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Fodor's See It Mexico, 3rd Edition
Among the most popular attractions are the Paradise River raft tour that takes you on a winding, watery journey through the jungle; the Butterfly Pavilion, where thousands of butterflies float dreamily through a botanical garden while New Age music plays in the background; and an ocean-fed aquarium where you can see local sea life drifting through coral heads and sea fans.
The park has a Wild Bird Breeding Aviary, nurseries for both abandoned flamingo eggs and sea turtles, and a series of underwater caverns that you can explore by snorkeling or snuba (a hybrid of snorkeling and scuba). A replica Mayan village includes a colorful cemetery with catacomb-like caverns underneath; traditional music and dance ceremonies (including performances by the famed Voladores de Papantla—the Flying Birdmen of Papantla) are performed here at night. But the star performance is the evening "Spectacular Mexico Night Show," which tells the history of Mexico through song and dance.
The list of Xcaret's attractions goes on and on: you can visit a dolphinarium, a bee farm, a manatee lagoon, a bat cave, an orchid and bromeliad greenhouse, an edible-mushroom farm, and a small zoo. You can also visit a scenic tower that takes you 240 feet up in the air for a spectacular view of the park.
The entrance fee covers only access to the grounds and the exhibits; all other activities and equipment—from sea treks and dolphin tours to lockers and swim gear—are extra. The $109 Plus Pass includes park entrance, lockers, snorkel equipment, food, and drinks. You can buy tickets from any travel agency or major hotel along the coast.
Museo de Arte Popular Mexicano. This entrancing folk-art museum is a must for anyone interested in Mexican culture and handicrafts. It's brimming with original works by the country's finest artisans, which are arranged in fascinating tableaux. The collection represents different regions of Mexico—from nativity scenes sculpted out of Oaxaca's clays to the intricate arbol de la vida (tree of life) sculptures crafted in Metepec. Children will love the toy room, which includes an impressive display of alebrijes (fantastical wood carvings). Since this is one of the many attractions inside Xcaret, the only way to visit the museum is by purchasing a day-pass to the theme park. Carretera 307, Km 282, at Xcaret, attraction #41, 77710. 984/871–5200 Ext. 399. www.xcaret.com. Free with admission to Xcaret. Weekdays 8:30 am–10 pm.
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