If you are a reader of this blog, you know that I am a little bit obsessed with hiking. So, my first question when I am planning any trip is “what hiking can I do here?” In some countries, that question is harder to answer than others. And in the case of Mexico, I’ve found that the answer varies wildly depending on the state. When I was doing my pre-trip research, I was having some trouble finding much of anything on hiking in Quintana Roo. So, I had some doubt about finding trails in this Mexican state.

Now, after having returned from my trip, I wanted to put something together for anyone else who might be looking to get a sense for what hiking there is in Quintana Roo. I am not claiming that this guide is comprehensive, it is just the culmination of my own experience as a visiting hiker in the state.

This guide will give you some insight into the hikes I found while visiting the state, to inspire your own trip or give you a glimpse of Quintana Roo’s nature. (And if you know of any great trails in the state that I missed, please let me know!

What To Expect From Hiking in Quintana Roo 

hiking quintana roo

(c) ABR 2023

Overall, while I loved Quintana Roo and would honestly encourage anyone with a love and respect for Mexican culture to visit, it is not a top hiking destination in the country. In fact, I found very few opportunities to get out on the trail when I was there. That being said, there were some good trails in Quintana Roo, particularly if you are a little open minded about what “counts” as hiking.

Much of this Mexican state is very flat, so every trail that I did while here lacked almost any elevation gain. Also, many of the longest walks that I took while here were among ruins. So, some people might not count them as official hiking trails. But I do, and I think the immersion in the jungle and Quintana Roo’s history makes them unique and worthy paths.

hiking in quintana roo

(c) ABR 2023

Aside from the archeological zones, the biosphere reserves may also have trails, although I found that there weren’t as many as I would have expected in such large natural areas.

Due to the intensity of the tourism industry in this part of Mexico, a good chunk of hiking in Quintana Roo is also tucked away in “ecotourism” parks. This means that trails are often behind larger pay walls than you might find in the United States or New Zealand (as some examples).

Finally, if all else fails, consider the alternative outdoor activities that Quintana Roo has to offer.

Punta Sur on Isla Mujeres 

hiking in quintana roo

(c) ABR 2023

The little Isla Mujeres might not be at the top of your list when you are wondering “can you hike in Quintana Roo?”, but it shouldn’t be missed on your list. On the southern end of Isla Mujeres, at “Punta Sur,” is a small area of trails that weave their way across the rocky extremity of the island. Most of the park is a flat, stony area carpeted by coastal plants and colorful sculptures of Mayan goddesses and gods.

Along the cliffsides of the island, the trail curls down around the stone in places. These are the spots that will bring you close to the crystal, blue water of the ocean. In some places, you can even enter for a swim (although I thought it looked dangerous to do so). It was very enjoyable to walk down near the bright Caribbean Sea.

hiking in quintana roo

(c) ABR 2023

I think I maybe walked a mile or so here, so this isn’t a huge hiking destination. And you will probably spend about an hour exploring. However, I think the exceptional views of the crystalline ocean and the sculpted sea cliffs make it well worth the ticket price for this hiking in Quintana Roo.

In terms of getting here, this is the most challenging of the sites listed in this guide. That’s primarily because you will need to ride a ferry to Isla Mujeres, and rent a bike or golf cart to get to the south side of the island. And there is a ticket to enter, but this is a municipal park, not a tourism park, so I thought that the entrance fee wasn’t a budget breaker.

Ancient Roads in Coba Ruins

hiking in quintana roo

Copa (c) ABR 2023

Coba is the site of an ancient Mayan city that is nestled in the interior jungles of the state. While some folks might not count this as a hiking destination, but I do include this on the list of hiking in Quintana Roo for a couple of reasons. First, this is a huge site. I think I hiked 3-4 miles when I was exploring here. And second, the paths here was dirt and some of them are pretty wild, complete with giant tree roots.

In my opinion, while the main star of this show is, of course, the ruins, the trails through the verdant green forest add to the whole experience in a major way. So, yes, the roads of Coba are among the good trails in Quintana Roo as far as I am concerned! Don’t give them a miss.

I have a longer post on the Mayan ruins of Quintana Roo, so if you are looking for a longer discussion of what to expect when visiting, check that out.

Cozumel Sea Side Trails and Pilgrimages

hiking in quintana roo

(c) ABR 2023

Even though Cozumel is one of the biggest tourist spots in the world, it isn’t known for its hiking in Quintana Roo. At least not immediately.

But there are two spots on the island that I think will scratch your hiking itch.

The first is San Gervasio, which is the temple complex that sits in the middle of the island. This expansive Mayan temple was once a pilgrimage spot for people looking to seek the blessings of the goddess Ixchel. You can still walk the ancient, cobbled roads of the site now, and wander narrow trails through the forest here.

In Punta Sur, on the southern tip of Cozumel, there is a natural area that sits between Laguna Colombia and the ocean. There are loads of beach walks here, and official trails right off of Faro Celarain, the lighthouse there. Of the places that we hiked, this was unique among the good trails of Quintana Roo. That’s because the trails here twist their way through the more arid, coastal ecosystem, rather than the moody jungles. (That does NOT stop the mosquitos though! And actually, you will need to bring some serious mosquito repellent to explore comfortably on these trails).

You can learn more about both of these spots by checking out my guide to Cozumel.

Ecotourism at Akumel Monkey Sanctuary

hiking in quintana roo

(c) ABR 2023

There are many ecotourism destinations along the tourism coast of Quintana Roo. We settled on Akumel Monkey Sanctuary for our big ticket price because they seemed to have a lot of different things to do at their park. Aside from the rescue animals, the main draw for me was the long walk that we got to take through the caves at the park on a guided tour.

Of course, everyone talks about the Cenotes of Quintana Roo. These are formed by the cave systems that run under much of the state when their rooves cave in. At Akumel, you can explore the subterranean world of southern Mexico. And yes! I include this hiking in Quintana Roo, because while the cave wasn’t wild by any means, the path through this watery world was muddy, and sometimes twisting. The views were among my most favorite in the caves I have visited across the world. In my opinion, there is almost nothing more beautiful than a crystal-clear river running through a cave.

hiking in quintana roo

(c) ABR 2023

What’s also so special about the caves of Quintana Roo is that they are so interlinked with the jungle above them, that they are spectacularly alive. There are tree roots lining the cave walls and hanging into the earthen lakes. And small animals living the in dark waters.

Aside from the cave, the rescue was a fairly interesting thing to look at. Although, I cannot confirm anything about their operations.

If only for the cave tour, I think Akumel is worth the ticket price and a great way to explore on foot.

Disappointment in Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Ka’an

One place that I was really hoping to explore on foot was the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, but sadly, our stop there was mostly a huge disappointment. I talk about this a bit more in my discussion of Tulum, but aside from the trail in Muyil, we were never able to do anything other than drive down a dusty road with no view while visiting Sian Ka’an.

For that reason, I would suggest giving this park a pass if you are looking to hike. The drive out to the southern end of the park was, for me, draining, and not worth the price of entry. It was the one thing we were disappointed that we paid for while visiting.

Alternatives to Hiking in Quintana Roo: Kayaking in Bacalar

what to do in bacalar

(c) ABR 2023

Towards the southern end of Quintana Roo is the pueblo magico – Bacalar. This beautiful little town is situated right on the coast of the Bacalar Lagoon. Here, the water is typically calm, because it is shielded from the open ocean. And due to this, the water can take on a myriad of colors, from bright turquoise over the sandy bottom, to vibrant greens of aquatic forests, and even the reds and oranges of a perfectly reflected sunrise.

While there weren’t any good trails in Quintana Roo to be found here (as far as I saw) there is exceptional kayaking on the lake. We took a basically private tour with EcoTucan, which was not cheap but very much worth the price for the many hours on the water with knowledgeable guides.

For more details on Bacalar, check out my guide to the town.

Safety on the Trail

As always, it is your responsibility to stay safe while hiking. This guide is not a guarantee that these trails will be suitable for you, or safe on the day of your travel. Go safely and cautiously, and look out for your health and well-being.

That all being said, a couple of extra things to consider for hiking in Quintana Roo. First, the heat and humidity here is no joke. Together, they can be very dangerous. So, please make sure to stay hydrated and avoid hiking during the hottest parts of the day.

hiking in quintana roo

(c) ABR 2023

Second, most of the trails here go through the jungle, so mosquitos are a concern. Not just for comfort, but because they can carry diseases. So, be sure to pack some serious repellent. We found that your run of the mill, spray wasn’t super effective.

Also, please respect the rules for these good trails in Quintana Roo. It does get tiring to pay so many ticket prices, but people are trying to make a living and support the natural areas. So, budget for the trails and parks you’d like to see.

Thinking of Visiting Quintana Roo?

Be sure to check out some of my other guides to this beautiful, southern Mexican state. I’ve got the low-down on Tulum, and whether or not it is worth your time. I’ve explored my list of top Mayan ruins in Quintana Roo. What to do on Cozumel, and in Bacalar, and more!

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