We have followed the ancient footsteps of the Maya up pyramids, into cenotes and through the jungle. These experiences and adventures are what drew us to the Riviera Maya, and still intrigue us.
But the Maya were not just land dwellers. With their communities located along the Caribbean Sea, water was as much a part of their life and lifestyle as the jungle. After following their footsteps on land we started hopping into boats to follow the history of the Maya on the water.
The Chunyaxche Canals are located near the Muyil Ruins south of Tulm and head into the Sian Kaan. These canals were a vital trade route used by the Maya that connected them to Guatemala, Cozumel and Belize. The canals lead to the Caribbean Sea making travel more efficient than if you attempted to make this trip over land. Small ruins are found along the water route, evidence that the Maya used this as a permanent route. Archaeologists have further confirmed the trade routes after finding jade, cacao, obsidian, honey, feathers, chewing gum, and salt, items that were heavily traded between communities.
Ancient pilgrimages to Cozumel were a popular female activity where women would be chauffeured by canoe to honor the Goddess Ixchel. Boats would leave from XelHa or Xcaret (both areas have ruins to explore) and make the journey through the Caribbean Channel. Women would take presents to the Moon and Fertility Goddess once in a lifetime to ensure healthy pregnancies, healthy babies and lots of them!
To honor this pilgrimage, teams paddle from Cozumel to Xcaret to reenact the pilgrimage done so many times by the Maya. This annual event is both a physical challenge as well a cultural honor every May in the Riviera Maya.
Check out all the Mayan ruins in the area and start planning your visit on land and sea.