Located in the Costa Maya, just south of the Riviera Maya, Chacchoben, “The Place of Red Corn,” (in Spanish “Lugar de Maiz Colorado,”) is a largely restored Mayan site. Chacchoben has a mystical feel to it. The towering mahogany trees, enormous cohune palms, strangler figs, and banyan trees makes Chacchoben a special place. Unfortunately for many years Chacchoben, remained silent as evidence of the greatness of one of the most brilliant civilizations of the new world., the Mayans but today Chacchoben has become the most visited ruins site in Costa Maya, Mexico.
Costa Maya (the port specially constructed for cruiseships) is located on The Yucatán Peninsula (Spanish: Península de Yucatán), in southeastern Mexico, which separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico, with the northern coastline on the Yucatán Channel. The peninsula lies east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a northwestern geographic partition separating the region of Central America from the rest of North America.
The ruins site of Chacchoben takes its name from the village located a few miles away that has the same name. The most accepted translation of the name Chacchoben is “Place of Red Maize”. To this day no inscriptions referring to the original name of the site have been found, therefore it is officially called Chacchoben, the place of the red corn.
Fast Facts about Chacchoben
Chacchoben is a modern Mayan name given to the site. The original name is unknown. It covers an area of nearly 6 square kilometers though only portions are open to the public. The site and structures were found by a local Mayan family in 1946, an American archeologist reported the site to the Mexican government in 1972, and excavation started by INAH in 1994. Two groups of structures were opened for public viewing in 2002. Earliest human settlements in the area of Chacchoben are suspected to be 1000B.C. though evidence points only to 200 B.C. The evidence collected during the excavations suggests that the site was abandoned and reoccupied a few times with significant dates being 360 A.D. and 700 A.D. The site seems to have been abandoned around 1000A.D.
My Half-Day Trip to Chacchoben
It all started with me disembarking at Costa Maya which has been specially constructed for cruiseships to dock. The cruiseship docked around 8am. I had already planned to go onshore and take a local taxi to the Chacchoben Mayan ruins early enough to get back to Costa Maya by early afternoon or just after lunch. I usually eat all my meals onboard as its free for onboard guests unless you decided to dine in one of the cruiseship’s more exclusive restaurants.
So I got off and walked down (photo above) the pier heading towards Costa Maya alongwith many other onboard guests. Ive been to this port many a time so it was nothing new to me.
Upon reaching the main entrance to the newly constructed passenger shopping mall so to speak which is only open to cruiseship guests inclusive of crew I walked inside and took my time to browse the shops which are many. The prices aint too great and I think it was catering more for those ship guests than us poor crew.
After about 30 minutes I decided to take a leisurely walk to down to Mahahual which is the nearest enclave to the port complex. The day was great, bright and sunny and rather warm, but there again it is Mexico and the temperatures here though seasonal can get as hot as South East Asia though the level of humidity is not as high.
I started to head towards Mahahual from the rear exit to the port complex and it took me approximately twenty minutes to get there. Its a really small enclave and I wouldnt even class it as a hamlet, too few people around but a couple of quaint hotels for those who want something different and love the sea and water sports.
Before I made a 280 degree turn around to head to the taxi stand in the middle of Mahahual town I saw all along the beach to the left of this long path lots of nice huts where one can get a open-air massage costing around USD50. The weather was for sure great today so I bet alot of those ship guests have a ball of a time getting a relatively cheap body massage and relax in the warm tropical Mexican sun.
I looked at my watch and it was now around 10am, so I thought it best to head towards the nearest taxi stand in town and see if I was lucky enough to find a nice cabbie to drive me (to and fro) to the Chacchoben Maya Ruins. In Part Two, I finally arrive in Chacchoben and start my personal tour of this famous ruins site.
Watch This Space For Part II