Cenotes - the Mayan treasure at Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
May 21, 2019
by Thanara Zancanaro
You may think that the Yucatán Peninsula, in Mexico, is a destination of only all-inclusive luxury hotels by the Caribbean Sea and pool parties all day, that’s not true. The Mayan Riviera has a very rich Maya Culture that is worth exploring, maybe the most famous are the archaeological sites, like Chichén Itzá and Tulum, but the real natural treasure is the Cenotes, deep pools of crystalline water flowing from underground rivers. Cenotes played a very important role in the Maya religious belief system, and to the survival of the people since it was the main water source around there. The secret wells, revered by the Mayans, are now tourist spots, especially for those who love nature and adventure.
The Peninsula has thousands of Cenotes and a lot of them are open to tourists, doesn’t matter if you are in Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum, they are spread across the entire Peninsula. The Cenotes have different formats, like an open lake or a pool, a cave, an underground lake and even all of those combined. No matter the format, they are for sure all amazing and unique in their own way.
What you need to know before going:
You can go with a tourist tour that you can book by yourself or with your hotel. The first time I went I booked the tour with the company Xcaret Experiences, the Xenotes Tour. They picked us up at the hotel early in the morning, took us to 4 different Cenotes where we did snorkeling, zip lining, kayaking, and rappel. The second time I visited the Mayan Riviera I went to two Cenotes by myself, we rent a car put the name of the Cenote in the GPS and hired a guide to accompany us when we arrived. It was very easy to find, and it was much cheaper.
All the Cenotes have a cost for the visit, some you will have to hire a guide, especially the ones that go into a cave, but remember that these locations are a bit remote and they probably won’t accept credit cards, so bring some cash with you (the local currency is Mexican Pesos, but all Cenotes that I visited accepted Dollar as well only the conversion wasn’t very good).
Remember, Cenotes are secret locations and some villages still use the water from them, so be responsible and take your trash with you when you leave. Body products, like sunscreen and insect repellent, need to be biodegradable, and in some Cenotes, they will ask you to take a shower before going in.
The water is very cold, in some of them you can rent neoprene clothes; They are very deep, the use of lifejackets is mandatory; They let you take your own camera, but make sure that it is waterproof before going; If you are planning to visit a Cenote on a cloudy day, choose a Cenote that is a Cave and reserve the open ones for the sunny days; if you have snorkel equipment and water shoes, take them with you so you won’t have to rent when you arrive.