What is a Cenote?

A cenote is a deep, water-stuffed sinkhole in limestone that’s created when the roof of an underground cavern collapses. This creates a natural pool which is then filled by rain and water flowing from underground rivers. The word cenote comes from the Mayan word dzonot, which means «well.» Some cenotes are vertical, water-crammed shafts, while others are caves that include pools and underwater passageways of their interior. Cenotes are inclined to have very clear, cool, recent water.

Cenotes are prevalent in the Yucatan Peninsula where the ground is primarily made up of limestone, and there are thousands of cenotes and underground rivers there; they’re the area’s fundamental source of water. These sinkholes played an vital role in Mayan cosmogony, and nowadays are a big draw for tourists who come to swim and dive and explore these refreshing natural swimming holes.

Significance of Cenotes

Cenotes have been ritually significant to the traditional Maya because they were considered passages to the underworld. Many cenotes, including the Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza and the cenote at Dzibilchaltún, have been used for sacrificial purposes: human and animal skeletons, as well as sacrificial objects of gold, jade, pottery, and incense, have been dredged from them.

Cenote Swimming and Diving

On a sizzling day within the Yucatan, there’s nothing higher than taking a refreshing dip in a cenote. Some of them are simple to access, with steps leading down to the water, and others are a bit more tricky, with ladders. In either case, take care when descending to a cenote because the steps will be slippery. Because the water filling the cenotes is rainwater that has filtered by way of the ground, it often has few suspended particles, so the water is extraordinarily clear, making for glorious visibility. They are a delight to snorkel or dive in.

If you happen to visit the Yucatan Peninsula, you may have the opportunity to be blessed by a Maya shaman before coming into the cenote. This is a way of showing respect for the significance of the cenotes to the Mayan culture. The shaman or healer will burn some incense and say a few words in Mayan, to bless you and cleanse you of any negative energy earlier than getting into the cenote. That will take care of your spiritual cleanliness, but it’s also a good suggestion to keep in mind what you’re bringing into the cenote in your body — try to eschew chemical sunscreens and insect repellent as it could contaminate the water and it’s not favorable to the natural life of the cenote.

Instead go for biodegradable, environmentally-friendly options.

Gran Cenote, Tulum:

With its handy location on the road between Tulum and Cobá archaeological sites, the Gran Cenote makes for an ideal stop between scorching walks across the ancient Maya ruins. Known as Sac Aktun in Mayan, this cenote has crystal-clear water with a depth of round thirty feet. There are accessible caverns (which are a little deeper) which are dwelling to small fish and some fascinating formations. The cenote is surrounded by jungle and gardens.

The Gran Cenote attracts each snorkelers and divers, who come to discover the caverns or just cool off in the stunning crystal-clear water. A shallow, sandy-bottomed snorkeling area close to the steps leading down to the cenote is the proper spot for newbies to explore the underwater world, while more experienced swimmers and divers venture into the big cave, which is hung with stalactites.

Dos Ojos Cenote:

Dos Ojos (meaning «two eyes» in Spanish) is the world’s third-largest underwater cave system, and a should-see for divers and snorkelers desirous to discover this fascinating world. It also contains the deepest passage in the state of Quintana Roo, an nearly four hundred-foot deep hole called «The Cenote Pit.» The name Dos Ojos refers to the two neighboring cenotes related by a big cavern, said to resemble a pair of eyes marking the entrance to the underworld.

There is a safe, household-pleasant part of the cenote that is excellent for snorkeling, with access in and out of the water from large wooden decks. Cavern diving is the most popular activity right here though: the cave system is so huge and the underwater sights so extraordinary that many divers make this their should-do cease within the region. Alongside with incredible stalactite and stalagmite formations, you’ll see bats (there’s an precise bat cave), small fish and a type of freshwater shrimp within the beautifully clear recent water.

It’s positioned just off Highway 307 between the towns of Akumal and Tulum.

Cristalino Cenote:

Standard with both locals and visitors looking for a well-situated, easily accessible and beautiful swimming spot. The cenote is considered one of three shut by (the other two are called Cenote Azul and EL Jardin de Eden). All are part of the Ponderosa cave system. The setting is picturesque, with mangroves and jungle surrounding. While most visitors use the cenote primarily for swimming – it’s especially well-frequented by locals, who collect with their families on sweltering days – it’s also doable for divers to discover the cave here, which links Cristalino with Azul.

Given its relative obscurity, Cristalino is an effective uncrowded dive spot, featuring an overhanging ledge and a ravishing cave beneath. Out in the open, there’s additionally a ledge with a ladder from which swimmers can dive or bounce into the clear water below.

Cenote Cristalino is located just off the main Highway 307, south of Playa del Carmen.

Ik Kil Cenote:

This cenote, additionally known because the Blue Cenote, is a very picturesque swimming spot positioned near Chichen Itza on the highway to Valladolid. Many visitors to the archaeological site make a stop here to cool off earlier than heading back to their hotel, so it can get very crowded, particularly between 1 and four pm. The cenote is open to the sky and the water stage is about 85 ft below ground degree, with a carved stairway leading down to a swimming platform. If you want to skip the steps, you possibly can jump off the 15-20 foot wall.

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