In Mexico City, you can find food from any part of Mexico; but as all people from the city point out, it has its own unique style.  There are also the city’s favorites, like tacos “al pastor” which offer meat similar to that found on doner kebabs.


Low Cost of Everything!! People who live in the city will tell you that part of its charm is that you can go out with only a dollar in your pocket (just enough for the subway and bus) and still fully enjoy an active day out in the city.  Street music, art displays, shows and much more are open for the public.  Museums and galleries are free on certain days. While you’ll want to enjoy the finer points of the city, you’ll find that your expenses in the city tend to be low – even compared to tourist locations in Mexico!


The Weather
– I always tell people that weather in Mexico City is nearly perfect.  Imagine something like late summer, but all year round.  The days are sunny and warm (not hot!) and the nights cool off nicely.  The rainy season can bring heavy downpours, but even these usually last for only an hour or so, and clear up quickly.


So, in conclusion, I wouldn’t recommend Mexico City as a place for expats to live (although it is in fact home to many who happily live there.)  But I would most certainly recommend a visit.  Plan your trip, investigate the  main attractions (there are many – you’ll have to pick and choose!) and stick to the tourist areas.  You’ll probably wonder why you never got to know this incredible city!


-by Bea Lozano

An adventure through Paradise to Punta Allen

I would like to share an experience of friend who traveled through the Jungle to the small little fishing village of Punta Allen.  The way she described it to me was somewhat humorous as they did not travel the traditional way through the jungle to arrive there.  Punta Allen is a very cute and small fishing village past Tulum and Sian Ka’an.  In order to get there you must travel through a rocky dirt road through the jungle.


There are many beautiful things to see as you travel through before arriving to the quaint little town.  My friend’s journey began in Playa del Carmen where she and her husband rented a scooter to take a spontaneous weekend getaway.


In Tulum

Although very close to home they stayed one night in a tiny but sweet and clean hotel room in the center of Tulum.  When they awoke in the morning they decided to head off to Punta Allen as they had heard about this destination yet knew nothing about it.  Still they wanted to find out.  They asked a few locals in town how to get there and received some directions but were advised to rent a jeep or a 4×4 if at all possible.


Adventurous Mishaps …
Being adventurous and spontaneous as they are they decided to ignore the advice and swing it on the scooter! Well about a quarter of the way through the long dirt road of Sian Ka’an, they finally realized the importance of the 4×4 as the ride was very slow and very bumpy.  None the less, they took frequent stops to take a look and snap photos of all the beauty that surrounded them.


There are beautiful jungles, pristine bays of water, and sheer quiet and relaxation!  In some points of the route you will even see camping areas where people come to enjoy a place where the jungle truly meets the sea.  They realized half way that they hadn’t even arrived to their destination yet and they were already taking in quite a beautiful experience.  Alas, they arrived and there was the sign “Welcome to Punta Allen”!  It probably should have taken them half the time in a jeep but they didn’t mind because it was an experience.


Definitely Not a Resort!
Punta Allen is a tiny fishing village that attracts some attention for a quiet weekend or night away however fully maintains its charm.  There is only one restaurant there and they have some options for cabanas.This is not a place for resort goers!


The cabanas are small, simple, clean and nice!  You are surrounded by beauty and nature.  There is a light house if you stroll down the path and in the little town you will see what some may think of as typical Mexico as this is not a tourist destination in general. The main activity there is fishing and as a tour option you can head out on a boat with a guided tour out into the ocean.  Other than that it’s all about the relaxation.  My friend thought it to be quite cute and funny that the restaurant owned a turkey for a pet, which had been tied to a tree in the restaurant, you know, just in case it ran away!


The Journey Home

The duration of the stay was not too long; only one night but enough to have a beautiful experience.  Then they headed home back on the scooter back towards Tulum and back to Playa.  It is truly wonderful that when you live here you have the option to just pick up and go somewhere and explore in such a beautiful place!


We should remember that some people save up for a year to take a vacation out to the Riviera Maya to explore and experience as much as they can because for many it is only a once in a lifetime event or at least every once in a while.  Take advantage of what you have surrounding you and go!


-by Bea Lozano

 Mexico Real Estate e-book

Where Is It Safe to Travel in Mexico? … to Live in Mexico?

Expats living in Mexico will almost invariably feel confident in the safety of the place where they live; being here in person allows people to experience first hand that life here is safe.

Yet many expats also want the experience of traveling to other parts of the country.  Those who aren’t expats yet (but are planning on it) will want to know which areas are statistically safe.

For these purposes, the US Department of State’s “Clear for Travel” list is useful.  I approve of this list, because it let’s people know that many parts of Mexico are safe for travel, and serves as a beginning of a balance to the negative travel advisories lists that have gained so much attention. (I also approve of the travel advisories list – people need to know where they shouldn’t go, too!)

As far as I know, this list isn’t exhaustive; if a place isn’t listed here, that doesn’t mean it’s not safe.  These are just the most frequently visited places that have been given a definite “clear.” So if the place you’re thinking of visiting is not listed here, do some extra research  before stroking it of your list.


The follow tourist cities and places continue to have no warning or advisories in effect:

Baja California Sur: No advisory is in effect.

Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, La Paz, Todos Santos, Isla Espiritu Santo, Loreto, Laguna San Ignacio, Magdelena Bay


Campeche: No advisory is in effect.

Campeche City, Calakmul, Edzna


Chiapas: No advisory is in effect.

San Cristobal de las Casas, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Comitán, Tapachula, Palenque, Yaxchilán, Bonampak, Toniná, Sumidero Canyon, San Juan Chamula, Zinacantan


Guanajuato: No advisory is in effect.

Guanajuato City, Leon, San Miguel de Allende



Acapulco, Taxco, Zihuatanejo, Ixtapa



Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Tequila


Distrito Federal: No advisory is in effect.

Mexico City (Polanco, Santa Fe, San Angel, Coyoacan, La Condesa, Chapultepec Park, Bascilica de Guadalupe, Historic Center, Zócalo, Xochimilco, Teotihuacan, Templo Mayor, Bellas Artes)






Riviera Nayarit, Nuevo Vallarta, Punta de Mita, Sayulita, Bucerias


: No advisory is in effect.

Oaxaca City, Sierra Norte, Monte Alban, Mitla,  Teotitlán del Valle, San Bartolo de Coyotepec, San Martin Tilcajete,  Cuilápam de Guerrero, Tlacolula,  Huatulco, Puerto Escondido

Puebla: No advisory is in effect.

Puebla City, San Andres Cholula, San Pedro Cholula


Queretaro: No advisory is in effect.

Queretaro City, Bernal


Quintana Roo: No advisory is in effect.

Cancun, Riviera Maya, Tulum,  Playa del Carmen, Mayakoba, Akumal, Isla Mujeres, Puerto Aventuras, Cozumel, Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve,  Xpu-Ha





Tabasco: No advisory is in effect.



Yucatan: No advisory is in effect.

Merida, Chichen Itza, Isla Holbox,  Ek Balam, Valladolid,  Izmal, Uxmal


*There are advisories in effect for the state. The listed cities are okay for travel but you should exercise caution and stay within tourist areas.

(From the US Department of State, as listed in Journey Mexico.)

There are many safe places to live in Mexico, and even more great (and safe) places to travel to.


-by Thomas Lloyd
Mexico Real Estate Testimonials

New Pyramids Discovered in Veracruz, Mexico

Once again, Mexico shows that it is capable of discovering, analyzing and preserving ancient pyramid sites for the sake of science and enjoyment of visitors.  All of this comes in complete contrast to the destruction of Mayan pyramids reported from Central America.  Here’s an excerpt from a news report:


An ancient settlement, including 30 skeletons and the ruins of a pyramid, believed to be up to 2,000 years old, has been unearthed in Mexico.


The discovery was made during construction work in eastern Mexico. Clay figurines, jade beads, mirrors and animal remains have also been found in the site of the graves in the town of Jaltipan, southeast of Veracruz, according to the National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH).


Researchers believe the settlement was occupied from around the first century AD until AD 600 or 700. However, little is known about the people who lived there, ‘LiveScience’ reported. (source: Business Standard)


Mexico offers contact with and information on a rich variety of ancient civilizations that lived throughout the country for anyone who wishes to travel and see these sites.  Yet another reason to choose Mexico.

-by Thomas Lloyd
Mexico Real Estate Investment Kit