A Cenote Kind of Day
I have to say one of the best things to do in Tulum is to go to a cenote for the day. Or two, three, four Tulum cenotes. How ever many you can fit in that day. There are over 4,000 known cenotes in the Riviera Maya region and so far, seven of the world’s ten longest mapped underground waterways exist beneath the Yucatan Peninsula.
When our family would come to Mexico on vacation, we would come back home and talk about our trip. We would mention swimming in a cenote and our friends are like, “What is a cenote”? A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Mayan for sacrificial offerings.
One of the most popular cenotes in Tulum is the Grand Cenote. Located just a few kilometers from Tulum on the way to Coba, this is one of the top diving spots in Riviera Maya. Although its name suggests it is only one big cenote, it really consists of several cenotes meandering along the verdant jungle floor and connected by wooden walkways. The color of the water is so clear that one can see fish swimming without even snorkeling. Grand Cenote is one of the most popular spots to snorkel and to dive.
Grand Cenote has 140 square meters for swimming, there is one big cave, a cavern and 100 square meters of wooden platforms where you can walk, chill with the nature and take pictures.
There are many fish and a sectioned off area where there are many turtles of all sizes. This place is very big and busy. Get here early.
One of my favorite cenotes is the Carwash cenote which is also known as Cenote Aktun Ha, meaning “Water Cave” in Mayan.
This Cenote used to be the spot where the Taxi drivers from Tulum would wash their Taxis in the 80’s and it was one of the first explored in the area. Aktun Ha is just along the side of the road, 8 kms out of Tulum on the same road heading to Coba. This is an excellent example of the natural collapse formation of sinkholes and looks like a giant pond, more than 150 ft (50 m) across with an average depth of 3 meters, with an easy access platform, it is great for both divers and snorkelers. Some parts of the cavern area are a bit deeper reaching a depth of 16 meters / 53 feet with very little water flow and with crystal clear visibility. As you enter the underworld you will see an area that is filled with plants, eerie submerged trees and schools of various types of fish and turtles that inhabit these waters as well as a small, shy crocodile that is usually not easy to see underwater.
In Cenote Carwash, if you are diving, your Dive Guide will have to lay the line for the portion of the Cavern as there is no permanent guideline in this particular Cenote. The entrance of the cavern is beautiful and unique as you pass under a curtain of tree roots and fallen trees, leading you into a large and beautifully decorated room with chestnut colored columns. The light falling through the algae layer above creates an amazing show of varying hues. Tunnels of rock lead to underground and underwater rooms such as the Room of Tears and The Room of the Ancient available only to certified Cave Divers.
Right next to the Carwash cenote is the cenote Zacil-Ha. This cenote is really great if you are looking to just cool off and have some fun jumping off a platform and do a zipline into it. There isn’t much fish and it is on the smaller side. They have a swimming pool and restaurant here, also. This cenote is about 10 ft. deep and the overall size is not huge, so plan on going when there is not going to be a crowd. That means Sundays are usually a bad time to go as families visit cenotes on that day off. At the one end of the cenote the water is deep blue. This is a cave and this cenote is linked with other cenotes nearby. All part of the amazing Yucateca eco system.
In 2018 they discovered here on the Yucatan Peninsula, the largest interlinking underwater caverns in the world. So, if you are a cave diving junkie, this is the place for you.
Casa Cenote extends for about 250 yards into the jungle, leading to a dead end. The water level in the pools vary but is never more than 25 feet (8m) in the deepest part. As soon as you are in the water, you will be enthralled by the clarity, light and color of the water. It has no equivalent in snorkeling spots in the sea. Go deeper into the jungle along the natural route formed by the cenote. You will go past the mangrove, with the root forest filtering the light. The mangrove roots are real underwater nurseries and the home of thousands of newly hatched fish. You will see many fresh-water species in the cenote, such as platys, guppies and mollies – all well known to aquarium owners.
Across the street form the Cenote is a Restaurant. Every Sunday at noon they have a Texas BBQ. Yum!!!!!! While you eat, you will enjoy the beautiful view of the ocean.
I hope you enjoyed this read on a few of the many Cenotes that are here in Tulum. When will you have a cenote kind of day????