One of the “must-do” activities when traveling Cozumel or the Riviera Maya is paying a visit to one of the many Mayan archaeological sites in the area. To this day, the most famous is definitely Chichen Itza; This vestige of massive temples and fascinating history is the 2nd most visited archaeological site in Mexico, just after the Teotihuacan Pyramids in Mexico City’s outskirts. Chichen Itza reopened its doors to travelers a few months ago, adapting all its health and safety protocols to our new normality.
For its many buildings like the Temple of Kukulkan -one of the most impressive pyramids globally – the Ball Game field, the Observatory, and more, this site attracts thousands of visitors from Cancun, Cozumel, and the Riviera Maya all year round. The site has something for everyone; from the history enthusiasts to young Instagrammers looking for the perfect photo, Chichen welcomes all kinds of travelers. Even the souvenir hunters have a blast in Chichen as there are many stands selling handicrafts, some of them offering authentic pieces of art.
You can say that visiting this vestige is one thing you must do at least once in your life; that’s why many travelers don’t mind taking a full day of their vacations in the Riviera Maya to make the 155 km trip to Chichen Itza. Is the trip worthy? Sure, it is an incredible place to visit; it is a World Heritage Site! Still, getting there can take up to 3 hours; Picture yourself spending 3 hours sitting on a bus or a van seeing nothing but trees just to get to Chichen Itza, then take the tour surrounded by thousands of people, and then going back for another 3 hours round of trees… Not cool, right? Well, that’s the sacrifice to the Mayan gods that most travelers do to get to Chichen Itza.
But you’re not like “most travelers,” right? You look forward to making the most of your vacations, and that means you’re not willing to spend your precious time on a boring bus when you can be sipping cocktails at the beach or spearfishing in Cozumel, or doing anything else! Don’t feel bad; I feel you!
Part of my job in the Riviera Maya is looking for fantastic experiences, unique adventures, and the most convenient ways to move around to recommend travelers from around the world, so I get to visit Chichen often. While I like the place and each time I try to focus on visiting different areas of the site, I’ve never liked the trip, though… until I had the chance to get on a plane to get to Chichen Itza… that’s when everything changed.
Getting to Chichen Itza in a brand new Cessna is definitely an experience I would recommend to all travelers. The view from above is simply stunning. It may contain lots of trees, too, but they all look like a soft green carpet on the ground, so beautiful. It is also possible to spot cenotes that are not even accessible with ground transportation, so you feel like a true explorer conquering the Mayan skies. Seeing the famous Magic Village of Valladolid was also a highlight of the adventure; I’ve been to the town several times but never thought it was so big! To contemplate all these landscapes and the magnificence of Mother Nature is a privilege you don’t get another way than flying.
It’s fair to say that Chichen Itza is a popular place, so it receives thousands of visitors daily, and most of the tours arrive at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a people person, but on this new normality, it’s better to keep our social distance and avoid crowded places, right? Well, this is only possible by getting there as soon as the doors open (around 8 am), and I don’t think anyone would like to get up at 4 am on vacation to get there early. At least I wouldn’t. So if I’m to pick what’s the best of the whole experience of flying to Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen on a private plane is definitely the time it takes to get there: only 30 minutes!
I got to the Playa del Carmen Airport at 7:15 am, took off at 7:30 am, and enter the archaeological site at 8: 15 am (it took 15 minutes to get from the Chichen Itza airport to the site). It’s a no-brainer! It felt like the place was open only for me! I had the chance to shoot very cool pics with almost no one in the background and didn’t have to struggle with the Mayan jungle’s hot weather. Oh yeah; If you visit after 10 am, it’s gonna be hot! Too hot if you ask me. Anyway, the experience was complete with a private guided tour by the one and only Mr. Tortuga, one of the most studied tourist guides I have ever meet. He conducted a fast, easy to understand explanation of the site’s highlights, and he even gave some tips on where to buy the best authentic local handicrafts. By the time we headed back to the entrance to make our way back, I could see the long lines of visitors that we’re just arriving at the entrance. 15 minutes later, I was in the air again, shooting some cool aerial photos. By 11 am I was already heading to the beach in Playa del Carmen for a day on the beach!
Honestly, I never thought of flying in a private plane to move around the Riviera Maya or get to Chichen Itza, but after this experience, I can’t think of getting to the site by car ever again. It may sound obvious, but I cannot stress enough the enormous differences of taking this alternative instead of the conventional ones.
Goin to Chichen Itza by plane is definitely your choice if you don’t want to miss touring one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, but also make the most of your time, avoid crowds, and enjoy a unique experience quite different from the vast array of tours available.
There are lots of fascinating places to discover in Cancun, Cozumel, and the Riviera Maya, all accessible by plane. Check them all and start planning your next adventure here!