Sacred Mayan Crossing annual reenactment in 2023 showing the fleet of traditional canoes being rowed by people in historic garb arriving to Chankanaab in Cozumel 2023

Cozumel History Comes Alive: Travesía Sagrada Maya

The Travesía Sagrada Maya in 2024

Cozumel & The Sacred Mayan Crossing

The Sacred Mayan Journey, or the Travesía Sagrada Maya, takes place every year in late May – typically the last Friday and Saturday in May (but always double check!). 

This is a wonderful event full of history and ceremony, though not often found in your Cozumel guidebooks!

The Sacred Crossing re-enacts an annual Mayan offering ritual, from pre-Hispanic times. 

According to legend, various goods were traded and gathered on the mainland market.

These tributes were then loaded into canoes for the yearly pilgrimage to the goddess Ixtel, located on Kuzumil, the Mayan word for today’s Cozumel Island.

Mainland Ceremony in Playa del Carmen

The cultural amusement park Xcaret in Playa del Carmen is the mainland home to the annual Mayan Travesía.

Xcaret has the best website about the tradition, as well as the up-to-date schedule of events taking place. 

If you are planning your trip to Cozumel in May, be sure to check on the current year’s dates and see if you can catch some of the action when the historic reenactment events take place right here on the shore of Cozumel’s Chankanaab Beach Park.

Reenactors in Mayan Sacred Crossing garb greeted by local gods at altar on the Cozumel beach at Chankanaab Park 2023. Image by author R. Schreck.
Sacred Mayan Crossing arrival to Cozumel 2023

Welcome the Mayan Travelers to Cozumel

After leaving Playa del Carmen, the participants in the Travesía row the traditional canoes all the way over to Cozumel’s Chankanaab Beach and Park

This journey can take many hours, depending on the weather and water conditions in Cozumel.

Once the reenactors arrive in Cozumel after the long row from Playa del Carmen, they disembark and the crowd can get a great chance to see their traditional garb, as well as the fascinating boats, up close. 

Here is an image from a previous year’s ceremony at Chankanaab:

Image showing the segment of the Mayan reenactment of Sacred Mayan Crossing as the canoeists paddle out of Chankanaab Beach Park in Cozumel starting their return journey to Xcaret in Playa del Carmen.
Ceremonial re-enactment of Sacred Mayan Crossing in Cozumel

How to Watch the Mayan Crossing Ceremony in Cozumel

The Sacred Mayan Crossing traditionally takes place on the last weekend in May, depending on lunar cycles (for the current year’s dates and schedule, the Xcaret website is the most accurate. 

The participants gather early on the mainland in Playa del Carmen a day before to get ready. 

Once prepared, they launch the canoes for the difficult crossing to Cozumel’s western shore.  The boats arrive at Chankanaab Park at approximately 1-2pm on the main day, though the exact timing is obviously difficult to pinpoint.

For that reason, spectators (and photographers!) in Cozumel should get to Chankanaab early! 

Best to make a day of it, and enjoy all of the park’s other features and attractions.  Then, witnessing the arrival and subsequent (informal) show of the participants and their Mayan garb, etc. is free with your regular park admission fees.

It’s a great day at the beach, and one of the coolest cultural happenings in Cozumel.  So whether you’re in Playa del Carmen or Cozumel in May,  don’t miss the Travesía Sagrada Maya!

Many reenactment canoes arrive to Cozumel's Chankanaab shore with palapas, palm trees, and blue skies in the background from 2023 event. Photo by author.
Mayan canoes safely arrive in Cozumel 2023

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