Sweat it all out in an ancient Mayan steam bath that comes with plenty of physical and spiritual benefits.
The Yucatan Peninsula is home to countless archaeological sites. Many of them close to Playa del Carmen, from modest settings to large and spectacular ancient Mayan cities. And every site has its own captivating history.
One of the biggest draws in Mexico is without a doubt the iconic Chichen Itza, the remains of a big Maya city. Impressive enough as it is, only twice a year you can witness a truly awe-inspiring event.
Visit one of the most unique places on the Yucatan Peninsula: the Biosphere Reserve Sian Ka’an, just south of Tulum. Spend an unforgettable time discovering hidden beaches, coral reefs, tropical forests, cenotes and exotic animals!
Sian Ka’an is Maya for “Origin of the Sky” or “The place where the sky is born”, which seems very appropriate once you get there and feel how truly magical the place is. There are many reasons why Sian Ka’an is definitely worth a visit. To begin with, it’s the region’s number one in sustainable tourism and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Covering 10% of the state of Quintana Roo and with about 120 km of coast line, Sian Ka’an is one of Mexico’s largest protected Biosphere Reserves.
Sian Ka’an has an exceptionally diverse ecosystem, ranging from cenotes (natural sinking holes), palm savannas, tropical forests, mangrove swamps, to lagoons, white sandy beaches and dunes. A special phenomenon are the “petenes”, small forested islands that emerge from the flooded marshes. Besides from this area, they are only found in Florida and Cuba. But the beauty of Sian Ka’an’s landscape not only lies in its diversity, but in the fact that the landscape remained relatively undisturbed and the well protected coastline. Its marine area protects a large part of the coral reef, with its rich marine life like sea turtles and manatees.
The diverse landscape is home to an exceptional variety of species, among them animals that are rarely found elsewhere. You’ll get to see tapirs, howler and spider monkeys, crocodiles, jaguars, pumas and pink flamingos to only name a few. Over 300 species of birds fly the sky over Sian Ka’an.
If these aren’t enough reasons to visit Sian Ka’an, it also includes 23 archaeological sites, the most famous being Muyil (also known as Cunyaxché). Muyil was one of the earliest Mayan settlements on the Caribbean Coast, being populated around 330 B.C. It’s situated close to the Muyil lagoon and visitors today can still travel through the lagoons and the ancient canal system that access the Caribbean Sea.
Want to add Sian Ka’an to your Playa del Carmen bucket list? There are several ways to get there. You can rent a car (make sure it’s a 4×4), take the 4 USD entry and explore the site on your own. If you want to be on the safe side, and make sure you’re going to see what you want to see, take a tour. There are several tour options tailored to your interests. These include general, day-long tours as well as tours dedicated to more specific interests, such as kayaking, bird watching or diving. Our staff at Playa Palms Beach Hotel is happy to help you with any arrangements!
Playa del Carmen is mostly known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, the cosmopolitan 5th Avenue, and the many Mayan ruins along the Riviera and the Peninsula. The word ruins may wrongly imply that the Maya people don’t exist anymore. But fact is, one of the largest groups of modern Maya call this region in Mexico their home. Throughout the changes that came with modernization and tourism, they held on to their unique way of life. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn about the incredible Mayan culture!
Besides many other attractions, the eco-archaeological park has a Mayan cemetery and village. The spectacular cemetery is located on a shell-shaped hill, called the “bridge to paradise”. Shell-shaped to remind of the shells Mayans used to communicate with their gods. A narrow path spirals up the hill, leading you through seven levels, representing the seven week days, passing by 365 beautifully adorned graves. If you speak some Spanish you will enjoy it even more, for the lovely and sometimes very humorous inscription they remember their ancestors by.
Next to the cemetery is an ancient Mayan village, where you can learn about their daily life, taste delicious Mayan food, watch Mayan artisans produce traditional costumes and let Mayan rhythms carry you away while you watch the rituals and dances.
And of course, don’t miss the show, where you’ll learn in the most entertaining way about Mayan history and costums, like their famous ball game.
We already wrote about this ancient Mayan capital with its beautiful pyramid here. But in Cobá, besides from the archaeological site, you can also visit a secluded Mayan village. Learn about Mayan customs, enjoy a traditional meal and take part in a Mayan Blessing Ceremony. An unforgettable experience!
In spite of the heat, the Mayas were big fans of the Sauna. The steamy stone saunas called temazcal, are used for health and spiritual reasons. Through the use of steam and healing herbs, ceremonies purify your body, mind and spirit. There is an authentic Mayan temazcal, called “Temazcal Natura”, close to downtown Playa del Carmen, where you can experience the fire ceremony and the vapor purification ceremony, performed by a shaman.
For more information or to book one of the experiences, ask our Concierge or our staff at the front desk of Playa Palms Beach Hotel.