Flight. The feeling of freedom. The beauty of Cozumel Island as seen from the sky.
The other day I had the opportunity to join Leo and crew from Fly Cozumel for a day trip from Cozumel to Chichen Itza.
Combining the mesmerizing Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza — a New Seven Wonder of the World and UNESCO World Heritage Site — with a 45-minute scenic flight over the Yucatan Peninsula is not even bucket list.
Floating above Earth’s surface, watching the blue and green hues of the Caribbean Sea and the Riviera Maya jungle pass by in all their beautiful wonder, words truly don’t do justice to the breathtaking views.
Here’s what you can expect.
Shore Excursions in Cozumel to Chichen Itza
The cruise ship, which had made its way north from southernly Mahahual, a.k.a. Costa Maya, docked early in the morning.
Our co-flyers got off the ship a little after 8:00 a.m. and were picked up by the Fly Cozumel crew in front of the shopping mall just in from of the cruise liner’s docking port.
Once they left Norwegian Escape, they were taken the short 10-minute ride to the Cozumel International Airport, where Leo, myself, and Cesar the pilot awaited for a prompt departure.
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Ready for Take Off from Cozumel Airport
Once everyone was all together, we made our way to the runway where we boarded the stunning and modern 14-seater Cessna 208 Caravan.
On board and buckled up, the time came for take off.
And oh was it short, sweet, and spectacular.
Within a question of seconds and the mesmerizing hues began to appear before our eyes.
The white clouds and blue sky began to fusion with the mesmerizing blue hues of the Caribbean Sea and the colorful houses, white sand beaches, and verdant green jungle of Cozumel.
45-Minutes of Bliss
As we left behind Cozumel, it was only us between the heavens above and the sparkling sea below. Within minutes, however, Playa del Carmen began to appear on the horizon, passing below almost as quickly as it appeared.
The rest of the flight was over the expansive Yucatan jungle.
Depending on the route you can see cenotes, Mayan villages, towns, and even the Chichen Itza ruins themselves.
However, the flight paths are determined by the air controllers at the Chichen Itza airport, so it’s not always possible to see the Mayan ruins from the air.
In our case we didn’t, but following a short 10-minute taxi ride with the friendly Fly Cozumel driver Miguel, we stood before the entrance to one of the most important city states of the ancient Maya.
If we had gone by bus, we would have had to first take a 40-minute ferry ride to Playa del Carmen from Cozumel then make the 2.5 hour journey by bus to the ruins.
Not this time.
A Chichen Itza Tour with Mr. Turtle
From the very first greeting, you know you´re going to be in for a good time with Tortuga, a.k.a. Mr. Turtle.
From his facial features to the shape of his body and his gait, nobody could have come up with a better and more apt name for Tortuga.
On top of that, Turtle is funny, friendly, knowledgable, and entertaining.
As an expert at Chichen Itza tours, Mr. Turtle knows when and where to go at what time.
Because Fly Cozumel gets us in before the throngs of bussed in tourists from all over the Peninsula, we were able to beat the heat and the crowds.
However, Mr. Turtle still always managed to take us to spots where there were less people and more shade.
His explanations of the fascinating history of the Chichen Itza ruins proved to be as enlightening as they were enjoyable.
With 18 years of experience as a Chichen Itza guide, Mr. Tortuga knows his stuff.
After about 1.5 hours of seeing all the different buildings and learning the wonderful tales of the ancient Maya and their highly advanced civilization, we said goodbye to Tortuga and made our way to our next destination: lunch and a cenote.
Ik Kil Cenote & Restaurant
The next stop on our journey proved to be a welcome treat: a visit to the Ik Kil cenote and restaurant.
For those of you unfamiliar with cenotes, they are basically considered sinkholes in English. However, to just limit our understanding of these mystical bodies of water to that would be selling them way to short.
After all, cenotes are openings of the limestone bedrock which wears away over time, exposing underground rivers and flooded cave systems to the Earth’s surface.
While the exact number is still unknown, the cenotes are considered to form part of what has been recently designated as the Great Mayan Aquifer — likely one of the largest yet still unexplored freshwater aquifers on the entire planet.
The Ik Kil cenote is a bottleneck cenote, meaning that large walls of limestone bedrock extend up and over this body of water leaving a circular-opening at the top.
And yes, it´s just as stunning as it sounds.
Of course, we couldn’t´t have so much fun without a bite to eat. Luckily, the restaurant owned and operated by the Ik Kil cenote administrators offered up a tasty buffet of some regional Yucatecan cuisine. Nothing fancy, but it definitely hit the spot!
So is Cozumel to Chicen Itza worth it?
Yes. Most definitely.
The Chichen Itza tour from Cozumel is easily one of the best Cozumel shore excursions available.
Coming to the Mexican Caribbean and not visiting Chichen Itza would be like visiting Rome and not stopping by to say hello to the Pope at the Vatican or going to Paris and not taking a selfie with a silly beret in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Plus, this bucket list adventure brought to you by Fly Cozumel takes you to Chichen Itza and back well before you have to be back on the cruise ship to set sail from the beautiful port of Cozumel.
Give us a call, shoot us a mail or even send us a WhatsApp!
We´re sure you´ll love the views and the great company of our team!