Forget the ocean; when you come to Cancún and the Yucatán, the water you really need to swim in is in a “cenote”! What is that? Pronounced “sen-oh-tay,” It is an underground pool: a sinkhole where fresh water, which comes from the low-lying region’s many lakes and rivers, mixes with salt water from the sea. The ancient Mayans believed that cenotes were a direct link to the underworld. And in ancient times, human sacrifices may have been held at them. Now, however, these wonderful pools of blue-turquoise water have a much less menacing draw. They are a favorite spot – for locals and tourists alike – to plunge into the glowing, clear water and go for a swim. A trip to Cancún would not be complete without a stop at a cenote. Fortunately, these unreal geologic formations – not found anywhere else in the world – are more than commonplace on the Yucatán Peninsula. There are hundreds; but here are some of the best:
● Cenote Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) is awfully close to Tulum, and it is worth setting up a day trip to see both ruins and the pool together. At the cenote, you have the option to swim, snorkel, or just jump into the luxurious, tepid water. If you are licensed for scuba diving, that is an option too here – if you are not claustrophobic!
● Gran Cenote in Tulum is one of the best cenotes on the Yucatán Peninsula, though it is heavily trafficked. However, it includes all the amenities, and two swimming areas connected by a cave. In short, this visit to underwater stalagmites is well worth dealing with a few crowds.
● Cenote Suytun is one of the best cenotes to visit straight from Cancún – complete with a beautiful sunbeam that shines through the cave in the summer, giving this magical place the aura of an ancient Mayan sacrificial altar. Which – like many of its neighbors – it once was!
● Cenote Samula is a bit off the beach – and off the beaten path – near Valladolid. And while it may be necessary to hire a driver to get there, the stunning watering hole is well worth it. The contrast between the brown rock and perfect blue water is stunning, as light shimmers through the pool in colors you have probably never seen before.
● Cenote X’keken is in the same complex as Cenote Samula, and it is easy – and well worth it – to go to both. You will get one of the best views of the startlingly pure blue waters of a cenote, just beneath the jutting rocks of the jungle from which dangle a multitude of exposed roots. The colors are spectacular and Instagram-worthy, for sure – so make sure you are brought enough SD cards for your camera or phone!
● Cenote Angelita is not a touristy site. But if you are a diver, you will have the experience of a lifetime here. Rotting wood on the bottom of this 60m (200ft)-deep, vertical sinkhole collects into a greenish-black cloud of hydrogen sulphate that hangs at the point where saltwater and freshwater – because of their differing densities – refuse to merge. Above, it may be daylight, but dive under this cloud, and you are swimming in the dark.
Thank you for visiting the website and our blog. I love to research travel destinations and the fun things to do while there. I will use this blog to share the things I find interesting and helpful, the majority of the article will be by others. I will credit them and share a link to their work in the post here. I have been married to Mary since June 1999 we have four children and currently 4 dogs (3 St Bernards, and 1 Small Terrier, 1 Cat, 1 turtle
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