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Best Mayan Ruins from Progresso or Cozumel?

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Can't speak to the Progresso area ruins, but the trip to Tulum was impressive. From debarking to a ferry in the middle of the sea, the bus ride through the countryside, and then the ruins themselves - right on the Caribbean Sea (exquisite), everything was just right. It was a full day, and to my sensibilities just right. It was hot and sunny, so be sure to take the necessary items (on on next trip in October I'll even be bringing an umbrella for sun protection) -

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I have yet to visit any Mayan ruins, however, I will be in Cozumel in a couple months, and can share with you why I picked the ruins I did. I had to decide between Tulum and Coba. I ended up picking Coba mainly because they still allow you to climb up the pyramid. I think the view from the top will be amazing! Plus, I like that those ruins are in the middle of the jungle. Seems more like the setting you would expect when thinking about Mayan ruins.


Of course, I will be going back to Cozumel in Nov of 2016, and plan on seeing Tulum then, since I have also heard that they are amazing. Anyway, good luck with your decision!

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If Maya ruins are your objective, you may not want to sail on the Triumph. We were going to sail on that ship from Galveston till we were told that no Carnival excursions were offered to the main land. We had previously visited Coba on a cruise line excursion and were so late that both the ferry and the ship had to wait for us.

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Last time we went the cruise offered an all-day excursion to Chichen Itza which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Well worth going to but bring your own food as the "lunch" that is provided is very small and not too tasty. Also, be aware that the weather is VERY warm. That being said, I would still go again!

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Looking for suggestions on the best Mayan ruins tours out of Progresso and/ or Cozumel. My wife and I will be on the Triumph in February and thought it might be fun to do something different than the usual beach drinking and shopping.



Since you are docking in Progresso, I would offer that visiting Chichen Itza is the way to go. It is a bus ride from the port, but probably no longer than the overall ferry/bus to Tulum.


I picked Chcichen Itza because it is a full capitol city and the ruins are in remarkable shape. It's pyramid, ball court and warrior statues are quite picture perfect, and you may be able to venture into a cenote in Chichen Itza, Tulum is indeed beautiful being a port on the sea, especially if you go down the steps to the beach.

Coba is nice, yes, you can climb the pyramid there, but some people may not want to because the steps are narrow, uneven and high.


So many ruins, it really is best to visit one site for at least a half day, and Chichen Itza with its many buildings, including astronomical landmarks and time keepers, will give you the best overview of Classical Mayan history.

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If your ship is docking in both Cozumel and progresso then I would make Progresso my day to visit ruins. Nothing else interested me there. We visited chichen itza there when you could still climb the pyramid. I would still recommend it even though you can't climb it.


We enjoyed tulum. It is beautiful right by the beach. But the actual ruins are so much better in chichen itza. Our cruise also offered uxmal tour. I would like to go there some day.

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When we docked in Progreso we chose the ruins at Uxmal. We had heard that they are more accessible than the ones at Chichen Itza, and the bus ride is about thirty minutes shorter. I can't say if that's actually true as I haven't done both. I'd like to do Chichen Itza on a future cruise.


I second what another poster said about bringing something to eat. The sack lunch they gave us was made with some sort of mystery meat so we passed. Luckily there was a nice little restaurant right there at the ruins, along with a courtyard area at the entrance with a few shops and places to get snacks and drinks.

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Your Options. We have been to Chichen Itza and Tulum. Tulum while on a cruise and again on a land trip and Chichen Itza while staying in Cancun for a week.


From Progresso

  • Dzibulchaltun - The closest ruins to Progresso, though of the three they are also the least spectacular.
  • Uxmal - A pretty close second to Chichen Itza from the grandeur standpoint. We haven't been, but you can still climb some of the ruins here, where at Chichen Itza you can't.
  • Chichen Itza - My far the biggest and grandest of them all. Considered by some to be one of the wonders of the world. They truely are spectacular, But they are very commercialized with a lot of vendors on side pushing their wares. As in Mexico, they can be a little agressive. But a polite, "no thank you" will do.


From Cozumel

  • Coba - These are in the jungle. I haven't been and can't speak much to them.
  • Tulum - A spectacular site set on the coast. The views are great and the beach fantastic. Though I don't know how good it is this year with the additional sea weed issues that they have been having this year. I have seen some pictures where there is a lot of sea week washed up on the beach this year. Tulum was so great that even after going there on a cruise excursion we ended up going back while staying in Cancun. There is so much more to do in Tulum besides the ruins, but you won't have time on a cruise stop. We were actually late getting back to the ship on this excursion, but they waited for our tour to return.

Edited by dioxide45
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We've been to Coba, Tulum, Chichen Itza and Uxmal. By far Uxmal was our favorite. Then Coba followed by Tulum and Chichen Itza.


We found both Chichen Itza and Tulum like outdoor museums - everything was roped off and inaccessible to climb. Both were very crowded and Chichen Itza was full of vendors and the super long bus ride meant there was little time to spend at the ruins.


Coba was amazing. It is very much still unexcavated and really primitive. The main pyramid is taller than El Castillo in Chichen Itza and you can still climb. It was a little intense making the climb but the view from the top was truly breathtaking. It was a workout though and not for the faint hearted.


Uxmal is the best of all worlds in our opinion...truly magnificent. The Grand Pyramid is still open for climbing and the panoramic view from the top of the entire site is really something to see. It isn't very crowded and the bus ride was quite a bit shorter so more time was available for the tour.


I think it really depends on what you are looking for - if it's an active trip I would definitely go for Uxmal or Coba.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I agree that Chichen Itza would be the best ruins to visit between the two ports. Cozumel has a more extensive excursion list with beach options,shopping,etc. but smaller ruins unless you take the ferry to the mainland to visit Tulum.

Tulum is in a beautiful location, but the ferry ride from Cozumel can be rough if you're prone to sea sickness.

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First of all, let me say I have been to Tulum, Coba (from Cozumel) and

Chicken Itza (from Progresso). We went to Progresso on a 5 day cruise specifically because it is simply too far from Cozumel. All three sites are worth a visit but unfortunately, all three sites cannot be conveniently visited from a single port. Costa Maya and Beliez are also worth a (several?) visit(s). Princess departure from Houston is indeed a sad day for those interested in Mayan Civilization. Carnival cuts corners to the point that visits to the mainland are not for the faint of heart.

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All the posters gave you some good information but on a cruise Dzibulchaltun is my choice for the first time visitor. It is small compared to the others but yet it is a great example of pre-columbian civilization. It is a short distance from the port, you can see it in a short time, and there are few vendors.

Edited by Purvis1231
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  • 5 months later...

The best ruins site on the peninsula, hands down, is Uxmal, which you must visit from Progreso if you are porting there. The quality of the reconstruction, the detail in the carved stone and the "lost city in the jungle feel" make this a far superior experience to Chichen Itza.


Chichen Itza is overrun by tourists, everything is roped off, there are vendors INSIDE the site hassling you at every step and occupying every shady spot and it's a half hour longer drive from Progreso. You will drive 2 hours to get there, and 2 hours back, leaving you 90 minutes approx to visit the site. With no stops on the way there or back.


Uxmal you can stop at an hacienda (former plantation) or perhaps a cenote. Or visit the Chocolate Museum across the highway from Uxmal.


No brainer.


Tulum is just the rocky skeleton of a city, nothing of any aesthetic beauty there at all, except for its unique location overlooking the sea.

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