According to the Chilam Balam of Chumayel, the territory of the current Quintana Roo was the first settlement of the
Itzáes that arrived from the south in the year 435 A.D. and inhabited Syancan Bakhalal (today Bacalar).
It is said that the great Señor Kukulkan (who carried the same name of the God of the wind) created the League of the
Mayapán Tribe that lasted during of the years 987 to 1185 A.D. The Mayan descendants in today’s state of Quintana
Roo were a part of this tribe. From that time there were a series of internal fights, and in 1461 nineteen chieftainships in
the peninsula of Yucatan were established. These were written down as in the state of Quintana Roo and named:
Cochuah, Chactemal (Chetumal), Cuzamil (Cozumel), Chohuac-Há, Tazes, Kupul and Ekab (in the north region of
The geographical area of the present day Puerto Morelos presents traces of settlements of the Mayan culture belonging
to the Chieftainship of Ekab, whose political influence covered from Cabo Catoche to Tulum.
This is demonstrated by structures located in the forest and along the coast, "Coxol" located 1 kilometer to the north of
the city, "The Altar" located in the botanical garden "Alfredo Barrier Marín", the "Mayan walls" that are found in a portion
in the mangrove swamp to the south of the city, and the "Pyramid of Muchil" near Punta Brava to the south of the city.
In the coastal zone of the city, two pre-Hispanic Mayan structures existed that were destroyed to utilize their rocks in the
construction of the lighthouse that was inclined by Hurricane Beulah in 1967. This leaning lighthouse is the current
emblem of Puerto Morelos.
Due to the fights between chieftainships the administrative and political conditions were quite weak. It is during this period
that the Spaniards discovered and later conquered the region. The conquest was not easy due to the natural conditions
and to the violent resistance on the part of the Maya. In 1526 Francisco of Montejo (father of "the advanced one") tried
continually to conquer the east of the peninsula of Yucatan, but he was not successful until 1540 when his son,
Francisco, and León "el Mozo" began a second campaign, against the existing chieftainships in Quintana I Roo,
Ekab was the first one in swearing obedience to the conqueror.
The governments of Yucatan never achieved the complete control of the natives of the east of the peninsula, who fought
for the restitution of its lands and to establish their own government. On July 30, 1847 in Tepich, the rebellion of the
Maya, Castes War exploded and would last more than 50 years, but the busy zone of what is now Puerto Morelos was not
In 1893, Mexico signs with Great Britain the final treaty of the Belize-Quintana Roo border (Mariscal Spencer Treaty), and
as a result Quintana Roo arose as a strategic region for Porfirio Díaz. The inexact nature of the border, motivated
President Porfirio Díaz to send the commander Othón P.White to that zone, with the purposes to enforce the dividing line,
to impede the traffic of weapons, to reinforce the military campaign of General Ignacio Bravo against the Mayan Indians
and seek the pacification of the zone. And at the same time achieve a permanent establishment for the Mexican
population (that had fled to Belize by the War of Castes) in the territory of Quintana I Roo.
The lighthouse inclined by the hurricane Beulah in 1967, is the symbol of Puerto Morelos, which in spite of being a small
population located between two large tourist developments recognized internationally (Cancun and Playa del Carmen)
has an older history than both.
Its modern history begins toward ends of the 19th century, in the year 1898 upon being founded the Colonizing Company
of the Oriental Coast of Yucatan. Due to the need to find an exit to the sea to export their products, the company ordered
their workers to open a path from the Hacienda de Santa María (today Leona Vicario) toward the southwest. Little by little
the workers arrived at the Caribbean Sea and named the settlement “Punta Corcho”, (Cork Point) establishing the first
families in a camp of very rudimentary huts.
In this path they laid rails of narrow gauge from 40 to 60 cm wide and they employed rail cars and platforms drawn by
The company also owned a steamboat that each month anchored in the Caribbean Sea. Since no dock existed at the
time, the timber and other forest products were thrown into the sea and in small launches the products were rescued and
hoisted by ropes made from agave to the ship. With the passing of time they built a storage building, a dock and wooden
buildings that gave birth to the population center that with the time would be called Puerto Morelos.
The products they extracted and exported from the forest were mahogany, chicle, vanilla, tobacco, cedar and cork.
Puerto Morelos continued its progress and became not only in the oldest natural port of Quintana Roo, but the most
important one in all the state.
It is around the year 1923 when mahogany loses demand in the international markets, but they established the company,
"Cologne Holy Maria" dedicated to the collection and exportation of chicle, and influencing the local economy by
establishing its collection warehouses in the port. Puerto Morelos in 1929 was a town with wooden houses, a dock, and a
single street to the coast with one store.
In 1936 by presidential resolution the Cooperative of Puerto Morelos is founded .The demarcation and physical
boundaries are delineated in 1944. In the census of 1950 a population of 80 inhabitants was reported.
With the maritime terminal of Puerto Morelos, during the 1970’s, hardwoods were extracted like chechén (Metopium
browne), to be sold to the federal government and to be destined to the construction and maintenance of railroad tracks.
The production of chicle declined drastically in 1980 due to the introduction of synthetic replacements, the low prices of
the world market, and to natural disasters as fires and hurricanes.
In the 70’s the National Fund of the Tourism (FONATUR) gave march to the creation of Cancun, and to the promotion of
the tourism. Puerto Morelos began a phase of economic and population growth characterized by the immigration of
people from diverse parts of the country and foreigners, creating a cosmopolitan environment. The forest areas were
colonized also with the legal boundaries of Port Morelos being located from two kilometers of the coast, to both sides of
the federal highway 307 Chetumal-Port Juárez
On October 2, 1975 there was published in the Diario Oficial de la Federación (Official Newspaper of the Federation), the
approval of an addition of 3.337 hectares for the town of Puerto Morelos, municipality of Cozumel, for the establishment
of public utilities, parks, markets, buildings, jails and other services.
Subsequently, on October 30, 1998, a new development plan for Puerto Morelos was approved by the municipality of
Benito Juárez (Quintana Roo) which enlarged the territorial extension to 5.440 hectares of the zone located to the east
and west of the federal highway 307, Chetumal-Puerto Juárez.
Until the year of 2002 Puerto Morelos was the most important point of collection and provision of the Island of Cozumel,
with ferries that covered the route in a time of three hours. This service was discontinues with the opening of the artificial
port of Calica (closer to Cozumel) as that route is covered in much less time.
On October 7, 2007 the entire city council of the municipality of Benito Juárez approved in an extraordinary session to
elevate Puerto Morelos to the category of Municipal Delegation to City Hall. (Delegación Municipal a Alcaldía)
Population of Puerto Morelos
Due to the environment geography of Puerto Morelos (mangrove swamps and coral reef), the human settlements have
remained divided along Federal Highway 307. The settlement located on the coast and to the east of the federal highway
is known as the "Puerto" or "Old Puerto Morelos". The settlement immediately to the east of the Federal Highway is
known as "Colonia Pescadores". The settlement to the west of the Federal Highway is known as " Colonia Joaquín Zetina
According to the results of the Census of the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and data processing (INEGI) of
2005; Port Morelos reported 1,097 inhabitants, while the Colonia Zetina Gasca, reported 6,629 inhabitants plus 108 more
located in the Zona Suburbana, for a total of 7.726 inhabitants.
Nevertheless new housing zones to the north and west of the Col0nia Zetina Gazca are in full population growth: The
zona urbana "Luis Donaldo Colosio", the division "Villas Morelos I, the division "Villas Morelos II", and the residential area
"Buccaneers". Due to these developments the population in October of 2007 was estimated to be more than 10.000
inhabitants, the motivation by which the city council of the municipality of Benito Juárez decided to elevate Port Morelos to
Municipal Delegation to City Hall status.
Historically the first settlers of Puerto Morelos were mostly, natives of Tuxpan, state of Veracruz. At the beginning of the
70’s there was a strong immigration of inhabitants of Chemax, state of Yucatan. Due to the tourist influx in the middle of
the 70’s and the early 80’s, the immigration was from all parts of the country and of the world.
Puerto Morelos History
©Copyright 2005-2012 Vivapuertomorelos Web Designer www.vivapuertomorelos.com All photos
on this site are copyrighted and use without permission of the photos' owner is prohibited