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Learn about Protected Areas in Mexico – Xcacel-Xcacelito Sea Turtle Sanctuary

By Tribune Travel

March 21, 2023

The Riviera Maya is renowned for its splendor, beaches, and cuisine. However, this privileged land has great ecological value as well, making the preservation of its natural wonders essential for this destination. Enter the Xcacel-Xcacelito Protected Natural Area.

Located in the Tulum municipality, this natural treasure of Quintana Roo has supported sea turtle species conservation for 20 years. We now bring to you the Xcacel-Xcacelito Sea Turtle Sanctuary in Tulum.

The designation of Xcacel-Xcacelito as a Natural Protected Area in 1998 included the recognition as a “Sanctuary of the Sea Turtle” Area Subject to Ecological Conservation. In addition to housing a wide variety of birds, it safeguards sea turtles. Its 362 hectares of jungle and beaches are home to coral reefs, mangroves, and cenotes.

Its beaches are home to a variety of protected flora and fauna, including mangrove ecosystems, chit palm forests, and kuká palm forests. Every year, more than 200,000 turtle hatchlings are released. The goal of the Xcacel model is to show what can be accomplished through group organization and participation.

Where is Xcacel?

Xcacel can be found on the Cancun-Tulum Federal Highway at Kilometer 247, situated in the charming town of Chan Chemuyila. The area is around 30 miles away from Playa del Carmen and approximately 13 miles from Tulum. It is essential to keep an eye out for the signs, as they are not plentiful. If you opt for public transportation, make sure to get off at Xcacel. There are no accommodations in close proximity to Xcacel, so we suggest booking lodging in Playa del Carmen and planning a day trip to Xcacel.

Fish at the cacel beach shallow waters

What 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 by 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 boasts an ideal fusion of lush jungle and pristine coastline, making it a natural unspoiled wonderland rarely found in the Riviera Maya region. The breathtaking landscape comprises palm trees and mangroves, offering visitors one of the most extraordinary views in the area. You can fully immerse yourself in this beauty while taking a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters of the beach.

Furthermore, with calm waters and a protective barrier reef, Xcacel Beach is a fantastic destination for snorkeling. However, you must bring your own equipment as rentals are not available on-site. It is important to note that there aren’t many facilities nearby, except for a few restrooms and a restaurant serving mouth-watering seafood and fish dishes.

Pathway through the jungle at Xcacel-Xcacelito Natural Protected Area

Tips to enjoy Xcacel

  • The Sanctuary is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
  • There is an entrance fee.
  • Activities on the beach are restricted from May to November during the turtle nesting season.
  • Only environmentally-friendly recreational activities are permitted from December to April, including sunbathing, beach games, swimming in designated areas, and surfing.
  • Alcoholic beverages, smoking, eating, listening to music, and any other behavior regarded to pose a risk to the wildlife species present in the Sanctuary are not permitted.
  • Bring beach gear, particularly an umbrella.
  • It is prohibited to enter trails with dense vegetation since some animals in the area could pose a threat to your life.
  • There are no trash bins available, so carry out any garbage you bring with you.
  • To preserve the environment, it is recommended to use biodegradable sunscreen and insect repellents that do not harm the ecosystem.

It is important to remember that this location is more of a sanctuary than a recreational beach, and to ensure ongoing public access, the cooperation of all visitors is necessary.





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