At Xcacel you’ll find two beautiful and largely undiscovered “gems” that not many people know about unless a Riviera Maya local tells them the secret! First, enjoy the remote shores of the beautiful, sheltered sandy Xcacel beach with very unspoiled dunes, surrounded by abundant vegetation and palm trees. It is an extremely quiet, perfect for seeking solitude away from crowds. The beach is wide and the sea is the most unbelievably turquoise water that is generally calm and warm. The snorkeling here is excellent.
By night, Xcacel serves a different and far more important purpose, as the first line of defense in the battle to save the giant white and loggerhead sea turtles. Biologists, paid workers and volunteers come from April to early October to help preserve the sea turtles’ eggs from predators and humans. Long before the Yucatan was discovered, these remarkable gentle creatures came to these shores to lay their eggs and give life to future generations. Today, however, they face extinction. For this reason, this turtle nesting ground is a national preserve. Witness this amazing event after 9pm, as female turtles use the darkness for protection when laying their eggs.
The second gem at Xcacel is the Hidden Cenote. Beyond the beach and the dunes, there’s a narrow sandy path surrounded by impenetrable jungle. Follow the path to the very end to find this incredibly beautiful hidden cenote (Xcacelito), which shines like a mirror of water reflected in all the trees and mangroves surrounding it. The cenote water’s fresh, so you can swim or snorkel. There are lots of small tropical fish living there and you can see the stones and fossilized coral hidden below.
How to get there:
From Playa del Carmen, Xcacel is 46km (30 miles) south, past the hotel Bahia Principe and about 4km (2.5 miles) south of Akumal. There’s a sign on Carretera Federal 307 marking its entrance but take note, the sign is on the north side of the highway and difficult to spot when traveling south. You’ll need to make a sharp U-turn to get across the highway. It’s best to go by car or taxi, but if there’s no car to take you, you can take a collectivo (local bus). The drivers will know where to stop. Upon arrival, cross the highway, then walk the stretch of dirt road to the beach. Once at the beach, there will be a guard shack on your right. The beach is open to the public, however, since it is a national preserve under the National System of Protected Areas (SINAP), you are often asked give a small donation to enter (generally no more than 10 pesos per person).
Enjoy these most spectacular hidden treasures of the Riviera Maya!
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