If you have not visited the Yucatan Peninsula you may not have come across the word cenote. Cenotes are unique to this part of the world so the term is not used outside of the area. The Yucatan Peninsula is one big piece of limestone. Cenotes are naturally formed sinkholes, a collapsed area of limestone that opens into the aquifer or underground water source. These freshwater pools are a sacred part of the Mayan culture as well. The Maya believe that their God Chaak, the rain god, lived in these natural wells.
These three cenotes are located in the same area. To access these cenotes, look for the entrance near the Xpu Ha Pemex gas station just south of Playa del Carmen. These three cenotes connect underground and are open to the public. Cenote Minotauro is for cave diving or swimming. The entrance fee is $50pesos. Cenote Escalera is more narrow and for divers only.
Cenote Caracol is an adventure to get to. Located on the No Hoch property about 40 minutes south of Playa del Carmen, you will find this cenote next to Labna Ha Eco Park and Oscar & Lalo restaurant. Rent a Jeep to visit Caracol as it is a 8 km trek into the jungle. This is an air dome style cenote that will amaze you. Be prepared to use a the wooden stairs to enter the cenote. The cenote has natural light and you will love swimming in the fresh water.
This cenote is also known as Sac Actun in Maya which means “white cave”. You will find this treasure on the Dos Ojos property about 12 km north of Tulum. It is the last cenote on the road to Dos Ojos and is well known for excellent snorkeling. With it’s amazing formations, this open cenote is also quite popular for cave and cavern diving. Entrance fees are higher than most cenotes at $40 USD but completely worth it.
There are three cenotes near the Coba ruins: Choo-Ha, Tamcach-Ha, and Multun-Ha. Choo Ha is the first cenote once you start the drive to this trifecta of cenotes. It is the more shallow of the three cenotes and is great for swimming. Tamcach-Ha is a 2 level cenote with 90 and 40 foot platforms that you can jump from into the fresh yet chilly water. This is an enclosed cenote like a big room and is very deep so its best for good swimmers or use life jackets. Multun-Ha is very clear and great for snorkeling but the furthest cenote of the three. Entrance fee for all three cenotes is 200 pesos.
Cenotes are protected areas. It is important to be conscious when visting these sacred areas. If possible, shower before entering the water to remove all the sunscreen from your skin. If you need to use sunscreen be sure it is biodegradable. If mosquitoes tend to like you, it is a good idea to bring biodegradable mosquito repellent. Biodegradable sunscreen and repellent is easily found in the local stores. If you are traveling with kids it is a good idea to bring water and snacks. Some cenotes have a restaurant on the property other have a little store and many have nothing at all.
If you are interested in diving or snorkeling the cenotes, check out our local Directory that lists many of the local dive centers in the Riviera Maya