Playa del Carmen Mayan Ruins

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Playa del Carmen Ruins - Best Mayan Ruins in Playa del Carmen

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Did you know there are Mayan Ruins in Playa del Carmen? You can visit the hidden gem of Playacar Mayan Ruins and learn about their history. Mexico has over 200 sites and Yucatan has 80 pyramids alone, including the famous Chichén Itzá which we visited on a tour. Make sure to add Mayan Ruins to your must-see list while traveling in Mexico.

Whileulum Ruins and Cobá are popular, we chose to explore the nearby town and visit its own ruins after spending a week in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo. To our surprise, many people seemed unaware of the Playacar Mayan Ruins located in the Playacar Resort area (hotel map).

If you enjoy history and are in Playa del Carmen, the ruins are worth visiting. Although they are not very large and not very well preserved, they are free to visit and the only ones in the area.


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Xa-Man Ha – Myan Ruins Playa del Carmen

The Playacar Ruins are officially named Xaman-Ha and mean “Water of the North” in Mayan. Although there were originally eight sets of structures, only three remain. The ruins also feature a section of an ancient stone wall that served to protect the area.

The reason why the Mayan People chose this location is probably because it was convenient for them. They could easily reach the island of Cozumel from here, where Mayan women made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Ixchel, the goddess of the moon and fertility. They believed that visiting her sacred island would protect them, and many hoped she would help them have sons, which was highly valued by their Mayan men. Cozumel is situated very near to Playa del Carmen and can even be seen from its shore.

According to beliefs, Xaman-Ha was once inhabited by a community that engaged in fishing and farming activities. Additionally, due to its strategic location, it served as a crucial point along the Mayan trade route that spanned from Mexico to Honduras. Historical records suggest that Xaman-Ha was deserted in 1526 after the Spanish conquest of the region. Interestingly, it is widely assumed that Xaman-Ha might have been the first place the Spanish explorers encountered upon arriving in Mexico.

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Where are the Playacar Mayan Ruins

As we were not lodged at the Playacar Resort, which is a gated precinct, we had to resolve how to gain entry to see the ruins. Someone suggested informing the guards that we were visiting someone who was staying in the area, and we faced no issues in entering. However, if you are staying at the Playacar Resort, you will have automatic access to the ruins. You can simply walk towards it without any formal permission.

It takes about ten to fifteen minutes to walk from downtown Playa del Carmen to the Playacar Ruins. To find the ruins, look for the signs just after the Playacar gates on Avenida 10 all the way to the beach. As you walk, you will see multiple structures along the way. While most people we saw had beach towels and bags and were not interested in looking at the ruins, we did the opposite and found them to be breathtaking.

After viewing the initial structures, return to the street and continue ahead. Soon after, on the left side, there will be more ruins. We observed numerous iguanas soaking up the sun, while some agoutis scurried among the rocks. It is advisable to keep a safe distance from the iguanas as they may bite. In contrast, the agoutis appeared more timid. Mexican agoutis are endangered and are a relative of guinea pigs. They mainly consume nuts, fruits, and seeds found on the ground. The agoutis resembled tailless giant rats.

The History of Haman-Ha

Archaeologists believe that the people of this small town, who were Mayans, were involved in fishing and agriculture. It is thought that this town was connected to the principality of Ecab, and the Mayans would depart in canoes from this place to the sanctuary of the goddess Ixchel in Cozumel. Every year, a ceremony was performed in honor of this goddess of love, making the location of Xaman-Ha very significant. In fact, some people say that when the conquistadors first arrived in Mexico, they saw this town among their first sights.

The Spaniards who came to this part of Mexico only stayed briefly because of the limited food supply and subpar living conditions. The archaeological structures found in Playa del Carmen date back to the late Postclassic era (1200-1550 AD), and consist of temples for rituals and ceremonies, homes, and storage areas for perishable items.

How to get to Xaman-Ha Mayan Ruins

The Xaman-Ha Mayan ruins are situated in Playacar, which is an upscale residential area in the south of Playa del Carmen. They are located 32 miles away from Cancun International Airport (map). There is no international airport in Playa del Carmen.To reach the ruins, you can take Quinta Avenida and then walk for 15 minutes. It’s advisable to drive to the site, but if you don’t have a car, you may hire a taxi to take you to the entrance (we do not advice to use Uber service in the area).

The Xaman-Ha is a beautiful set of Mayan ruins located within the Playacar resort, but it’s not very popular due to its lack of publicity. Although it consists of only a few buildings, they are definitely worth visiting. The name Xaman-Ha translates to “Water from the North,” which is appropriate since the site is situated near the seashore.

Although the ruins are in the jungle and offer plenty of shade, it can still get quite hot during the day while exploring Playacar. It’s a good idea to bring water along, and it might also be worth considering packing mosquito repellent, especially since our kids got bitten quite a bit. For some reason, I don’t seem to get bitten or have a reaction to them, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

One suggestion is to visit Playacar Mayan Ruins and enjoy the nearby beach on the same day. The ruins are situated next to one of the top beaches in Playa del Carmen, making it convenient. Alternatively, you could explore the Plaza Playacar Shopping Center, which is located nearby. There are plenty of activities in Playa del Carmen, but the Playacar Mayan Ruins are a must-see destination for everyone!

What to see on Xaman-Ha

To visit the secret archaeological site, you need to make an appointment beforehand by checking the official website of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). They have provided a telephone number and email address where you can schedule your visit. Please note that there is no permanent staff on-site, so it’s recommended to schedule a visit to get a guide. Make sure to request a guided tour at least five days in advance and note that admission to the ruins is free. Make sure you check out our list of the best guided tours in Playa del Carmen.

This place is a great spot to witness the ancient Mayan settlements in their authentic form. The settlement is indigenous and has three well-preserved buildings. Moreover, you can see the natural environment and wildlife of the area while exploring the site. Since it’s not a popular destination, the site is well-preserved. Among the structures, B, C, and D are in excellent condition, with Structure C-1 being the largest. It has murals with fragments of paintings, and you can observe a “U” shaped wall surrounding the main structures of the C building.

Be aware that there are many iguanas on the route to the ruins. Take precautions to capture the best pictures of them. Although these creatures are accustomed to humans, it is not advisable to touch or feed them.

Things to do Near Xaman-Ha

You can visit the Xaman-Ha archaeological zone and then enjoy the beautiful beach with fine white sand and crystal-clear water. In Playacar, you should also check out the shopping mall called “Plaza Playacar”.

It’s a popular spot among locals and tourists because there are many services and shops available, including ones that sell Mexican crafts, Caribbean clothing, swimwear, fine jewelry, souvenirs, pharmacy items, and convenience store items.

Playa del Carmen is a highly popular destination in Riviera Maya because of its prime location, vibrant atmosphere, exciting entertainment, outstanding food, and stunning beaches. Do not hesitate to visit this amazing Mayan city by the sea.

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