This adventure is not on anyone's vacation itinerary due to its remote location. We have wanted to visit the Mayan Ruins at Chac Mool ever since we glimpsed the Santa Rosa peninsula during a flight along the coastline. The Santa Rosa peninsula and Chac Mool ruins lie between two large bays in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve; Bahia de la Ascension and Bahia Espiritu Santo. Together those bays make up the majority of this UNESCO reserve located south of Tulum.
The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve was established in1986 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.
This trip wouldn’t have come together without the help of our good friend and business associate, Michael. Michael is 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. Our trip started early one Sunday morning. Manuel was excited as he had not visited Chac Mool for over 8 years.
We started our adventure on the tranquil lagoon side of Sol Caribe and proceeded to zip across calm water toward the more turbulent mouth of Bahia de la Ascension. This is the same route taken by visiting fly fishermen who are guided by seasoned captains like Garza. Fisherman come here from all over the world for some of the world’s best saltwater fly-fishing, but we were not the normal clients; we wanted to visit Chac Mool.
Once we entered the open waters of the bay, Manuel headed toward the east end of Cayo Culebra. The long thin island, known for its bird rookeries, is a great spot to snap some photographs. We circled “bird island” and noticed frigate and boobie birds.
Due to rough seas, Manuel decided to navigate through the mangrove to Santa Rosa, our final destination. The labyrinth of mangrove passageways that connects a maze of lagoons on the southwest side of Punta Pajarros was a great adventure. With recent tropical storms and changes to the natural landscape, we had to rely on the instincts and memory of Manuel Garza, our captain. It took a while, but our captain figured it out and we eventually arrived at the Playa Blanca dock. We were almost at the Chac Mool ruins.
We docked the boat, walked up the sandy access road toward the beach and walked down a short path to our right. Chac Mool is a small archaeological site, partially because of its remoteness. This remote location of this Mayan settlement had connections to Chichen Itza and Tulum. Several Chac Mool statues have been found at the Mayan Site of Chichen Itza and design similarities are evident with the other coastal Caribbean Mayan Ruins at Tulum
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.