No beach vacation to Cancun is complete without a visit to one of the area’s striking cenotes along the Yucatan Peninsula. These naturally occurring and beautiful spots are much more than sinkholes. Thousands of years ago, underwater caves sank and the ground above them also caved in, leaving beautiful openings over crystal clear underground pools, lakes and rivers. Cenotes can range in size, from small pits to stunning and cavernous natural cave phenomena and luckily many are located within driving distance from the popular Hotel Zone. Here are the ones worth adding to your Cancun bucket list.
Tulum’s Gran Cenote
There’s a reason why Gran Cenote holds the title for most popular cenote along the Mayan Riviera. Only a few miles from Tulum (south of Cancun), the naturally occurring stalactites hanging from the roof of this watery cave are like crystals growing above you. The gorgeous, green-tinged waters are about 30-feet deep, making it an unforgettable spot to go snorkeling or diving far below the Earth’s surface.
The Sacred Cenote of Ik-Kil
Picture yourself climbing down 85 feet of stairs carved directly into the rock wall of an underground cave. Visitors then jump off a platform into the perfectly round, jungle-like pool below, and float on their backs deep in the ground while looking up at the sphere of blue sky high above. Ik-Kil is in between Cancun and the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, so a trip here could fit conveniently into your itinerary. Bonus: if you’re a true adventurer, you may be interested in the heart-pounding Red Bull Cliff Diving event held here every few years.
New Depths at Dos Ojos
This system of underground caverns spans an impressive 38 miles, making it among the largest known in the world. The name, “Dos Ojos,” is Spanish for “two eyes” and refers to the two connected cenotes where visitors can witness some of the clearest and deepest underground water in the world. The main cenote, at around 400-feet deep, is an international destination for brave divers, so don’t forget your scuba gear.