Exploring Riviera Maya Ruins

Exploring Riviera Maya Ruins

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When you think about exploring the Riviera Maya Ruins you will most likely think first to Chichen Itza, Tulum Ruins and Coba Ruins. I totally get it and I’ve personally been and love all three. But they all have one thing in common. They are full of people and pretty commercialized, especially Tulum. There are so many Tulum Mayan ruins tours and they all go to the same places and offer pretty much the same thing.

Off the Beaten Path Riviera Maya Ruins

In search of a more authentic experience for my Tulum ruins excursion, I contacted my good friends at Koox to do one of their cultural ground tours so I could see some Riviera Maya ruins that most tourists don’t get to see. Koox is one of my favorite tour companies as there company ethics as very aligned to my own and I love the authentic experiences they offer people.

Adventures in Mexico | Exploring Riviera Maya Ruins - El Naranjal & Cenote Choj Ha

Although they can take you to Coba and Chichen Itza, in all honesty, you can do those tours easily yourself if you don’t mind doing a bit of extra work. What I wanted was to go somewhere no one else would be going and to be shown around by a local person as my guide.

Koox offer 6 different ground tours to choose from including Las Coloradas Pink Lakes and Sian Ka’an two places high on my list!

What I love about their ground tours is that even if they take you to Chichen Itza or Coba they team it up with visiting somewhere other companies don’t go. For example, almost every tour company that takes you to Chichen Itza takes you to cenote Ik Kil. But not Koox, they take you to Cenote Oxman a much better option as you will likely have the cenote to yourself.

Visiting El Naranjal Archeological Site Tulum

As I have already visited Coba and Chichenitza Mayan Ruins we decided on a visit to El Naranjal and Cenote Choj Ha. Known as the Hidden Mayan Wonders Tour in you are interested in learning more about Mayan history and exploring a relatively unexcavated site with a local guide then I can’t recommend this tour enough.

Adventures in Mexico | Exploring Riviera Maya Ruins - El Naranjal & Cenote Choj Ha

Our group was the only one on-site and our local guide was full of fascinating stories and information about the site. At no point did I have to fight for a tourist-free photo, feel rushed, or feel unable to ask questions. It was the perfect Mayan Ruins tour for me. I wasn’t able to understand all of the local guide’s stories but that wasn’t an issue as the Koox tour guide was able to perfectly translate everything I didn’t understand into English for me.

Adventures in Mexico | Exploring Riviera Maya Ruins - El Naranjal & Cenote Choj Ha

The site itself is fascinating and pretty huge! There are secret cenotes and I even saw some baby monkeys playing in a tree.

Visiting Choj Ha Cenote

After exploring El Naranjal it was time to cool off in true Riviera Maya style… in a cenote! Cenote Choj Ha is actually pretty newly discovered, making now the perfect time to go before everyone finds out about this hidden gem.

At the cenote, there is a place to change and lockers to store your things. You will need to take a shower before entering the cenote. And please remember NO SUNSCREEN! It is undercover anyway so you won’t need it. All of the chemical products on your body wash off when entering the water and cause damage to the ecological system in the cenote. So please make sure you wash everything off in the shower.

Adventures in Mexico | Exploring Riviera Maya Ruins - El Naranjal & Cenote Choj Ha

I was amazed at how beautiful the cenote is. Unfortunately, it is pretty dark in there so I wasn’t able to really capture its beauty. But you can take a watch of this awesome video Koox made which gives you an idea. However, to really appreciate it, you need to see it for yourself!

Why do this Cultural Day Tour from Tulum

Personally, if you want an authentic Mayan experience there are three tours I would highly recommend, because of the interaction with local people and the authenticity of the whole experience.

Those tours are this one, their tour to Sian Ka’an and Aktun Chac-Mool and Villa Guadalupe. On all three of these tours, you will get to visit small Mayan communities in the Tulum area and explore Mayan ruins with them and their families before enjoying lunch with the family (not Sian Ka’an).

You will get to glimpse back in time as well as experience what life is like today for the Mayan people still living in the Yucatan Peninsular.

Adventures in Mexico | Exploring Riviera Maya Ruins - El Naranjal & Cenote Choj Ha

How to book a Cultural Tour in Tulum

This is the easy part! All booking can be done online via their website. Simply click here. They also have a handy chat feature in case you have any questions.

Final Thoughts

In all honesty, I don’t do a lot of organized ground tours. I don’t like crowds, I don’t like being rushed and I’m not a fan of paying for a tour I can easily do myself with a little bit of research and effort. But for me these tours are different and it just wouldn’t be possible to do them without a tour company.

If you are looking for an authentic cultural tour in Tulum then book one of these tours with Koox, you will not be disappointed.


Need somewhere to stay in Tulum?

I wrote a whole post to help you decide the best area in Tulum to stay with my recommendations depending on your budget. I also wrote a guide to my top boutique hotels in Tulum here.

Top Budget pick

Top Boutique Hotel pick

Top Money is No Object pick

Of click to read my guides to accommodation in Playa del Carmen and Cancun

Exploring Riviera Maya Ruins

Looking for things to do in the Riviera Maya?

Check out these articles:

Glamping in the Riviera Maya

Visiting Cenote Azul and Cenote Cristalino

The Complete Guide to Chichen Itza in Mexico

How to see the Mayan Ruins in Tulum

Visiting Coba Ruins

How to spend a weekend in Merida

Food Tour in Playa Del Carmen Review

Doing a cooking class in Tulum

Choosing a Scuba Diving Company in Playa Del Carmen

Scuba Diving in Cozumel

Scuba Diving in Puerto Morelos

Cenote Diving in Tulum 

This post was proofread by Grammarly


Book your trip now

Are you ready to book your trip?  To help you get the best deals and service here are the companies that I personally use to book all of my travel online. I always shop around before booking anything, but these are my tried and tested starting places.

  • Skyscanner – I’m a bit fan of Skyscanner, it is who I use to book all of my flights. I often will check other like Google Flights or Momodo, but I always go here first and it is who I book 99% of my flights with. 
  • Booking.com – I LOVE booking.com especially when I can book and cancel free up until a certain point, mostly because my plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections. 
  • Airbnb – I’m not a huge user of Airbnb, but sometimes I do like to use it, and I ALWAYS check it before I book anything else. You can get some really cool places to stay here, and it is especially good in places like Cuba. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
  • Hostelworld – If you are looking for hostels then this is a great place to check first. They often have additional places that you won’t find on Bookin.com.
  • Agoda – Although I don’t use it as much as booking.com, Agonda is especially good if you are traveling in Asia as they really do dominate there. 
  • Worldpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Worldpackers in your life. You can read more about it here. If you click this link to sign up and use the code CLAIRESITCHYFEET then you can get a 40% discount on your membership! 
  • Book a Way – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then bookaway.com is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and cars.
  • RentalCars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals. 
  • Welcome Pickups – Very occasionally getting from the airport to my accommodation is a total pain in the butt, or I’m traveling in a group and it makes sense to arrange a pickup. When I do I use Welcome pickups.
  • World Nomads – If you are looking for flexible travel insurance then it’s World Nomads all the way. I wrote all about insurance here if you want a more thorough review. 
  • SafetyWing – AsI’m a Digital Nomad and not moving around quite so much anymore I personally use SafetyWing now for my health insurance. I wrote a full review here
  • Viatour – Sometimes it can be a little expensive, but I like Viatour for somethings, especially if you can get a discount code! It’s also great for inspiration. 
  • Klook – If you are traveling in Asia, then Klook is great! You can book all kinds of tours, activities, and train tickets, plus they even have sim cards and WiFi.

Claire Summers

Dancer, producer, traveller, photographer, cake maker, dog lover and knitter of Christmas scarfs.

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