Would you travel 6 hours to see Central America’s largest waterpark? A secret hidden from the colossal amount of tourists and backpackers flocking to Guatemala? A local hotspot so fantastic and wonderful and cheap you can count the number of Caucasians in the whole park on one hand?
Once again Travel With Bender has unearthed a local discovery for all our readers. We were encouraged by our friends the Lybberts & the Dennings to visit this great waterpark they had found while living in the area.
Xocomil is a long way from home. First we had the almost 3 hour journey to Panajachel where we spent 3 nights. On our second day in Panajachel we met the Dennings from Discover Share Inspire. They are a travelling family of 7 (not all of them are in the picture below) who happened upon Panajachel during their travels and never left. They have just celebrated their 1 year anniversary living in Guatemala.
During our day we spent with them they mentioned going to a waterpark the next day. Having no plans we decided to go with them. Originally we were to bum a ride from them in their veggie mobile (a remade ute that runs on vegetable oil!) until later that day Josh and Greg took a road trip and the fuel tank caught on fire. That truck was going nowhere.
With help from the Denning’s friends (who seemed to know who to call, when to call for anything) we made plans to hire a private shuttle, US$115 for the day. To drive us three hours there at 6am, to wait all day and then drive us 3 hours back at 4pm. Bargain!
We were collected at 6am for our journey to get to the park by opening time at 9am. We met the Dennings and 3 other families at the local gas station, added a few children to our van and off we went.
The road is twisted as anything. It is beautiful and vast, but twisty. The sky was not very clear due to the burn-off by local farmers, but the views were still magnificent.
Unfortunately one of the poor wee lassies in our car got terribly carsick and we managed to catch her parents and swap cars for her where she promptly fell asleep.
The rest of the ride went without a hitch. A few toilet stops, lots of talking and kids watching movies on the iPad.
It was clear we had not chosen the best day for a waterpark; approximately 20 school buses were already in the parking lot. The waterpark is only open Thurs, Fri, Sat & Sun from 9am to 4pm. This is a real shame considering the beautiful weather in Guatemala and the amazement that is this park.
Josh quickly ran to get tickets while everyone disembarked from their minivans. This exodus from the vans was a sight to behold because of the mass of people in them. We were with 4 other families and ours was the smallest with only 2 kids. Then one family had 3, one had 4, one had 5 and the last had 6. That’s 10 adults and 20 kids - quite a sight to see when descending on the predominately Guatemalan population of the park.
Tickets are based on height for children so my 2-year-old was free and for my 4-year-old and 2 adults, the total price came to $33.
My first impressions of the park were good. It was clean, quite expansive and colourful. All the slides were some kind of bright Guatemalan colour like burnt orange, yellow and green or red with polka dots. This park was a sure rival for our favourite waterpark in Bali, Waterbom and was priced much better then our journey in Atlantis, Bahamas.
We wandered through the whole park to get to the wave pool we set up camp for 5 families of 30 people.
Beside the wave pool was a kids area with slides coming out of frogs mouths, raccoon bottoms and crocodile tails.
My 2-year-old’s favourite was the turtle whose shell was filled with water making a lovely little play pool.
Other slides included the snake’s nest of 7 or something slides all entwined and landing together. There was the toilet bowl & boomerang, similar to Waterbom Park in Bali. Speed slides, a inflatable log water roller coaster (brand new with a line so long I missed out - bummer), a twin drop slide similar to the climax with the floor dropping out from underneath you and much more.
There were at least 3 kids water areas throughout the grounds. The kids had a blast on the little water slides, spraying hoses, getting dumped on by buckets of water.
There were several restaurants selling your typical theme park takeaway – hamburgers, chips and a drink for $3. There were also hot dogs, nachos, pizza and local Guatemalan fast-food – Pupusa (not a favourite to me).
The park has only recently opened and I have to say the little touches everywhere are fabulous. For instance when climbing the stairs they have each level numbered so you can see if you’ve climbed 80 or 126!
The day went superfast and before we knew it the water was being turned off and it was time to go.
We said last goodbyes to all the new friends we had made, hopped in our van and got comfy for the 3 hour journey back to Panajachel. The kids were asleep in seconds as predicted and I quite happily spent the three hours finishing a book I had just started.
Just before we arrived back the kids awoke very hungry. So we all went to visit a restaurant for the yummiest dinner I have had in my whole Guatemalan trip before heading back to the hotel.
I don’t know what time I fell asleep, but it must have been early because I didn’t even finish watching the show on my laptop.
Overall, it was a wonderful family day in the sun at a beautiful waterpark only known by locals. On your next visit to Guatemala, make sure you take some time out to discover Xocomil, you won’t be disappointed.