CENTRAL AMERICA MEXICO

Five Cenotes You Must See in Mexico

Swimming in Gran Cenote, Tulum, Mexico

There is a lot to love about Mexico. From the beautiful scenery, friendly people, vast amounts of culture, cheap prices and delicious food. But my favourite thing about Mexico is the endless amount of cenotes that are especially associated with the Yucatan/Quintanaroo areas of Mexico.

Cenotes, pronounced se-no-tays, are natural swimming holes, or sink holes, formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock over 6500 years ago. Only found in this part of the world, experienced scuba divers have discovered more than 300 miles of interconnected passageways and caves that make up the amazing, one of a kind eco-system. 
The water in the cenotes are kept clear and pure by the way the earth meticulously filters it through the limestone. 
The cenotes were used by the Mayans to communicate to the gods and were often places that human sacrifices were made. 
Today they are a great place to cool off from the sun, swim in mineral-rich waters and be blown away by the natural beauty of these magical under-water caves.

I couldn’t visit every cenote in Mexico, I just don’t have that much time (or money) but here are the ones I did visit, in order of preference.

 

MY TOP 5 CENOTES

 

GRAN CENOTE

The name really does say it all. The Gran Cenote was by far my favourite Cenote. From the outside it looks like an ordinary body of water but it’s not until you look under the surface with a pair of goggles that you see just how incredible this place is. Below the surface of the caves edge is an underwater cathedral filled with massive stalagmites, stalactites and columns. If you are a scuba diver you will love diving down into the deep caves to discover more of this mind-blowing place. If not you will still very much appreciate the beauty from the surface of the water with a snorkel set (which you can hire on site).

Where: 5kms out of Tulum. One hours drive from Playa Del Carmen.
How To Get There: Rent a bicycle from town, which will cost you 50 Pesos for 24 hours. It takes about thirty minutes to get there. Just be sure to inspect your bike carefully before departing. My bike chain fell of five times before we had to end up walking it back down the highway for 5km
Cost: 150 Pesos per person.

 

GRAN CENOTE, TULUM, MEXICO

GRAN CENOTE, TULUM, MEXICO

 

 

JARDIN DEL EDEN (AKA Ponderosa)

Jardin Del Eden, which translates to Garden of Eden in English, is just as beautiful as the name implies. The Mayans once sacrificed humans to their gods and launched offerings of jade and gold into the cenote (I was a bit spooked to be there on Dias Del Muertos, the day of the dead and the day the Mexicans believe the spirits of the dead return to earth and communicate with their loved ones). Today, however, it’s loved by locals and tourists alike for swimming, diving and jumping off the rocky ledges.

Where: Positioned almost exactly halfway between Playa Del Carmen & Tulum it could be visited from either town.
How To Get There: A collectivo van should cost you no more than 30 Pesos from either starting point and takes about thirty minutes.
Cost: 60 Pesos per person.

 

JARDIN DEL EDEN (GARDEN OF EDEN) CENOTE

 

 

SAMULA

This stunning underground cavern of crystal blue turquoise waters is illuminated by a hole in the top of the cenotes vault. The roots of a large tree descend like ropes through the vault and reach down into the cenote, making it look exceptionally magical. I have seen photos of the trees roots reaching the surface of the water, though they must have broken or been trimmed as they were reaching only halfway down during my time here. Still beautiful!

Where: 2km west of the city Valladolid.
How to Get There: Catch a Taxi or collectivo Van from the Town of Valladolid. Both should cost you no more than 25-30 Pesos per person.
Cost: Entry is 60 Pesos per person or 90 Pesos for entry in to both Samula & XKeken below.


SAMULA CENOTE

 

 

XKEKEN

Upon descending the deep set of stairs into the cenotes cave you will discover a beautiful cathedral of stalactites over a lake of turquoise waters, which is illuminated by a small natural opening at the top of the cenotes vault. The light reaches down from the roof increasing the majesty of the place. It was first discovered by a farmer looking for his piglet, which had fallen into the cenote.

Where: 2km West of the city Valladolid.
How To Get There: Catch a Taxi or collectivo Van from the town of Valladolid. Both options should cost you no more than 25-30 Pesos per person.
Cost: Entry is 60 Pesos per person or 90 Pesos for entry in to both XKeken & Samula above.

 

XKEKEN CENOTE

 

 

CENOTE AZUL

I read online that this was one of the least visited cenotes and that it was likely you’d have the place to yourself. Maybe this is true during the week but we visited on a Saturday and it was absolutely packed with tourists and locals alike. This is a great cenote for families as the water has more shallow areas then deep and a mini-cliff for diving.

Where: Almost exactly halfway between Playa Del Carmen & Tulum, you could visit from either destination.
How To Get There: A collectivo van should cost you no more than 30 Pesos from either starting point and takes about thirty minutes.
Cost: Entry is 60 Pesos per person.

 

CENOTEs AZUL, PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO

 

 

NOTE: No cenote allows the use of suncream or insect repellant in the water so as to not damage the water and limestone. Some places even insist you shower before entering the water. Organic, bio-degradable is the only ones accepted.

 

The Cenotes were a highlight of our trip through both Mexico & Central America. They were all different from each other but all beautiful in different ways.

 

 

Over to you. Which Cenotes did I miss that you loved? Or which Cenote on this list are you most excited to visit? 

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