A five-minute drive south of Playa del Carmen lies the Riviera Maya's most famous park, Xcaret, an award-winning blend of nature, history and traditions with activities for everyone.

Spend a fun-filled day on the beach, snorkeling in the cove and swimming in underground rivers or board a raft and drift along a jungle waterway called the Paradise River. Don't miss the aquarium, butterfly pavilion, sea turtle tanks, the placid manatees feeding in the lagoon, the aviary and the regional wildlife compounds housing jaguars, tapir, monkeys and deer. Xcaret has its own turtle protection campaign, orchid cultivation and wild bird breeding programs and you will learn all about its work in the field of conservation and sustainable development during the day.

As you walk along the paths through the forest you'll come across Mayan temples, the legacy of the days when Xcaret or Pole was a port. If you are interested in the Maya, take a few minutes to stroll around the miniature models of the Maya World's most important cities, visit the Ball Court and the Mayan Village, where you can watch craftsmen at work in front of traditional thatched houses.

Other park attractions include the rotating scenic tower and the Henequen Hacienda, site of the Museum of Mexican Handicrafts, full of colorful ceramic, wood and textile treasures from all over the country.

From the traditional cuisine served in the park restaurants, handicrafts and music to folk dances and ancient rituals, you'll be constantly reminded of the depth and diversity of Mexican culture. Be sure to stay on for the spectacular evening extravaganza of Mexican music and dance called Xcaret de Noche, a journey through the history of this country from the days of the ancient Maya.