This Maya jungle settlement is home to about 200 people who still live in round thatch huts and pray to the gods for good crops. You can only visit on trips organized by Alltournative, an ecotour company based in Playa del Carmen. The "Cobá Maya Encounter" includes transportation, entrance to Cobá ruins, lunch, and Maya guides within Pac-Chen, which accepts no more than 120 visitors on any given day. Alltournative pays the villagers a monthly stipend to protect the land; this money has made the village self-sustaining, and has given the inhabitants an alternative to logging and hunting, which were their main means of livelihood before.
The half-day tour starts with a trek through the jungle to a cenote where you grab onto a harness and zip-line to the other side. Next is the Jaguar cenote, set deeper into the forest, where you must rappel down the cave-like sides into a cool underground lagoon. You'll eat lunch under an open-air palapa overlooking another lagoon, where canoes await. The food includes such Mayan dishes as grilled achiote (annatto seed) chicken, fresh tortillas, beans, and watermelon.
Cobá, Quintana Roo, 77740, Mexico