A History Lovers’ Guide to Experiencing the Mayan Riviera
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A History Lover’s Guide to the Mayan Riviera

A History Lover’s Guide to the Mayan Riviera

History comes to life in the Mayan Riviera, from fascinating museums to incredible Mayan ruins. While you’re staying at Occidental at Xcaret Destination, Occidental Cozumel, Royal Hideaway Playacar, Occidental Tucancún, Occidental Costa Cancún, or Barceló Maya Grand Resort, take some time to journey into Mexico’s past.

Xcaret Park

Your Homebase: Occidental at Xcaret Destination

Xcaret Park is an ecotourism wonderland, filled with one-of-a-kind adventures – but it’s also great for history buffs. Visit the Mayan village to enjoy traditional music and dance amongst underground rivers. Witness the mysterious Owl Dance in a natural grotto. Purify yourself during the ancestral ritual of temazcal. And marvel as the Voladores de Papantla fly through the air above the crowd. Then, climb to the top of Riviera Maya. Rising more than 250 feet above the park, Xcaret’s Rotating Scenic Tower gives you a birds-eye panoramic view of the sparkling Caribbean Sea and the surrounding jungle.

  • Good to know: Occidental at Xcaret Destination offers the Unlimited Xcaret Xperience package, designed exclusively for hotel guests, with which you can enjoy unlimited access to the Xcaret park during your stay.

San Gervasio

Your Homebase: Occidental Cozumel

An incredible trip back in time, San Gervasio in Cozumel was a place of great spiritual importance for the Mayans, with thousands of women undertaking regular pilgrimages to pay tribute to the goddess of love and fertility. Wander these ancient ruins, with several well-preserved temples and the fascinating “Manitas” structure, which was the home of the Mayan ruler of Cozumel. Its name comes from the impressions of human hands that adorn the walls.

National Museum of Underwater Archeology – Cedam

Your Homebase: Royal Hideaway Playacar

History is made underwater, too! Not far from Playa del Carmen, this small-but-fascinating museum displays some of the treasures found at the bottom of the sea, lost over the centuries, and recovered by the Mexican Underwater Expeditions Club. You’ll see intricate coins, classic nautical devices, remarkably preserved clay dishes, and other interesting artifacts from 18th-century sunken ships. Added bonus – the National Museum of Underwater Archeology offers free admission.

Chichén Itzá

Your Homebase: Occidental Tucancún

It’s hard to believe, but Chichén Itzá, an astounding complex of Mayan ruins on the Yucatán Peninsula, was lost to the jungle for centuries. Explorers in the 1800s rediscovered the city and began excavating – and today, Chichén Itzá is one of Mexico’s most visited attractions, with more than two million tourists visiting every year. That’s right, this is a popular spot, so in order to beat the crowds, plan to visit earlier in the morning. Whenever you make it to Chichén Itzá, you’ll be astounded by the towering step pyramids, expansive ballcourts and dazzling hand-carved sculptures – all a testament to the magnificent Mayan civilization.

  • Good to know: Explorers in the 1800s re-discovered the city and began excavating, uncovering some of Mexico’s greatest treasures. Amazingly, Chichén Itzá is still revealing its secrets. In 2019, archaeologists announced that they had found a previously unknown cavern that is filled with pristine Mayan artifacts. A holy spot dedicated to the Mayan god Balamkú (or the Jaguar God), it is already causing researchers to rethink many previous assumptions about Mayan culture and religion. Learn more about this new Chichén Itzá via Smithsonian Magazine.

Museo Maya de Cancún

Your Homebase: Occidental Costa Cancún

Museo Maya de Cancún is a must-visit for any self-respecting history buff. Located in the heart of the city’s hotel zone, this sleek, state-of-the-art museum showcases the Yucatán’s most important collections of Mayan artifacts – more than 400 incredible pieces of sculpture, ceramics and jewelry are on display. You’ll experience the rise-and-fall of the Mayan empire, and get a chance to explore the archaeological site of San Miguelito.

  • Good to know: Museo Maya de Cancún is just the beginning of your Mayan immersion in Cancún. Don’t miss El Meco, which is home to the tallest archaeological structure in the area – the magnificent El Castillo, which is one of the only Mayan pyramids in the Cancún area.

Tulum

Your Homebase: Barceló Maya Grand Resort

Tulum is perhaps one of the most iconic historic spots in all of the Mayan Riviera. The city emerged during the decline of the Mayan civilization during the late Postclassic period (circa 1200-1520 AD), and its privileged position, perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, made it a vital part of trading and sea routes. Like Chichén Itzá, Tulum is a popular attraction, so getting here early in the day will pay dividends. The lack of crowds will make it easier to enjoy Tulum’s incredible splendor.

  • Good to know: Vacaciones Barceló’s Tulum Explorer offer is a perfect way to experience this one-of-a-kind part of the world. You’ll receive comfortable and quick transportation to and from your hotel, expert guidance throughout the site and much more.