This blog post was updated on September 28, 2018.
Perched on the southeastern coast of Mexico in the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun is a beach and resort haven. Each year, tourists flock to Cancun’s shores to soak up the sand, sun and surf. With around 14 miles of white beaches, Cancun is largely a beach vacation destination. However, if you have had a little too much sun and need to head indoors or in Cancun’s case, underwater, there are a number of museums that will tempt you away from your beach towel. Don’t miss these museums on your next visit to the gateway to the Mayan world.
Museo Maya de Cancun: A good place to start in Cancun’s museum scene is the Museo Maya de Cancun. The museum showcases one of the most important and extensive collection of Maya artifacts in all of Mexico. While only a small portion of the museum’s collection is on display, you can see around 350 artifacts brought to the museum from several major Maya sites in the area. Visitors can expect to see ceramics, sculptures, stone carvings and jewelry at the museum. Opened in December of 2012, the museum sits conveniently in the Zona Hotelera right next to excavated ruins. The Museo Maya de Cancun also hosts temporary Maya-oriented exhibitions. The building was constructed to protect the prized Maya pieces from flooding and hurricanes.
San Miguelito Archaeological Site: While not technically a museum, the San Miguelito Archaeological Site offers more of a hands-on museum experience while in Cancun. Located right next to the Museo Maya de Cancun, the site is one of the newest in Cancun. It contains more than a dozen restored Maya buildings including houses, a palace and even an over 20-foot tall pyramid. The site was inhabited between 1250 and 1550, before the conquistadores rolled into town. The ticket price includes entry into the neighboring Museo Maya de Cancun.
The Cancun Underwater Museum: For a more unusual museum experience, you can take to the water to see over 460 statues and sculptures submerged in the sea. The Cancun Underwater Museum is located in the shallow waters of town, only accessible by diving, snorkeling or by way of a glass bottom boat tour. It is well worth the effort to reach. The museum is the project of English artist Jason de Caires Taylor. He wanted to create a museum in which the art could act as artificial reefs, supporting and attracting marine life and helping damaged coral reefs grow again.
Photo: Bruce Campbell