There’s no denying that the Riviera Maya, spanning from the favored seashores of Cancun right down to Playa Del Carmen and all the best way to the beautiful white sands of Tulum, contains a few of the greatest sand and ocean views in continental North America.
What you might not notice is the Riviera Maya and Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula itself additionally comprise dense jungles and a few of the greatest cenotes you’ll discover anyplace on the planet.
What’s a cenote?
Since limestone bedrock could be discovered all throughout the Mayan Riviera, through the years many of those areas of porous rock have fashioned into underground rivers. These freshwater underground rivers normally type caverns of crystal clear water because the limestone filters and purifies the water naturally.
Ultimately, many of those caverns have collapsed and have opened themselves as much as the sky, able to be explored. These limestone sinkholes are referred to as cenotes and there are actually hundreds of them discovered throughout this Mexico area, with new ones nonetheless being discovered at this time within the Riviera Maya.
What this implies for you, is that irrespective of the place you go within the Mayan Riviera, you’ll probably discover one among these inviting cenotes to spend your day. Whether or not you’re there simply to swim, bounce off the encompassing cliffs and even there to go snorkelling and scuba diving in, cenotes provide a good way to discover the Riviera Maya’s hidden world away from the seaside.
Coming from the Mayan phrase “dzonot” or “tsonot,” which basically interprets to “effectively” in English, cenotes (pronounced “say-no-tays”) additionally maintain a historic worth to the area. The traditional Mayans realized that these massive wells may provide sufficient freshwater to maintain total villages and even bigger historic cities like Chichen Itza relied on cenotes to outlive.
A few of these swimming pools have been thought of sacred and every little thing from gold to jade to beautiful mom of pearl jewellery have been discovered through the years together with the bones from historic sacrifices the Mayans did to acquire a bountiful season. Whereas the sacred swimming pools stay closed and have been preserved, the remainder of the Riviera Maya’s cenotes are open for guests.
Varieties of Cenotes in Riviera Maya
There are basically 4 kinds of cenotes present in Riviera Maya. This contains open air cenotes, semi-open cenotes, cave or semi-closed cenotes and underground cenotes.
Open air cenotes are likely to resemble small ponds or lakes with the overwhelming majority of the water simply accessible. Although they’ll typically have steep sides, they’re pretty frequent to seek out and provide ease of entry vs the opposite cenote kinds. These are greatest for households as every little thing is inside web site and entry to the water is normally the simplest.
Semi-open cenotes are cenotes with rocky overhangs. Typically a very good portion of the cenote is taken into account open air with corners which are partially blocked from the sky. They have a tendency to characteristic darker areas which are enjoyable to discover with snorkeling gear. Typically they’re tremendous for households as effectively.
Cave cenotes are usually cenotes with a small gap resulting in the sky. It’s typically darker whereas swimming right here and also you typically have to take a ladder to get right down to the water itself. Not advisable for smaller youngsters, they most likely characteristic a few of the greatest excessive diving you’ll discover for those who’re an journey seeker.
Underground cenotes are precisely as they sound. These flooded cenotes are closed off from above and may solely be explored by scuba diving and normally solely with a educated information. Additionally solely advisable for knowledgeable cavers.
Why go to a cenote in Riviera Maya?
Whereas solar and sand make for an ideal trip, generally it’s good to take a look at one thing new. With cenotes discovered close to many of the main areas in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, getting to 1 typically solely takes a brief journey. Some are additionally adjoining to well-liked archive websites or make an ideal cease when visiting different areas of the peninsula.
So, if exploring crystal clear, freshwater swimming pools in a naturally fashioned limestone setting feels like an ideal day away from the salt and sand of the Mayan Riviera (it truly is), learn on as we check out the perfect cenotes in Riviera Maya.
Cenote Cristalino is likely one of the first cenotes our household ever explored in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Curiously, Cenote Cristalino can also be one of many first cenote posts we ever wrote on this web site again in 2010 so it nonetheless holds a particular place in our hearts.
Only a stones throw away from Playa Del Carmen (10 km south of Playacar correct) and a straightforward Taxi Riviera Maya experience to get there, it’s not as well-liked as a few of the greater cenotes on this checklist nonetheless we’ve all the time loved the occasions we’ve visited it. Virtually throughout the highway from Barcelo Maya Seashore All Inclusive, it’s few open clear water swimming pools full with nibbling minnows make it an inviting cenote to go to.
It’s additionally much less touristy than lots of this checklist as the realm is much less developed. The final time we have been there a couple of years in the past, it additionally hadn’t been purchased out by a much bigger firm so it nonetheless maintains a country appeal. You will discover a spot to purchase snacks and altering rooms exist on web site. There’s a small each day charge to get in.
Cenote Azul is a pleasant open cenote that appeals to households and people searching for a soothing time out. Its shallow areas are excellent for kids, whereas deeper sections fulfill snorkelers and people eager to swim a couple of laps. The encircling rock formations provide spots to leap from for the extra adventurous guests.
Strolling distance from Cenote Cristalino, it gives extra companies comparable to showers and restrooms. There’s a small charge to make use of the companies there nonetheless it’s solely a ten minute experience from Playa Del Carmen so makes for a straightforward getaway for those who’re staying within the area.
Cenote Dos Ojos
One of the well-known cenotes within the Yucatan Peninsula, Cenote Dos Ojos, or “Two Eyes Cenote,” boasts two linked sinkholes resembling a pair of eyes. Its crystal-clear waters and intensive underwater cave system make it a paradise for snorkelers and particularly divers because it options an pretty intensive labyrinth of flooded caves to discover. The sunshine filtering by way of the openings additionally creates a magical ambiance, excellent for underwater images.
The day we went to Cenote Dos Ojos, we noticed many extra divers than swimmers. For the reason that water on this luminescent blue cenote could be fairly deep, it’s positively not geared in direction of youthful households although ours have been tremendous with the lifejackets we introduced that day and the cave portion is kind of cool to see.
Geared extra in direction of divers that swimmers, there are altering rooms, bogs, lockers for lease and even a restaurant on web site. Cenote Dos Ojos could be discovered roughly 22km (13 miles) north of Tulum on Carretera 307.
A brief 10 min drive from Tulum correct up QROO 109, Gran Cenote is a semi-open cenote surrounded by lush vegetation. Its clear, turquoise waters are house to turtles and small fish, making it a great spot for snorkeling. Quite a few picket platforms and stairs present easy accessibility for swimming and absorbing the serene great thing about this pure pool.
Whereas it’s a lot quieter than Doj Ojos, Gran Cenote is a little more pleasant in direction of households and is a fast journey from Tulum. There are open caves you’ll be able to simply swim into and plenty of the cenote bottoms have sand you’ll be able to stand on. When you can’t keep proper by the water, you’ll be able to unfold out above the cenote space. Because the identify implies, Gran Cenote itself is kind of massive.
One of many largest attracts to Gran Cenote in Maya Riviera are the turtles and the brief distance to Tulum. There are showers, bogs, lockers and even hammocks you should utilize. Day charges at Gran Cenote are across the 200 peso vary.
Cenote Zacil Ha
Simply down the highway from Gran Cenote, Cenote Zacil Ha is one other cenote favourite for these staying Tulum. Cenote Zacil Ha contains a very open air feeling and even features a small zipline you should utilize to get into the lengthy pool.
Cenote Zacil Ha makes an ideal (and low-cost) refreshing cease when coming back from the favored Coba archeological web site. At below 100 pesos, it options bogs and altering rooms.
One other cenote near Tulum and only a few hundred meters from Cenote Zacil Ha, Cenote Aktun-Ha (“water cave”) is a really massive open air cenote in Riviera Maya. It additionally nicknamed Cenote Carwash because the native taxi drivers used to make use of the water to scrub their autos.
With loads of turtles and fish within the cenote, it has a most depth of round 18m or 60ft so that you’ll see the occasional diver down under as effectively. There are restrooms, altering rooms and platforms you should utilize to entry the water. It additionally contains a 10ft (3M) diving platform
Cenote Ik Kil
Positioned close to the very cool and well-liked Chichén Itzá, Cenote Ik Kil is an open-air cenote with dramatic vine-covered cliffs and cascading waterfalls. The round form of this cenote and the hanging roots reaching down in direction of the water floor create a mystical vibe.
It’s a well-liked spot, so contemplate visiting early within the morning to keep away from crowds or keep for a couple of days at one of many cabins on web site. Cenote Ik Kil contains bogs, change rooms and even has a restaurant on web site. Costs are in 100 Peso vary for adults and 50 Peso for kids.
Whereas not in Riviera Maya itself, positioned within the coronary heart of Valladolid, Cenote Zací is a semi-open cenote that provides a handy break from metropolis exploration. Its large open cave contains a small island with lush vegetation within the heart, and its waters are house to uncommon eyeless black fish. The on-site restaurant supplies a singular eating expertise with views of the cenote.
Positioned between Cancun and Chichen Itza, Cenote Zaci can also be an ideal cease for those who’re exploring the ruins that day and wish to cool off earlier than driving the remainder of the best way again to Cancun. Although the waters on this cenote aren’t the clearest, swimming within the big cavern of Cenote Zaci is an unforgettable expertise. It has bogs, altering rooms and a restaurant on web site. Costs are round 60 pesos for adults and 30 pesos for kids.
Cenote Escondido (Mayan Blue) and Cenote Cristal
Cenote Escondido, nicknamed Mayan Blue by the locals, and Cenote Cristal are each massive, open-air cenotes near Tulum. Each characteristic jungle settings in addition to have cliff leaping (12ft or 4m) and a rope swing.
These 2 cenotes are each owned by the identical firm and are proper subsequent to one another. Each provide ample parking, bogs, showers and altering rooms. Every cenote prices 150 Pesos as an entry charge. If having to determine between one or the opposite, most individuals suggest Cenote Escondido over Cenote Cristal. With extra space to discover, Cenote Escondido is larger, and virtually feels such as you’re swimming in a river than a typical cenote.
Ideas for Visiting Cenotes in Riviera Maya
Convey Eco-Pleasant Sunscreen: To guard the fragile ecosystem of the cenotes, use biodegradable sunscreen nonetheless observe that many cenote house owners strongly discourage any sunscreen in any respect to attenuate the impression lotions have on the system.Put on Water Footwear: Many cenotes have rocky bottoms, so water sneakers will help shield your toes.Convey Masks and Snorkel: Whereas many websites provide snorkel leases, the standard could be suspect and paying for every use can add up over time. Higher to deliver your personal and, if house is tight in your bag, depart the flippers at house and simply deliver alongside your masks and snorkel.Respect the Setting: Maintain the cenotes clear by not leaving any trash behind. Every cenote is a pure wonderland full with a fragile ecosystem. Ensure that to attenuate your footprint when visiting.Examine for Entrance Charges: Most cenotes cost an entrance charge, which is used for upkeep and preservation. Be sure to don’t get scammed: The most costly cenotes cost as much as 150 pesos for an grownup however many cost solely 50 or 60 per individual.Go away valuables at house: Small theft round sure cenotes is an issue. Go away your valuables on the resort or lease a locker on web site when you’ve got stuff you don’t need strolling away.Further prices for cameras and drones: Just a few corporations have realized they’ll have an upcharge for individuals bringing in expensive cameras and drones and have determined to cost additional for it. Relying on the cenote, the prices can equal the doorway charge. When you don’t want it, depart it behind.
Whether or not you’re an avid cave diver, a snorkeling fanatic, a cliff jumper or just searching for a picturesque spot to loosen up, the cenotes of the Riviera Maya provide one thing for everybody. Every cenote has its distinctive appeal, inviting guests to discover the hidden treasures of the Yucatan’s underground world.
With one thing distinctive to see at every cenote, from stalactites and stalagmites to colourful turtles and much more colourful fish, you’ll by no means get an opportunity to expertise such a big array of cenotes anyplace else on the planet.
We’ve written dozens of articles about Mexico through the years and sometimes contemplate the Riviera Maya and Playa Del Carmen to be our second house.