Why You Should Stop At Xelha Mayan Ruins

Xel Ha Ruins

Why You Should Stop at Xelha Mayan Ruins

Thousands of people pass right by Xelha ruins each day. Most have no idea that they are so close to ancient history. Why should you stop you might ask? True there are no large pyramids here and it has not been made a wonder of the world but here are some reasons to visit:

  • This is a peaceful spot where you will not find many people.
  • Relatively inexpensive activity to do and Mayan ruins to visit.
  • Xelha ruins are close to Playa Del Carmen and Tulum.
  • The site is larger than most people think. it goes back a ways and even has a cenote.
  • You can still see murals on some of the buildings. These murals are fading away and without more protection they risk being lost for future generations to see. Visiting these sites will let the government know that people want to see cultural sites and more preservation can be allocated.

History and back story of Xelha Mayan ruins

Xelha was one of the Mayan cities that dotted the coastline. The inlet that is nearby was a natural port for the merchants and pilgrims that made the crossing to Cozumel. Now this inlet is the Xelha Park.

This same inlet was used by the Spanish when they came on an expedition in 1527-28.

This coast city was used as a port city for Coba. It was mainly used from about 600AD-1100AD.

How best to see Xelha ruins

You will start from the parking lot where you will see a confusing map of the site. Follow the path parallel the highway until you get to this first photo. Make sure you walk around this building so you can see the murals.

Xel Ha Mayan Ruins in the Riviera Maya

Xel Ha Ruins
Here you can see some of the original murals on the interior walls.

After you have seen this building, you will continue in a clockwise circle through the ruins. Most of these are low lying strictures. When you come to the wide road below, follow this road, taking you deeper into the woods. At the end of this road, you will see a small trail on your left. Take this path to see the Jaguar Group of buildings and cenote.

XelHa Ruins
Murals inside the structure of beams in the Jaguar Group.

The cenote at Xelha ruins

On the back side of this Mayan ruins site, you will find a cenote. This is where you will find the Jaguar Group of buildings. The cenote is medium sized and very peaceful. The water is a little dark and it is not for swimming.

Xel Ha Ruins
This is the wide road that you walk down to see the cenote and rest of the ruins at Xelha.


Xelha Mayan Ruins
The cenote at Xelha ruins site.

Entrance cost to Xelha and facilities

The cost is 65 pesos for entrance. The price is marked off the board but currently 90 pesos is the price on INAH website. There will be one person that takes the money and gives you your ticket. Try to have exact change because they will not have a lot.

The hours are 8:00am-4:30pm daily. The last entrance has to get in by 4:30pm because they close at 5:00pm technically. Of course, you will want to get there earlier so you are not rushed.

Basic bathrooms are at the entrance. A small parking lot is available and free of charge. For more about Xelha ruins, see the official government website here

How to get to Xelha ruins

There are two ways you can get to these ruins:

  1. Drive yourself there. If you are driving from Tulum or Playa Del Carmen, the entrance to the Xelha ruins is easy to miss. There is only one sign and one small driveway into the site. The overhead bridge to Xelha with the fish flags is a nice marker. The entrance is just south of the bridge on the west side of the highway.
  2. Take the colectivos. If you take a colectivo from Tulum or from Playa Del Carmen, you can ask for Xelha ruins. You will have to check because 99.9% of the time when people say Xelha, they mean the eco park. If you are accidentally dropped off at the bridge where the entrance of Xelha is, you can walk south about 6 minutes and see the entrance. For how to take the colectivos see our article here.

To read about more Mayan ruins in the Riviera Maya and which ones might be good for you, see our guide here.

Have you been to Xelha ruins? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Xelha Ruins

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  1. I visited the Xel Ha ruins with a friend a few years ago, it was so worth the time! We were the only ones there and we had crazy experiences. First as we encountered a very angry, threatening pack/herd/cluster of Coti who noisily rushed us, they stayed in a large tree, but we definitely had a scare; didn’t know what they were, they look like a cross between monkeys and raccoons, it was like being in The Wizard of Oz. We turned left found some small ruins, looked around, felt a rather ghostly presence and were suddenly ambushed by thousands of mosquitos, crazy!! We ran and the skies opened up with heavy, straight down rain………….this got rid of the mosquitos, thank goodness, and cooled us off. The rain lessened into a light, lovely shower, so we wandered around, it was pretty cool, but we both think it was quite haunted, hair was standing up on our necks frequently. The ruins are small, the experience was very large, absolutely worth a visit. LJ from Colorado

  2. Sounds like an incredible adventure. 3 of us going in few weeks (we are also from Colorado). Where can we park a car? Is there a parking fee? What is the current entrance fee. I originally saw 45 pesos. Thanks for your help

    • There is free parking a the entrance of Xel Ha ruins. The price should still be the same since we just wrote this article about a month ago. We hope you enjoy seeing this small spot and get to enjoy it by yourselves.

  3. My husband, daughter and her S.O. visited two years ago. Fascinating ruins. We shared the ruins with only the lizards. The walk to the cenote was relaxing and short. We snorkeled the cenote. It was cloud but interesting. One of our most memorable days in Mexico.

  4. How long would you say it takes to visit these ruins? I want to go ( with colectivo ) to playa Xcacel first en heading back to Tulum get out of the colectivo to visit Xelha.

    • It can take about 25-40 minutes to walk around. Just take note of where the ruins are since they are not that visible from the highway. If you ask for Xel ha they will drop you at the bridge going to the Xel ha park.

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