Off the grid or off the beaten path? Both are super exciting alternatives when it comes to the Riviera Maya and both can be classified as ‘comfortable’ adventure. Our off the grid adventures or off the beaten path day trips are not for the super adventurous or exclusive to the well seasoned traveler. They are great opportunities for a vacationer who wants to experience something unique, that is reflective of the area’s culture, but is not with predictable crowds. Most importantly you will not be going outside your comfort zone.
If you are intrigued by the Maya and have seen the popular archeological sites of Chichen Itza, Coba, Tulum and Muyil, Ake is a special site worth traveling to. It is one of the oldest archeological sites in the area, dating back to 300 AD.
What is fascinating about this archaeological site is the cultural and historical time capsule witnessed and experienced by visitors. Unlike Chichen Itza which as has been prepared for mass tourism, unlike Coba that was never touched by Spanish colonialism, Ake is like a time capsule that shows visitors the true history of the Yucatan. Ancient Mayan structures are partially covered and surrounded by a Spanish hacienda, a working henequin factory and local church. Factory workers have generations of history on the property and share their story with visitors. Portions of the hacienda and factory also lay in ruins which reflects the demise of the henequin trade in the Yucatan. This is also in the heart of a small contemporary Yucatan community that shows daily life in the 21st century.
How to get there – Take the Cancun-Merida toll road west to the end and turn off at the Ake archeological site sign about 15 minutes after the the toll road final exit. From the Riviera Maya the drive is approximately 3 hours one way. This is a rental car or private transportation adventure. Contact our concierge for help with your reservations.
Hours – The archaeological site is open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Sunday. The working hacienda is open Monday to Thursdays which are also the days local guides are happy to tour you through the hacienda and henequin factory properties. Note: The State of the Yucatan and Quintana Roo are on different time zones. During day light savings from November to April, the Yucatan is one hour behind Quintana Roo. We have made this mistake numerous times showing up an hour early to local attractions.
Prices – 56 pesos to enter the ruins, 200 pesos per person for a guided tour of the hacienda and henequin factory.
If this archaeological site is not your first choice, have a look at our Loco Gringo Travel guides that help you navigate a trip to Coba, Tulum or Chichen Itza.
If you want to introduce your kids to a local inexpensive activity that is kid focused and at the heart of contemporary Mexican culture Chanolandia Water Park is just the ticket. This is THE place for local kids and families. There is Mayan history mixed in fun water activities. Kids will find friends to play with that speak different languages yet will find a common language of play. The entrance fee is more than affordable for an entire day of fun.
Read our detailed experience of Chanolandia Park just outside Playa del Carmen. This is the who, what, where, how, and why of this best kept secret in the Riviera Maya.
This has to be one of our favorite tours in the area for a while. With a local guide who is all about service and sharing information, you will be taken to a Mayan community that openly shares their history, culture and way of life through stories, the environment and flavors. This unique insight gives relevance to your other vacation activities while walking you through the history of the area.
Tours are booked in advance and are best booked with a group. Your participation not only makes a difference in the lives of the community but will touch your heart deeply. These are not actors, nor are they hired participants. This is a community that wants to share their way of life and understand yours.
Learn more about this amazing experience and book a tour in our Loco Gringo Directory, an excellent Riviera Maya resource to research and plan your vacation. You can also hear from the owner of Ojos Mayas in this LG podcast.
None of these experiences have you venturing off the beaten path where you will feel uncomfortable. If anything, these experiences will make you feel more comfortable on your vacation. Knowing the history, understanding the culture and venturing off the beach to known but not well known places will have you fall in love with the place that we fondly call home. No jungle attire or special skills required, just a bit of curiosity and desire to learn something new.
Check out more places to visit and things to do at our popular Riviera Maya vacation resource the Loco Gringo Directory. Chat with Paulina online and plan your vacation in minutes.