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Chitzen Itza - and anything else we should do while in Cancun?
Old 11-30-2010, 10:43 AM   #1
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Chitzen Itza - and anything else we should do while in Cancun?

Well since we will be in Cancun, I'm looking for a few excursions. I really, really like the idea of going to Chitzen Itza, but not so sure of killing a whole day to do so.

Anyone that's been there...was it worth it? We were thinking of a bus-trip which takes about 12 hours round trip from our hotel.


Anything else we should make time to see?
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:00 PM   #2
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Yes for Chitzen Itza - check the trip times, there might be shorter trips than 12 hours.
Additionally I recommend seeing Tulum & Xel-ha.
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:12 PM   #3
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Merida MX is neat I have heard, and some of the other smallish towns on the N coast of the Yucatan peninsula. Never been to the Yucatan personally though.
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:14 PM   #4
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You might want to consider hopping over to Cozumel for a day or two if you are interested in diving or snorkeling. The reef comes all the way up to the shore in many places; but, it is definitely nicer if you can get on a boat and get farther out on the reef.

And, for some reason, the windward, mostly undeveloped, side of Cozumel is one of those places that touches my soul for lack of a better description. (If feel the same way about much of Scotland and Costa Rica for comparison.) If you go, rent a scooter or small open car/jeep for the day. Driving in town is a little nutty; but, once you are out of the main town (San Miguel I think.), driving around the island is not a problem.
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:25 AM   #5
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Well since we will be in Cancun, I'm looking for a few excursions. I really, really like the idea of going to Chitzen Itza, but not so sure of killing a whole day to do so.

Anyone that's been there...was it worth it? We were thinking of a bus-trip which takes about 12 hours round trip from our hotel.


Anything else we should make time to see?
There is a lot to see and do in the Riviera Maya.
Chitzen Itza is a long day, but well worth it IMHO.

Playa del Carmen has good shopping.
There are two eco parks that are quite good and would take a whole day each. Xel-Ha is a huge inlet that has tons of water-based activities if you are into that. Snorkeling, shows, birds, inner tubes, swings, a buffet, hiking around. Really nice - but it can be sort of cool in the winter. Depends upon when you are going.

Xcaret is also a whole day, but is more mixed - some water activities, but a lot more land activities, displays, and a huge Mayan show in the evening that is well worth seeing.

If you like activities, there is also ziplining in the area south of Cancun.

As another poster mentioned, the ferry to Cozumel leaves from Playa Del Carmen. Cozumel has car and scooter rentals, shopping, snorkeling, diving.

It's a great area to visit. You will have a wonderful time.
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:59 AM   #6
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If you're not a diver, go snorkeling. If you're a diver you already know about it. Chankanaab and the other reefs are marvelous, some of the best/prettiest diving in the world. It's been a lot of years since I've been to Cozumel/Cancun, I think it's all pretty touristy down there now, but a day trip to Isla Mujeres was fun back in the day.
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Old 12-04-2010, 07:27 AM   #7
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Chitzen Itza is worth it. But it will be a long day.

Tulum is close by and worth a trip... that tour is likely to be coupled with some other side trip. It is not as spectacular as Chitzen Itza but worth seeing.
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:52 PM   #8
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Try to get to Tulum and Coba. Well worth the trip.
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Old 12-04-2010, 01:17 PM   #9
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Second everyone's suggestions, especially Tulum and snorkeling in Cozumel. I also had a great time in Xel-ha and Xcaret.

If you like water and caves, snorkeling or diving in the Yucatan's many cenotes is just wonderful. These are underground rivers that appear once every few miles in the form of caves. There is a big cenote system called Dos Ojos. We were snorkeling in the caves.

There is also a natural lagoon south of Playa del Carmen called Yal-Ku near Akumal. It's on the main road between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It has all kinds of pretty fish in their natural environment.
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Old 12-04-2010, 03:05 PM   #10
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If you like water and caves, snorkeling or diving in the Yucatan's many cenotes is just wonderful. These are underground rivers that appear once every few miles in the form of caves. There is a big cenote system called Dos Ojos. We were snorkeling in the caves.
If you go cave diving, make sure you get a certified cave diver to lead the trip. Back in the 80's a co-worker was a certified cave diver and was involved in exploring some newly discovered cenotes in the Yucatan. He had scary stories about open-water divers who decided to try cave diving without an experienced cave diver along - it is a good way to become a dead diver.
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Old 12-04-2010, 05:22 PM   #11
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Many of those resorts are all-inclusive. You could just drink yourself silly at the beach each day and watch the scenery.
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Old 12-04-2010, 07:34 PM   #12
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Went to Chitzen Itza about 15 years ago and was very impressed with the sites. I had been wanting to go since studying Central American and Mexican ancient cultures in grade school (over 50 years ago). Then took my wife to see it 4 years ago on a cruise. I would go back again in a heart beat and spend all day there although I understand you are not able to climb to the top of the pyramids as we did a few years ago.

Cheers!
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Old 12-04-2010, 07:55 PM   #13
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Isle Mujeres is a short boat ride and a nice quiet island to walk around. There is snorkeling there and you can rent scooters to get to the snorkeling or walk. Top end of Island has a nice beach and there are some good shops and eating places. Of course I was there in the eighties but I doubt it has changed that much. But you never know!
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Old 12-04-2010, 09:16 PM   #14
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Isle Mujeres is a short boat ride and a nice quiet island to walk around. There is snorkeling there and you can rent scooters to get to the snorkeling or walk. Top end of Island has a nice beach and there are some good shops and eating places. Of course I was there in the eighties but I doubt it has changed that much. But you never know!
I was there a few years ago and it was still a pretty sleepy little island. I was surprised it wasn't more touristic since it was so close to Cancun.
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Old 12-05-2010, 12:36 PM   #15
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Here's a good source for info on Riveria Maya. Free subscription also to monthly letter.



Taking its name from the ancient Maya meaning "white road," sac-be.com hopes to set you off on your own unique path to experiencing the Riviera Maya. You'll find articles on everything from beaches of the Yucatan to environmental concerns in Akumal, from a host of contributors - professional writers and amateurs alike. We'll tell you about the major destinations of the Mayan Riviera, with articles for the first time visitor. You'll also find stories about moving to and living in Mexico. The history buff will find plenty to read about the Ancient Maya, the Spanish conquest and even local pirates. Meanwhile, the geographer will find excellent map resources.

Sac-Be, the travel guide of the Riviera Maya
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Old 12-08-2010, 02:18 PM   #16
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We went to Playa del Carmen in late 2008 and I was very pleasantly surprised by the area (did not spend time in Cancun and did not get the chance to make the Chitzen Itza trip unfortunately). As many have stated, the basic excursions of Cozumel, Tulum, the various beach/snorkeling spots south of Playa and the cenotes were all fantastic. Tulum should not be a half-day trip since it is too small but worth the visit if is a complement to other activities in the immediate area...there is a wonderful beach right below the Tulum ruins btw.

There are plenty of "day-trip adventure" guides in the area that cater to English speaking tourists so perhaps it may be best to research and decide what activities to do there and then hire a guide to handle the traveling options. My gut tells me that a 12 hour round-trip bus trip to Chitzen Itza is not the most optimal method for you so perhaps you may want to research alternatives.
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Old 12-10-2010, 12:50 AM   #17
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A clarification that the cenote "cave diving" is not what you might think. There are many tour companies around, usually one or more at each all-inclusive hotel. They have many excursions including cenote swimming or snorkeling. Often this is combined with other archeological site trips like Coba or Chitzen Itza as a 1-2 hours top. This is not ocean cave diving. Cenotes are freshwater "sink holes" that are inland. Some cenotes are open on the top and are more like large deep ponds. Others are underground and you climb down staircases to go inside. They are very highly traveled and very safe vs. ocean "cave diving".
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Old 12-10-2010, 06:44 AM   #18
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I spent a week in Playa del Carmen this past May and absolutely fell in love with not only the city itself, but also the surrounding areas and the overall Mayan culture. In fact, I'm seriously considering taking some additional trips to other nearby areas over the coming years to determine whether or not it's somewhere I'd consider retiring.

As for your trip, as others have said, Chichen Itza, at least to me, is one of those destinations that you have to see at least once in your life. The drive there is long and the humidity can be KILLER, but the history of the area and the structures is downright mesmerizing. The pride that the Mayans have for their culture is contagious and after spending a couple hours sightseeing there and speaking with the locals, I guarantee that you will be impressed. Our bus actually broke down half-way to Chichen Itza and we were forced to spend 2 and a half hours walking around the most desolate and downtrodden village I've ever seen while it was repaired, and I tell you, it was one of the highlights of my entire trip. Many of the locals invited us in to their huts and shacks and couldn't have been more pleasant - it was an experience I'll never forget.

Others have mentioned Tulum and Xel-Ha and I couldn't agree more that they are both must-sees.

Tulum's vast ruins overlook one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. When I descended the staircase down the cliff to go swimming in the ocean, I was literally in awe as to how incredibly beautiful it all was. The crowds were a little much, but outside of that, Tulum is paradise as far as I'm concerned.

Lastly, as others have already said, Xel-Ha is some of the most fun you'll have in all of Mexico. Granted, you're not going to see any mind-blowing reefs here (go to Cozumel for that), but I had an absolute blast snorkeling all over the lagoons and seeing all the incredible fish and rays...and if you want to just kick back at one of the open-air bars with a pina colada and take in the sights, it's a terrific place as well.

So, all of that being said, enjoy your trip! The Yucatan is such an amazing area...
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:10 AM   #19
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I'm not sure what dates you are going but if in the summer you should try snorkeling with the whale sharks off Isla Holbox. This can also be done from Isla Mujeres but is usually a much longer boat ride to get to the whale sharks. Swimming alongside these huge yet gentle creatures is a must do if you're there at the right time of year. Here's a link to just one of many tour operators.

Whale Shark Tours by Holbox Tours & Travel

Also, here's another website that has a ton of info on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Riviera Maya Hotels, Resorts, Rentals: Mexican Caribbean Vacation

Have a great trip!
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Old 12-15-2010, 09:14 AM   #20
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Went to Chichen Itza in '78. It wasn't just the highlight of the trip, it was the highlight of the decade. Awesome place. The climb up the steps of the pyramid of the sun is not for those with poor balance. It's steep enough and long enough that if one falls, one probably goes home in a box.

I sure don't remember the bus ride being six hours each way. Maybe the company that picks you up at your hotel eats up way too much time picking up other people in a minivan before dumping you at the bus station.
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