Explore ancient Mayan ruins in Costa Maya and our exclusive island tours in Grand Cayman and Roatan.
Costa Maya's Chacchoben Mayan Ruins
Chacchoben (chak-CHO-ben) 'the place of red corn' in the Mayan language, is a ruin which may date from 200 B.C. The structures found here date from 700 AD. The site is quickly becoming one of the most popular "new" sites visited along the Costa Maya.
Due in part to its location away from large cities and cruise destinations, and the more famous Mayan sites such as Tulum 100 miles to the north getting all the attention, the ruins of Chacchoben, an excellent example of the most brilliant civilization of the new world, remained in obscurity. As you walk through the jungle filled with evidence of temples, courtyards and pyramids, you will feel the connection and harmony between nature and history. Along the way, your guide will tell you the journey the city has taken, from the myth of its creation through the collapse of the great Maya civilization. As you stand in the heart of this abandoned Mayan ceremonial center your senses will begin to adjust to the sounds of nature. The site covers an area of more than 2 square miles in an area known as the "Region of the Lakes" due to the number of lakes and lagoons in the area.
Most of the walking is over even packed dirt and grass on a circular path that passes three excavated and restored pyramids, as well as walls and staircases. The site is far from being completely uncovered and you will see excavation on several mounds which are known to contain additional structures. Some structures still bear traces of the red pigment with which they were originally coated. At the base of the largest pyramid is a large stone slab called a stela with a Mayan hieroglyphic inscription.
Climbing on the temples is restricted out of respect to the deceased and their spirits.
The ruins site has a service area that includes rest room facilities and a cafeteria. Locals from Chacchoben village have a small shopping area at the site where they offer handmade souvenirs from their village. Keep in mind that in places like Chacchoben you are expected to negotiate the prices, so be ready to exercise your Español and have some fun!
Please note: There is a fee to use a video camera at the archeological site. (approximately $4 USD) Credit cards are not accepted at the site for fees or shopping. US dollars and local currency are.
Dress: Comfortable long sleeve shirts and long pants are suggested due to the strong Mexican sun and potential for insects in the jungle. Sensible, flat-soled, closed toe walking shoes, sunscreen and sun glasses are recommended.
Restrictions : Guests must be able to walk approximately one mile over packed surfaces during the 90 minute tour of the site.
Duration: 4 hours
Grand Cayman Hell and Turtle Farm Orientation
This quick orientation tour will give you a great taste of Cayman with a visit to the famous Turtle Farm and a visit to Hell and back.
Setting out from downtown, your tour will take you to the most popular sites on the island's west end.
A stop will be made at the Turtle Farm which was originally built as a farm to keep up with the demand for turtle meat and other products, It has since become a conservation center focused on reducing the dependency on the wild population of sea turtles. The facility is used as a scientific and research center and also is a breeding facility so that more turtles can be released into the sea. Here you will see hundreds of turtles at every stage of development on display in various size tanks, as well as a breeding beach next to a large lagoon where the breeding turtles lay their eggs.
Hell, in the district of West Bay, is an outcropping of jagged dark limestone, which looks like someone's imagined vision of its namesake. You will visit the rock formation and pass by the red hell-themed post office.
During your tour, photo stops will be made in front of the stately Governor's house and also in front of the traditional, tin-roofed Old Homestead, a traditional island style house which is one of the most photographed sites on the island. You will also make a quick stop at Seven Mile Beach, which is world renowned for its beauty, and is considered one of the Caribbean's best beaches.
Dress:Beachwear and swimwear.
Duration: 2 hours
Roatan Special Island Tour
Departing from the pier on the south shore of the Island in your small group, you will first make your way towards the east end of the Island. Along the way you will hear of the Island’s colorful history, that includes Indians, slaves, invaders, pirates, buried gold, and a charming blend of cultures, people and languages. The main languages are Spanish, English, and Garifuna, which holds on to its African roots. You will pass through several of the small villages that dot the island including Barrio Los Fuertes and French Harbor, the second largest town on the island. You may also see the wreck of ships along the coast. A stop will be made at one of the highest points on the eastern end of the island for stunning views over the hills covered with lush vegetation and the sea with its many shades of blue.
You will also visit the west end of the island (most large group tours do not visit both the east and west ends) where you will drive through several of the small communities such as Sandy Bay. Continue on to the west end, the tourist side of the island, with scuba diving centers, hotels, resorts, restaurants, beach clubs and tourist shops. Here you will have a few minutes of free time to walk down to the waters edge, explore the tiny streets, or purchase a beverage.
Returning to the pier area, you will have the opportunity to take photos of the south shore during a photo stop at a dramatic look out. You will pass through several more small communities before arriving at the cruise pier in Coxen Hole, the capital of Roatan. A stop will also be made at the Mahogany Bay cruise terminal located outside of Coxen Hole.
Dress:Comfortable clothing and tennis or walking shoes are recommended. Sun glasses and sun screen are also suggested. As you may be in the jungle during your tour, insect repellent is recommended.
Restrictions:As Roatan is a hilly island guests will have to navigate on terraine that is on an incline or uneven at several stops. Surfaces may be packed dirt, gravel or paved.
Duration: 3 hours