Playa del Carmen
Yaax Che Botanical Gardens
Rooted in Mayan mythology and established in 1982, these gardens were inspiration for the movie “Avatar” and display native Mayan plants. Surrounded by 150 acres of jungle and mangrove trees, it is the largest botanical garden in the Riviera Maya. You can hike the jungle trails and take pictures of numerous exotic trees, plants and flowers (the names are displayed in English, Spanish and Latin). You will see colorful birds, iguanas and spider monkeys. There is a 130 feet suspension bridge to walk and you can climb a scenic lookout tower where you will see a spectacular view of the mangrove forest, the sea and the jungle. There is a traditional Maya home (palapa) and a re-created chiclero camp. Chiclero camps were temporary camps set up where the sap of the chicle tree was boiled down and cast into blocks for transport out of the jungle. The gum from the chicle tree was the base for the “Chiclet’s” chewing gum brand. It is recommended that you wear long sleeves, pants and closed-toe shoes and bring bug repellant as there are lots of mosquitoes. The park is open Monday through Saturdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, November to April. Admission is $8.50 USD for adults, $4.25 for children and for an additional $12.50 per group a guided tour is available. Yaax Che Botanical Gardens is located near Puerto Morelos, about 30 minutes from Playa del Carmen.