Yucatan Peninsula Ruins On and Off the “Beaten Path”

Yucatan Peninsula Chichen Itza  Is On the “Beaten path”



Chichen Itza Mexico

Chichen Itza located in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico is a Mayan Ruin that is considered one of the Wonders of the World,  Chichen Itza located approximately 120 miles east of Cancun is about a 3-hour drive from the Riviera Maya coast or  your resort hotels. Many of the hotel and tour operators offer day excursions into chicen Itza, most of them on a tour bus with 44 of your favorite friends. Hundreds of cars and buses arrive early to avoid the mid-day heat and most of the tourist leave in the middle of the afternoon.   We decided to rent a car and drive to Chichen Itza which was a fun day. We left the from our hotel Dream Tulum All-Inclusive resort and drove for a couple of hours before arriving in the early afternoon to the entrance, in the middle of the day heat. The cost to enter is around $30 – $40 per person without a guide. You need comfortable walking shoes, lots of water and a hat and sun screen. To see it all you need 2 – 3 hours or more and if you “rent” a guide, plan on 3 hours plus. If you arrive late in the day like we did, you avoid all the masses of tour buses that arrive early in the morning and leave around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. By the time we finished walking and seeing all the Mayan runs, it was around 5:00pm and the place was deserted, with the exception of the vendors trying to sell anything to anyone. It’s worth seeing and the paths are marked, so it’s very easy to get around.

Chchen Itza is the capital of ancient Maya empire, its majestic building dates back to 435 and 455, and it is geographically located in the middle of spectacular natural environs in the Yucatan Peninsula. At this site declared as one of the 7 World Wonders, you can visit magnificent temples such as the Kukulcan Pyramid and the Ball Game as well as there are others that cannot be visited to avoid damages.

The Castle or Pyramid of Kukulcan is the most impressive temple in Chichen Itza renowned for the number of tombs found there and its endless 91 steps, as well as the impeccable architecture that stands out by a stone feathered serpent.

The Drive back to Cancun was a very easy drive,  we ended up staying for the next 4-nights at the Zoetry All-Inclusive small boutique hotel.

Zoetry Pool


Zoetry Pool

The Zoetry Paraiso De La Bonita, is a  luxury resort located on the Riviera Maya, Cancun Meixico I would consider a 5-Star Boutique Luxury resort, very nice quaint and quiet.  The hotel is one of Mexico’s most exclusive small resorts in the Riviera Maya area, set on 14 acres of beach front turquoise ocean water. It is situated along Cancun’s famed Riviera Maya just 20 minutes from Cancun’s International Airport and in the heart of Puerto Morelos, near the Puerto Morelos National Marine Park, which is the largest barrier reef in the Americas.

There are 90 luxury suites, offering an all-inclusive luxury experience focused on wellness, relaxation and à la carte gourmet dining, top-shelf spirits and 24-hour private in-room dining, maid service three times daily, complimentary greens fees at the nearby golf course and more to make your stay unforgettable.

This place is for the couples or honeymooners who wants to relax, decompress and enjoy the surroundings, the service and food are amazing and the beach is quite, no vendors, loud music or kids, just the sound of the ocean. We arrived late in the evening and the staff was very attentive on helping us get situated into our room and into one of the restaurants before they closed for the evening. Our dinner that night was relaxing and grand, one of the best Margaritas I’ve ever had.

While staying at the Zoetry, we really did not have any reason to leave the property, the food, accommodations and service are superb. As tennis players they have one court which is not their forte, we were able to play tennis early in the morning and late in the afternoon to avoid the mid-day heat. The sister property Secrets Silver Sands a few miles away also has tennis courts which are in better than the court at the Zoetry, but most people don’t go to the Zoetry to play tennis. The front desk can arrange court time for you, it’s a 5-10 minute shuttle ride.

The rooms at the Zoetry are all large suites and nicely ddecorated with magnificent views of the ocean. As you enter your room there is a sseparate sitting area with couch, coffee table and TV hutch, off in a separate rooms is a large king bed and a bathroom as large as the “moon” with a nice soaking tub and shower. Rooms have a in-room coffee maker and a separate patio to relax and enjoy the ocean. All rooms are ocean front, not “Partial Ocean view”, very soothing.

As for the night life, we are very content to a relaxing dinner and quiet evening, however the sister property Secrets Silversands is open for business for those who want to enjoy some of the night life (Free of charge ask the front desk when you arrive). The nice feature about staying at the Zoetry is returning back to a relaxing resort and not having to deal with the larger crowds at the resort all of the time.


Zoetry Beach Riviera Maya Mexico

We spent most days sitting under a cabana on the beach. The beach & pool staff are very helpful and attentive. Front desk and cleaning staff were also very friendly and helpful. I think the service at this resort was absolutely remarkable very personal and exclusive.

In all of my travels I would rate this property a 5-Star. It has originality over conformity. It’s a luxury hotel with a refreshing array of character and ambience. It has the highest standards without being standard. The widest variety of dining and guest service amenities that is unique and distinctive. This is the kind of hotel you dream about and pamper yourself with. If you have a “bucket list” put in on your list of luxury beach resorts to visit in your life time, you won’t regret it.

Coba Mayan Ruin 

Another day excursion Ruin that is also only a few hours away are the Mayan Ruins of Coba. Getting to Coba is easy with a rental car from your hotel on the Riviera Maya or you may want to join a tour bus group that will provide a guide and shorten version of the ruins.   Your journey will begin heading south to the town of Tulum, look for road signs at the 1st intersection and travel west for 30-40 minutes, there is clear signage along with way.  Food and lodging can be found near the ruins but if you are already staying in the Riveria Maya area, this is an easy day trip. You need comfortable walking shoes, lots of water and a hat and sun screen. To see it all you need 2 – 3 hours or more and if you “rent” a guide, plan on 2 hours plus. Coba does not get the number of crowds like Chichen Itza, but it’s still a popular destination to visit. I would suggest going early or later in the after to avoid heat and crowds. By the time you finished walking and seeing all the Mayan runs, it will take you around 2 – 3 hours.

Archaeologists believe Cobá was one of the most important ruin sites on the Yucatan Peninsula. The design and purpose of this settlement was very different from other Mayan cities, with various settlements existing in one area. The white roads lead from each settlement to the main pyramid, Nohoch Mul. Learn more about this off-the-beaten-track Mayan Ruin

Coba is still largely unexcavated. During the day you can enjoy shaded walkways that are the original sacbe (white roads), three settlements that show the architecture and vast area of this once large city, 2 ball courts and climb the highest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan, Nohoch Mul. Cobá was opened to the public as an archeological site in 1973 and Archeologists have estimated that 6,000 structures exist, but only three settlements are for public viewing. what makes this site different from Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, or even Tulum is that Coba is not a single site but a large group of sites connected to the central pyramid, connected by over 16 Mayan ceremonial “white roads” (sacbéob). The three main areas that can be viewed in the Coba Ruins are the Nohoch Mul structures (main pyramid), Conjunto Pinturas (spiritual area) and Macanxoc structures (close to the lagoon that bears the same name).

Calakmul Ruins – Yucatan Peninsula

Looking for an adventure off the beaten path in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico, here is an idea Calakmul Ruins. The adventure begins with your rental car heading south towards the Belizian & Guatemala Border to the Mayan city of Calakmul. Calakmul is located in the dense jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico about 21 miles north of the Guatamala boarder. This not a day excursion rather a multi-day excursion from Cancun, it’s an 8-9 hour drive from Cancun but worth the experience since it is one of the most remote jungle ruins in Mexico. To Get there you can drive South to chetumal then West on HWY 186 for 2 hours. Accessing the archeological Calakmul site takes at least an hour, due to the winding nature of the road, potholes and the presence of wildlife along the way.

Since you will be driving 8-hours one way, one of the closes hotels is Puerta Calakmul, a jungle lodge located a few hundred yards of the entrance-road gate, rental cabins are available at a reasonable rate. The hotel has a pool and restaurant. In the village of Xpujil about 90 miles west of Chetumal on Highway 186 are small restaurants and serveral small hotels

Park entrance fees: Access to the road to Calakmul costs 30 pesos (C$2.30) per person, plus 60 pesos (C$4.60) per vehicle. About 20 kilometres down this road, you’ll reach a second gate to the inner park reserve, where you’ll be charged another 50 pesos, except on Sundays, when passage is free. Finally, you’ll pay another 50 pesos per person (C$3.83) at the entrance to the archeological site.

Tours: Ka’an Expeditions offers guided Calakmul daytrips for US$75 a head, including transportation from Xpujil and back and entrance fees. You can also use your own vehicle and hire an English-speaking guide through Ka’an on a per-person basis or Hotel Puerta Calakmul for a flat US$80; the latter guides live in Cornhuas, so most of your money will remain in the rural community.

El Volcán de los Murcielagos: 12 kilometres east of the Calakmul entrance road, on the north side of Highway 186, there’s a short dirt track with parking space for a few vehicles. From here, it’s a short walk to the cave entrance.

Meet Your TravelPOINTS Expert:










Andy James has great insider’s knowledge and travel destination experience with over 36 years  traveling throughout Central & South America, Europe, Mexico, Hawaii, USA, Canada and parts of Asia as well as the South Pacific. In addition to visited over 42 countries, Andy is an out-door enthuses who enjoys hiking, sightseeing, tennis, golf, skiing, fly-fishing, snorkeling, beautiful beaches and soft adventure travel vacations.  Andy has worked with individuals, couples, small groups and multi-generational families creating unique travel experiences and get-a-away all over the world.  Andy also knows many “off the beaten track” secrets
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