5 Best Mayan Ruins on the island of Cozumel

Exploring Cozumel’s Ancient Mayan Ruins: Uncovering the Mysteries of a Fascinating Civilization

Welcome to Cozumel! This beautiful island is home to 5 of the best Mayan ruins, providing a window into the culture and beliefs of this ancient civilization. From the oldest ruins at El Cedral to the most important site at San Gervasio, we will explore the majestic remnants of the Mayan past and uncover the secrets of their amazing culture. Join us on a journey of discovery as we explore Cozumel’s ancient history and uncover the mysteries of the Mayan civilization.

San Gervasio Ruins

San Gervasio Ruins

San Gervasio is the most significant archaeological site in Cozumel. The Mayans revered it as a place to honor their goddess, Ixchel. This deity held great importance in the Mayan belief system as the supreme authority on love, fertility, and health matters.

Among the most notable structures at San Gervasio is Las Manitas, a set of rooms where Lord Itzá de Cozumel lived over a thousand years ago. Other important buildings include Casa Alta, the Central Plaza, El Arco, Casa Grande, and Chi Chan Nah, which served as ritual sites.

Visitors to San Gervasio can gain valuable insights into the Mayan way of life and spirituality while admiring the impressive architecture and craftsmanship that went into creating these structures. The site’s significance makes it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in learning about the history and culture of Cozumel.

How to get to San Gervasio

San Gervasio is located just 4 miles east of San Miguel de Cozumel and is accessible via the island’s main crossroads. Visitors can arrange guided tours through many travel agencies or opt for a taxi tour from one of the city’s premier hotels.

The archaeological site is open to visitors from Monday to Sunday, between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM, and general admission costs 188 pesos (USD 10). The average visit to San Gervasio is around 2 hours, providing ample time to explore the various structures and learn about the site’s rich cultural and historical significance.

El Cedral Ruins

El Cedral Cozumel

In the town of El Cedral, the El Cedral Ruins are the oldest Mayan Ruins on the island, dating back to 800 AD. A striking white and red arch adorned with crosses marks the entrance to the ruins. Once the historical capital of Cozumel, all that remains of El Cedral is a small house-sized ruin. Despite its size, the site is accessible and worth a visit. 

El Cedral is home to the annual Festival of Santa Cruz and El Cedral Fair. Commemorating an attack during the Caste War of Yucatan, this tradition is over 150 years old and lasts for a week. It features a fair, traditional food, live music, and bullfighting.

Getting to El Cedral

To reach the ruins of El Cedral, head south of Cozumel along the highway to the town of the same name. If you’re coming from Playa del Carmen, you can take a ferry to Cozumel and spend a day exploring the island’s various sites. Many tour operators offer combined El Cedral and San Gervasio tours, which you can book online or through your hotel. However, because of its remote location, it may be difficult to find tours that only visit El Cedral.

the Mayan ruins at the Cozumel Museum

Cozumel’s Museum for Mayan Artifacts

Visit the Museo de la Isla to learn more about Cozumel and its people. This is the best museum on the island, and it was renovated and updated in 2020.

The museum has different galleries that show the natural history, environment, and wildlife of Cozumel. You will see amazing photos and videos of the coral reefs, the mangroves, and the animals that live here. You will also learn about the island’s human history and how it has changed over time.

This is a great place to start your trip if you are new to Cozumel. You will get an excellent overview of the island and its culture. You will also discover local holiday celebrations and how they reflect the area’s history.

The Museo de Cozumel is a must-see attraction for anyone who wants to know more about this beautiful island. You will enjoy your time here and gain valuable insights into Cozumel’s past and present.

Cozumel Museum Hours:  Tuesday – Sunday, 9 am-5 pm. Admission: $9.00USD
the Mayan ruins at Punta Sur

El Caracol – Cozumel Mayan Ruin at Punta Sur

Another place you should visit in Cozumel is El Caracol, a small but fascinating Mayan ruin that is part of the Punta Sur Ecological Park. The island’s municipal government runs this park, and it has a website where you can find more information about it.

The park is a beautiful place to enjoy nature and wildlife. You can swim and snorkel in the clear water, see coral reefs and fish, and use the clean and comfortable bathroom and changing facilities.

To get to El Caracol, you will drive along the shore of the park on a dirt road with amazing views. The ruin is near the crocodile lookout point, where you can also see some of these reptiles in their natural habitat.

El Caracol is a remarkable example of how the Mayans used their knowledge and skills to build structures that served different purposes. They used this one as an observatory, which now includes a lighthouse for navigation. You will appreciate how this ruin still stands after centuries and reflects Cozumel’s Mayan heritage.

The Punta Sur Ecological Park and El Caracol are great attractions for anyone who loves history, culture, and nature. You will have a wonderful time here and learn more about Cozumel’s past and present.

Park Site Hours: 

Please always double-check the official Punta Sur Park website page for current hours. Admission Is USD 19.00 for adults, $13.00 for Kids 4-12, and free for Children under 4.

Northern Mayan ruins on Cozumel

Cozumel Mayan Ruins at the North End of the Island 

If you want an exciting and different way to see Cozumel, try the stand-up paddleboard tour of the northern mangroves with DeLille watersports. This is one of the best excursions in Cozumel, and it will show you the island’s natural beauty from a new angle.

This tour is not for everyone. You need to be fit and comfortable in the water. But if you are up for it, you will have an amazing time. You will paddle through the mangroves and see some of the island’s Mayan structures and old roads hidden from most tourists.

You don’t have to worry about anything. DeLille’s guides are very professional and friendly. They will help you with everything and ensure you are safe and happy. As you paddle along, they will also tell you more about Cozumel’s history and culture.

The stand-up paddleboard tour of the northern mangroves is a great adventure for anyone who loves nature and challenges. You will enjoy this unique experience and see Cozumel differently.

Planning Your SUP Tour of Mangroves 

If you would like to book the tour, you need to contact DeLille Sports. Please note that they may limit access to the area due to weather and wind conditions on your selected day. To set everything up, contact the DeLille staff guides, who will assist you with the booking process.

On the day of the tour, you will meet the DeLille boat at the North marina of the island. From there, you’ll travel by motorboat to the small access point where you’ll launch your paddleboards. DeLille’s experienced guides will be on hand to help you every step of the way, ensuring that you have a safe and enjoyable experience. Ask them questions you may have before or during the tour.

Sacred Mayan Crossings

Sacred Mayan Crossings

One of the most amazing events you can witness in Cozumel is the Sacred Mayan Crossings. This yearly event, which happens in May or June, recreates the ancient pilgrimages that the Mayans used to make to Cozumel. Hundreds of men and women dressed in Mayan costumes paddle from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel and back in two days using traditional canoes. The celebration starts with a journey to Xcaret, an important archaeological site in this area.

There, they spend the night doing rituals and prayers to Ix Chel, the Mayan goddess of fertility and the moon. They ask her for her blessings and guidance as they prepare for their voyage to Cozumel. They wait for the sunrise to start their adventure across the sea. This is a very spiritual experience that shows how the Mayans respect nature and their ancestors. The event also keeps their culture alive despite all the difficulties they have faced over history.

When they arrive at Cozumel, they go to the island’s main temple and make offerings to Ix Chel. They leave them there overnight so she can communicate with them through signs and messages. They believe she will give them good luck and prosperity for their communities and families.

The next day, they return to their canoes and return to Playa del Carmen. As they paddle, they feel strongly connected with nature and its elements, like the sea, the wind, and the stars. They consider this journey mystical because it changes them spiritually and emotionally.

This yearly ceremony is very important for the Mayans because it honors their goddess and ancestors. They remember how their ancestors were expert sailors and traders who used the sea as a source of wealth and knowledge. Through the ceremony, they also feel a connection with nature, which they believe is alive and gives life to everything on Earth. The Cozumel pilgrimage shows how much the Mayans respect the divine and how proud they are of their culture and history.

Exploring Cozumel’s Fascinating History: From the Ancient Mayan Civilization to Today’s Bustling Tourist Destination

Welcome to Cozumel, an island rich in history and culture! The Mayan civilization settled here around 2000 years ago, and Cozumel became a sacred place for Mayan women to worship Ix Chel, the goddess of fertility, medicine, midwifery, and weaving.

Mayan women would travel to Cozumel in wooden canoes, carrying all their possessions on their backs. At night, they would rest in caves along the coast and prepare for the ceremony over the next few days. They would bathe in the sea and anoint their bodies with salt, water, and herbs.

Today, the archeological site of San Gervasio stands in the center of the island as a reminder of the Mayan civilization and their worship of Ix Chel. It is a fascinating place to explore and learn about the Mayans’ history and traditions.

As we continue our journey through Cozumel, we must acknowledge the profound impact of the Spanish Conquest on this beautiful island. In the early 1500s, Cozumel was a bustling urban area with 40,000 inhabitants. However, in 1519, Hernan Cortes arrived on the island, bringing massive destruction and smallpox. The population dwindled to a meager 30 people, leaving the ancient Mayan civilization in ruins.

For centuries, Cozumel remained unoccupied until 1847, when a few families fleeing Spanish retaliation during the Caste War sought refuge on the island. These were the first permanent settlers, and they named their settlement San Miguel de Cozumel, which was the beginning of what we now know as the town of Cozumel.

The island’s population grew in the 19th century, and by the 20th century, it had increased to over 100,000 people. With its stunning natural beauty and rich history, Cozumel became a major tourist destination and a popular place for cruise ships to stop and dock.

In response to the growing tourism industry, they constructed Cozumel International Airport, making it easier for visitors to travel to and from the island. Today, Cozumel remains a top tourist destination, offering visitors a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.


Cozumel has many Mayan sites you can visit and admire. They are different in size and purpose, but they all show the beauty and wisdom of the Mayan culture. The locations and the architecture of these ancient ruins will amaze you. From El Cedral, the oldest site on the island, to San Gervasio, the most important site for worshipping the goddess Ix Chel, you will learn a lot about the history and culture of this region. Come with us on a tour of Cozumel’s Mayan heritage and explore the wonders of this ancient civilization.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which Mayan Ruins are the best to see in Cozumel?

1. San Gervasio 2. El Cedral 3. El Caracol 4. Cozumel Mayan Ruins at the North End of the Island 5. Cozumel’s Museum

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