Culture, History, And Fun
Nothing wrong with poolside cocktails and beach-related fun, but would it hurt to sneak in a little culture along the way of your perfect trip to the Mexican Caribbean? Of course not. And with both millennials and families increasingly demanding a variety of cultural experiences as part of their travel itineraries, it goes without saying that getting your culture on should be part of your next getaway.
Nowhere is that more obvious than in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. The Yucatan Peninsula’s long and rich history makes it a playground for museums and historical reflection. But if you are picturing stuffy museums with climate-controlled offerings and bookish tour guides, think again. Check out these fun and cool offerings, which are as likely as to require scuba gear, as they are floor maps.
Mayans and Multi-Dimensions
3D Museum of Wonders (Playa del Carmen)
Step into this recently opened palace of optical illusions and whimsical wonderment, and you’ll fill your Instagram account with some of the most inventive selfies ever.
The museum hosts over 60 “pavement art” pieces where you actually step into author’s Kurt Wenner creations that, when viewed from the right angle, provide incredible visual scenarios. Admission is $30 for adults, $25 for kids 5 to 12, and there’s a 50% discount on Sundays.
Mayan Museum of Cancun (Cancun)
Back when the San Miguelito archeological site was discovered, the Mexican government did the only reasonable thing: build an impressive museum around it. The result spans almost 200 acres of exhibits that provide a thorough view of Mayan civilization and its relevance among pre-Columbian cultures. Open Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., admission is $3.50.
History Beneath the Surface
CEDAM – National Museum of Underwater Archeology (Puerto Aventuras)
Don’t be deceived by this small, unassuming museum: it packs a vast collection of artifacts extracted from historic shipwrecks around the area, and it’ll provide a well-deserved respite from all the sun soaked fun in Akumal. Best of all: Free admission!
MUSA – Underwater Museum of Art (Cancun, Isla Mujeres)
If you think air-conditioned museum halls are overrated, why not take things underwater? That’s right; get ready to take on MUSA’s collection of 500 submerged sculptures spread across the pristine subaquatic beauty of its two main sites.
You can take a tour on board a glass-bottom boat, do some snorkeling, or just dive in with your scuba gear. Just make sure your camera is waterproof! Prices may vary according to the type of tour you choose, so you’re better off contacting musamexico.org ahead of your visit.
Prehistoric Museum at Parque Dos Ojos (Tulum)
Here’s another modest museum that delivers plenty of bang for your buck. Nestled on top of a major system of subterranean rivers that feed the cenotes and other significant bodies of water, this interesting midway stop on the highway that connects Cancun and Tulum is dedicated to the archeological and anthropological vestiges of the Ice Age, with plenty of fossilized remains of prehistoric animals on display. Moreover, your guides may be the same scuba divers who uncovered these spectacular pieces, so you know you’re only getting the most accurate info from them. Open all week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., admission is $2.50.
The Island Museum (Cozumel)
After undergoing a major renovation, this carefully curated museum provides a truly comprehensive look at Cozumel, its surrounding waters, and the historical and contemporary relevance of the island, the place where Spanish explorers first came in contact with the indigenous Mexican tribes.
There’s plenty to see among four main halls, an area dedicated to Mayan culture, and the temporary exhibits. Opens Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., admission is $4.00 for adults, while kids under 8 get in for free.
Mexican Folk Art Museum (Xcaret)
You’ll get your fill of colorful Mexican folklore at this place, where you can truly grasp the variety and distinctive regional styles found within the entire country, thanks to the work of its expert craftsmen.
Visitors are particularly attracted by the huge collection of dolls inspired by the Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities. Admission is free, but make sure you bring some money for souvenirs. You won’t want to leave empty handed. Opens Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekends from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.