Cenotes can only be described as marvellous creations of nature. These magnificent areas of natural beauties are an absolute must for anyone visiting Mexico.
A cenote is a sinkhole created by nature where a pool of clear water has formed. There are 4 types of cenotes; open land level, open land level but enclosed, partially covered and subterranean.
In Valladolid, where we spent a couple of days due to its proximity to the ruins of Chichen-Itza, is a small but beautiful cenote located right within the town. This partially covered cenote, like most is open to all for visits and more importantly for swimming! Unfortunately we forgot the camera that day.
Just outside Valladolid are plenty more cenotes, in particular a lovely duo called Samula and X-Keken. Both of these are fully subterranean with a hole in the ceiling of the cave to let light in.
Samula is the smaller of the 2 with shallower water, but was our favourite due to the setting of it and the fact it has varying depths including a small island in the middle. It also benefitted from a lack of crowds.
X-Keken is a little bigger in size and has its own caves to explore; the water here is deeper across the whole pool and it tends to get a little busier due to it. However, the cave formation is truly spectacular!
I am not a particularly strong swimmer and one nice touch we found with the cenotes was the availability of life vests for visitors, enabling swimmers like myself to enjoy the water without worrying about drowning!
Cenotes can even be found at some of the Mayan ruins, including Dzibilchaltun with cenote Xlaca. Unfortunately, as we were visiting during the spring equinox this one was closed off to the public, but we were advised that swimming is allowed at all other times.
If you head out towards Tulum, you will encounter many more cenotes, in fact we came across more on this route than at any other point.
For ease and convenience we opted to see a complex of 3 subterranean cenotes located nearby Coba, the partially unearthed Mayan site in the jungle.
You can opt to see 1, 2 or all 3 and the there are discounts depending on how many you choose to visit. You can swim and snorkel in all 3 and they all have crystal clear water allowing you to see all the way to the bottom. A truly unnerving experience when you are over 40m above the bottom!
Our favourite of the 3 was Multun Ha, although also the scariest. We arrived to find the cenote completely empty and in darkness! After a few minutes the lights came on to reveal the clearest water we had ever seen.
Cenote Multan Ha
The depths of the cenote varied from 5m to 44m and being able to see all the way to bottom is very unnerving, so much so that it took me a good 5 minutes to let go of the stairs and trust the life jacket I was wearing, and even then it was an adrenaline rush each time I dared to look down!
Cenote Multan Ha
The second cenote, Tamcach Ha, was smaller in size but still as impressive in terms of the clear water and cavern.
Cenote Tamcach Ha
The depths in this cenote were not as deep as the first, so it was a little less scary to swim in. One thing this cenote does have though is a diving board if you’re feeling brave enough!
The last cenote we visited was Choo Ha, the shallowest of the 3. The charm of this cenote lies in the formation of stalagmites and stalactites, the whole cavern seems to be made up of an intricate maze of these, so much so that you can even swim through them.
Cenote Choo Ha
If you are in the cenote region make sure you visit at least 1 as the experience of swimming in these is truly unique!