El Rey Ruins – Cancún, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

El Rey Ruins

A small collection of iguana-infested ruins hides amid Cancún's bustling hotel zone. 


When people visit Cancún, most head to the big ruins of the Yucatan such as Chichen Itza or Tulum. However, tucked away among the tourists spots, hotels, and beaches of Cancún are some equally interesting remnants of Maya civilization that provide a nice quiet retreat from all the tourists. There are also lots and lots of iguanas.

The El Rey ruins are located near the southern end of the Cancún island and thought to have been a royal retreat/playground. The site was originally used between 1250 to 1630. Its royal heritage and name are based on some remains found at the location that are thought to have been those of a king. The most prominent features are two small temples that were supposedly used as watchtowers and lighthouses.

Visitors to El Rey will also notice that there are a lot of iguanas. So many that the guard tells everyone who enters not to feed, pet, or bother them. You will see them everywhere, sunning themselves and acting as if the ruins belong to them.

Know Before You Go

El Rey is located near Boulevard Kukulkan Kilometer 19 (near the Playa Delfines and the Sheraton Cancun Resort. A cab from the Zona Hotelera will cost between $150 MXN and $200 MXN. Wear shoes or sandals that you don't mind getting wet and bring plenty of water as there are no services on this part of the island. The entry fee for El Rey is $50 MXN. Give way to the iguanas too.

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