I’ve swam in the Ocean, freshwater lakes and rivers but nothing compares to swimming in a freshwater cenote. Freshwater cenotes are sinkholes formed by the collapse of surface limestone that exposes ground water underneath. The ancient Mayans used some of these sinkholes for sacrificial offerings but they are now used to cool off in the hot sun. The freshwater is incredibly clear and offers snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities not available anywhere else in the world. Some of the more popular cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula and Quintana Roo are:
- Tres Bocas (The Three Mouths),
- Cristalino (Crystalline),
- El Jardín de Eden (The Garden of Eden),
- Dos Ojos (Two eyes)
- Yax Mul,
- Cenote Azul (Blue Cenote)
- Sacred Cenote or the “Well of Sacrifice”.
There are thousands of cenotes all over Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, here are a couple that we visited during our most recent trip to mexico:
Located approximately 20 minutes from Play Del Carmen this is a perfect day trip to cool off. The entrance fee for Centote Azul is 70pesos which you pay at a small hut when entering. They have washrooms on site, a snack shop and life jackets available. Make sure to bring your own snorkel gear and experience the many fish that call this cenote home. We found the walk from the front gate to the swimming area was short and we went during the week to avoid crowds. The water is typically shallow here making it perfect for children, it is all open and no caves. There are no lockers for rent so you will have to carry your belongings to the swimming area.
Jardin Del Eden Cenotes
Located about 15 minutes from Playa Del Carmen this cenote is one of my favorites. The walk to the swimming hole is lengthy but well worth the wait. We made sure to go during the week so it wasn’t crowded. This is one of the deeper cenotes of the three that are located along the highway so it offers excellent snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities. The price for admission is 100 pesos for adults and 60 pesos for children which is a bit more than other cenotes but well worth it.
Most Cenotes require that you wear biodegradable sunscreen, this is to make sure the clear water isn’t contaminated by oily sunscreens. Some places don’t allow any sunscreen at all so be aware!
If you are travelling from Playa Del Carmen or Tulum the best way is to take a Collectivo as they can drop you right in front of the Cenote, the ADO bus will not stop on the highway.