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, consists of a few of the finest sand and ocean views in continental North America.
What chances are you’ll not understand is the Riviera Maya and Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula itself additionally include dense jungles and a few of the finest cenotes you’ll discover anyplace on this 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 shaped 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 known as cenotes and there are actually 1000’s of them discovered throughout this Mexico area, with new ones nonetheless being discovered at present 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 certainly one of these inviting cenotes to spend your day. Whether or not you’re there simply to swim, soar off the encircling 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 seashore.
Coming from the Mayan phrase “dzonot” or “tsonot,” which basically interprets to “nicely” 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 had 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 obtain 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.
Sorts of Cenotes in Riviera Maya
There are basically 4 sorts of cenotes present in Riviera Maya. This consists of 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 will usually have steep sides, they’re pretty frequent to search out and provide ease of entry vs the opposite cenote kinds. These are finest for households as every little thing is inside web site and entry to the water is normally the best.
Semi-open cenotes are cenotes with rocky overhangs. Usually a superb portion of the cenote is taken into account open air with corners which might be partially blocked from the sky. They have a tendency to characteristic darker areas which might be enjoyable to discover with snorkeling gear. Typically they’re fantastic for households as nicely.
Cave cenotes are sometimes cenotes with a small gap resulting in the sky. It’s usually darker whereas swimming right here and also you usually must take a ladder to get right down to the water itself. Not beneficial for smaller youngsters, they in all probability characteristic a few of the finest excessive diving you’ll discover if you happen to’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 beneficial for knowledgeable cavers.
Why go to a cenote in Riviera Maya?
Whereas solar and sand make for an amazing trip, typically 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 at least one usually solely takes a brief journey. Some are additionally adjoining to fashionable archive websites or make an amazing cease when visiting different areas of the peninsula.
So, if exploring crystal clear, freshwater swimming pools in a naturally shaped 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 one of the best cenotes in Riviera Maya.
Cenote Cristalino is among 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 trip to get there, it’s not as fashionable as a few of the larger cenotes on this listing nevertheless we’ve at all times loved the instances we’ve visited it. Virtually throughout the street 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 listing as the world is much less developed. The final time we had 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 could find a spot to purchase snacks and altering rooms exist on web site. There’s a small day by day charge to get in.
Cenote Azul is a pleasant open cenote that appeals to households and people in search of a calming day trip. Its shallow areas are good for youngsters, whereas deeper sections fulfill snorkelers and people eager to swim a couple of laps. The encompassing rock formations provide spots to leap from for the extra adventurous guests.
Strolling distance from Cenote Cristalino, it presents extra companies reminiscent of showers and restrooms. There’s a small charge to make use of the companies there nevertheless it’s solely a ten minute trip from Playa Del Carmen so makes for a straightforward getaway if you happen to’re staying within the area.
Cenote Dos Ojos
Some 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 environment, good for underwater pictures.
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 the direction of youthful households although ours had been fantastic with the lifejackets we introduced that day and the cave portion is sort of cool to see.
Geared extra in the direction of divers that swimmers, there are altering rooms, loos, lockers for hire 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 dwelling to turtles and small fish, making it a great place for snorkeling. Quite a few wood 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 the direction of households and is a fast journey from Tulum. There are open caves you’ll be able to simply swim into and many 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 title implies, Gran Cenote itself is sort of massive.
One of many greatest attracts to Gran Cenote in Maya Riviera are the turtles and the brief distance to Tulum. There are showers, loos, lockers and even hammocks you should utilize. Day charges at Gran Cenote are across the 200 peso vary.
Cenote Zacil Ha
Simply down the street from Gran Cenote, Cenote Zacil Ha is one other cenote favourite for these staying Tulum. Cenote Zacil Ha incorporates 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 amazing (and low-cost) refreshing cease when coming back from the favored Coba archeological web site. At beneath 100 pesos, it options loos 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 automobiles.
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 beneath as nicely. There are restrooms, altering rooms and platforms you should utilize to entry the water. It additionally incorporates a 10ft (3M) diving platform
Cenote Ik Kil
Situated close to the very cool and fashionable 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 the direction of the water floor create a mystical vibe.
It’s a preferred 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 consists of loos, change rooms and even has a restaurant on web site. Costs are in 100 Peso vary for adults and 50 Peso for youngsters.
Whereas not in Riviera Maya itself, situated within the coronary heart of Valladolid, Cenote Zací is a semi-open cenote that provides a handy break from metropolis exploration. Its huge open cave incorporates a small island with lush vegetation within the middle, and its waters are dwelling to uncommon eyeless black fish. The on-site restaurant gives a novel eating expertise with views of the cenote.
Situated between Cancun and Chichen Itza, Cenote Zaci can also be an amazing cease if you happen to’re exploring the ruins that day and need 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 loos, altering rooms and a restaurant on web site. Costs are round 60 pesos for adults and 30 pesos for youngsters.
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 resolve between one or the opposite, most individuals advocate 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
- Carry Eco-Pleasant Sunscreen: To guard the fragile ecosystem of the cenotes, use biodegradable sunscreen nevertheless notice that many cenote house owners strongly discourage any sunscreen in any respect to reduce the influence lotions have on the system.
- Put on Water Sneakers: Many cenotes have rocky bottoms, so water footwear may also help defend your ft.
- Carry 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 individual and, if area is tight in your bag, go away the flippers at dwelling and simply deliver alongside your masks and snorkel.
- Respect the Surroundings: Hold the cenotes clear by not leaving any trash behind. Every cenote is a pure wonderland full with a fragile ecosystem. Be certain that to reduce your footprint when visiting.
- Verify for Entrance Charges: Most cenotes cost an entrance charge, which is used for upkeep and preservation.
- Ensure you don’t get scammed: The costliest cenotes cost as much as 150 pesos for an grownup however many cost solely 50 or 60 per individual.
- Depart valuables at dwelling: Small theft round sure cenotes is an issue. Depart your valuables on the lodge or hire a locker on web site when you have belongings you don’t need strolling away.
- Additional prices for cameras and drones: A couple of corporations have realized they will have an upcharge for individuals bringing in pricey cameras and drones and have determined to cost additional for it. Relying on the cenote, the prices can equal the doorway charge. In case you don’t want it, go away it behind.
Whether or not you’re an avid cave diver, a snorkeling fanatic, a cliff jumper or just in search of a picturesque spot to chill out, 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 dwelling.