Cancun family vacations often include an educational trip to visit Mayan Ruins. Now families visiting Cancun do not need to travel far to travel far back in time.
The Maya Museum of Cancun opened to rave reviews in the fall of 2012. The new museum cost over $15 million dollars and has been over 30 years in the making...well actually thousands of years in the making if you consider the amazing artefacts contained in these walls.
Before the museum opened, most Cancun family vacations included a trip to either Chichen Itza located 2.5 hours away in the jungle or a visit to the Tulum ruins which stands 2 hours south right on the beach. Guided day tours to these important historical archeological sites average from $50 to $120 per person. The price adds up quickly when taking the entire family. Adventurous families may choose to drive themselves and rent a car for the day but that's still $75 to $125 for a family plus gas. Besides the expense, a trip to either Chichen Itza or Tulum can be a very long day for young travelers with short attention spans.
The Maya Museum of Cancun is part of the San Miguelito archeological site. It is located just minutes from any of the hotels and resorts that line Cancun's hotel zone. It sits aside Km 16 on Kukulkan Boulevard which is the main road right through Cancun’s Hotel Zone. The San Miguelito Mayan ruins literally sit in the shadow of the Omni Hotel. It is where ancient and modern worlds collide. The museum and ruins open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday Night the museum stays open until 10pm. It is closed on Mondays. Local Mexican citizens get free admission on Sundays so that tends to be a busy day at the Museum. Tickets cost $57 pesos which translates to approximately $5.70 per person Children under 13 and adults over 60 years old receive free admission. As with most historical sites in Mexico, the ticket office here will ONLY accept Pesos. The Museum is one of the few commerical spots in Cancun that does not accept US dollars or credit cards. You will need to exchange a few dollars for pesos at your hotel or there is an exchange office right across the street from the Museum. Public buses run up and down Kukulkan Boulevard every few minutes all day and evening. The cost for each ride is approximately $.85 cents per person. No matter which hotel your family calls home during your stay in Cancun, you're close to a bus stop. A cab will probably cost $10-15 USD each way or you can even walk on the wide sidewalks.
As guests enter the Museum complex, they are greeted by beautiful botanical gardens. The garden paths wind thru the 5 ruin sites in the San Miguelito complex. These buildings are over 800 years old and the gardens really make guests feel like they are exploring the jungles during ancient times. There is a great pyramid, a temple, A palace and other residential buildings in the complex. Here parents and kids can get a sense of how the Mayans created their settlements. The paths are shady but allow close access to the ancient ruins. This settlement is not as big or spread out as those in Chichen Itza or Tulum but it won't be as overwhelming for young children to take in. Also the pathways here are flat and much more stroller friendly by comparison. The path circles back around to the museum building which sits about two stories above the gardens. The museum building is built high to protect it's precious contents from any potential storm flooding. There are stroller ramps and elevators if you choose not to walk.
What makes the Maya Museum of Cancun so very interesting is that beside the ruins, the museum showcases the art and other artifacts that ancient Mayans used on a daily basis. At this moment, most of the descriptions are in Spanish but eventually explanations in other languages will be added. In these exhibit rooms guests will find artifacts found at Chichen Itza and other archeological sites around the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. All in all guests can see over 350 artifacts of Mayan culture.
The second room is home to the exhibition of 14,000-year-old skeletal remains. Discovered in the last 12 years in Tulum’s underwater caves, these remnants offer important clues of the arrival of mankind to the American continent. The skeleton is situated in the floor and laid out as the tomb was discovered by explorers giving us a glimpse into the Mayans ideas about the after life.
Here guests will also see La Mujer de las Palmas or “The Woman of the Palms.” These remains were found in a cenote of the same name in 2002 near Tulum. It is estimated that this person lived 10,000 years ago during the ice age. Wildlife and stone tools of this time period are also displayed here.
The Maya Museum of Cancun gives parents and kids a real glimpse into the life of the ancient Mayans of the Yucatan Penisula. It is definitely a must see for all visitors to the area and highly recommended. It is more than worth the price of admission. It really brings the history of Meso-America to life for school age children as well as adults. Parents can easily take an hour or two away from the beach to turn vacation into a memorable educational trip for kids that will bring history books to life.