El Castillo Real

Isla Cozumel

Down the same intimidating road that leads to Punta Molas are the large Maya ruins known as El Castillo Real (The Royal Castle). The archaeological site, as well as the Aguada Grande ruins a few kilometers' hike away, are both quite far gone, their significance having blown off into the breeze some time ago. Still, half the fun is in getting there, right?

Other island ruins include the temple at San Gervasio, which was erected by the Maya as a tribute to Ixchel, the moon goddess of fertility. Female pilgrims came here from all over the region to pay tribute. San Gervasio sits between San Miguel and the east coast, northeast of the Carretera Transversal.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Isla Cozumel attractions

1. Punta Molas

3.21 MILES

To reach the far northeast of the island you're best off heading out on an off-road tour to avoid getting stranded on the remote dirt road. The tour makes…

2. San Gervasio Ruins

7.41 MILES

This overpriced Maya complex is Cozumel’s only preserved ruin. It's thought to have been the location of the sanctuary of Ixchel, goddess of fertility,…

3. Sea Walls

13.48 MILES

Local and international artists backed by the PangeaSeed foundation created 36 large-scale public murals in 2015 to raise awareness about ocean…

4. El Cedral

20.14 MILES

This Maya ruin, a fertility temple, is the oldest on the island. It’s the size of a small house and has no ornamentation. El Cedral is thought to have…

5. Punta Bete

20.17 MILES

A rocky, reef-hugged point 65km south of Cancún, Punta Bete is reached by a dirt road that runs past a housing development and weaves 2.5km from Hwy 307 …

6. Punta Esmeralda

21.08 MILES

Emerald Point has become a favorite beach among Playa del Carmen locals, set on the northern edge of the city. Here, a shallow cenote provides a calm…

7. Quinta Avenida

21.99 MILES

Restaurants, bars, stores and craft stalls line a 2km stretch of this busy pedestrian thoroughfare.

8. Museo Frida Kahlo Riviera Maya

22.02 MILES

This 'museum' is mainly info about Kahlo rather than displays of her artwork. It's also small. But if you're looking for something to do on a non-beach…