WHAT IS A CENOTE?

If you are planning a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, you should familiarize yourself with this word.  The exact definition is a natural sinkhole resulting from the collapse of bedrock which exposes groundwater found in the Yucatán Peninsula. There are thousands of cenotes on the peninsula!  The Mayan civilization used cenotes as their water supply and even made sacrifices to their gods in the caves. Essentially, cenotes are large natural bodies of water with beautiful clear water aka the perfect swimming hole!

TYPES OF CENOTES:

Each cenote has it’s own vibe and physical structure.  You could be completely underground swimming through caves or cliff jumping into a natural pool.  Each cenote is different and we recommend visiting more than one as they are all so unique!

There are four main categories of cenotes:

1) Cavern Cenotes which are underground cave cenotes with little sunlight
2) Semi-open Cenote which are part underground and part open air
3) Open Cenote which are cylindrical shape with high rock walls resembling a pit
4) Ancient Cenote which resemble more of a natural lake as the walls are bedrock have eroded over time 

We visited an open cenote: Cenote Oxman, a semi-open cenote: Gran Cenote and an ancient cenote: Cenote Cristalino.  

GRAN CENOTE:

Gran Cenote is very close to downtown Tulum, only a 5 minute car ride from the center of town.  Given its proximity to Tulum, it is a popular spot and can get quite crowded.  We would recommend arriving early morning to avoid the crowds.  

The cenote features two different swimming sections and platforms. The different swimming sections are connected by a large cave which you can swim through to access the different areas.

CENOTE DETAILS:

Opened from 8am until 4:30pm daily

Cash only. 350 pesos per person.  children are free under a certain height

Life jackets are free to everyone with ticket purchase

Lockers and snorkel gear are available to rent

Cenote Dos Ojos is a cenote with similar characteristics and location to Gran Cenote if you are looking for another option.

CENOTE OXMAN:

Cenote Oxman is located just outside Valladolid in central Yucatán. The drive from Tulum took around an hour and a half.  Oxman is an open air cenote: a big hole in the ground.  Tree roots cascade down into the water which is over 150 feet deep! 

You take around 6 flights of stairs down into the cenote to reach the jumping platforms and ladders.  An added bonus is the rope swing for those who want to make a grand entrance into the water!

We arrived around 10:15 and had the place to ourselves for over an hour.  As we were packing up to leave, the first tour bus arrived for the day around 11:15am. We would recommend getting here at opening (10am) to avoid the crowds.

There is a hacienda on sight if you would like to book a room overnight.  In addition to a hotel, the grounds also include a restaurant, pool, snack bar and tequila tasting bar.

CENOTE DETAILS:

Cash only.  150 pesos per person for entrance only.  250 pesos per person for entry and lunch. Children under a certain height are free.

Hours of operation: 10am until 5pm.

Life jackets are available with ticket purchase.

Restaurant and bar on sight.

Other cenotes similar to Oxman around Valladolid: Cenote Chukum, Cenote Xcanche, Cenote Dzitnup, Cenote Ik Kel and Cenote Suytun (Instagram famous for its platform at the center)

CENOTE CRISTALINO:

Cenote Cristalino is located close to Puerto Aventuras right off highway 307 and close to Kasa Hotel Riviera Maya.  Cristalino is an open air cenote resembling a natural pond with crystal clear water flanked on one side by high rock walls.  Here you could swim though the mangroves, cliff jump off the rock wall or swim in the shallow pools off to each side of the main section of the cenote.

CENOTE DETAILS:

Cash only. 200 pesos per person. Children are 100 pesos.

Hours of operation are 8am to 6pm.

Life jackets are available with ticket purchase.

Snorkel equipment and lockers available to rent.

Other cenotes around Cenote Cristalino with similar characteristics Cenote Azul and Cenote Eden.

Cenotes are unique to Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula and should not be missed while traveling in the area.  You will not find them anywhere else in the world!

Welcome to Mullen it Over!

Hi, we’re Amanda & Kai!

An every day couple trying to see the world and cross off our ever expanding bucket list.

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