El Rey Archaeological Zone in Cancun contains the excavated ruins of a pre-Columbian Mayan settlement. Located in the southern part of Cancun’s Hotel Zone, El Rey sits between the Iberostar Golf Club Cancun and Delfines Beach. Its location is not far from the shore, making the ruins an especially picturesque place to visit on holidays to Cancun. El Rey is a slightly smaller archaeological site compared to some others in the region, but it maintains an important role in the history of Cancun Island.

This historic archaeological site appeals to visitors of all ages, with a fairly flat landscape and natural unpaved paths. Visitors often spend about an hour exploring the site, with its combination of ruins, historical information, and wildlife. El Rey Archaeological Zone is open from 8 am until 5 pm daily, with last access at 4:30 pm, so it’s best to visit earlier in the day.

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What are the highlights of El Rey Archaeological Zone?

Cancun’s El Rey Archaeological Zone appeals to visitors as a less-trafficked pre-Columbian Mayan cultural site. With a collection of nearly 50 buildings and ruins, the site contains some impressive examples of period architecture and history. A visitor favourite is the pyramid temple in El Rey, with its stone columns and a large tiered design. Larger ruins on the site are believed to be former meeting spaces, with sweeping gallery spaces and columns that once supported flat roofs.

El Rey Archaeological Zone is far less trafficked than some of the larger Mayan sites in Cancun, making this a favoured spot for families and those who want to escape the crowds. The entry price is also far less expensive compared to other archaeological sites, so it’s a budget-friendly stop for anyone visiting Cancun.

What is the history of El Rey Archaeological Zone in Cancun?

El Rey, or “The King”, takes its name from a sculpture observed by early explorers of the archaeological site, interpreted to be the figure of a ruler or noble person. The settlement’s original Mayan name is unknown. Though this site originated as a small settlement, it grew to be a prosperous and large town between 1300-1500 AD in the late Postclassic period.

El Rey Archaeological Zone is believed to have been a town that centred around maritime and fishing trades and activities, along with the nearby San Miguelito site. The town also served as a port of trade along the larger coastal commercial network on the Caribbean coast. During the 16th-century Spanish conquest, the El Rey Mayan settlement became uninhabited.

Good to know when visiting Cancun’s El Rey Archaeological Zone

Visitors can reach El Rey Archaeological Zone easily via Cancun’s bus routes or by car. The site also maintains a small car park. Be sure to bring water, sun cream, and repellent on your visit to El Rey, and it’s recommended to wear a hat and comfortable walking shoes.

Directly across the street from El Rey Archaeological Zone is one of Cancun’s hidden gems, Delfines Beach. This less-trafficked beach offers soft white sand and clear turquoise waters, with far fewer people than some of Cancun’s most popular beaches. Delfines Beach also has a number of shady thatch umbrellas, free to use by beachgoers, and public bathrooms. Be sure to keep an eye out for the beach’s namesake dolphins offshore, as well as native iguanas wandering the shores.

El Rey Archaeological Zone in Cancun

Location: Hotel Zone, 77500 Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Open: Daily from 8 am to 5 pm

Phone: +52 983-837-2411