The Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico is known for its beautiful beaches, including Playa Del Carmen and Cancun. But take a respite from the crowds and tour buses in the hidden waters of the open-air cenotes scattered around the peninsula. Talk about an adventure of a lifetime!
At these secret spots, you can take a dip in the crisp, clear waters inside caves, under a jungle-tinged sky. Their beauty is revered by all who have seen them, from The Mayans who settled the land to modern photographers who discover these wondrous watering holes.
Understanding the beauty of the cenotes
Cenotes form naturally from the collapsing of porous limestone bedrock, uncovering magnificent groundwater swimming pools. Many cave cenotes are filled with fresh water that is thoroughly filtered by the earth, which makes the water so clear that you can see fish milling about the plant life below.
The Maya civilization migrated into the Yucatán Peninsula in roughly 2500 BC. They were as awestruck by the stunning cenotes as we are today. The cenotes provided water during dry times. In fact, the name “cenote” means “sacred well.”
Mayans chose to settle around these beautiful wells and used them as portals to speak with the gods.
Swimming in the crystal-clear waters is like dipping into a piece of prehistory, where towering tropical trees and vines from natural cathedral walls climb up to arbors of sunlight.
Where to find these magical pools
Yes, these pools are “hidden,” but is anything really hidden in 2019? Well, a stopover to adventure in the cenotes may not be on the typical docket of a trip to the Yucatán peninsula, but they’re far from impossible to find.
You can take a car or taxi to adventure to one of many of the sparkling, shimmering watering holes. Visit Cenote Yokdzonot, lovingly cared for to this day by Mayan women, and swim in peace with the zipping fish and hummingbirds floating by above.
One of the most picturesque adventure destinations in the world is Cenote Samulá near Valladolid. Colorful artificial lights gently cascade down the enclosed cave walls. Long tree roots come spilling down from the ceiling above. Sunlight crashes in from the cracks, shining a stark spotlight on the gorgeous blue waters.
Cenotes are typically open to the public, and even have changing facilities, life vests and snorkeling equipment available for rent.