Mexico’s newest ecotourism area highlights natural scenic beauty and Mayan cultural experiences for travelers looking to immerse themselves in eco-friendly, sustainable activities. Maya Ka’an is a large swathe of central Quintana Roo, a state on Mexico’s Caribbean. It includes the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and Zona Maya, the traditional Mayan heartland. Local tour operators run the area’s touristic activities, aiming to keep the money in the community.

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“Travelers know and love Cancun, Tulum, Cozumel and Riviera Maya. Now they can learn about another side of the Mexican Caribbean in Maya Ka’an,” said Dario Flota Ocampo, director of Quintana Roo Tourism Board. “Maya Ka’an’s sustainable, off-the-grid status creates unparalleled experiences for travelers seeking true cultural immersion.” 

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man fishing in ocean
man kayaking in lagoon

Tourists familiar with the area have probably already visited Mayan ruins or dived into a cenote. The string of indigenous communities that make up Maya Ka’an offer activities for those who have been there, done that. For example, tourists can visit the Cave of the Hanging Serpents, where red and yellow rat snakes hang from the cave ceiling, waiting to snag bats in midair as they fly by. Travelers are also able to kayak the same lagoon Mayans once used as a commercial route. Bird watching, mountain biking and snorkeling are other active tour options.

view of Mayan beach
person snorkeling

Visitors interested in wellness can participate in a healing ceremony in the city of Felipe Carrillo Puerto (population 25,744). Health-related experiences here include an interpretive trail lined with medicinal plants, massage, Mayan dance and music, and a trip to the very hot local sweat lodge called a Temazcal.

aerial image of a small town center

Mayans have a long history of making chewing gum in chiclero camps. Travelers can learn about extracting chicle– the resin that makes gum chewable– from zapote and chicozapote trees. Other cultural and natural highlights include handmade rope demonstrations, stingless bees and the Caste War Museum– which documents 400 years of Mayan struggle against foreign attacks.

+Quintana Roo Tourism Board

Images via CIIC