Polé (Xcaret Archaeological Site) – Playa del Carmen, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

Polé (Xcaret Archaeological Site)

One of Mexico's least-visited archaeological sites is tucked away inside a theme park. 


Originally known as Polé, this Maya settlement had a similar history to that of nearby Xaman-Há. They were both seen as departure points for pilgrims on their way to the temples of the goddess Ixchel on the island of Cozumel. Polé had a population boom between 600-900 A.D. and, like Xaman-Há, reached its apogee during the Maya Postclassic period in the first half of the second millennium. 

The ruins of Polé now lie entirely within the grounds of the Xcaret theme park in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Its name comes from its foundation on the grounds of a ranch named Rancho Xcaret. For this reason, many thought these ruins were known as Xcaret. The park includes many attractions, such as underground rivers and animal enclosures. This has led to many visitors being unaware of the authentic Maya ruins nearby and yet others believing them to have been built as an attraction. 

Due to rules by the Mexican government regarding archaeological vestiges, the ruins have not been fully privatized. While entry to Xcaret park does allow visitors access to the sites of Polé’s ruins, it’s also possible to pay a separate entrance fee directly to the National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH) for visits to the ruins exclusively. Counting these entries alone as of 2019, Polé was considered Mexico’s second least-visited archaeological site. 

Know Before You Go

Entrance to Xcaret park includes access to the archaeological sites. Although ticket prices vary day to day, they are usually around MXN $2,000 for adults.

The archaeological sites can also be accessed separately by paying an MXN $75 fee at the INAH booth near the entrance to the park. This will include a guided tour, as access to all other areas of the park is not permitted with this entrance.

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