Xel-ha: A Snorkeling Paradise where Water is Born

Robert Ramstetter By Robert Ramstetter, 26th Aug 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1kjywuve/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>North America>Mexico>The Yucatán

A short distance from the hustle and bustle of the Mayan Riviera, Xel-ha is a must see place for the snorkeler and diver.

Swim with tropical fish, dolphins, or try a zip line.

Any trip to the Mayan Riviera would be incomplete without a visit to Xel-Ha (pronounced shell ha). The Mayans, who inhabited this place as long ago as the first century, have officially been gone since probably the mid eighteen hundreds. However, visitors to the region will likely hear some of the local population conversing in the ancient Mayan tongue.
The area itself is a natural lagoon, formed by millions of years of ancient coral erosion. A freshwater stream feeds the lagoon, making the water brackish. Also feeding the lagoon is an underground spring. In the Mayan language, Xel-ha is translated as "the place where water is born", in reference to this spring which feeds the lagoon.
The visitor will be delighted at the myriad of beautifully colored fish that swim about as you snorkel among them. Besides parrot fish, angel fish, blue tangs, and roughly ninety others, the visitor will be occasionally greeted by barracuda. Despite their fearsome appearance, though, one should not worry. They are curious fish and will frequently stay with a a person for more than a half hour. Although I didn't know it at the time, there is a shark net at the mouth of the lagoon to prevent any large predators from entering the area.
Part of the beauty of Xel-ha is that it is brackish, meaning it is part salt water and part freshwater. When the warm Caribbean Sea mixes with the cooler spring water, it doesn’t naturally mix, so you can actually see the two different water swirl around your mask. If you have a sharp eye, you may even spot a sailfin molly, the type that is common in aquariums, in its natural habitat. One important thing to note is that your store bought sunscreen is probably not permitted, due to the extreme sensitivity of the natural environment,. Guests are given a complimentary bottle of biodegradable sunscreen, though.
When a floating lazily around the lagoon is not enough, they do offer, for an additional fee, a swim with dolphin experience and a zip line. There is also a lazy river adventure and an American style buffet that is included in the admission price. With such a variety and opportunity to see aquatic nature at its finest, Xel-ha is a must see place for anyone visiting the Mayan Riviera.

Tags

Mexico, Snorkeling, Swimming, Tropical

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author avatar Robert Ramstetter
Robert Ramstetter is a world traveler and writer of short stories, full length novels, and a vast array of technical articles.

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