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The Finest Cenotes within the Riviera Maya

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 number of the greatest sand and ocean views in continental North America.

What chances are you’ll not notice is the Riviera Maya and Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula itself additionally comprise dense jungles and a number of the greatest cenotes you’ll discover wherever on the planet.

Gran Cenote Tulum Mexico a Woman swimming underwater

What’s a cenote?

Since limestone bedrock may 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 kind caverns of crystal clear water because the limestone filters and purifies the water naturally.

Finally, 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 hundreds of them discovered throughout this Mexico area, with new ones nonetheless being discovered as we speak 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 in all 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 supply an effective 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 “properly” in English, cenotes (pronounced “say-no-tays”) additionally maintain a historic worth to the area. The traditional Mayans realized that these giant wells may provide sufficient freshwater to maintain total villages and even bigger historical cities like Chichen Itza relied on cenotes to outlive.

A few of these swimming pools had been thought of sacred and the whole lot from gold to jade to beautiful mom of pearl jewellery have been discovered through the years together with the bones from historical 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.

women wearing hats in front of cenote in the Mayan Riviera

Forms of Cenotes in Riviera Maya

There are basically 4 forms 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 inclined to resemble small ponds or lakes with the overwhelming majority of the water simply accessible. Although they will typically have steep sides, they’re pretty widespread to seek out and supply ease of entry vs the opposite cenote kinds. These are greatest for households as the whole lot is inside website and entry to the water is normally the best.

Semi-open cenotes are cenotes with rocky overhangs. Typically a great 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 positive for households as properly.

Cave cenotes are sometimes 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 number of the greatest excessive diving you’ll discover in the event you’re an journey seeker.

cenote dos ojos

Underground cenotes are precisely as they sound. These flooded cenotes are closed off from above and might solely be explored by scuba diving and normally solely with a educated information. Additionally solely advisable for professional cavers.

Why go to a cenote in Riviera Maya?

Whereas solar and sand make for a fantastic 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 1 typically solely takes a brief journey. Some are additionally adjoining to standard archive websites or make a fantastic cease when visiting different areas of the peninsula.

So, if exploring crystal clear, freshwater swimming pools in a naturally fashioned limestone setting appears 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

Cenote Cristalino is among 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 journey to get there, it’s not as standard as a number of the greater cenotes on this checklist nonetheless we’ve at all times loved the occasions we’ve visited it. Nearly throughout the street from Barcelo Maya Seaside All Inclusive, it’s few open clear water swimming pools full with nibbling minnows make it an inviting cenote to go to.

Dangling our toes in cenote Cristalino Playa del Carmen kids activities children
Dangling our toes in cenote Cristalino

It’s additionally much less touristy than a lot of this checklist as the realm 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 attraction. Yow will discover a spot to purchase snacks and altering rooms exist on website. There’s a small each day charge to get in.

Cenote Azul

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 youngsters, whereas deeper sections fulfill snorkelers and people eager to swim a couple of laps. The encompassing rock formations supply spots to leap from for the extra adventurous guests.

Strolling distance from Cenote Cristalino, it presents extra providers reminiscent of showers and restrooms. There’s a small charge to make use of the providers there nonetheless it’s solely a ten minute journey from Playa Del Carmen so makes for a simple getaway in the event you’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 related 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 means of the openings additionally creates a magical environment, excellent for underwater images.

The day we went to Cenote Dos Ojos, we noticed many extra divers than swimmers. Because the water on this luminescent blue cenote may be fairly deep, it’s undoubtedly not geared in direction of youthful households although ours had been positive 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 website. Cenote Dos Ojos may be discovered roughly 22km (13 miles) north of Tulum on Carretera 307.

cenote dos ojos

Gran Cenote

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 residence 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’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 identify implies, Gran Cenote itself is kind of giant.

One of many greatest 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 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 contains a very open air feeling and even features a small zipline you should use to get into the lengthy pool.

Cenote Zacil Ha makes a fantastic (and low cost) refreshing cease when coming back from the favored Coba archeological website. At beneath 100 pesos, it options bogs and altering rooms.

Cenote Aktun-Ha

One other cenote near Tulum and just some hundred meters from Cenote Zacil Ha, Cenote Aktun-Ha (“water cave”) is a really giant 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 properly. There are restrooms, altering rooms and platforms you should use to entry the water. It additionally contains a 10ft (3M) diving platform

Cenote Ik Kil

Situated close to the very cool and standard 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 take into account visiting early within the morning to keep away from crowds or keep for a couple of days at one of many cabins on website. Cenote Ik Kil consists of bogs, change rooms and even has a restaurant on website. Costs are in 100 Peso vary for adults and 50 Peso for youngsters.

Best Cenotes in the Mayan Riviera Ik-Kil Cenote near Chichen Itza in Mexico

Cenote Zací

Whereas not in Riviera Maya itself, situated within the coronary heart of Valladolid, Cenote Zací is a semi-open cenote that gives a handy break from metropolis exploration. Its large open cave contains a small island with lush vegetation within the heart, and its waters are residence to uncommon eyeless black fish. The on-site restaurant supplies a singular eating expertise with views of the cenote.

Situated between Cancun and Chichen Itza, Cenote Zaci can be a fantastic cease in the event 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 bogs, 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 giant, 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 supply 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 greater, and virtually feels such as you’re swimming in a river than a typical cenote.

Ideas for Visiting Cenotes in Riviera Maya

  • Deliver 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 affect lotions have on the system.
  • Put on Water Sneakers: Many cenotes have rocky bottoms, so water footwear will help shield your ft.
  • Deliver Masks and Snorkel: Whereas many websites supply snorkel leases, the standard may be suspect and paying for every use can add up over time. Higher to convey your individual and, if house is tight in your bag, depart the flippers at residence and simply convey alongside your masks and snorkel.
  • Respect the Setting: Preserve the cenotes clear by not leaving any trash behind. Every cenote is a pure wonderland full with a fragile ecosystem. Make certain 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 residence: Small theft round sure cenotes is an issue. Go away your valuables on the lodge or lease a locker on website if in case you have stuff you don’t need strolling away.
  • Additional prices for cameras and drones: A couple of firms have realized they will have an upcharge for folks 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, depart it behind.
cenote dos ojos quintana roo mexico Mayan Riviera

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 supply one thing for everybody. Every cenote has its distinctive attraction, 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 wherever else on the planet.

We’ve written dozens of articles about Mexico through the years and infrequently take into account the Riviera Maya and Playa Del Carmen to be our second residence.

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