One of my favourite activities on a month long trip to Mexico was swimming in the cenotes.
Cenotes are sinkholes filled with water making for a beautiful underground swimming hole.
The limestone rich ground collapsed forming a hole, which was then filled with mineral rich, crystal clear water.
The cenotes were particularly important to the Mayan people who resided in this area hundreds of years ago as they were a vital water source.
There’s many cenotes spread across Mexico but the majority of them are in the Yucatan Peninsula region. While there’s lots near the tourist centres of Tulum and Playa Del Carmen – my favourites were located within walking or bike riding distance from the quaint town of Valladolid.
Valladolid can be reached by bus in two hours from Cancun, Tulum or Merida. But the beauty of the Valladolid cenotes is that you could often get them all to yourself. In Tulum, the cenotes were a sea of lifejackets and divers at any time of day.
Check out my favourite cenotes in the Yucatan.
Cenote Sammay lies about 4km outside of Valladolid and is located in the grounds of Hacienda Selva Maya.
To get there, follow a tarmac path from Valladolid along the highway heading towards Merida. I walked there in less than an hour but you can also ride a bike there.
Entry is 50 MXN (Mexican Pesos) or $3.50AUD. A lifejacket is mandatory and can be hired for a small fee at the entrance to the cenote.
This cenote is open to the sky and is filled with very clear water, and small fish.
Cenote X-Keken & Samula
About 2km further along the same road that Cenote Sammay is located on are the cenotes X-Keken and Samula. The cenotes are located in a well signed complex so they’re easy to find.
You can visit one for 80 MXN or two for 120 MXN ($5.50 to $8AUD).
Both these cenotes are like caves. There is only a small hole of light filtering into the cenote, which makes for some cool photos of the azure water. The best time to visit is in the middle of the day when the sun is overhead.
Cenote Oxman is located at Hacienda San Lorenzo – about a 4km walk or bike ride from Valladolid.
Entry is 70 MXN ($5 AUD) or you can pay a couple of dollars more and get use of the hacienda’s pool as well.
This cenote is also open to the sky, but what makes it a little bit different to the others is all the tree roots dangling down into the cenote. There’s also a rope swing.
Lifejackets are available for free at this cenote.
Cenote Ik-Kil is located about 5km from the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. You can walk there from Chichen Itza in about an hour or get a collectivo.
Entry into the cenote is 70 MXN ($5 AUD).
Other cenotes in the area are Cenote Zaci, which is right in the centre of Valladolid.
Tulum – located about a two hour bus ride from Valladolid – also has many cenotes, however they a lot more expensive to enter than the ones near Valladolid and get a lot more crowded. The most popular cenotes are Dos Ojos and Gran Cenote.