Three Port Best of Cozumel, Costa Maya and Belize
Explore Altun Ha Mayan Ruins
Escape the large buses and the crowds that come on them on the Altun-Ha and Belize City excursion. As you drive for approximately 1 hour through the countryside to reach the site, your Belize tour guide will tell you of the mysterious and mystical Mayans.
The Altun-Ha (Mayan for stone water) area was first populated in 1000 B.C. and the city was expanded in A.D. 700. It is believed to have had a population of 3,000. Many high-status items, including jade recovered at the site, indicate the city was home to many wealthy citizens. Structure B4 revealed a richly furnished tomb of one of Altun-Ha's rulers, and among its contents is the largest jadeite sculpture yet found. It represents Kinich Ahau, the Mayan sun god. Weighing in at almost nine pounds, this has been Belize's most valuable find to date. Other tombs contained jadeite objects as well.
Excavations indicate that this center was part of a trade network that reached from the Caribbean coast to the central lowlands of Guatemala. The site covers an area of about five square miles. The central square mile of the site has remains of around 500 structures, the largest of which, the Temple of the Masonry Altars, is 54 feet high.
After your Altun-Ha tour, you will travel back to Belize City where you will see historical sites such as St. John's Cathedral, where Kings from the Mosquito Coast were crowned, and the colonial mansion once occupied by British governors. This Belize excursion concludes at the Belize Tourism Village.
Costa Maya's Chacchoben Mayan Ruins
Chacchoben, "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 A.D. The site is quickly becoming one of the most popular amongst Costa Mayan excursions.
Due in part to its location away from large cities and cruise destinations, and with the more famous sites such as Tulum getting all the attention, the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins, 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 Mayan civilization. As you stand in the heart of this abandoned Mayan ceremonial center, your senses will begin to adjust to the sounds of nature. This Costa Maya excursion covers more than two 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 that 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 restroom 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 Espanol and have some fun!
Please Note: There is a fee to use a video camera at the archeological site (not included, approximately $4 US). Credit cards are not accepted at the site for fees or shopping, but US dollars and local currency are.
Cozumel Reef Snorkel with Playa Mia
After arriving at the downtown pier, you will board your boat and set sail on the shimmering water for one of Cozumel's best reef areas, Palancar and Colombia reefs, located inside the National Marine Park. In transit, your crew will prepare your snorkeling equipment and give instructions on its use during the approximately 45 minute trip.
Jump in with both feet and snorkel Cozumel while admiring its beauty. Follow your experienced guide as you enter the water from the boat and take in the wonderful underwater world of Cozumel as it appears below you. You will spend approximately 35 to 40 minutes in the water at each vibrant reef. Palancar Reef is an incredibly beautiful site with turquoise waters and shallow areas where you may spot turtles, baby nurse sharks and fish. Take a close look at the sand and you may even be able to spot the Caribbean South Ray--a creature known to inhabit this reef.
For the next part of your Cozumel tour to the reefs, you will snorkel over Colombia Reef- a beautiful snorkeling spot among other important sites in the Cozumel reef National Marine Park. Mild currents greet you where the coral heads rise around 10 to 30 feet above the sandy ocean floor. With excellent visibility and a diverse variety of marine life, this place is perfect to spot coral communities, barracudas, eagle rays and diverse schools of shimmering fish.
From here, you will climb back aboard your boat and make your way to Playa Mia, which is only 15 minutes away. Upon arrival at Cozumel's most popular full service beach, you will have approximately 1 hour of fun.
Playa Mia offers something for everyone. In addition to the white sand beach and beautiful Cozumel water, there is a shopping area, swimming pool, lounge chairs, beach volleyball and soccer courts, ping pong tables, restrooms, kayaks, paddle boats, water bicycles, floating mats, and a relaxing oasis island pool and hydro massage tub.
Your time at Playa Mia, Cozumel also includes the delicious buffet at the main restaurant with international and national specialties. For an additional fee, the following activities and items are also available at the park: drinks at the espresso bar, beach umbrellas, snorkel gear, other water sport equipment, outdoor massage, hair braiding, a fish spa, parasailing and more.
For the younger kids, there is Buccaneer Bay, complete with a pirate ship, water cannons and slides. For the older kids and kids at heart, there are two 200-foot water slides in addition to the pool and ocean. Under the ocean, there are sunken Mayan relics you can snorkel over and discover.
At the appointed time and place you will meet for your return trip.