We experimentally demonstrate excitability in a semiconductor two-dimensional photonic crystal. Excitability is a nonlinear dynamical mechanism underlying pulselike responses to small perturbations in systems possessing one stable state. We show that a band-edge photonic crystal resonator exhibits class II excitability, resulting from the nonlinear coupling between the high-Q optical mode, the charge-carrier density, and the fast (sub-micros) thermal dynamics. In this context, the critical slowing down of the electro-optical dynamics close to the excitable threshold can delay the optical response by an amount comparable to the duration of the output pulse (5 ns). The latter results from a short thermal dynamical excursion along a high local intensity manifold of the phase space.