This adventure takes you deep into the Sian Ka'an Biosphere just south of Tulum. Ever since we glimpsed the Santa Rosa peninsula on a flight along the southern coastline we have dreamed of making the trip to the Chac Mool Ruins. Located on the Santa Rosa peninsula, the Chac Mool ruins lie between two large bays in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve; Bahia de la Ascension and Bahia Espiritu Santo.
The Maya archaeological sites of Chac Mool located within the Punta Pájaros Reserve south of Punta Allen inside the Sian Ka’an Biosphere was a trading post from the Early to Late Post Classic Period (900 A.D. – 1550 A.D.). The name Chac Mool came from Thomas Gann who discovered the site in 1919 and found the protected Chac Mool sculpture in Building F. The settlement had three important responsibilities. It was a ritual site, a civil site, and had an important role in the security of the land. Chac Mool was a commercial port, market and housed laborers who built canoes. As a Caribbean port, it linked to three important trade routes, Central America, Yucatan, and the Usumacinta River. The settlement is thought to be have been abandoned around 1550, but occupied again during the Caste War as a haven from the fighting. From 1940 to 1950, the site was used as a copra (coconut) camp. Today, the area has been excavated and documented by local archeologists. Permission to enter the ruins is required from the land owners at Casa Blanca Fishing Lodge. Our tour was arranged by our friends at Sol Caribe, a hotel in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere.
The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve was established in 1986 and declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. The 1.3 million acres of protected land plays an indispensable role in the lives of countless terrestrial, aquatic and airborne species. It’s an area of spectacular, desolate beauty that includes diverse habitats of sea, shallow bays, brackish mangrove estuaries, savannas and low jungle. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve contains 22 registered archaeological sites, one being the Chac Mool Ruins.
This trip wouldn’t have come together without the help of our good friend and business associate, Michael. Michael was the owner of Sol Caribe hotel/resort located in Sian Ka’an just 8 kilometers north of Punta Allen. He arranged our transportation to the Chac Mool ruins, a small boat and captain Manuel Garza who would navigate the waters to Chac Mool.
• Chac Mool is a small archaeological site in a remote location.
• The settlement had connections to Chichen Itza and Tulum.
• Important trade route that linked Chichen Itza, Central America, Usumacinta River and Yucatan
• 17 grave sites have been found during excavations that lead to important facts about the settlements.
• Architecture is similar to Tulum, Xel Ha, San Gervasio and Chichen Itza. There is some evidence of Puuc architecture.
• Buildings B and C were ceremonial buildings.
• Building F houses the Chac Mool sculpture.
• Building A is the main palace with a ceremonial plaza in front.
• Total size and population of the settlement is unknown.
• Tupac ruins are a short paddle through the mangrove from the Chac Mool ruins.
Having the freedom to explore the site was a privilege. We hope to return soon to do some fly-fishing, and also to see the Mayan ruins at Tupac which is a short paddle through the mangrove from the Chac Mool ruins. This remote location in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere makes for a great two day adventure and lets you discover different parts of the coast and Caribbean.
The Sian Ka’an Biosphere is located to the south of Tulum and can be accessed by car from the Tulum Beach Road. The one road into the Sian Ka’an is an unpaved road so be prepared to drive slowly. Our suggestion is to stay at Sol Caribe Hotel just north of Punta Allen and arrange your boat transportation to the Chac Mool ruins through the hotel. Let the owner know that you intend to visit the ruins so he can arrange the tour in advance. From Playa del Carmen, the drive is about 4 hours to Sol Caribe. From Tulum, the drive is about 2 hours. This is a unique tour and an exciting adventure so get ready for an experience you will not forget.