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 number of the greatest sand and ocean views in continental North America.
What you could not notice is the Riviera Maya and Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula itself additionally include dense jungles and a number of the greatest 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 fashioned into underground rivers. These freshwater underground rivers often kind 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 1000’s 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 considered one of these inviting cenotes to spend your day. Whether or not you’re there simply to swim, bounce 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 seaside.
Coming from the Mayan phrase “dzonot” or “tsonot,” which primarily 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-about sacred and every 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.
Kinds of Cenotes in Riviera Maya
There are primarily 4 varieties 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 will usually have steep sides, they’re pretty frequent to search out and provide ease of entry vs the opposite cenote kinds. These are greatest for households as every thing is inside website and entry to the water is often the simplest.
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. Usually they’re nice 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 have to take a ladder to get right down to the water itself. Not advisable for smaller kids, they most likely characteristic a number of the greatest excessive diving you’ll discover should you’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 often 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 excellent trip, typically it’s good to take a look at one thing new. With cenotes discovered close to a lot 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 widespread archive websites or make an excellent 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 one of the best cenotes in Riviera Maya.
Cenote Cristalino is without doubt one of the first cenotes our household ever explored in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Apparently, Cenote Cristalino can be one of many first cenote posts we ever wrote on this website 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 simple Taxi Riviera Maya trip to get there, it’s not as widespread as a number of the greater cenotes on this listing nevertheless we’ve at all times loved the occasions we’ve visited it. Nearly 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 a lot of this listing as the realm is much less developed. The final time we had been there just a few years in the past, it additionally hadn’t been purchased out by a much bigger firm so it nonetheless maintains a country appeal. Yow will discover a spot to purchase snacks and altering rooms exist on website. There’s a small every day charge to get in.
Cenote Azul is a pleasant open cenote that appeals to households and people searching for a calming day trip. Its shallow areas are excellent for youngsters, whereas deeper sections fulfill snorkelers and people desirous to swim just a few laps. The encompassing rock formations provide spots to leap from for the extra adventurous guests.
Strolling distance from Cenote Cristalino, it gives 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 should you’re staying within the area.
Cenote Dos Ojos
One of the vital well-known cenotes within the Yucatan Peninsula, Cenote Dos Ojos, or “Two Eyes Cenote,” boasts two related sinkholes resembling a pair of eyes. Its crystal-clear waters and in depth underwater cave system make it a paradise for snorkelers and particularly divers because it options an pretty in depth labyrinth of flooded caves to discover. The sunshine filtering by way of the openings additionally creates a magical environment, excellent for underwater pictures.
The day we went to Cenote Dos Ojos, we noticed many extra divers than swimmers. Because the water on this luminescent blue cenote could be fairly deep, it’s positively not geared in direction of youthful households although ours had been nice 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, loos, lockers for hire and even a restaurant on website. 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 spot for snorkeling. Quite a few picket platforms and stairs present quick access 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 may simply swim into and many the cenote bottoms have sand you may stand on. Whilst you can’t keep proper by the water, you may unfold out above the cenote space. Because the title implies, Gran Cenote itself is kind of massive.
One of many largest attracts to Gran Cenote in Maya Riviera are the turtles and the quick distance to Tulum. There are showers, loos, lockers and even hammocks you need to use. 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 need to use to get into the lengthy pool.
Cenote Zacil Ha makes an excellent (and low cost) refreshing cease when getting back from the favored Coba archeological website. At below 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 need to use to entry the water. It additionally incorporates a 10ft (3M) diving platform
Cenote Ik Kil
Positioned close to the very cool and widespread 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 preferred spot, so contemplate visiting early within the morning to keep away from crowds or keep for just a few days at one of many cabins on website. Cenote Ik Kil contains loos, change rooms and even has a restaurant on website. 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 heart, and its waters are dwelling to uncommon eyeless black fish. The on-site restaurant offers a novel eating expertise with views of the cenote.
Positioned between Cancun and Chichen Itza, Cenote Zaci can be an excellent cease should you’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 loos, altering rooms and a restaurant on website. 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 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
- Carry Eco-Pleasant Sunscreen: To guard the fragile ecosystem of the cenotes, use biodegradable sunscreen nevertheless word that many cenote homeowners strongly discourage any sunscreen in any respect to reduce the affect lotions have on the system.
- Put on Water Sneakers: Many cenotes have rocky bottoms, so water sneakers may help shield your toes.
- 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 personal and, if house is tight in your bag, go away the flippers at dwelling 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. Be sure that to reduce your footprint when visiting.
- Test for Entrance Charges: Most cenotes cost an entrance charge, which is used for upkeep and preservation.
- Be sure to don’t get scammed: The costliest cenotes cost as much as 150 pesos for an grownup however many cost solely 50 or 60 per particular person.
- Depart valuables at dwelling: Small theft round sure cenotes is an issue. Depart your valuables on the lodge or hire a locker on website you probably have belongings you don’t need strolling away.
- Additional prices for cameras and drones: Just a few firms have realized they will have an upcharge for folks bringing in pricey cameras and drones and have determined to cost further for it. Relying on the cenote, the prices can equal the doorway charge. For those who 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 searching for 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.