Travesía Sagrada Maya

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Canoes arrived in Cozumel

The Travesía Sagrada Maya

Cozumel & The Sacred Crossing

The Sacred Mayan Journey, or the Travesía Sagrada Maya, takes place every year in mid-late May.  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 is the mainland home to the annual Mayan Travesía.  Xcaret’s website provides a great deal of information about the tradition, as well as the 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 – either at Xcaret in Playa del Carmen, or at Chankanaab Park in Cozumel.

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:

Mayan reenactment of Sacred Mayan Crossing
Ceremonial re-enactment of Sacred Mayan Crossing

How to Watch the Ceremony in Cozumel

The Sacred Mayan Crossing traditionally takes place in mid-late 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 2019!

Rachel

Rachel runs and writes CozInfo.com when she's not diving, taking underwater photos, or trying a new local restaurant. After decades of project managing some mighty fine exhibition design projects in NYC, she took an adult gap year to pursue her divemaster training in Cozumel...and never made it back.