Xcaret is a Maya civilization archaeological site located on the Caribbean coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico. The site was occupied by the pre-Columbian Maya and functioned as a port for navigation and an important Maya trading center.
Some of the site’s original structures are contained within a modern-day tourism development, the privately owned Xcaret Park. Xcaret means “small inlet” in Mayan. Its original name was p’ole’, from the root p’ol that means “merchandise” or “deal of merchants”. Many areas of Xcaret are open to the public. The first buildings are dated 200-600 A.D. but
the majority of the structures are from 1200-1550 A.D. according to the National Institute of Anthropology and History. The walls at Xcaret defended the area from attacks coming from the sea. Historical documents suggest that Xcaret was one of the most active and economically significant Maya ports on the east coast.
Xcaret was still occupied when the Spanish arrived in the early 16th century, and they built a chapel there in 1548, implying they believed the settlement was important. The walls of this chapel are still visible today. Archaeologist María José found 135 human remains in the chapel.
There are hotels at Xcaret Park that offer more than 50 natural and cultural attractions like underground rivers, an Aviary, Coral Reef Aquarium, and Butterfly Pavillion. There is snorkeling, zip-lining above the jungle, a water park, nighttime falls, dancing, exploring caves, and tours of all of the Mayan archaeological sites.