Cozumel, a largely unspoilt Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea, is famed for its Mayan history, coral reefs and scuba diving. Lying off the Yucatan coast, the island of Cozumel has over 40 shrines to Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of the moon, the sea and fertility. Many are carved from coral – the island is part of the Great Maya Barrier Reef – and archaeologists regularly find the small clay dolls, which were offerings to the goddess.
The eco-park, Chankanaab, is the number one attraction in Cozumel; a lagoon with underwater caverns, and home to dolphins, manatees, iguanas and sea turtles. The relaxing haven of the National Marine Park boasts stunning beaches and beautiful botanical gardens. The popular diving spot around a section of the Mesoamerican Reef is the location of the amazing submerged sculptures of Museo Subacuático de Arte.
The island’s small town of San Miguel is relaxed and friendly and there are plenty of cafés, bars and shops to enjoy. The Museo de la Isla de Cozumel has interesting exhibits about the island, its flora and fauna, and the formation of the coral reef. There are also Mayan artefacts and various items from its time as a Spanish colony, including cannons, swords and armour.
No visit to Mexico would be complete without exploring Chichen Itza, one of the most famous Mayan temple cities and most visited sites in the country. Meaning ‘at the well of the Itza’, this pre-Colombian city was the political and economic centre of the Mayan civilisation. Chichen Itza is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its Pyramid of Kulkulcan was also voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Admire this fascinating site, and marvel at the temples, columns and the imposing pyramid on Tour E – Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins.
One of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico, Tulum is a walled Mayan city which is perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The only Mayan city built on the coast, Tulum is one of the most scenic archaeological sites in the region. The once-thriving city was built in the 13th century during the post-classical period, and it was one of the last cities to be inhabited by the Mayans. Visit this ancient city and admire the imposing Castillo and picturesque views over the sea on Tour F – Tulum Mayan Ruins. San Gervaiso Archaeological Site Mexico is renowned worldwide for its Mayan ruins, and the biggest and most important archaeological site on the island of Cozumel is San Gervaiso. Located in the centre of Cozumel, the site was constructed as a sanctuary to Ixchel, the goddess of fertility. San Gervaiso dates back to 100 BC and thrived between the 13th and 16th centuries. Today there are many structures still standing here, including the Temple of the Hands – inside are numerous small, red handprints. Step back in time with a visit to this historical site on Tour B – The Best of Cozumel.
Cozumel is one of the Caribbean’s top destinations for snorkelling, largely due to its stunning, crystal clear waters, which are home to many reefs and a whole host of colourful tropical fish.