Located south of Playa del Carmen in Quintana Roo, you’ll find the ancient Mayab city of Xel-Ha. The site is most commonly believed to have been founded sometime before the first century, though a more specific date of building is still undetermined. Considered most active during the Classic and Postclassic times (200-900 AD and 900-1519 AD, respectfully), most of the city was rebuilt sometime in the late Postclassic era and it may not have been completely abandoned until well into the 19th century. In 1527 and 1528, the site had been invaded by Spanish forces and used as a base, though the expedition staged from this location would ultimately prove unsuccessful, as conquistador Francisco de Montejo (the Elder) and his men found their provisions to be insufficient for such an ambitious quest, and the inconsistent success of raids on neighboring Mayan settlements. Montejo’s lost fifty men in the first two months to disease, and another sixty five or so after a battle against the native Mayans.
Even those without a thirst for historical knowledge can at least appreciate the gorgeous scenery and fascinating Postclassic architecture.