By , October 16, 2011 2:53 pm

It feels like everyone we've met in Mexico & Guatemala has been carrying the same Lonely Planet Central America travel guide that we are.  Maybe the reason we keep meeting these people is because we're all using the same guide book... and we are all on the Lonely Planet trail.  Anyways, I've got a crazy place for you that you won't find in the book.  And it's definitely worth a visit.  Ready?  Are you sure?  Because we weren't.

About an hour and a half from Quetzaltenango (Xela), in the middle of nowhere, there's a magical little enormous place called Xocomil.  Xocomil is a water park of North-American style epic proportions that no one would ever expect in the middle of Guatemala.  By the way, Josh... thanks for giving us the heads up about this place!

The park was created by the Guatemalan Recreation Institute for Private Sector Employees, IRTRA, whose mission is to develop recreation projects for the employees of the companies affiliated with the Institute.   By Guatemalan standards, the admission fee is a hefty 100 Q (about $12.50 CAD... cheap at home, but crazy expensive here).  Employees of the IRTRA get in free.

To get there, we took a chicken bus from Xela to Retalhueu (known locally as Reu) and asked the driver to stop at Xocomil.  He dropped us off on the side of the highway.  As we got of the bus, we were thinking that we had once again ended up in the wrong spot.  But once the bus pulled away, we saw this giant sign emerge across the highway:

As we walked through the endless concrete parking lot towards the entrance, we found ourselves giggling uncontrollably from a new sort of culture shock.  So far, I had been busy coping with the daily struggle of dealing with an unfamiliar culture with an unfamiliar language and an entire population that was in a very different economic situation than I have ever known.  Now my brain had to reconcile the fact that I was experiencing a very North-American style oversized and colourful monstrosity in the middle of one of the poorest nations in Central America.

The inner kid inside of me took over.  I spent the entire day giddy with excitement.  It was hot and sunny, and we felt like we were coming out of hibernation after two months in the cool highlands.

After changing into our bathing suits and paying for a locker, we walked around the park once to get our bearings.  This took the better part of an hour (the park spans 832 000 square feet)!  We spent the rest of the day at the park, and it was definitely worth every centavo of the entrance fee.

I still don't know how this park didn't make it into the Lonely Planet, but you can consider it to be a pretty authentic Guatemalan experience... we were the only Gringos there!  The water was the cleanest I think I've ever seen (maybe because of all of the "no orinar" signs) and unlike the rides at the Xela fair (which I'm pretty sure were once used to torture prisoners), I had no doubts about the engineering and safety of these slides.   And if the water park isn't enough entertainment for you, there's a theme park next door called Xetulul.  It has a rollercoaster with eight inversions, among other things.

Here's some of our Xocomil highlights in pictures:

Nido de Serpientes... seven slides in one!

Mike on the Lily Pads - it was pure entertainment to watch people face plant here

One of the kid's pools, complete with a massive bucket of water that comes crushing down on your head

Fake Mayan Temple (a.k.a. The Snack Shack)

Another kid's pool, with the million plus gallon wave pool in the background

Us on El Caracol (which we redubbed the Toilet Bowl, for obvious reasons)

Lazy River Tumala

Ashley on the Crazy Carpet slide, with what feels like a near vertical head-first drop

The X-games style ramp slide

Translation:  Don't pee here or you will be expelled from the park. Though I only saw these in the stairwells, not by the pools?

7 Responses to “Splashing Around at Xocomil Water Park”

  1. Unexpected gems are always the best, but we’ve yet to find any this epic! I’m surprised you only spent one day there 🙂

    • Ashley Lenzen says:

      Epic is definitely a great word to describe this park. I’m not sure why we didn’t, but we could have easily spent more time there. If not at the water park, then at least at the amusement park next door.

  2. Josh says:

    XOCOMIL!! (Spoken with clenched fists raised in the air)
    I think the toilet bowl is new sinceI was there in 2001. We don’t have any photos of our visit there, so it was fun looking through these!

    • Ashley Lenzen says:

      Again, Josh, we owe you a huge THANKS for letting us know about this little gem. I don’t think we would have even heard about it without your advice. We’ve been passing the word on to fellow travellers. It’s too awesome to keep a secret.

  3. Teresa says:

    Hi! So glad to have found your site and of course your post on this place! We will definitely come here! We are traveling down from Canada in our camper van next winter – do you know if there was camping very close to here? With our 3 year old we can see ourselves spending a few days here! Thanks! Really enjoying your blog! Teresa

    • Mike Lenzen says:

      I’m not sure about camping to be honest. Not something we were on the lookout for. I’m glad you are enjoying the blog. We enjoy writing it, so it’s a win-win.

Leave a Reply