I am very fortunate to be living in an area of Mexico that is filled with natural wonders you can’t find anywhere else in the world! One of these phenomenons are Cenotes, the Yucatan Peninsula is home to around 7,000 of them. These magical bodies of water are born when a cave collapses, creating a wondrous world of aquatic life and underwater rock formations.
Cenotes are said to be sacred as the Ancient Mayan Civilisations used them as their main source of fresh water, often making sacrificial offerings or cascading gold and jade into the blue waters, in thanks to the rain god Chaac.
Back to present time, the refreshing waters of Cenotes are now enjoyed by numerous local families and tourists alike, with many travelling to this area simply to dive in the underground caverns and bask in the natural beauty of the surrounding jungle.
Entry Fee $80
Opening Times 8:30 – 5:30
One of my all time favourites is Cenote Azul, a medium sized Cenote situated only 15 minutes drive from Playa del Carmen. It can be accessed by car or by taking the local transport, a Collectivo van.
You enter to the Cenote area directly from the highway, and are greeted by a small hut, where you will pay the entry fee and can purchase snacks and drinks. There are also bathrooms in the entrance area where you can change or freshen up after your swim.
Once inside you will take a short, beautiful walk through the jungle where you can see catfish pools and the local wildlife. The actual Cenote is at the end of the path and stretches around to the left and right. There are many ‘secret’ little paths and areas all around the main Cenote, so if you’re wanting to make it a more romantic experience, or to simply have a bit of privacy, you’ll have no problem finding your own quiet corner.
The crystal blue waters are so refreshing and full of many different species of fish, including Garra rufa. You’ll be most familiar with these fish swimming around tanks in spas or shopping malls, with people dipping in their feet. Yes, these are the fish that eat your dead cells… sounds disgusting, but people pay good money for this experience and you get it au natural for free, bonus!
One of my favourite things to do in this Cenote, when I’m not getting a fishy pedicure, is the cliff dive. It’s a 4m drop from the top of the cavern into the water, which may not sound like a lot, but when you’re stood at the top of the cliff peeking over you’ll feel a whole lot different! The jump, or if you’re a little more hardcore dive, is so exhilarating it’s well worth the butterflies at the top.
If you’re planning on visiting any Cenote I would recommend taking some form of snorkel gear or at least goggles. The view under the water is quite unbelievable, the first time I popped my head under the water in a Cenote it took my breath away. It’s like another world, with it’s own alien terrain, and such a beautiful array of fish and colours. You can rent full snorkelling equipment, including life jackets, in the hut at the entrance however, if you have any confidence in swimming the isn’t necessary. There are plenty of shallow areas to splash around in and even in the deepest parts there’s an abundance of rock ledges to sit on if you get tired.
- Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds. The tour groups tend to arrive at the end of the day, around 3:00pm and it can get fairly busy.
- Bring water shoes. If you’re squeamish about standing on algae and moss or if you’re wanting to walk up to do the cliff jump these will come in handy.
- Use a biodegradable suncream to protect the water and wildlife. You can purchase this at the entrance hut but it’s much more expensive than the local stores.
- Bring food and drink. Again you can purchase this on site but it’s more expensive than bringing our own.
- Don’t forget your camera! This is a magical experience that I know you’ll want to capture on film, you can thank me later. If possible, bring a waterproof camera, as the clarity of the pools are perfect for those those underwater shots.
You can also watch my adventures in this beautiful Cenote here!
Stay Salty x