Cenotes: Sacred Paradises

Paula Camera

Cenotes: Sacred Paradises

Cenotes are formations produced by rains and floods along million years that, when combines water and carbonic acid resulted underwater passages, used by the Maya people for their rituals, which ones it is possible to find vestiges nowadays.

Riviera Maya cenoteAncient Maya citizens thought the cenotes were windows to the other world and a connection to the afterlife; hence their rituals to the underworld gods were organized around them. The "dzonots", cenote in the Mayan language, were the only places to obtain fresh water from and even nowadays, their waters remain absolutely pure and many have never been touched by the sun.

If you visit the Riviera Maya, don't miss the opportunity of visiting the outstanding cenotes in the area, where you can snorkel or dive between stalactites or stalagmites which are over a million years old. The visibility is so clear that you'll feel like you are exploring an unknown dimension. It is not necessary to be an expert for diving in one of these "sacred holes", as many are only 5 to 10 meters deep, thus ideal for beginners. Exploring just one of them is an adventure in itself, as the caverns are usually inhabited by bats and the rock formations have incredible, unusual shapes.

cuevaThe Yucatan Peninsula is the only place in the world with this type of natural formation and up to now 3,000 cenotes have been detected, only 1,400 have been registered and the rest still remain unexplored. On the Riviera Maya tourist corridor you'll find easy access to a variety of cenotes or underwater rivers each with its own unique characteristics. Some of them are exclusively underground while others look like ponds and are open to the air.

jump cenoteYou cannot express with words the felling of letting yourself be taken by the flow of an underwater river in an all natural environment. Unusual formations hang down from the cavern roofs or emerge out of the dark water, beside you a diversity of brightly colored tropical fish swim by; an incredible experience.

There is a multitude of cenotes all over the area; however a few of the more accessible and beautiful are Dos Ojos, Orquidea, Gran Cenote, Cristal and Escondido. Don't worry if you don't know how to swim because some of them have ropes strung from side to side so everyone can enjoy this spectacular experience.

open cenote The magic of relaxing in a cenote is unique. The peace surrounding them, their freshness and the experience of finding yourself in a place over a million years old is simply outstanding, that's why we usually find at the cenotes the recommendation, "Don't destroy in a few days what took to nature a million years to create".

Nowadays local citizens still consider the cenotes as sacred places, a fact that results in a popular tradition that says that tourists who return here have already drunk a cenote's fresh water. By the way, don't forget to sip this crystal clear water, to ensure your return ticket!