To make it sound as appealing as the French Riviera, the Mayan Riviera is a name given to the exploding tourist destinations south of Cancun along the Mexican Caribbean coast. This includes Playa del Carmen, Tulum, now stretching to Mahahual and Bacalar obviously named after the Mayan Civilizations that used to inhabit this area centuries ago.
Being that this area is one of the last well documented parts of touristy Mexico (Playa del Carmen was a sleepy fishing village 25 years ago, now one of the fastest growing towns in the world) people are still discovering Mayan Ruins and Mayan archaeological sites on this coast. Some are already very well known. If you dont recognize it by name, you would certainly recognize it when you see the main building of Chichen Itza. You would also be in awe of the beauty of the Tulum ruins, but if you are in Cancun, staying on the hotel zone, and you feel removed from the culture, you can still see some Mayan Ruins! Funny enough, like an anomaly, there are remains of a small Mayan Civilization located right between all the resorts on the Cancun Hotel Zone. The name, is El Rey. El Rey, or The King, was the Spanish name given to these ruins located about 20 km from the north entrance to the hotel zone and about 13 km from the south entrance. As you pass all the massive hotels and resorts in Cancun, you will see malls, clubs, restaurants and all the hustle bustle touristy spots that Cancun is known for. As you keep going, the construction starts to slow and as you descend the only hill on the hotel zone past the Playa Delfines lookout, you will notice a big white sign saying El Rey on the right hand sign. Taking the R-1 bus from Cancun is an easy and cheap way to get to the ruins and the bus driver will halt at the spot right outside the entrance if you tell him when you get in.
My visit to El Rey Ruins on the Cancun Hotel Zone
El Rey ruins are not as spectacular as some others like Ek Balam, Chichen Itza, Tulum or even Coba but they are also some of the least visited ruins. I was there on a Sunday and apart from one couple from Mexico City, I was able to snap photos and take video without any interruption. It also adds to the beauty and the aura when you dont have people climbing up the buildings and snapping selfies.
A lot of the ruins are pretty worn away, and some of the walls are only a few feet high, but there are a couple temples or buildings that, even though worn away, stand about 15-20 feet high.
Travellers Tip: Put your camera away upon entering. For some reason they charge double, or even triple, if they see you have a camera. For what reason? Not sure. The cost in 2016 is only 50 pesos and is well worth it. You can see the whole ruins in less than an hour so bring your towel and take the stroll up the road to the gorgeous Mirador lookout at Playa Delfines beach after and make a day of it.