Cozumel is a beautiful island full of many things to see and do, my wife and I absolutely loved living there last summer. One of our favorite memories was traveling to see the ruins of San Gervasio in the center of the island.
We had a great time and definitely on the list of ruins I’d recommend, not necessarily because they’re big or the structure are large, but because of how unique the experience was.
To get the most out of San Gervasio there are a couple of things I would recommend keeping in mind while planning your trip.
Lots of Walking
This site was a pilgrimage for the mayan women that lived in the area to pay their respects to the goddess of fertility, voluntarily walking the distance to visit the temple to gain favor in the eyes of the divine. It’s perhaps because of this that each of the buildings are a fair distance from each other on the site.
You will be walking a good distance between locations. While you don’t have to be in great shape to do it, you definitely want good shoes, comfortable clothes, and to take breaks in the shade as often as needed.
Definitely Have Water
Because you’ll be walking so much and it is Mexico with an intense sun and humid climate you will be sweating a lot. Whatever amount of water you think you’ll need, add more. My wife and I each had a camelbak full of water and we were upturning the bladders for the last drops by the end of the experience.
While the market at the entrance does sell water they are a little pricey so I’d recommend bringing in your own. Even then it doesn’t hurt to have some cash on hand to get a bottle or two if you find you didn’t bring enough.
Stop To Enjoy the Scenery Between Destinations
While the ruins are definitely worth seeing, the spots between the ruins can be just as interesting. My mother and I were stopping every so often to comment on strange fauna, lizards, butterflies, flowers, birds, and all kinds of things we’d see.
The iguanas in particular can be one of the best parts of the experience. For whatever reason the area is lousy with iguanas and some people have been known to visit Cozumel and other nearby areas just to see the iguanas. Some of them can become really large and they’re not always skittish around people.
The coolest find by far was a coati that was foraging in the trees. We only saw it because we were taking our time to get to one of the sections of the ruins and on the lookout for wildlife like him. Had we been blitzing to the next stop on the map we’d have never seen it or scared it off long before we ever got close.
Take your time, slow down, and enjoy being in the outdoors of an exotic island.
Having said that, we quickly grew very irritated with the bugs, mosquitos in particular. The mosquitos and the gnats were terrible and it didn’t help that we didn’t have enough bug spray to fend them off. Because we sweat so much we had to apply more than once. We started with a full, large can of bug spray at the beginning of the hike and after re-applying multiple times on 3 people, it very quickly ran out. The best advice I can give you; listen for the swarms and steer clear.
We could have avoided a lot of the irritation and itchy bug bites by knowing what to expect. Again, the market sells these, but they are expensive and we didn’t realize we’d need it until we were too far in to turn around and go back.
I always have mixed feelings about guided tours, because I’ve had mixed results with them. Many times I felt like they were a waste of money as they take as long as the slowest person in the group, they’re only as interesting as the guide giving them, and sometimes the insights or knowledge you learn is simply regurgitated from the pamphlet or Wikipedia.
I have been on others though, like the Catacombs in Paris for instance, where I couldn’t have imagined going without a guided tour. So many interesting facts and personal insights from the guide that couldn’t be found anywhere else and the ability to see others in your group reacting to neat experiences that you personally might have overlooked or underappreciated.
For San Gervasio we didn’t go with a guide and I think that was okay. We liked being able to take breaks when we needed them and the ruins had enough info about them at the site or online that we learned a lot. Maybe we missed out on a few things without a guide and the person giving the tour might have been a lot of fun to hang out with, but my gut says this one is just fine to go self-guided.
San Gervasio is definitely a unique set of ruins to visit. It’s not the largest or prettiest set of ruins I’ve been to, but still worth the time and money to go see them. Just remember to take plenty of water, prepare for long walks, remember to keep an eye out for wildlife, take bug spray, and either do the research about the site beforehand or take a guide along for the experience.
Featured Image by Saúl Peláez S.
Author: Benjamin Baker
After serving abroad in a religious capacity for two years Ben has felt the pull to travel and explore ever since. This desire was further fueled by his wife Maddie and the two have traveled to many places over the last few years. Ben’s hope is that by sharing his knowledge and experiences obtained while traveling that others can improve their lives and the lives of others through travel. Check out additional articles written by Benjamin.