Exploring El Cedral – 7 Things to Do

The charming Cozumel village of El Cedral is home to an enchanting tale about the island’s history, as well as the presence of its untouched natural scenery.

This hidden gem, frequently overlooked among the busy tourism places, offers a distinctive mixture of the Mayan way of life, cultural wealth, and stunning nature.

Key Takeaways:

  • Explore the Mayan Ruins: A historic archaeological site housing ancient Mayan ruins, offering a glimpse into the Mayan civilization.
  • Attend the Festival de El Cedral: A vibrant cultural event held annually in late April, offering an opportunity to witness local traditions and immerse in the festivities.
  • Visit the Iglesia de San Miguel: A charming church built in the mid-19th century, offering a touch of spirituality and cultural significance.
  • Horseback Riding Excursions: Experience the natural beauty of El Cedral on guided tours through lush landscapes and hidden trails.
  • Experience the Traditional Mayan House (Casita Maya): A living representation of Mayan architecture, offering insights into the daily lives of the Mayan people.
  • Explore Cozumel’s Flora and Fauna: The area offers a lush backdrop of tropical flora and fauna, including vibrant bird species, colorful butterflies, and occasional iguanas.
  • Visit the nearby Cenote El Cedral: A refreshing freshwater sinkhole surrounded by jungle foliage.

Join us as we explore the allure of El Cedral, highlighting the activities and attractions that make this historic site a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

Location and Overview of El Cedral

El Cedral, located on Cozumel’s southwestern side, proudly boasts the title of the island’s oldest settlement.

This quaint village serves as a living testament to traditional Mayan life, standing in stark contrast to the lively tourist spots.

As you embark on your journey to El Cedral, the scenery transforms, unveiling a tranquil and authentic side of Cozumel.

List of 7 Things to Experiences in El Cedral

el cedral mayan ruins cozumel

1. Explore the Mayan Ruins:

Discover the fascinating Mayan Ruins in El Cedral, where you can explore the remains of an ancient civilization.

Walk among the stone buildings that have stood the test of time, each one telling a story of the people who once lived there.

  • Experience a sense of time travel to the Mayan civilization.
  • Explore the main temple-like structure, revealing ancient rituals and ceremonies.
  • Immerse yourself in the Mayan people’s history and culture.
  • Imagine life in the ancient structures, a testament to a thriving civilization.
  • A must-see for history and archaeology enthusiasts.

2. Attend the Festival de El Cedral:

If you plan your trip to line up with the Festival de El Cedral, which happens every year at the end of April, you’ll get to enjoy a lively and colorful cultural celebration.

  • This special event is all about honoring the history of the island with music, dancing, parades, and a lot of excitement in the air.
  • You’ll have the chance to see how the locals celebrate their traditions and really get into the spirit of the festival.

3. Visit the Iglesia de San Miguel:

When you go to the Iglesia de San Miguel in El Cedral, you will feel a sense of peace and spirituality.

This church may be small, but it has a big impact on the community.

Iglesia de San Miguel: A Historical Site

  • Constructed in the 1800s.
  • Simple yet beautiful architecture.
  • Offers a peaceful atmosphere for reflection.
  • Culturally significant for El Cedral residents.

Also Read: Chankanaab National Park: A Tropical Haven in Cozumel

4. Horseback Riding Excursions:

Explore the stunning scenery around El Cedral while riding on the back of a horse.

You’ll be led by a knowledgeable guide who will take you through beautiful green areas and secret paths, giving you a special view of the island.

  • Provides a peaceful, natural experience.
  • Allows unique perspective on the inland landscape.
  • Enables in-depth exploration of the area’s sights and sounds.
  • Creates lasting memories and connects with the environment.
el cedral ruins, Cenote cozumel

5. Traditional Mayan House (Casita Maya):

At the Casita Maya, you can see what a real Mayan house looks like. The house has a roof made of thatched leaves, just like the ones the Mayan people used to build.

Inside, you can learn all about how the Mayans lived every day, from what they wore to the tools they used and even how they cooked their food.

  • Displays traditional Mayan clothing and tools used in daily activities.
  • Provides insight into the plants and ingredients used in meals.
  • Offers a taste of traditional Mayan dishes.
  • Allows visitors to imagine living in a Mayan village surrounded by nature.
  • Offers a fascinating look at the history and heritage of the Mayan people.

6. Cozumel’s Flora and Fauna:

The area around El Cedral is full of beautiful plants and animals that you can see.

There are lots of different kinds of birds with bright colors, pretty butterflies, and sometimes you might even see an iguana hanging out in the sun.

  • Features diverse plants and trees, including colorful flowers and tall palm trees.
  • Potential sightings of cute animals like squirrels and rabbits.
  • Not just a place for old buildings and ruins, but also a showcase of Cozumel’s unique plants and animals.
  • Visitors are encouraged to appreciate the surrounding nature.

Also Read: Visit the 8 best beaches in Cozumel near the cruise port

7. Cenote El Cedral:

Even though it’s not exactly in El Cedral, you should definitely check out Cenote El Cedral nearby.

It’s a beautiful freshwater sinkhole that you won’t want to miss.

  • Crystal-clear water for refreshing swimming.
  • Lush jungle surrounding for peaceful atmosphere.
  • Ideal spot for unwinding and connecting with nature.
  • Fun time swimming in cool waters.

Practical Tips for Your El Cedral Visit

1. Plan Your Visit During the Festival:

If possible, plan your visit to coincide with the Festival de El Cedral to experience the vibrant cultural celebrations.

The festival usually takes place in late April and adds an extra layer of authenticity to your exploration.

2. Wear Comfortable Attire:

Given the potential for walking and exploring, wear comfortable clothing and sturdy shoes.

This ensures you can navigate the archaeological site and surrounding areas comfortably.

3. Embrace the Local Cuisine:

Take advantage of the opportunity to savor local flavors. Explore nearby eateries to indulge in traditional Mayan and Mexican cuisine.

This includes dishes prepared with authentic ingredients and cooking techniques.

4. Respect Cultural Sites:

While exploring the Mayan ruins, church, and cultural exhibits, remember to be respectful.

These sites hold historical and cultural significance, and responsible tourism ensures their preservation for future generations.

5. Engage with Locals:

El Cedral provides a unique chance to engage with the local community.

Take the time to converse with residents, learn about their traditions, and gain insights into daily life on the island.


El Cedral is an undiscovered treasure on Cozumel that provides a unique experience away from the typical tourist attractions.

Immerse yourself in the ancient ruins, cultural traditions, and incredible natural beauty that make this place so unique.

Feel the vibrant history of the Mayans as you explore the archaeological site, participate in the annual festival, or simply relax in the peaceful environment.

El Cedral is a place where time appears to stand still, allowing you to embrace authenticity and delve into the rich tapestry of Mayan heritage.

Make sure to include El Cedral in your Cozumel itinerary for a lifetime of memories.

FAQs about El Cedral Cozumel

  • What makes El Cedral a significant historical site in Cozumel?

    El Cedral is Cozumel’s oldest settlement, with ancient Mayan ruins that offer insights into the island’s rich history and cultural heritage.

  • Can visitors explore the Mayan ruins on their own, or is a guided tour recommended?

    While visitors can explore the Mayan ruins independently, a guided tour provides valuable insights into the history and significance of each structure.

  • When is the best time to visit El Cedral to experience the Festival de El Cedral?

    The Festival de El Cedral is held annually in late April, making this time ideal for a visit to witness vibrant cultural celebrations.

  • Are there opportunities for horseback riding excursions near El Cedral, and how can visitors partake in them?

    Yes, guided horseback riding excursions are available, providing a unique way to explore the natural beauty surrounding El Cedral. Visitors can inquire about these tours locally.

  • What can visitors expect to see at the Iglesia de San Miguel in El Cedral?

    The Iglesia de San Miguel, a mid-19th-century church, offers a serene space and showcases simple yet elegant architecture, adding a touch of spirituality to the visit.

  • Is the Cenote El Cedral directly within El Cedral, and how can visitors access it?

    While not directly within El Cedral, Cenote El Cedral is nearby. Visitors can access it by exploring the surrounding areas and enjoying a refreshing swim in this freshwater sinkhole.

  • What types of local cuisine can visitors experience around El Cedral?

    Around El Cedral, visitors can savor traditional Mayan and Mexican cuisine at local eateries, featuring authentic ingredients and cooking techniques.

  • Is photography allowed at the Mayan ruins and cultural exhibits in El Cedral?

    Yes, photography is typically allowed at the Mayan ruins and cultural exhibits. Visitors are encouraged to capture the beauty and historical significance of these sites.

  • How can visitors engage with the local community in El Cedral?

    Visitors can engage with the local community by striking up conversations with residents, learning about their traditions, and gaining insights into daily life on the island.

  • Are there any specific guidelines for respectful tourism at El Cedral’s cultural sites?

    Yes, visitors are encouraged to be respectful at cultural sites, including the Mayan ruins and church. Following guidelines ensures the preservation of these historically significant locations for future generations.

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