The Riviera Maya is famous for its incredible resorts, the beauty and amazing atmosphere of its beaches, and its delicious gastronomy, with endless options for those who visit the area. But this privileged land is also a place of enormous ecological value, and the protection of its natural treasures is vital for this destination. Proof of this is the Xcacel-Xcacelito Protected Natural Area. Located in the municipality of Tulum, this natural jewel of Quintana Roo has fostered for two decades the conservation of species of sea turtles. We invite you to discover Xcacel-Xcacelito Sea Turtle Sanctuary in Tulum.
What is Xcacel-Xcacelito?
Xcacel-Xcacelito was declared a Natural Protected Area in 1998 with the category of Area Subject to Ecological Conservation “Sanctuary of the Sea Turtle” in addition to protecting sea turtles, it houses a great variety of birds. It has an area of 362 hectares of jungle and beaches where mangroves, cenotes, and coral reefs are located. Its beaches have various types of protected vegetation, such as the kuká palm forest, the chit palm forest, and the mangrove ecosystems. Over 200,000 turtle hatchings are released every year. Xcacel’s model seeks to demonstrate what can be done with collective participation and organization.
Where is it located?
Xcacel is located on Kilometer 247 of the 307 Federal Highway, Cancun – Tulum, in the town of Chan Chemuyila. It’s approximately 30 miles from Playa del Carmen and 13 miles from Tulum. You must pay close attention since the signs are scarce. If you travel by public transportation, remind the driver that you’ll get off in Xcacel – if you’re not driving, you will have to walk about a third of a mile (500 meters). There aren’t any places near Xcacel where you can stay, so we recommend booking your lodging in Playa del Carmen and scheduling Xcacel as a day trip.
Things to do in Xcacel-Xcacelito
From May to October, Xcacel is visited by two species of sea turtles, the loggerhead and the white turtle. These fascinating reptiles carry out their nesting process on the coast, a spectacle that occurs during the night. This natural phenomenon is supervised by marine biologists but can be witnessed by anyone interested, as long as they do not interfere. If you visit Xcacel at the right time, you may even witness the moment when the turtles come out of their eggs and head to the sea. A miracle of nature that you cannot miss.
Xcacel Beach is the perfect combination of beach and jungle. The landscape of Xcacel is practically unspoiled, something unusual in the Riviera Maya area. Palm trees and mangroves come together to create one of the region’s wildest and most exceptional views. You can enjoy this beauty while taking a dip on the beach, whose waves are usually low. With calm waters and a protected barrier reef, Xcacel Beach is also an excellent place for snorkeling. You must bring your own equipment as there are no rentals on site. Keep in mind that there are not many amenities around, except for a few restrooms and a restaurant where they serve fish and seafood.
Tips and Important Aspects you Should Consider Before Visiting Xcacel:
- The Sanctuary is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- The entrance fee is 88 Pesos (4.50 USD).
- The Cenote is currently not open to the public.
- During the turtle nesting season, May to November, activities on the beach are restricted. Xcacel will publish a calendar of activities on its web page so you can learn about what’s happening in the Sanctuary.
- From December to April, they only allow sustainable recreational activities such as swimming in the permitted areas of the beach, sunbathing, beach games, and surfing.
- Alcoholic beverages, smoking, food, music, or any other activity considered a threat to the wildlife species within the Sanctuary are prohibited. Check for the entire list of restrictions here.
- Bring your beach equipment, especially an umbrella.
- It’s not allowed to enter the trails with abundant vegetation. Some animals can endanger your life.
- There are no garbage cans because you will have to take everything you bring with you.
- To take care of the environment, use only biodegradable sunscreen or insect repellants that won’t damage the ecosystem.
Please keep in mind that it’s a sanctuary more than a recreational beach. To continue to have public access, this reserve requires the cooperation of all visitors.
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