FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Cancún Gets Cultural: 3 Places Beyond the Beach to Explore Mayan Art & History

by Elyse Glickman

Dec 19, 2023

© Elyse Glickman

Daily

Hotels and tour companies throughout Cancún offer excursions to the ruins of Tulum, Chichen Itza and Coba. While these daytrips nicely fill out a week or two-week visit to the Yucatan Peninsula resort town, those planning a shorter stay in Cancún will be happy to know there are several interesting places closer to town offering easy access to Mexican history and art. The following tell a compelling story of how civilizations and individuals defined the Yucatan Peninsula and continue to do so.

Museo de Maya

© Elyse Glickman

Mayam Museum of Cancún
The museum’s main building, designed by architect Alberto García Lascurain, houses one of the most significant archaeological collections covering Mayan and other Mexican civilizations. Pieces from the sites of Palenque, Chichén Itzá and Comalcalco civilizations can be found along the path leading to the main building. Three exhibition halls in the main building are dedicated to contemporary art, historical artifacts and other significant artifacts and artwork. The archaeological site of San Miguelito, running alongside the indoor museum, features lush tropical landscaping and stone foundations that held wooden and palm houses where families lived during the last years before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.

Museo Subacuático de Arte/The Cancún Underwater Museum of Art  
Inside National Marine Park, adjoining Cancún and Isla Mujeres, visitors can explore The Underwater Museum of Art, an unusual underwater museum opened in 2010. There are nearly 500 sculptures, most created by sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, alongside others created by five Mexican sculptors. Besides stirring conversation, the sculptures have a conservational purpose, providing areas for coral growth to create shelter for fish and other organisms.

The aquatic two-gallery museum can be navigated via diving, snorkeling or glass-bottom boat based on the water’s depth (2–10 feet) as well as water sports ability. The gallery at Punta Nizuc, located off the southern end of Cancún’s hotel zone, is best seen by snorkeling, while The Jungle Tour allows guests to drive their own boat through the canals of the Nichupté Lagoon alongside a bilingual guide. The other underwater gallery is located in Manchones, off the coast of Isla Mujeres, and ranges from 8 to 10 meters deep. Scuba diving is the preferred mode of viewing the sculptures, though a glass-bottom boat is a great way for people of all ages to get a view of The Underwater Museum of Art without getting wet.

Historic Cemetery, Cancun

© Elyse Glickman

Panteón Municipal de Isla Mujeres, Adolfo López Mateos S/N, Centro – Supmza. 001
The dead not only tell tales, but also do it in an eloquent way thanks to the artistic effort poured into monuments, tombs and murals by family and friends. Many gravestones are covered with carved angels and flowers, with the most elaborate and beautiful often decorating the graves of children. Hidden among them is the tomb of Fermín Mundaca de Marechaja, a 19th-century slave trader who thought of himself as a pirate and carved his own skull and crossbones. Ocean views and blue skies beautifully offset these enduring labors of love.

 

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