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What Travelers Need to Know about the Hidden Xaman-Ha Ruins in Playa del Carmen

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Explore the small archaeological site of Xaman-Ha in downtown Playa del Carmen that houses spectacular Mayan ruins. Connect with nature as you hike a jungle trail and traverse Mexico’s past. Here’s the ultimate guide to the Hidden Mayan Ruins of Xaman-Ha.

How to get there

The Xaman-Ha Mayan ruins are 32 miles from Cancun International Airport in the town of Playa del Carmen. The ruins are located within a community known as Playacar, an exclusive sector in the southern part of Playa del Carmen. You can access the entrance to the site from the Quinta Avenida, from where you must walk approximately 15 minutes to the ruins. It’s recommended to arrive by car; if you don’t have one, you can ask a taxi to take you to the entrance.

The Xaman-Ha is a small Mayan settlement that does not get many visitors because it’s not well known. This archaeological site is made up of few but wonderful Mayan buildings. These ruins are located within the resort of Playacar. The name Xaman-Ha means “Water from the North” and receives this name due to its seashore location.

Historical Importance

The Mayans who lived in this small city were engaged in fishing and agriculture. Archaeologists think that this place was part of the principality of Ecab and that from there, the Mayans left in canoes to the sanctuary of the goddess Ixchel in Cozumel. The ceremony to this goddess of love was performed every year, so the location of Xaman-Ha was very strategic. In fact, some say that when the conquistadors arrived in Mexico, this was one of the first places they saw. The Spaniards who arrived in this Mexican corner lived here for a very short time due to the lack of food and poor living conditions. All the archaeological buildings located in Playa del Carmen correspond to the late Postclassic period (1200 – 1550 AD). They include temples for rituals and ceremonies, residences, and storage facilities for perishable materials.

What to see on Xaman-Ha

This archaeological site is so secret that it’s best to schedule an appointment to visit it. Check the official website of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), where you’ll find the telephone number and email address where you can schedule your visit. INAH does not have staff on-site on a permanent basis. That’s why it’s suggested to schedule your visit so you’ll get a guide to the ruins. Please note that you must request a guided tour at least five days in advance. Admission to the ruins is free.

This is one of the most authentic places to observe the ancient Mayan settlements. This indigenous settlement has three well-preserved buildings. Best of all, the environment is truly natural, as you observe the flora and fauna of this magnificent site. Because it’s not the most visited site, it helps its conservation. Structures B, C, and D are in the best condition, particularly Structure C-1, the largest of all. There you can see murals with fragments of paintings. In the C structure, there’s a wall in the form of a “U,” which surrounds the main structures. You’ll find many iguanas along the way to the ruins, be prepared so you’ll capture the best pictures. These animals are used to humans; however, we do not recommend touching them or feeding them.

Things to do Near Xaman-Ha

After visiting the archaeological zone of Xaman-Ha, you can explore its fabulous beach. The scenery is simply stunning. Playa’s beaches are known for their fine white sand and crystal-clear water. Since you’re in Playacar, visit “Plaza Playacar,” a shopping mall located in the heart of Playacar. It’s an ideal place for locals and tourists because you’ll find the Mexican spirit in a wide range of services, crafts, Caribbean clothing, swimwear, fine jewelry, souvenirs, pharmacy, and convenience stores here.

playa del carmen

Playa del Carmen has become one of the most visited destinations in the Riviera Maya. This is due to various reasons, which include its excellent location, cosmopolitan atmosphere, great entertainment, haute cuisine and, of course, for its beautiful beaches. So don’t wait any longer and visit Playa and this fantastic Mayan city by the sea.

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Jeremy Cowan

Monday 27th of December 2021

These ruins have been enclosed within an animal preserve and you can no longer get close to them or see any carvings. You are separated by a fence, but you can still see them and take photos from a distance.