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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.
Checkout these Adventures!
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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 Marine Turtle Observation & Baby Liberation Events with FP&M

Cozumel Punta Sur Ecopark, Lighthouse & Snorkeling
Personal Experiences
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You ladies (at COZUMELINSIDER) are the best ---- will write more when it doesnt costs 75 cents per minute --like it does on the ship. Our driver, humbuerto was awesome ! seak trek thing was the coolest thing in the world ---- we LOVED it --- we bought the cd-rom --- we are such tourists !!!!!!!!!!! i'm a tv reporter and the guy who shot the underwater video is a good photographer ----
had some really neat shots ----- i'm a sucker for videos -------- did not really want to snorkel with mario --- those guy were really sweet ---- will talk more when at home --- just wanted you to know ASAP-- highly impressed with your service ----- wish i knew a milllion people to recommend to you !! Tressa Bush ~ Tennessee

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

Sherri ~ WOW!!! We just returned from our cruise! What a wonderful time we had!! Your COZUMELINSIDER.com bookings for our Dolphin snorkel adventure and Sea Trek were the highlight of the cruise. They were easy and saved us about half the cost of booking through the cruise line. We simply hopped into a cab and spent the day at the Park (we could have spent a week there.) They were even able to work us into the Sea Trek early. All the people were friendly, helpful and overall just treated us great. While we were standing around waiting a short little man came up and ask if we wanted a snorkel tour. I instantly remembered what you had said and looked at his name tag. It was Mario! His tour was fantastic! If you see him ask him if he remembers Señor Ed and his family (he never caught that my name was Ted, but that’s okay!) I had a waterproof digital camera and he snapped lots of pictures of us. We had a wonderful time and much of it was thanks to you, your website and staff!

I know you probably get lots of pictures but I had to send you three. Look at the smiles on my boy’s faces. That says it all! Thank you so much for all your help and advice. We can’t wait to return. Your website is the first place we will stop! I wish we could have met in person. We will next time! T. Mahler Family ~ Howe ,TX

Sherri...thank you again so very much for your fantastic website and for your excellent stories on life in Cozumel. We fellow Texans that are not fortunate enough to actually live there are able to do it through you and we are all extremely grateful...and incredibly envious! Having been an airline employee until retirement I have been lucky to have been down island over 20 times and it NEVER gets old. I thought I knew all about Cozumel, but was delighted to learn of new things and places through you and your website. Your current posting of how you came to Cozumel was so cool. You really need to work on that book! Congrats on this milestone, and continued luck and success in all you do. See you in September for our annual trip down for my birthday and Mexican Independence Day. M. Goodwin ~ Dallas, Texas

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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