The cenotes are huge openings to underground cave/river systems. Basically a cenote is a sinkhole that opens up to beautiful crystal clear blue waters. Some are huge some very small. Cenotes are all over the place on the Yucatan Peninsula.
The closest and easiest to get to for us was the Gran Cenote. Gran Cenote is located just outside of downtown Tulum on the road to Coba. Jen and I decided to visit Gran Cenote on our last full day in Tulum. It took 10-15 minutes in a cab from our hotel to get to the cenote. It is literally on the side of RT 109 also known as the road to Coba.
A small fee is required to enter. Changing rooms, gift shop, snack stand, picnic area and a small zoo area are available upon entry.
The Gran Cenote doesn’t come into view until right on top of it. Stairs lead down into a large hole. Plants and trees grow on a little island in the middle of the hole with water on every side, Wooden walkways and tourist friendly steps have been built to keep people safe and away from the plant and animal life. Snorkel gear can be rented at a little stand inside the cenote.
The colors in the water are vibrant. The water is crystal clear. Make sure to have or rent snorkel gear. Most of the magic of the cenote is located under the water. An underwater flash light is a big advantage. Luckily for us I packed our underwater flashlights with our gear.
We didn’t have an underwater camera so our pics are all above water and it is hard to see into the caves. Because I had my underwater flashlight I was approached in the water by a guide who had three young ladies with him and he asked if I wanted a free tour in exchange for use of my flashlight. I accepted. At this point Jen had gotten out of the water and told me to go ahead. The guide took me and the three young ladies into a series of cathedral type openings and tunnels that you had to dive underwater and resurface into. It was kinda creepy. In the final room he told me to turn out the light and look down through the water. We were looking toward the opening of the cave and the amazing neon blue water filled with the rays of the sun. Amazing!
The cenotes are just as described, holes in the ground that lead to caves underwater. They have stalactites, stalagmites and all the other cave type rock formations, but with fish and turtles swimming around them. It is a beautiful, vibrant place.
As with the ruins and the other tourist destinations in Tulum, GO EARLY! We arrived maybe 15 minutes after it opened at 10am and it was excellent. Not many people were in the water. As we left the buses were arriving and I can imagine it gets full. It was about a two hour excursion.