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Mayan Ruins on Cozumel Island
Yes! You CAN get a glimpse of the ancient Mayan culture without traveling to mainland Mexico!!

Why come to the island of Cozumel and not enjoy what it has to offer with regard to Mayan history and culture?

Cozumel is home to numerous Mayan ruin sites scattered all over the island which are both excavated and non-excavated. Among these excavated or partially uncovered sites are San Gervasio, Castillo Real and El Cedral. Obviously, there are glamorous, trendy, touristy parts of Cozumel but by visiting these quaint yet important ruins sites one gets a better sense of the ancient Mayan history and culture of the island.

By understanding the long history of the indigenous inhabitants of the island one can see that there is still plenty of rich Mayan culture left here on Cozumel that needs to be preserved for the enjoyment of generations to come.

Cozumel was one of the most important ports-of-trade for the Post-Classic Putun Maya seafarers. The island was a major producer of honey and contained the most important pilgrimage destination on the Peninsula's east coast. Women from through out Mesoamerica traveled Cozumel to worship at the shrine of Ix Chel ("She of the Rainbow"), goddess of childbirth and medicine.


At least 24 archaeological sites have been discovered on the island of Cozumel which was occupied by the Maya from AD 0 forward. The island's indigenous population grew signicantly after AD 800 and reached its peak in AD 1400.


Most ruins on the island are of the "oratorio" type: small square buildings, low to the ground with short doors that led early Spaniards to believe the places were once inhabited by dwarfs (a now discredited myth).



San Gervasio
In terms of importance in the Mayan culture, Cozumel's San Gervasio Ruins are a more significant site than Tulum. Tulum was simply a coastal "watchpost" if you will where as San Gervasio contains the temple built to honor the godess Ix Chel. Visitors can experience first hand the mysteries of Mayan culture here at the largest archeological site on the island. A strategic location from both a commercial and political point of view, San Gervasio was also a sacred place for the Maya women.

Ix Chel is the Mayan godess of fertility and rain. In ancient times, every Mayan woman was expected, at least once in her lifetime, to make the journey to Cozumel from the mainland to make offerings to Ix Chel for her family's fertility and crop sustenance. Inhabited from 200 AD to the Spanish conquest, San Gervasio was the sanctuary of the Goddess Ix Chel as well as an important commercial, political and cultural center. Engravings at the site relate to events all over the Mayan world.
Castillo Real - Area closed due to current environmental conditions
We also have our own coastal watchtowers around Cozumel that served the same purpose to the Mayan warriors as Tulum: keeping watch for approaching enemy tribes. Castillo Real is one coastal watchtower that has managed to survive hundreds of years despite the decline of the Mayan rule over the Yucatan peninsula. Castillo Real is located on the northeast shorline of Cozumel.

Due to the sand road access and recent environmental controversies, it's only possible to see this site as part of a buggy or jungle jeep tour IF AT ALL. Since all rental car contracts forbid going off-road or down sand roads on the island, the jeep tours offer the most practical and safe way to see this remote part of the island.
El Cedral
Once the hub of Maya life on Cozumel, this was the first site found by Spanish explorers in 1518, and the first mass in Mexico was reportedly celebrated here. These days, there's little evidence of its past glory. It is believed to be hundreds of years old and faint traces of the original paint and stucco are evident. El Cedral is different in shape from the typically small and low structures found on the island, suggesting it was used for major ceremonies. Nearby is a green and white cinderblock church, decorated inside with crosses shrouded in embroidered lace.

During the 1800's, El Cedral was used as a jail. Today, the area is occupied by a small farm settlement. Every May there is a fair held at this location called Festival de Cedral Read More About Festival de Cedral, with several days and nights filled with traditional ceremonies, dancing, music, bullfights and a cattle show.
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 Design Your Very Own Custom Mainland Tour!
Tired of visiting the sights as part of the "herd?" Not seeing an excursion that exactly fits how you'd like to spend your day on the mainland? No problem! COZUMELINSIDER can custom design a mainland excursion just for you and your group!
From US$168
 Cozumel Punta Sur Ecopark, Lighthouse & Snorkeling
Cozumel's largest natural eco-park featuring a lighthouse to climb, Mayan ruins to see, coves to snorkel, a nautical museum, sea turtle nesting areas, a crocodile sanctuary an enormous mangrove lagoon where Spoonbill Flamingos nest and Egrets go hunting daily along with a multitude of other animal species that call the park home. Experience Cozumel's wildlife up close personal here!
Adult $ 125 / Child $ 115
 Cozumel Design Your Own Island Tour!
Have a big group and want to charter a bus or van to do your own thing? Not seeing an excursion that exactly fits how you and your family would like to spend your day here in Cozumel? No problem! Design an island sightseeing excursion just for you and your group!
From US$ 300 for 4.5 Hours!
 Cozumel Marine Turtle Observation & Baby Liberation Events with FP&M
Sign up for an observation and education session about Cozumel's nesting sea turtles and the volunteer brigades that help in their conservation. Learn about these amazing creatures in the Fundacion de Paques & Museos program and help release hatching baby turtles as they make their way to the sea.
From $ 40 - 70 / person donation

Cozumel Design Your Own Island Tour!
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Design Your Very Own Custom Mainland Tour!
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Hello my name is Brent C. and I did the Turtle Observation & Release on June 27th. I can honestly not put into words how great and breathtaking the whole experience was! it has always been a dream of mine to watch turtles nest up close and personal but you guys topped that dream and did even better! I almost cried tears of joy when i found out I got to get up close and help remove the turtle eggs as she was laying them! I plan on becoming a marine biologist one day and this whole experience has pushed me farther into my passion for marine biology! I can not say thank you enough! Also cant forget the helpful crew of young men and women that helped us along the night and where ever so kind! Here is a picture of the green sea turtle I named April after she had laid her eggs! Thanks and God Bless Brent C ~ USA

Hello Cozumel Insider - Just wanted to thank you very much for organizing the tour to Coba and Tulum and the snorkel at Akumel for our family on December 27th. We had a wonderful day and would like our appreciation for our driver and guide to be noted. We understood our tour was for 8 hours and after spending too much time at the sites of the ruins (they are amazing and, with our daughter who is in her 3rd year of archaeology, spent longer than most visiting Coba) our day was running a bit short of time. We thought we would have to forgo our planned snorkel at Akumel, but both our driver and tour guide agreed to put in an hour and a half extra to allow us to swim.

We truly appreciated this - Mexico is a beautiful country with many diverse treasures and to have people so eager for us to see and enjoy them made them all that more special!!

Thank you!! Julie Bose Family ~ Salmon Arm, BC Canada

Hey ~ I just wanted to follow up and say what a great time we had swimming with the whale sharks. I also wanted to commend our tour guide Cesar. He was very knowledgeable of the people, the land, the culture, and the history. I would highly recommend him to anybody wanting to tour Mexico.
Thanks again for all of your help, Matt Brosh ~ Austin, Texas

I want to take a moment to thank you at COZUMELINSIDER for all of your help. This is the first time I have ever booked activities such as these online and was very nervous about how it all worked. You took the time to answer all of my questions and even followed upwith a phone call to make sure you had all the information you needed to book the perfect vacation fun for my family. Thanks so much for making this a great experience! I can hardly wait to get there and enjoy all of these wonderful things! S. Daggett ~ Woodland Park, CO

Just returned from Cozumel where we participated in the FP&M Turtle Salvation program and it was the highlight of our trip. Our guides picked us up at our hotel right on time. They were very nice and one spoke fantastic English. Being able to participate in the extraction of newly hatched baby sea turtles from their nests and then watching them scurry into the ocean was so amazing. There were 4 nests hatching that evening so we were interacting with baby turtles for several hours. Those little turtles are SO adorable and so VERY determined to get to the water. This activity exceeded our expectations. I would recommend it to anyone who loves nature and wants to help this endangered species. It is awesome that cozumelinsider.com donates its resources to handle the bookings for this activity to help raise funds for this great cause. Thanks for an awesome experience! T. Daily ~ Arizona


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