Cenotes are an integral part of the history of the Yucatan and are a naturally formed pit or sinkhole made of limestone. The Riviera Maya has a river system that flows underground which, over centuries, portions of caverns and limestone roof that supports the waterways have weakened or collapsed causing cenotes. Cenotes were the only source of fresh water so Mayan cities were built around cenotes and they were considered “sacred wells” where religious ceremonies took place.
There are an estimated 6000 cenotes in Mexico with only less than half that have been explored. The Yucatan Peninsula has the longest underground and cave system in the world at 153 kilometres long.
The easiest way to explore a cenote is to book a tour with a dive center or some cenotes provide guided tours with the price of the admission. If you are a non-swimmer or have small children there are thick floating ropes across many of the open cenotes to make it easier to stay afloat.
Partially closed cenotes are great for snorkeling and diving with cavern snorkelers staying in the large open air spaces under the cave and certified scuba divers with a Dive Master exploring the cenotes where there is no air.
To keep the cenotes free of contamination you must wear only biodegradable sunscreen, and no insect repellant must be used.
You can reach the cenotes by taxi, rental car or bus and most of the cenotes are on the way to Tulum.