Puerto Morelos Mexico is fast becoming the go to place for visitors who want to enjoy a relaxing vacation at a laid back seaside village while at the same time have easy access to the full range of exciting activities on offer in the now very popular Riviera Maya. Located only 30 minutes south of Cancun, and the same distance north of Playa del Carmen, this sleepy fishing town offers the very best of both worlds.
The first inhabitants settled here in 1898, making this town the oldest in the state of Quintana Roo. Since then the town grew steadily, attracting fisher folk, organizations dedicated to marine research and conservation and a sizable population of expats looking to get away from it all. Since 2016 Puerto Morelos became an independent municipality and is now firmly etched on the map as a regional favorite for national and international visitors alike.
It may be surprising to many that a small town can offer so many fun things to do but the list is long and full of exciting activities, including the obligatory Puerto Morelos reef snorkeling, zip line and ATV tours, private yacht and catamaran charters, cenote excursions and world famous Puerto Morelos fishing, which draws the crowds to its annual deep sea fishing competition. Yet it is the town’s location relative to the many Mayan ruins of the region that make it especially attractive to visitors from afar.
Here is a list of our favorite archaeological sites that can be seen in the region:
You may have expected us to have started with a typical Chichen Itza ruins tour but our staff favorite is definitely the archaeological site of Muyil. Tucked away inside the verdant subtropical rainforest of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve (a protected reserve of over 1 million acres /400,000 hectares and home to the most amazing Mexican birds, wild dolphins, manatees and much more) the Muyil site is one of the most photogenic on the Yucatan Peninsula. This ancient settlement covers 94 acres (38 hectares) of lush jungle habitat where multiple pathways allow visitors to easily stroll the grounds and enjoy the incredible natural surroundings.
2. Ek Balam
Built around 800 A.D. this ceremonial site derived its name from the venerated black jaguar (‘Ek Balam? in Maya language). It is a fitting name considering this site was home to king Uk’it Kan Lec Tok, buried in the side of the largest pyramid, together with more than 7,000 pieces of jewelry. The highlight of your visit will surely be climbing the steps to the top of the main acropolis, which is actually a pyramid with a tomb on top, in order to view the unending surrounding jungle.
Flanked by two lagoons the site is appropriately named Coba, which translated from ancient Maya means ‘waters stirred by the wind’. The site was discovered by Archaeologists in the 1800s but due to lack of funding, wars and dense jungle, excavations progressed slowly. In fact today very little of the area has been completely excavated and hundreds of jungle clad mounds (once temples and homes to the estimated 50,000 inhabitants that once lived here) can be seen all over the site. Here you can enjoy shaded walkways that are the original white roads (‘sacbe’ in Maya language) that joined city states, visit the three principal settlements that clearly demonstrate the architecture and vast area of this once large city, 2 artfully restored ball courts and the highest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan, Nohoch Mul.
While Puerto Morelos will seduce you with its small town charm, its Caribbean Sea gently lapping against the endless sandy beaches and its deliciously fresh seafood, there is an exciting world beyond the town that must be explored. Make a day trip out of it and take your friends and family on a tour of some of the most beautiful Mayan ruins that Mexico has to offer.