The Insider: Exploring the Yucatan's Cenotes like a local

When you think Mexico, your first thought might be of beaches. However, there is an alternative escape from the heat that is often missed by the ordinary tourist. The Insider met up with our friends at Diario de Yucatán to give our readers an exclusive look at the cenotes found across the Yucatán peninsula. With the summer months approaching, now is the perfect time to plan your escape and add a side trip to one of these hidden gems in your itinerary!

Dzinup-2What is a cenote?

The English name cenote, originates with the Yucatán Mayan word ‘dzonot’ or ‘ts’onot’, meaning ‘well’. These natural sinkholes are formed through the collapse of limestone bedrock, which reveals the groundwater caverns underneath. The water in these pools is often pristine, originating as rain water that slowly filtered through the porous limestone bedrock. These hidden pools are believed to have been used by the ancient Mayans for drinking water, studying the stars, and conducting religious ceremonies.

Where to find the cenotes….

The search for the perfect cenote can take you across the Yucatán Peninsula, which boasts one of the world’s highest concentrations of these unique, natural features. Here are some of the top sites on the Yucatán Peninsula for you to explore these mysterious pools:

Dzibilchaltún-3-wikimedia.org_Cenote X’lakah in Dzibilchaltún

The archaeological site of Dzibilchaltún (‘place where there is writing on stones’) is well-known for a unique light phenomena that occurs in the spring and fall. The Cenote X’lakah at this site forms one of the deepest underground rivers of the region. Located just outside the state’s capital city, Mérida, visitors can dip in the clear, pristine waters of this renowned cenote. Ancient Mayan vessels and carved wooden objects of the have been found here, granting new insight into this enigmatic civilization.

The Cenotes of Homún

Just 50 kilometers East of Mérida, Homún has become a notable tourist attraction with several spectacular cenotes. This cluster of cenotes varies from the massive Cenote Yaxbkaltún, the largest of the entire peninsula, to the winding Santa Maria Cave and Cenote. With so many of these awe-inspiring geographic formations, this area is a must see for any adventure or eco-tourist visiting the Yucatán peninsula.Yaxbakaltún-2

Cenote Yokdzonot near Chichén Itzá

Chichén Itzá is the most famous of all the ancient Mayan cities, featuring the well-known El Castillo pyramid. Naturally, a site as steeped in history as this features the blissfully serene Cenote Yokdzonot. Blissfully quiet, your group may find itself the sole swimmers at this gorgeous attraction.

Tips for planning your adventure…

 ~ Plan ahead! You can save money and time by bringing your own picnic lunch to these locations and ensuring your car is up for the journey. Though the roads in this area are well-maintained, be sure to check you oil and gas before heading out. Cenote-Chacsinicché-voyageur-attitude.fr_

~ Dress for success. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, as some of the cenotes require short walks, ladder climbing, or steep pitches in order to be reached. Wear light, breathable clothing that dries quickly and protects you from the sun.

Secure your belongings. A camera is a must for these adventures, but be sure you have a strap or a way to secure it while climbing ladders and moving around water. Avoid wearing valuable jewelry that could fall into the depths of these ancient pools.


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Diario de Yucatán is a daily newspaper covering news across the Yucatán Peninsula and is available around the world on PressReader. Download the latest edition now to get coverage of news and events in the area.




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