Here’s our monthly gallery showcasing some of the region’s many natural and historical attractions. How many have you visited? Which ones would you like to explore on future visits to Cancun and the Riviera Maya?
Head west from Puerto Morelos along the Cenote Route, a road through the jungle to the village of Leona Vicario that lives up to its name as wooden signs advertising cenotes line the route. There are so many cenotes that you literally could spend the day cenote hopping. With names like Verde Lucero, Las Mojarras, Boca del Puma, Kin Ha, La Noria and Siete Bocas, they evoke days of mystery and adventure. Some lie deep in caves and others are open to the sky and they all have turquoise or emerald waters. Try your hand at zip lining too in adventure parks like Selvatica and Xenotes.
Sign up for an eco-trip to visit “Bird Island,” Contoy, a palm-fringed island that is an important bird sanctuary and a beautiful spot to spend the day.
Over 150 species of birds make their home on the island year-round or are migratory visitors in the winter. They include colonies of frigate birds and cormorants, terns, ibis, roseate spoonbills, herons and egrets.
Xcaret Museum of Folk Art
There’s so much to see at Xcaret Park that your head can spin as you plan your day of watery fun, nature and Mexican culture. Spend some time in the Folk Art Museum in the Henequen Hacienda and enter the colorful world of Mexican handicrafts. From huge trees of life sculpted in clay to blue and white Talavera ceramics to wood carvings and textiles full of ancient symbolism, there’s so much creativity on display, it is an incredible tribute to the country’s artisans.
A 20-minute drive to the north of Valladolid is the ancient city of Ek Balam, which means “black jaguar or star jaguar” in Maya. The city flourished between A.D. 250-1200 and its crowning glory is the stucco façade on the upper level of the Acropolis, the principal building, which features the magnificent figures of ancient nobles, including one thought to be the founding ruler of the city. The figure’s ornate feathered headdress resembles wings and led local people to refer to him as “el angel” or the angel.