Cenotes In Playa Del Carmen
… another must do during your vacation here…
When people first told me about cenotes, I thought they were talking about failed college music students.
I was like, “What’s your obsession with these cenotes?”
“Did you screw up your fancy pants orchestra exam because you played a C instead of a D?”
They were like, “Cenotes have been around since before we even had music.”
I said, “Are you on drugs? Music didn’t even exist in the world before rock and heavy metal”
Apparently there were these things called “cenotes” in Playa Del Carmen long before rock music.
So why hadn’t I heard of them?
Well, it turns out that cenotes are about as musical as Britney, Bieber, Gomez – or whichever emo-retard teenage girl / boy is currently dominating the charts. (Honestly, I hate all of them! Nothing but entertainers for the mentally challenged – definitely not musicians.)
It turns out that the cenotes actually pretty amazing.
What The Hell Is A Cenote?
So a cenote is a natural opening in the landscape.
It’s caused by the collapse of limestone bedrock.
But let’s not get too technical.
In the opening of the cenotes, you’ll find water.
That’s because these sinkholes provide the link between the land and the hundreds of miles of underground rivers that surround Playa Del Carmen.
You’re walking through the jungle and then – suddenly – this open air swimming pool appears.
Go diving inside and you’ve got a whole labyrinth of waterways to explore.
They’re very sacred to the Mayans and most cenotes will have a deity assigned to them.
So if you visit the wind cenote, then you’ll have to pay respects to the wind God.
Tell Me More About These Cenotes In Playa del Carmen
So cenotes are openings.
But they’re also caves.
Beneath the water there’s all manner of stalactites and stalagmites that were formed during the last age.
It’s okay, I didn’t know what a stalagmite was until I went on a tour.
It’s a thin strip of rock that grows down from the ceiling of the cave.
Actually, that might be a stalactite.
Anyway, they’re super cool, and I’m not just saying that because I had a few shots of tequila for breakfast this morning.
Want to guess how many cenotes you’ll find in and around Playa del Carmen.
10? 100? 421? How about 742?
No, that’s wrong as well.
There are over 3000 cenotes in Playa del Carmen and the surrounding area.
That’s a lot of Mayan Gods to keep happy.
What Do You Do At a Cenote?
After saying hello to some obscure Mayan God, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a cenote.
Just walking through the jungle and stumbling across a turquoise water pool is pretty special.
They look like something out of Avatar, or some other CGI-enhanced Hollywood epic.
Cenotes don’t look real.
So strip down to your swimsuit and jump into the cool water – at that moment they will feel real, and really cold!
It’s like the best outdoor bath you’ve ever had – but just freezing.
Just as you’re getting overcome by sweat as the jungle humidity kicks in, big jump, splash, and you’re floating around in paradise.
In some places you can take a raft through the caverns.
At other cenotes, you can swim through the caves to discover other connected cenotes.
It’s also possible to go cenote diving, but it can be a little scary – and dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.
You’re diving through tight caverns, and anyone with claustrophobia will have a panic attack.
To go cenote diving, you must have your open water diving qualification.
More importantly, you have to actually be good at diving.
That means controlling your buoyancy in tight spaces and narrow passageways (something that you must practice with a diving instructor).
Because if you keep banging into the unique rock formations, then the Mayan Gods are going to… well… kick your ass.
How Do I Choose From The 3000 Cenotes In Playa Del Carmen?
It’s baffling isn’t it.
If there were just 10 cenotes it would be easy to plan. But 3000? How do you pick?
If you go diving, then the famous cenotes are Dos Ojos, Calavera, and Chac-Mool.
If you’re into swimming and the jungle, then a cenote visit is usually included as part of a jungle tour.
Even stuff like an ATV tour in Playa Del Carmen normally includes a cenote as part of the experience.
Xenote is a specialized tour that includes a series of four cenotes in the middle of the jungle.
Very remote and very beautiful.
The most spiritual cenotes are around the old Mayan ruins, especially the cenotes near Chichen Itza.
Don’t get too hung up on names or “must-see” cenotes.
They all offer similar experiences, but I really recommend visiting one that you can swim in.
Anyway, that’s enough about cenotes.
This is the end, beautiful friend, the end.
Wait, I’ve heard that before somewhere…
I hope to see you swimming in a cenote soon!
Lots of love,
It’s your turn. Do you have any tips or suggestions about local cenote experiences? Please leave them in the comments section below!