Ek' Balam in the Yucatan. Photo © Jose Ignacio Soto/123rf.

Maya Ruins Near Cancún and Cozumel

Besides its incredible beaches and world-class resorts, Mexico’s Caribbean coast is also home to numerous ancient Maya ruins, including some of the most important archaeological sites in the country and the continent. A visit to one or more is well worth a day off the sand, even for committed beach hounds.

San Andrés Ruins. Photo © Raúl Arias, licensed Creative Commons usage.

The Indigenous History of Panchimalco and the San Andres Ruins

The area surrounding San Salvador is rich with history and natural beauty. If you are in the area, it is definitely worth making a short drive (or bus ride) to explore the wonderful sights of Panchimalco and San Andrés Ruins and learn more about the indigenous people of El Salvador.

Mayan glyphs. Photo © Al Argueta.

Lost and Found: The Mystery of Guatemala’s Site Q

For much of the 20th century, looters worked Petén’s remote sites undisturbed, raiding tombs and extracting precious artifacts before archaeologists had a chance to study and document them. At the height of the looting, in the 1960s, archaeologists marveled at a series of magnificent glyphs making their way into a number of private collections and museums from an unknown site. Archaeologists dubbed the pieces’ origin “Site Q” and the search to find the mysterious producer of the wonderful glyphs was on.

One of the carvings at the ruins of Quirigua. Photo © Stefan Ember/123rf.com.

The Mayan Ruins of Quiriguá, Guatemala

Set amid banana plantations, the Mayan site of Quiriguá in Guatemala is smaller but somewhat similar to Copán, particularly in regard to its inhabitants’ skill and propensity in the carving of stelae.

Stela 5 at Takalik Abaj. Photo © Simon Burchell (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

The Ruins of Takalik Abaj, Guatemala

The archeological site of Takalik Abaj, meaning “standing stones,” is particularly interesting because it reveals elements of Olmec influence in early Mayan culture. Learn about the ruins and how to get there in preparation for your visit, along with recommendations for where to stay to explore the surrounding landscape.

Statue at Chankanaab National Park. Photo © Bridgette Parent/123rf.

Parks on Isla Cozumel

Isla Cozumel is a small, mostly undeveloped island with a lot going for it. Both families and independent travelers can experience a day at the park here that fits their itineraries and interests, whether that be a full day exploring nature, relaxing on the beach, or some interactive fun for the kids.

Iximché exhibits much more of a Mexican influence than other Maya sites in Guatemala. Photo © Michal Zak/123rf.

Iximché, Guatemala’s Most Accessible Highland Mayan Site

Iximché is the most easily accessible of Guatemala’s highland Mayan ceremonial sites. It makes an interesting stop for those with an interest in Mayan culture and history because of the differences it exhibits from the lowland Mayan sites of Petén, which date to much earlier times.

San Gervasio. Photo © Juris Didrihsons/123rf.

Maya Archeaological Sites on Isla Cozumel

Isla Cozumel played a deeply significant role in the Maya world. The island’s primary site—known as San Gervasio today—was dedicated to Ixchel, the Maya goddess of fertility, the moon, childbirth, medicine, and weaving. Read on to discover more about archaeological sites on the island.

Atop Tikal's Temple IV. Photo © Al Argueta.

Petén and the Maya Biosphere Reserve

Petén is without a doubt the cradle of Mayan civilization, as it lays claim to some of the oldest known Mayan sites along with the earliest evidence of the writing and royal dynastic rule characterizing the civilization that flourished here. The massive Maya Biosphere Reserve, established to protect the forests, ruins, and unexcavated sites, could keep you busy for weeks. However long your have for your visit, our expect author is here to help you effectively plan your time.

Agua Volcano watches over Antigua, Guatemala’s old colonial capital.

Discover Guatemala

Guatemala has always been the stuff of legend. Discover its people, its vast landscapes, and learn about its seasons and popular travel times to help plan your own visit to this magical land.