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Located south of San Miguel, this park offers a combination of history, archeology and recreation. There is excellent snorkeling and diving at the underwater park where you can spot sunken ships, anchors, statues and tons of tropical fish. You can also swim with dolphins at the Dolphin Discovery or find out more about Maya ruins at the Parque Arqueologico. The museum has exhibits on marine life, while the botanical garden has more than 450 species of regional plants. Children of all ages will enjoy the sea lion park and its daily shows.
San Gervasio was once a Mayan ceremonial center for worshipping the fertility goddess, Ixchel. It was continually occupied from 300 CE until the 16th Century. Look for the "Temples of Hands," named for the small red handprints decorating its walls, and for the remains of an altar underneath a graceful Mayan arch where offerings to the "Rainbow Goddess" were placed. To get to the ruins, follow Avenida Benito Juarez east, seven kilometers out of town to the San Gervasio Access Road.
This ancient lighthouse has been refurbished and is now the new navigational museum located in the Parque Punta Sur nature reserve. A park bus will transport you free of charge to the museum, or you can walk along the untamed beach to arrive at the southernmost point of the island where the lighthouse is located. The view from the top of the lighthouse is simply stunning.
El Caracol is thought to be a Maya lighthouse built between 1200 and 1400 CE that also served as a hurricane warning system. Strategically placed openings whistle when the wind blows and the Maya were able to tell what type of weather was approaching. The stronger the wind, the higher the pitch. Candles placed inside turned the structure into a lighthouse guiding pilgrims and traders safely to shore. The ruins are now part of the Parque Punta Sur nature reserve. The entrance fee includes a guided tour to the ruin, but you must arrange your visit in advance.
This is one of the most visited Mayan ruins, attracting 2.5 million tourists a year. Tulum is situated on the edge of a cliff and offers a beautiful view of the Caribbean. To get the ruins from Cozumel, take the ferry to Playa del Carmen; from there it's about an hour bus ride to the ruins. The most notable of structure is the "Temple of the Descending God" with its remarkable doorway carving of a deity falling to earth.
El Rey Zona Arqueológica is a lovely hidden gem of an archaeological site in the Hotel Zone of Cancun. Here visitors can appreciate the vestiges of one of the most interesting civilizations of North America: the Mayans. These ruins offer a glimpse into the past of Mexico and is one of Cancún's most important archaeological sites. According to archaeologists, El Rey is a former ancient fishing village that contained grand religious and secular structures. The original Mayan name is unknown, however El Rey derives from one of the sculptures found in the village that resembles a monarch-like figure. Tours can often be arranged through the various Cancún hotels and travel agencies. You'll hear an explanation of the structures and their historical significance in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian or Portuguese. You can get here by taxi or local bus.
In the center of Cancún, you'll find this Catholic Church of simple architecture but with a big number of parishioners—who are reunited on Sundays from 7 in the morning until 8pm. The day of any local begins with attending a mass in La Sagrada Familia Church, followed by a trip to the market or to a restaurant. Masses last 30-40 minutes. At this church, it is common to have weddings, baptisms, presentations and thanksgiving masses for girls reaching their 15th birthday.