Cool down and chill out at a Mexican Cenotes

Cenote Ik Kil

Cenote Ik Kil is near the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, on the highway to Valladolid. Ik Kil was considered sacred by the Mayans who used the site as a location for human sacrifice to their rain god, Chaac. Bones and pieces of jewelry were found in the deep waters of this cenote by archaeologists and speleologists.
Crowded, but pretty cool to swim in it.
Photo by nunes.rui/Flickr

Take a look at one of the Mayan’s best-kept secret. The natural wonders of Cenotes. Ancient Mayan language word, which is pronounced as cey-no-tays, means hole with water.

More like a lavish and lush natural swimming pool, these Cenotes are naturally formed as sinkholes in the ground that are filled with water and thriving with its own aquatic ecosystem over time. There are many breathtakingly beautiful Cenotes found scattered across the Mexican plains and a trip to one of them will give you many unforgettable memories.

Historically, the Cenotes were believed to be pathways to the underworld, during the period of the ancient Mayans. Often, these natural swimming holes would be used as sites for ancient mystical rituals, including a sacrifice as well. Nevertheless, in today’s modern age, these beautiful natural wonders are prime locations for sightseeing, photography and even a little snorkelling.

Aktun Chen

Aktun Chen
Akumal, Quintana Roo

The Mexican Cenotes are mostly easy accessible from major towns and cities. What’s most notable is that not all Cenotes are above ground. Some may be found hidden beneath underground caves, which give them an even more unique appearance and it makes the trip to view them all worthwhile.

Cenote Sac Actun

Cenote Sac Actun

Cenote Suytun is a prime example of one of the most aesthetically pleasing Cenotes and is definitely instaworthy. It’s a cave Cenote that only has one opening on the cave ceiling that allows a small ray of sunshine through, providing the water hole with a picturesque and otherworldly atmosphere. A walking platform takes visitors right to the center of the Cenote. It serves as a great photo-op location for shutterbugs and Instagram enthusiasts. There is also a second Cenote located not too far off from Cenote Suytun. it is located underground and it is worth exploring. Cenote Suytun can be accessed via Cancun, so it’s easy to get to.

Cenote Suytun

Cenote Suytun is one of the many cenotes in the Riviera Maya region.
Photo by Tien Vu/Flickr

Not too far off in the Mexican town of Valladolid is the Cenote Zaci. It is the only Cenote in the country, which is located in a town itself. It’s another famous area surrounded by lush greenery and nature.

cenote Zaci

This is cenote Zaci in Valladolid, a town in Yucatan, Mexico.

Sac Actun

Sac Actun
Tulum, Quintana Roo
ROBERTO NICKSON/UNSPLASH

X’keken

X’keken
Valladolid, Yucatán

Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote
Tulum, Quintana Roo

Rio Secreto

Rio Secreto
Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo

While Cenotes are usually part of a much larger system of underground caves and structures, some of them are very sensitive to the environment and require utmost care and maintenance, in order to ensure their preservation and conservation. They are also a historical treasure for Mexico as their roots trace back to indigenous traditions. This is why most Cenotes are protected and regulated by Mexico’s National Institution of Anthropology and History (INAH). Many of the Cenotes that are on government-owned land are regulated and tourist activities: tours, diving and sightseeing have to adhere to strict rules and regulations to ensure the conservation of the land. This does not apply to the Cenotes that are on private-owned land though, which are free under their own regulations.

So, whether you’re a photography enthusiast, a nature lover, or just someone who wants to visit new and unique sights and a thrilling dive, Mexico‘s Cenotes are bound to amaze you.

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